|Unbelievable this made it into print..|
This morning I saw something very disturbing in 'The Hoopla', a smart, sassy Australian women's online magazine (see pic above).
This is a menu for a Liberal Party fundraiser, featuring the dish 'Julia Gillard Kentucky Fried Quail - Small Breasts, Huge Thighs & A Big Red Box'. (I hated even typing that, but felt I should incase the picture was hard to read).
I know I've banged on about this before, but really, what the heck is going on here?
Now obviously the cretinous dolt who came up with this 'hilarious' menu doesn't speak for everyone, but what kind of a system could even allow for this sort of school-boy, misogynistic humour to make it past the men's toilets, much less onto a major political party's fundraising menu?
Flawed as our own politicians are - which they undoubtedly are - I can't see such a PR disaster happening back in Ireland, honestly I can't, well not since Mick Wallace was accidentally recorded calling Mary Mitchell O'Connor 'Miss Piggy' under his breath during the order of business in the Dail. That was national news for days...
But here in Australia, such casual sexism, particularly towards Ms Gillard, is commonplace, and the longer I live here, the more discombobulated I am by the place of women in this society.
On the one hand I'm interested to note how many women here drive trucks or work on mines - something which would generally be considered 'male' jobs in Ireland. "Hooray for women, we can wear steel-capped boots and hardhats while actually wearing a bra!"
And heck, the leader of the country is a woman! - albeit massively unpopular for reasons which I'm still trying to figure out.
On the other hand I'm dismayed to see how fetishised women seem to be here - or more to the point their bodies. Take any local newspaper and flip to the back; there you will find dozens and dozens of ads for prostitutes and 'sensual massage' services; 'Shanique, 22, petite, large breasts, long dark hair, longs for your company', accompanied by a photo of a woman staring sexily at the camera, whom I doubt has even been to Australia.
And what about the 'Skimpies' which are shipped up to the local inn here in Paraburdoo for a week at a time, so that the FIFO men - frustrated at three weeks sleeping alone in their tiny dongas - can drink themselves into oblivion while oogling the 'Skimpy's' breasts?
Last time they were in town, DH and I happened to be having a night out, and I was fascinated to note that while many men were stuck to the bar, hanging onto her every word, there were several families sitting oblivious at their tables, drinking, snacking and in the case of one woman, feeding her baby.
Nobody except me blinked an eye as this woman walked around in her see-through negligee - looking as preposterous as a clown at a funeral - collecting glasses and emptying ashtrays, while people queued for the fag machine or shuffled out to the toilets. It was definitely one of those 'I'm not in Kansas anymore' moments.
Look, I accept that if I tune into MTV I am going to see Lady Gaga or Rhianna prancing about in their pants, and I also accept that if a bloke wants to see naked birds, he can take himself off to the nearest strip bar - each to their own - but this normalisation of half naked women serving drinks in a local bar is both tacky and insulting.
It gets worse. Last night, slumped on the sofa, contemplating yet another night without wine, I was peeved when another set of ads come on during the Celebrity Apprentice (bitch-fest extraordinaire!). Bad enough, but then an ad for Sexpo - a two-day event in Perth which claims to be the worlds largest adult show - came on the TV, and my jaw actually dropped. Women clad in black leather with exposed breasts thrust themselves at an enthralled audience as the voice-over enthused over the event.
Included in Sexpo's many attractions is a 'laporium', 'MJ's Toybox Fetish demonstration' and most impressively 'Pricasso, Penile artist'. (That last one might be quite interesting actually...)
Aside from the need for such a large-scale sex convention at all, what bothered me was that this was advertised during prime time TV!
I can't help but wonder how all this impacts on the incidence of sexual assault and rape in this country. A 2012 study of OECD countries (Economic co-operation and Development) stated that for every 100,000 people, 91.9 rapes are recorded in Australia, as opposed to just 8.5 in Ireland.(http://www.civitas.org.uk/crime/crime_stats_oecdjan2012.pdf)
This seems excessively high and could have more to do with the willingness of women to report rape and the police to taking it seriously. And indeed other reports I came across contradict these figures. But even if they are telling us half the story, there is a big problem here. (Please note the sum total of my research on this extended to a google of 'rape statistics Australia').
Bit of a stretch linking casual sexism to rape? Well possibly, and I realise that rape is frequently more about power than sex, but I can't help but feel that this extreme objectification of women is dangerous and has consequences (I say extreme because lets face it, women are objectified everywhere - whether she's wearing a bikini or a hijab - but at least in Ireland we sort of know better, or at least the men make the right noises, and there would be much hand-wringing if a Sexpo wanted to showcase at the RDS in Simmonscourt [Liveline would be inundated with outraged calls!]).
|This show was popular back in the last century...|
In any case, the casual sexism which exists in Australia is a big worry - and if even the leader of the country can't avoid it then it needs to be examined, and a cultural shift is needed.
So what's the solution? Well, how should I know - a bit of growing up perhaps, it's not the 1970s any more. And perhaps if we as a society accepted that it isn't necessary or acceptable for bikini-clad, 20-year-old girls to serve drinks to middle aged men in regular bars, we might have some sort of a start.