Sunday, June 16, 2013

The Mate Media

Ask any New Zealander living in Australia, and you'll hear how we learn to shrug off  lame  jokes about "fush'n'chups" and sheep bothering. What we rarely point out  in return is that Australians, for all their relative wealth, have  an unevolved appreciation of women in power.

This blogger spent a week in his native NZ the week before last, attending a funeral of a loved aunt who had a family of seven daughters and two sons. Naturally, it was  a women-dominated event and one in which strong female voices could be heard without their asking for permission to speak. That's characteristic of NZ, the first country in the world to give women the vote.

So it was a shock to return to Australia and a series of events, all of which suggested this country is in a process of devolution in gender politics: A menu prepared for a fund-raising dinner for the conservative opposition that featured crude and juvenile references to the female Prime Minister's body parts, a shock jock who questioned the PM to her face about the sexuality of her life partner and a chorus of apologists - male and female - who sought to normalise this trashy, lowbrow, ratings-chasing outrage-mongering.

Whatever the merits of Julia Gillard's political effectiveness as prime minister, it is now blatantly obvious that a large chunk of the electorate - egged on by a overtly  sexist media - cannot or will not deal with a woman in power. These mostly old men, trading off their reputation as 'authority' figures, channel the most vicious and sexist prejudice for ratings. The vile Alan Jones is the worst of them, but there are an army of jowled grumps behind him saying something similar. 

Why do Australians' put up with this trash? The short answer is they don't. The media, as Wendy Bacon has recently revealed in her series on women in the media,  is still controlled by men. Not only that, but opinion pieces and political commentary are overwhelmingly by men.

The culture of newsrooms in Australia is male denominated. It always has been. And while other industries, such as financial services and health and retail and banking are starting to promote women like
Gail Kelly at Westpac or Sally Macdonald at Oroton, the media is still overwhelmingly a mates' club.

None of this should be party political. That it has become so says a lot about the nature of politics in this country, which is clearly hellbent on importing the manufactured and idiotic culture wars that have paralysed the  American political landscape. The result is that what is decent and human is decried as "politically correct" by agents of power who want to pretend their power does not exist at all.

So under the guise of 'freedom', powerful voices seek to belittle or suppress the voices of those who traditionally are under-represented   in our media - those from other cultures, the disabled, the gay and lesbian, the agnostics, the adherents of faiths other than Christian, and, the biggest group of all - women. The disgusting  treatment of our first woman prime minister is just the latest manifestation of that.

It's time all of us -women AND men - to put an end to it by demanding of those who hold power in the media and the advertisers who fund them that we will no longer accept as "OK" language that demeans anyone because of their gender, race, sexuality or faith.

That's the way it's going to be, whether you like it or not, MATE.


    just thought would leave this LINK for you, after last weeks tweets.
    all the best get be hind our beautiful pm
    she has a heart of gold that shines through her face
    no one but Julia can over come evil in this country

  2. If Alan Jones had a close competitor, it would be Piers Akerman. Today on the ABC "Insiders" program Akerman echoed and repeated the vile remarks of Perth radio host Howard Sattler.
    So far the ABC has given no public response to the these comments.
    Their ABC, part of the problem, time the Greek solution was applied given serious consideration for the public broadcaster.

    1. Strange, Akerman just said that the rumours have been going around the press gallery for years in response to a question about them from Cassidy. What he said was truthful, he wasn't condoning the actions of Sattler, he was responding to Cassidy by saying that there was no public interest or novelty in Sattler's questioning.
      Having Farr deny that he'd ever heard such rumours when he had in fact written about the rumours in the past is a greater concern.

    2. Whether the rumours were around or not, it is not the job of journalists to give life to trivial and potentially damaging tittle tattle about people's personal lives that has no bearing on their public responsibilities.

      In this case, all Akerman was doing was compounding Sattler's gross misjudgement. Sattler at least had a remote excuse in that he is a jibbering idiot. Akerman, though, knew exactly what he was doing, which made it even more cynical.

    3. So you'd prefer the Farr approach, to actually lie about having heard the same rumours, or to act like the whole thing is a "big surprise", and had never been heard before. And this is the sort of "journalism" you want the media to move towards?

      What is the problem with saying this type of tripe has been circulating amongst the press gallery? It has.

    4. No, I'd prefer the approach in the journalist's code of ethics.

    5. Your faith in the honesty and truthfulness of the msm is very touching, Anonymous.

      However, considering the mendacity that is the currency of the Murdoch owned msm, that faith would seem to be misplaced.

      Perhaps instead of criticising Farr, you could take umbrage at the lies, smear & innuendo disseminated by the likes of Albrechtson, Devine, Kelly, Sheridan, Gratton, Hartcher and the rest of the Murdoch hacks.

      And perhaps you could also question why repeating rumours about Tim Mathieson's sexuality is in the public interest.

      Great post Mr Denmore. Once again you have demonstrated what journalism should be in this country.

  3. There's a reason I stopped reading the mainstream newspapers, listening to mainstream radio, and watching mainstream TV years ago: basically, I realised they weren't interested in me. I'm female, I'm not willing to spend my life fascinated with shoes, fashion, children, cooking and celebrities, and therefore the only damn thing I'm any good for is getting the eyeball count up for their marketers. I decided the best revenge was to return their aggressive disinterest with aggressive disinterest of my own.

    Incidentally, one of the nice little things I noticed in the coverage of the Howard Sattler thing was that his excuses for it sounded word-for-word exactly like the sorts of excuses rape apologists use for rape: she "should have seen it coming" and "she could have stopped it any time". I had to double-check the ABC article which quoted him to make sure he was talking about the interview rather than something else.

    It's all a tad worrying, really.

  4. Mr. Denmore, thank you for publishing this article. I fully agree with you that this abuse, denegration and vitriol has to stop. Though publicly it is directed against our gutsy PM, it affects all women, and men as well. I would even suggest that it affects the people who perpetrate this abusive language as they are only projecting what they feel about themselves. This might not be a popular remark and it might cause some abusive person to respond but that would just prove my point. Having been abused myself, i adire Julia Gillard for the way she copes with it, for staying in her centre and not let it get to her (well at least not publicly) and for her courage to keep focussing on her job to lead our country.

  5. Fine sentiments Mr.D. The media are leading the charge into " teapartyism ". A charge that can only happen if the personnel, journalists, a dedicated to the cause. That they are speaks volumes.

    Is there not one single msm journalist in this country who has the courage to stand up and tell what is going on? If not? A sad but accurate reflection on this country.

    I don't want to allude to politics, but given your recent tweets, Kevin Rudd won't pull the country out of this malaise or help rescind this invitation to the teaparty. Big Media and their big advertisers won't. The only chance we've got is through the strength, courage and determination of Julia Gillard.

    What we should be demanding is clean air for a clean political discussion.

    1. There were a few at the Courier Mail in Brisbane, they were recently sacked and replaced with 'right minded journalists'

    2. ....and the ones that are left, Atkins. Syvret will write what, where, when and how only as Rupert directs. Sad, very sad.

  6. Thanks Macca. I don't want to get into the Gillard-Rudd debate. For the purposes of this article, I wanted to say that whatever your thoughts are on who is best placed to defeat Abbott, the treatment of JG has been inexcusable.

  7. It is right to exhort all women in Australia to stand up to sexism, but it would be better still if all the many decent men in Australia spoke up against sexism too.
    Lieutenenant-General David Morrison spoke so passionately about the unacceptable nature of institutionalised sexism, and we have recently had huge support for the rejection of racism. Sexism is every bit as entrenched in Australia. Time to end it. Speak up guys!

  8. Very well expressed Mr D &, unfortunately, oh so true.

    One thing that does puzzle me is how or why the egregious Alan Jones holds so much sway & influence over people, especially his alleged audience & the politically conservative landscape. He is a nasty, treasonous, poisonous, divisive, vile example of humanity at its worst & well past his use-by-date yet he hangs on to his power base being courted by the likes of Tony Abbott & his ilk. It is also a mystery why this crass woman-hater attracts any female audience at all particularly the way he treats our PM. These women then echo the worst of his sexist anti-PM mantras proudly holding up those awful "Ditch The Witch" & "Bob Browns [sic] Bitch" signs. It sure beats me.

    As an aside, Mr D, I too am a NZer, & have lived here in Oz for nearly four decades. My then husband (back in NZ) was an Aussie who at one time worked for a Japanese firm. We took one of their visiting executives on a sightseeing tour. Even though he was a young man, about our age, he still had the then Japanese way of walking ahead of a female. It shocked me to see just how readily my husband fell into this by walking well ahead of me, with his boss, & leaving me to struggle with pushing a stroller (over difficult terrain) & three young kids, without a backward glance. Yes, I thought, even then, how wrong this was.


    may be you could of checked other polls

    1. Don't think the Morgan poll has much credibility. I'd trust Neilsen and Newspoll more.

    2. Seriously?! Newspoll is run by US citizen Rupert Murdoch's "Australian" and AC Neilson is proprietorial to Fairfax with Gina Rinehart as it's majority shareholder.
      Roy Morgan Research on the other hand is Australian, independent and non-proprietorial and therefore free of conflicts of interest and hidden "agendas".
      I know which poll if any (as they're all dubious indicators) I'd be relying on most.

    3. I'm no expert on polling. However, I do know that the professional statisticians and poll analysts like William Bowe at Poll Bludger and Possum Comitatus (Scott Steele) and others give more weight to the rigourof the big media polls. The idea that Gina Rinehart influences Neiksen is just silly.

  10. I must compliment you on your choice of Alan Jones' picture. I truly wonder if the face reflects the soul?

  11. Yet another intelligently argued article, Mr. Denmore.

    The problem has been that there have been no significant punishments for the prominent individuals making unseemly and derogatory remarks. Until there are proper consequences, as distinct from PR, for such behaviour, the problem will fester.

    Spot on about the use of “politically correct”; it is used when the speaker cannot think of a valid argument.

    On the positive side, the leadership shown by the Chief of the Australian Army and the Fairfax Board (but lacking in the political sphere) show that, at least in some parts of society there has is propriety and a sense of egalitarianism, not to mention, basic human kindness.

  12. If "Jones is the worst of them" then you must consider Marieke Hardy to be less of a problem ...
    "Tony Abbott, I hope your cock drops off and falls down a plughole."
    "You should have "glassed the c. . ." Nelson. You should have taken a piece of glass and torn his face to shreds, only leaving trails of bloody skin dripping from his ugly face and then you should have glassed his ass and balls so much, you castrate him so he could never procreate with his wife. Furthermore, glass the c. . . wife and their children, while you're at it, because they don't deserve to procreate and have any children themselves, those blood-sucking Liberal c. . .s!"

    But she is from the left, a presenter on the ABC and one of the luminaries Rudd invited to represent us at the 2020 summit ...

    1. Anonymous, I'm not aware of the quotes you attribute to Hardy or of their accuracy or the context. If true, there is no excuse for that either.

      But Hardy is a relatively obscure figure who does not have her own widely syndicated radio program and who has none of Jones' power. (I think her only broadcast presence is The Book Show, upon which I have never heard her use such language).

      In any case, scouring the internet to cite examples of ugly speech from the obscure fringes of "the left" does not excuse the behaviour of Jones, who called for the drowning of the PM on air.

      Ultimately, this isn't a question of Right or Left, though I note you are intent on making it so, which is rather typical of those who seek to play down Jones' utterances by desperate attempts at false equivalence.

  13. "I'm not aware of the quotes you attribute to Hardy or of their accuracy or the context."

    If only there were a way to check them ... rather than attempting to cast doubt and thereby downplay the quote.

    She is still listed as a contributor to the ABC's The Drum website, used to host an ABC daily breakfast radio program and was consider high-profile enough to be invited to the 2020 summit, which Jones wasn't.

    As for being a "false equivalence", I am adding balance, since none was provided by your article or the comments that followed it which seem to imply it is an issue of the right. I'd argue that Jones' comments (though reprehensible) were at least a reaction to his low opinion of Gillard's performance, whereas Ms Hardy's comments extend to a politician's wife and children, for the "crime" of being related to a Liberal. Yet there was no outcry from the media, no continual stream of "heartfelt" introspection by a series of commenters on "progressive" media and no reaction from her employers.

    Perhaps you can comment why similar (or in many cases much worse, as above) comments from the left, from the union movement (where banners much worse than the Carbon tax rally are commonplace) and from "progressives" in the media and in comments to Q&A such as the tweet published by the ABC last night about Senator Joyce's wife being gay, produce no outcry.

    1. Anonymous, I don't play culture wars. And I'm not implying any monopoly by the Right on extreme hate speech. But the context of my article was a series of reprehensible personal attacks on the PM of the nation by people who should know better. You can go off trawling blogs and online forums for gotchas in reply. I'm not interested. And until you do me the decency of supplying your name, I don't intend to engage with your silly game any further.

  14. The attacks on the PM were and have been sounding new depths in the level of disrespect for the office of PM. It's unprecedented, alarming and distressing for members of the public turning on the TV or radio expecting to hear news and instead get... school PM sandwich tossing updates, rude menu jokes or some shock-jock insulting the PM on air.

    If we could vote off the MSM in September we would.

    Your ABC was very much part of the "menu-gate" media beat-up. - 1st it shouldn't have been beating-up this non-story and MPs (including the PM and Ms Wong etc)should have refused to even comment about it - it's just crud and below everyone in elected office - even to respond - I wouldn't.

    On the media promoting "sexism" & "low-grade misogyny" front - I found these comment from Fran Kelly and Warwick Hadfield on ABC RN Breakfast yesterday morning didn't sit well with me.

    Trivialising sexual assault into morning radio sports reporting chit-chat is WRONG. You could sense Fran wasn't really comfortable with this "content" presentation and what was said. Can you see how this low grade trivialising of a criminal assault against a woman - (just some unsavory sports news) allows for further slagging-off of women in more general terms. Disrespect feeds and adds more of the same. The ball has to be stopped from rolling.

  15. Maybe I just missed it, which is quite possible, but in all the offensive nonsense, the only question I didn't see asked, and the most valid one of all in the Sattler disgrace, was "What has the PM's partner's sexuality to do with the PM's political performance?"

    Of course, if she had asked it herself, it would have been claimed by Sattler as an attempt to evade the question and therefore a confirmation by default.

  16. "The result is that what is decent and human is decried as "politically correct" by agents of power who want to pretend their power does not exist at all."

    Truest thing ever written.

  17. The issue has been that there have been no noteworthy disciplines for the noticeable people making graceless and defamatory comments.