It’s the prize no one wants to win but there were plenty of deserving contenders for the Ernie Awards on Wednesday night.
About 330 women gathered at NSW Parliament House for the misogyny’s night of nights, recognising the most sexist behaviour in 2013.
Snippets of sexist comments are read out to the audience through the night and winners are decided by a ‘‘boo off’’ across categories including media, politics, sport, industry and the judiciary. The overall winner receives a Gold Ernie, with the awards named in honour of former secretary of the Australian Workers’ Union Ernie Ecob, who once claimed women only wanted to become shearers because ‘‘they’re after the sex.’’
Twenty-one years after the inception of the Ernies, worthy contenders are still coming thick and fast with 2013 no exception.
This year's Gold Ernies went out to Wesley College students at the University of Sydney for creating stubby holders bearing the words, ‘‘It's not rape if it's my birthday''.
About 100 stubby holders featuring the college crest were distributed among new Wesley students during orientation week celebrations in March last year.
It was close competition between the Wesley College students and Alan Jones' comment of Julia Gillard's father "dying of shame", but Ernies founder and former politician Meredith Burgmann said it was the "sheer awfulness" of the stubby holders quote that sealed the deal.
"It's the students' unreformed 1950s misogyny that really gets up the women's noses. It's that 'born to rule', 'aren't we funny?' and almost criminal attitude to women that did it," Burgmann said.
Personal attack of women in public life has been a dominant theme for the past two years. Of the 50 to 60 sexist comments read out on the night, a quarter of the attacks had been aimed at Julia Gillard.
"It's quite clear Julia Gillard's presence as Prime Minister has brought about attacks from men ... even without the misogyny speech," Burgmann said.
The infamous menu featuring ‘‘Julia Gillard Kentucky Fried Quail - Small Breasts, Huge Thighs, and a Big Red Box” earned Queensland politician Mal Brough a Political Silver Ernie.
Radio broadcaster Alan Jones, the recipient of last year’s Gold Ernie, was also awarded a celebrity Ernie this year for his claim that Julia Gillard’s father ‘‘died of shame’’ because of her lies.
Criminologist Professor Paul Wilson took out the Judicial Silver Ernie for his observation that ‘‘child victims of adult sex offenders are generally willing or active participants, and that they not infrequently initiate the sexual relationship.’’
Captain of the St Kilda AFL team Nick Riewoldt won a Warney - an Ernie in the sport category - for saying that team mate Stephen Milne should be allowed to play despite facing rape charges because he was the ‘‘heart and soul of football’’.
A 'Good Ernie' was awarded to Lieutenant General David Morrison for campaigning for the Australian Defence Force to treat female soldiers and officers with respect.
The Ernies Awards has sold out a week before the RSVP date this year. Burgmann believes its growing popularity is a sign that women feel the need to have an outlet to respond to the everyday sexism that often goes unnoticed.
Money raised from the night went towards the Mae Tao Clinic, on the Thailand-Burma border, run by Dr Cynthia Maung, who won this year's Sydney Peace Prize.