This clip appeared on the ‘Sunrise’ TV show this morning, and concerns a radio interview with a recently appointed Australian senator, Jacqui Lambie. In that interview Senator Lambie let it be known that her ideal man needs to have plenty of money in the bank and a substantial “package between the legs”.
Now my primary concern is not whether public vulgarity such as this is appropriate from a member of Australia’s federal government (it’s not), but it’s the fact that if similar comments were made by a male parliamentarian then there would be immediate calls for his sacking.
Instead what we saw in the media (including viewers comments) was mainly comments along the lines of “it’s refreshing to see a politician who is honest/not pretentious” etc, or disgust about a politician speaking in the media as they might in a public bar after knocking back (quite) a few drinks.
To their credit, some journalists have drawn attention to the sexist double-standard inherent in this story, including Samantha Armytage (Sunrise) and Judith Ireland (Sydney Morning Herald).
The issue was covered by at least one of the mouthpieces of Australian feminism, mamamia.com.au, although their tone was one of mild shock and disbelief regarding the vulgarity aspect rather than strident condemnation about the sexist connotation. This focus was reflected in most of the subsequent readers comments, though some readers like Rebecca Healy, did address the sexism issue. Rebecca stated:
“There are several comments crying out that if this had been a male politician talking about a woman there would be a serious and damning article, and that this article hasn’t taken Jacqui Lambie to task over her inappropriate comments.
First of all, I think the tone of this article is one of mild shock and disbelief. This actually happened. I think without hammering down on it, there is definitely a sense that this was offensive and most definitely inappropriate for a politician.
I think this is actually offensive from a feminist point of view, as JL promotes the gender role misconception that women want to be given cash / financially supported and for the guy to be ‘hung’, and it suggests that men need to have these two things to be desirable, which is incorrect.
JL gives off this ocker / blokey / anti-feminist persona that dismisses a lot of the points that are made by feminists about not needing to be taken care of, having the ability to be financially independent, and rejecting the ingrained gender and body image roles that have defined the typical ‘Aussie Bloke’ and the acceptable traits of a female. I think this is part of her appeal at times.
It’s hard for a feminist to get up and blast her language because, although we DO see it as sexist, who are we defending? The guys that would laugh at the bloke saying this are probably laughing along with her. Are men offended by her comment? Do they want to be defended?
The issue here is also that men have not typically been undermined by media scrutiny over their appearance in the same way that women have in the past, therefore I don’t think the impact would be as significant (I’m not saying there is not impact!) as they wouldn’t feel as objectified or intimidated by the comment as a woman might feel in the same position.
If we (women/feminists) get all outraged about this issue, I feel there would just be a collective rolling of the eyes that the ‘feminists’ or ‘feminazis’ are just looking for something to be outraged about. Yet if we don’t, we are hypocrites standing silent when we would have been ‘attacking the men’ by now. We are accused of not supporting equal rights, even though that is what real feminism, not militant feminism, is about – equality.”
One the same web page ‘Guest’ wrote:
“Again I find myself confused. Last week Mamamia Rogue posted video of a young woman under the influence of anaesthetic describing in anguished detail the things she was desperate to do with a particular male celebrity’s genitalia. Clearly, she felt the urge to pleasure him. Her desires, we were assured by the Rogue, are shared by all women (“We’ve all been there, Babe”) – and we were supposed to find the clip funny to boot (I didn’t, but then, I don’t support cyber-bullying).
So clarify for me, please. Is Lambie wrong for wanting a hung man, or for being a politician and speaking openly about it, or for being a woman and speaking about men the way we complain about men speaking about women?”
Meanwhile Australian feminist commentator Eva Cox appeared unfussed by the comments:
”She’s not the sort of person you expect great finesse and politeness from,” Ms Cox told the Launceston Examiner ... I think men can take care of themselves when we talk about their private parts … Maybe it will encourage them to be less frank about their own comments.” (Source)
Sure thing Eva. This is about what a woman said, and how other women would react if a man said similar things. But feel free to exercise your feminist prerogative (or should that be, pejorative?) and twist things around to make it about what men do … wrong … to women.
Ah, but unlike the poor widdle women, “men can take care of themselves“.
Yup, we men just need to … man up and soldier on
Renowned feminist ratbag Clementine Ford goes off about the double-standard criticism of the Lambie radio interview affair – and also swipes at the #womenagainstfeminism movement. Her primary line of defence is an argument rich in circular logic … that ‘a male politician would never have been asked about his relationships’. Well a man would never have answered such a question because even a fool would know the storm his comments would invoke. Well maybe not Clive Palmer, but most guys.
A women on the other hand might be more inclined to answer knowing that society will essentially give her a free pass. Because everyone inherently recognises that this double standard exists, even journalists who ask or don’t ask accordingly.
Anyone who would seriously suggest that journalists don’t ask male politicians this sort of question because men are respected (because the patriarchy etc) must be either incredibly naive, a mental pygmy, or both of the above.
The position put forward by this fruitcake on the other hand is that the reaction against Senator Lambie’s comments is driven by outdated sexual wowserism, especially in relation to older and less attractive women! OMG, feminists love to divert into the wilderness, probably in the hope that people will become confused and just give up. She eventually sort of concedes the double-standard that is really the core issue, but waves that away on the basis that “the key difference here is that in our culture we “expect” men to be sexual, to be shallow about it, to consistently convey the air of rampant virility.”
Hell, thanks Lauren. You’ve diverted to the ‘myth of rape culture‘ now, haven’t you?