The weekend in abhorrent Sexism

Julia Gillard on the campaign trail.

Julia Gillard on the campaign trail. Photo: Getty Images

It had already been a shameful week for anyone who cared about equal rights in this country. First, The Prime Minister's body was lampooned on a menu at a Coalition fundraiser, then came news that the defence forces were entangled in a heinous sex scandal. But wait! What were we thinking? We still had the weekend. 

Perhaps News Ltd columnist Piers Akerman wanted to test the patience - and values - of the mandarins at the ABC. He certainly seemed to be on a collision course, of sorts, on Sunday morning's filming of Insiders.

Apparently utterly missing the point of Howard Sattler's bewildering inappropriateness and appropriate dismissal from Perth's 6PR, Akerman weighed in with his bizarre take on the humiliation of Tim Mathieson before suggesting rumours had long ricocheted around Parliament House over Prime Minister Julia Gillard's partner's sexuality.

''Why is being homosexual in 2013 such an issue, why wouldn't she have slapped him down on the basis of even if he was, what's so offensive?'' Akerman said.


The Guardian journalist Lenore Taylor, another guest on the show, leapt in to pooh-pooh the opinion.

''You don't,'' Taylor interjected.

''Precisely. That's my point.'' We'd lost your point by this point, Piers.

And then came presenter Barrie Cassidy's stinging smackdown: ''You've just done precisely what Howard Sattler did and just passed on rumours and that's just as pathetic, quite frankly.''

''I don't think it is,'' came Akerman's reply.

''I think it is,'' Cassidy said.

''I don't think I did pass on rumours … I passed on the same question that people said initially when she moved in … and nobody took it any further, and that's why I'm saying [Sattler] was wrong, Barrie.''

''OK. Have fun protecting that position,'' said Cassidy, who then attempted to move the discussion forward. But out came Akerman's shovel.

''As those of us who have met Mr Mathieson know, he's a very blokey bloke, and all of these rumours seem to be totally unfounded … If the Prime Minister's watching, and she usually does, I hope she hasn't taken any offence at anything I've said this morning.'' The phrase ''too little, too late'' springs to mind.

Hammering the final ''blurt first, repent later'' nail into the coffin, an ABC clip of the excruciating segment was removed from Twitter and YouTube mysteriously quickly.


Meanwhile, on another ABC forum, this time, Sunday's Radio National, Australian Financial Review columnist and industrial relations consultant, Grace Collier made clear that she disapproved of the prime minister's dress code in Parliament.

"I don’t think it’s appropriate for a Prime Minister to be showing her cleavage in Parliament."

"It’s not something I want to see. In my opinion as an industrial relations consultant, it is inappropriate to be in Parliament, it is disrespectful to yourself and to the Australian community and to the parliament to present yourself in a manner that is unprofessional."

Feminist author Eva Cox disagreed with Collier, saying “I think you are showing a considerable prejudice against a woman who dresses quite conservatively."

Collier replied that she didn't want to see any politician's flesh in parliament, at which point the disagreement devolved into a heated discussion about men covering their chests. Which, as we all know, is totally the same thing.




  • I am soooo over the sexism "he said she said" that is dominating the headlines at present. OK. We all know there are absolute boxheads out in media land who will say anything publicly, and who have a constant foot in mouth. But. This rubbish is given a life of its own, and its out of control.Don't give these airheads and their offensive comments any oxygen and let them shrivel away into oblivion. Now. Let's have productive, robust political debate!

    n e vic
    Date and time
    June 17, 2013, 9:00AM
    • I disagree. The ongoing dialogue on sexism is long overdue and needs ongoing discussion and debate. It's time some of the attitudes of public figures was known and out in the open, especially when these people are held in such high regard by the general public.

      Date and time
      June 17, 2013, 9:19AM
    • I agree with JJ - this kind of sexism is reality for women not in the public eye, as well as countless female public figures. None of us deserve this. We shouldn't 'be flattered' by sexual harassment. Sexual discrimination isn't justified. Full stop.

      Time to grow up Australia. Our recent litany of sexism, racism and homophobia makes us look like some hick island floating in the pacific - it's embarrassing, as well as hurtful to people attacked on these issues.

      Date and time
      June 17, 2013, 9:38AM
    • "Let's have productive, robust political debate!!"

      i think this is part of the productive, robust political debate! We need to know what drives the thinking of decision makers, and if it is sexism, homophobia or any other discredited ideology then the public need to know about it - otherwise it gets subtly incorporated into legislation.

      Peeling back the onion
      to see what is the growing core
      Date and time
      June 17, 2013, 10:38AM
  • Unfortunately a staff member saw the mock menu & posted it on Facebook, Mr Richards created the mock menu as a joke with his son, it was NOT produced to the public at the fundraiser!!
    Julia Gillard plays this gender card game, it really is becoming a joke, desperate times for desperate people (Gillard) Julia Gillard likes to attack & ridicule others, but doesn't like it when she gets it back! Calling sexism & misogyny to Tony Abbott whenever she can, goes on about budgie smuglglers, calling Joe Hockey the fat one!
    A PM should be respected, but Julia Gillard shows no respect for others, so what you give, you get back! No respect, Gillard also supported Peter Slipper & his sexist manner, Kyle Sandilands. So how appalling is this. Other women in power, have the respect of their people, they do not play the gender games, like Gillard, act like a silly schoolgirl in Parlaiment. Julia Gillard has lost the respect of a lot of voters & they do not trust her!!!

    Date and time
    June 17, 2013, 9:06AM
    • You should be congratulated for entirely missing the point of this article. But, keep on hating, Apparently, it's what you do best.

      Date and time
      June 17, 2013, 9:40AM
    • When did she even refer to the budgie smugglers? Indeed Abbott promoted it himself in a variety of ways.For example by holding fund-raising auctions using the soc-called budgie smugglers.

      Much of what you say here is a convenient fabrication. How much propaganda and distortion can one put out in a paragraph. Your attempt is quite heroic I think.

      Manly West
      Date and time
      June 17, 2013, 9:43AM
    • Many people made the insinuation regarding Tim and that was the point Piers was trying to make. Its all crap but that's not the point.
      Every one knows Piers is going to say something stupid. Not sure why everyone is so shocked when he does. Barry need's to get over himself a bit.
      Was the Age's cartoon mock menu regarding Tony Abbott sexist?
      I don't know any more the whole thing is getting stupid.
      Julia has a go at the men in parliament quite a bit too. Calling Joe Hockey 'that fat man' and Pyne a mincing poodle. Seems to me they all need to grow up a bit.
      When an idiot sportsman does or say's something dumb they all screech and say 'role model'
      The politicians need to have a good long hard look at them selves.

      J Walker
      Date and time
      June 17, 2013, 9:50AM
    • Pamela, I believe your opinions are clouded by your political inclinations.

      Date and time
      June 17, 2013, 10:29AM
    • Well said, Pamela!!

      The Other Guy
      Date and time
      June 17, 2013, 10:50AM

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