I watched Q&A in absolute horror last night as the Federal Minister for Employment, Kate Ellis, was the subject of one of the worst displays of misogynistic disrespect and bullying I’ve ever seen – not excluding my many years observing Olympic standard misogynistic bullying in action in various sales meetings and boardrooms throughout corporate Australia.
I was so sickened by the actions of Liberal MP, Christopher Pyne, former ALP MHR, Lindsay Tanner and Daily Telegraph columnist, Piers Akerman that I allocated an inordinate amount of time to compiling a detailed analysis of the Q&A transcript.
Regular readers will remember that this is a device I used following the misogynistic remarks made about Catherine Deveny’s recent Q&A appearance.
You can watch Monday night’s show here.
In what looked for all the world like a trio of blood-thirsty wolves cornering a deer, Pyne, Tanner and Akerman did everything they could to prevent Ellis from gaining any traction whatsoever. Every time she tried to speak, these three slavering curs descended on her with jibes, interruptions and, on one occasion, a totally inappropriate side-conversation – all intended to cripple her effectiveness, and diminish and detract from her message.
Every word, every gesture, said, “Back off, lady, this is men’s business and you’re out of your depth. Get back to the kitchen where you belong.”
Ellis was in a Catch 22 position. If she asserted herself and turned on the dogs, she would be branded a harridan and a shrew. Instead, she maintained her composure under incredible duress and did her best to soldier on under impossible conditions, with insufficient help from Jones.
I have no particular opinion on Ellis as a politician but no woman – in fact, no person – should be invited on to national television and treated the way she was last night – particularly not a government minister. It was deeply despicable and, in a week where misogyny has been headlline news, the nation should have witnessed far more circumspect behaviour from these three buffoons.
Unlike Deveny, despite constant interruptions, Ellis almost managed to hold her own in terms of word count but still did not achieve parity.
Here is the night’s tally:
- Pyne – 2, 400 words
- Tanner – 2, 142 words
- Ellis – 1, 962 words
- Sun – 1,204 words
- Akerman – 1,059 words
Despite Ellis’s efforts, Christopher Pyne and Lindsay Tanner still managed to dominate the program; both speaking 23 per cent more than she. Akerman seemed uninterested in the whole affair. Like a fat cat lying on the living room sofa, he interrupted his ennui only to take lazy swipes at Ellis.
As usual, the men dominated the show. Not including host, Tony Jones’, contribution, Pyne took up 28 per cent of the program (by word count), Tanner 24 per cent, Ellis 22 per cent, Sun 14 per cent and Akerman 12 per cent.
The three male guests (excluding Jones) accounted for 64 per cent of the words spoken during Monday night’s Q&A and the two women managed only 36 per cent.
But, word count aside, the horror story of this week’s program is the concerted efforts of Pyne, Akerman and Tanner to interrupt Ellis so frequently that she managed, mostly, only to speak in stuttered phrases.
Ellis’s heroic 1,962 words were interrupted 36 times during the course of the program – that’s once every 55 words and more than once every two minutes.
The major offender was Christopher Pyne who butted in to Ellis’ conversations an incredible 21 times – an average of one interruption for every three minutes of air time. And that was just against Ellis!
In all, serial offender Pyne interrupted other speakers, including Jones, a total of 34 times. Compare this with Catherine Deveny who drew the wrath of the Twitterverse and a misogynistic media upon her head by interrupting just four times during the course of a program. Where are the newspaper editorials about Pyne’s performance?
Tanner and Akerman made 11 interruptions each. Like Pyne, their major target was Ellis – 5 interruptions from Tanner and 6 from Akerman. Jones interrupted the Minister for Employment four times, the most notable when she opened her mouth to answer a question from an audience member and before she had a chance to speak, Jones said, “We’ll take that as a comment” and directed the next question to her nemesis, Christopher Pyne!
The American guest, Nilaja Sun, barely got a look in and was effectively side-lined by the rude posturing of Pyne and Tanner in particular. It was a cringe-worthy performance in front of an international guest who deserved more respect and more air time. I understand she got much fairer coverage on Richard Fidler’s “In Conversation” program.
There are two incidents during Monday night’s show which highlight the appalling behaviour of Pyne, Tanner and Akerman. In the first, as Ellis tries to address a question from audience member, Georgina Freeman, (ironically about Tony Abbott’s misogyny), Pyne and Tanner launch in to a kind of inept, vaudevillian double-act.
TONY JONES: Kate Ellis?
KATE ELLIS: Well, can I just say first up what I’m not going to take is a lecture from Piers Akerman on women issues and how women feel about issues in this country and I am really glad we’re actually able to speak on this. Going back to the actual question, I mean I think there is a couple of different issues here. What Australian women have been concerned about is not that Tony Abbott does not love his wife. Of course he does. It is not that Tony Abbott doesn’t love his daughters. It is not even whether Tony Abbott likes Downton Abbey or not. Like that was all very nice…
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: It’s a disgraceful campaign, Kate.
KATE ELLIS: That was all nice but it’s completely…
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: It’s an orchestrated campaign.
KATE ELLIS: …irrelevant to the concerns of Australian women…
LINDSAY TANNER: Don’t you like Downton Abbey either?
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: I love Downton Abbey.
KATE ELLIS: …and that is, if you’re going to…
LINDSAY TANNER: It’s a very good show.
KATE ELLIS: …if you’re going to…
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: I like the Dowager Duchess too. I think she’s hysterical.
LINDSAY TANNER: Maggie Smith is sensational. Sensational.
Only then does Tony Jones step in, saying mildly, “Can we allow the comments to continue?”
Towards the end of the program, at Jones’ invitation, Ellis tries doggedly to address a question from the audience:
TONY JONES: Let’s see if Kate Ellis wants to talk about the questions from the audience.
KATE ELLIS: Well, I absolutely would.
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Why haven’t we talked about the speaker?
KATE ELLIS: And I’d just say that I don’t share Lindsay’s diagnosis at all and I think that if there is a criticism of this Government, it cannot be short-term policy making. When you have look at real policies to increase…
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: What about the emissions trading scheme that was axed and brought back?
KATE ELLIS: …to increase superannuation from 9 to 12%; to increase the retirement age; to bring in a price on carbon…
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: What about reopening Nauru?
KATE ELLIS: …to build a National Broadband Network, none of these are in place…
PIERS AKERMAN: East Timor.
KATE ELLIS: …by the next election.
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Citizens’ assembly.
KATE ELLIS: This is about building our country for the challenges of the future.
PIERS AKERMAN: Price watch.
KATE ELLIS: This is because we…
PIERS AKERMAN: Grocery watch.
KATE ELLIS: …absolutely have a purpose…
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: This list is endless.
KATE ELLIS: …and we’re very clear about it…
PIERS AKERMAN: Pink batts.
TONY JONES: Okay. All right.
KATE ELLIS: …and despite these interruptions, are going to remain absolutely focused on it.
Cheers from the audience for Ellis show how the trolls’ egregious behaviour backfired badly within the studio, at least.
Let us be clear, Pyne, Akerman and Tanner did not receive reciprocal treatment, either from Ellis or from each other. This wasn’t ‘par for the course’. This was a cowardly three against one attack specifically directed at Ellis because she was a woman and unlikely, for the reasons I’ve canvassed above, to fight back.
By my count, Pyne was the second most interrupted guest but mainly because poor Jones spent a great deal of time trying to shut him up – a total of 10 interruptions from the host.
Ellis interrupted Pyne only twice while he, you may recall, interrupted her 21 times.
Pyne was interrupted 3 times by Tanner, once by Akerman and twice by Sun.
In total, the women on the panel were responsible for 12 interruptions and the male guests, 56; the men interrupted around 350 per cent more than the female panelists.
The quandary, of course, is “How should women respond to this kind of bullying?”
I can quite understand that Ellis did not wish to be distracted by the kind of vilification meted out to Deveny. On the other hand, is the correct response really just to soldier on without calling the bullies out for their deplorable manners?
I am not arguing that Ellis should be protected from intense questioning about the ALP’s policies because she is a woman. I am not suggesting that male politicians and journalists should ‘go soft’ on women. But, I think it was clear to everyone watching Q&A on Monday night that this was a particularly gendered attack which cynically capitalised on the fact there was not a strategy Ellis could employ that would not damage her.
I would have liked to have seen the three-stooges try their little stunt on Bob Hawke or Paul Keating and see how they came out of it!
But, as a woman, Ellis’s options were limited. She could fight back and be criticised for being strident, or she could maintain her dignity and appear weak and ineffectual. I will not criticize her for her choosing the latter, but oh how I wish more women would brave the first option and call the misogynist bastards out as Julia Gillard did so magnificently in Parliament today.
THIS! THIS is how we women should respond to the pathetic efforts of men like Pyne, Tanner, Ackerman and Abbott; men who want to scare us off their turf, to sideline us, and to frighten us into submission. THIS is the appropriate response. We must no longer sit silently and demurely in the face of this bastardry in order to appear ‘nice’ . We must respond with all the power we can muster and say, “I WILL NOT BE TREATED LIKE THIS!” And yes, we will be called every name under the sun, but isn’t that better than compliance? Isn’t that better than being silenced? Isn’t that better than trading real power and a real voice for ‘nice’?
See also Ben Pobjie’s excellent account of Monday’s Q&A
My Working Document Q&A is available for anyone who wants to check my figures.
NB: Q&A is a discussion program and one need not, necessarily, be perjorative about interruptions. They are a natural part of conversation. I concede that many of the interruptions counted in this analysis are ‘benign’. However, I believe that when, as we see here, one panellist (or a group of panellists) are responsible for a particularly high rate of interruptions and against one person in particular, it casts doubt on just how ‘benign’ those interruptions were.
Related Article: The Blokeyness Index: blokes win the gender war in Australia’s 4th Estate – Chrys Stevenson in the King’s Tribune
(A substantial part of this article is available free. The whole article can be accessed for a small charge.)
I, too, have no particular opinion about Kate Ellis as a politician, but one thing I took away from Monday night’s cringe-worthy Q&A program was that she obviously has extraordinary fortitude given the disgraceful behavior of the male panelists that she was forced to deal with. In my book, Tanner and Pyne (my reaction to whom is usually the same as if someone had scraped fingernails across a blackboard) are particularly noteworthy for their playground style exclusion bullying tactics in their inane little tete-a-tete about a TV show, from which they emerged looking smug and self-satisfied (“Oh, sorry, Katie; were you trying to say something?”). That Kate maintained her cool despite this appalling display highlighted the puerility of their behavior and was, I think, the best road to take. Tony Jones is always irritating, but on this occasion he failed utterly by not decisively reigning in the boorish behavior. I’m not one to quickly bring gender into things, but this was a glaring case of trying to ‘put the little woman back in her place.’ It still leaves a bad taste in my mouth…
And what about the way Pyne showed absolutely NO respect to the woman questioner in the audience?
Reblogged this on meinthe21stcentury and commented:
Well written Gladly…Bravo! and thank you Chrys
I also recommend watching the excellent Youtube clip of the Prime Minister included in this blog.
Pyne, Tanner and Ackerman should all be knitted a chaff jacket and taken for a boat ride. Kate you did well in dealing with this riff raff.
Thanks for doing this analysis Chrys.
Watching the show it was obvious that Tanner, Akerman and especially Christopher Pyne, were rude bullies with little respect for women – but seeing the actual statistics, highlights just how bad they really are.
Akerman, not a fat cat but a cane toad – it was difficult to pinpoint who was the most hideous the toad Akerman or the poodle Pyne. I was astonished that Jones allowed the harrassment of Ellis to go on – but then he is a bloke. But then, so am I and I was pretty disgusted by the whole thing. Thank God for the marvellous american playwright Najila
When QANDA first started I enjoyed it for it’s apparent ability to allow our political and social representatives to explain what they were doing and thinking. It was fresh, and certainly the first series had some good and open debates. However, because of the recidivism of many of the frequently invited guests in outright bullying and narcissism, I can now not watch a full episode. Although the perpetrators are mostly males, (I won’t call them men) there are several women who also offend. Also, although the offenders can come from all backgrounds and political persuasions, The Coalition parties are very over-represented, and to some extent must be the product of the malignant leadership of the political right in this country.
Thanks again, Chrys. On hearing the guest list for Monday’s QandA – ie the invincibly repulsive Christopher Pyne and the horridly arrogant Piers Akerman – I let out a groan, announcing that i didn’t have the stomach to suffer them, so off went the telly. H/ever, i thank you for sharing the vicarious trauma that played out. No surprises! Sounds like the “boys” club was in full swing – plus, i’ve had up and down contempt brewing for Jones for some time now. Your vigilance on these matters is highly valued (and clearly warranted) – keep up the brilliant verbal wrath. nb I, too, rejoiced in Julia’s glory yesterday
Love your articles. I love Twitter for the reasons Jane Caro articulated in her article yesterday. I get to hear the views of women, such as yourself, that we unfortunately don’t get to see in the mainstream media. It opens my eyes and mind to blind spots that as a man, I probably have but am prepared to address. However I have one observation/question, possibly even a criticism. I agree that these men are rude and disrespectful but misogynist, in every case?
My feeling is that this word is being overused and therefore losing it’s impact (*or will lose it’s impact). Pyne, Abbott and Akerman – no arguement as there is plenty of evidence to support this, as the Prime Minister demonstrated yesterday.
Tanner? Maybe, I don’t know. On his commentary since his retirement he is clearly pro-Rudd and therefore Anti-Gillard and this potentially explains his behaviour on Mon night on QandA. But is he a misogynist simply because he was rude and disrespectful? Is it too simple to say that he is because he wouldn’t have done it to Hawke or Keating? What were his motives for doing it this time? Most likely, to continue his support of Rudd. Is he a woman hater? Was his behaviour misogynistic or just plain rude? It was definitely the latter. Was it the former? I don’t know, maybe.
I draw on Jane Caro’s article again. She said words to the effect that Feminism, as a word and movement, lost its oomph in the 90’s most likely because people were over it (rightly or wrongly) -I’m paraphrasing here.
I sense the use of the word misogynist may lose its impact. You can see it now. Mainstream male media latching on to the defence ‘oh yes, we’re all misogynists, we all hate women, blah blah blah’.
* Having said that it’s full impact was felt yesterday in the marvellous speech by the Prime Minister.
My feeling is that this word is a powerful weapon to be used and therefore should be used at the appropriate times (like yesterday) but not every time a man is disrespectful to a woman. (And I am not for a minute suggesting it is being used every time but it does seem to be used quite a lot – maybe it is just a current phase)
Christine, I would love to know if and where I am missing something as context to the discussion is equally important as the content. As a male I want to understand the context of a women’s view on this topic so I can be a better father to my daughter.
Thank you again for your great articles.
PS – Apologies just realised I spelled your name wrong.
No worries, Darren.
Thanks again for this analysis because twice now it has backed up my feelings when watching Qand A. I thought Catherine Deveny was fair and reasonable in the context of that show and couldn’t understand the attack on her afterwards. I actually turned Qand A off the other night after those two men discussed “Downton Abbey” while the minister was trying to answer a question. I agree with you it was dispicable and rude but what really got me was how the program pretty much ignored the American guest for the first 20 minutes or so. It was truly bizaare to watch.
And on the PM’s quite brilliant speech regarding Tony Abbotts hypocrisy re. sexism the guest tweeter on lateline last night was Joe Hilebrand and his thoughts on it were along the lines that “… she would’ve received more sympathy if she had kept quiet…”. What does that even mean?
Thanks again for your detailed analysis. I was also thinking that the actual Time in the show when people speak most is important too. Like the first 10 minutes and last 10 miutes of each half of a football game are the most crucial for setting the tone and momentum of the game and are when most goals are scored. I reckon you’d find the men actually ‘dominate’ this ‘time’ of the program too and therefore provide a subtle yet unfair advantage which has added to me leaving this show.
I agree with much of what you say about Ellis and the disgraceful behaviour of Pyne, Akerman and Tanner. I feel you let your argument down, however, by in the same article championing Catherine Deveny who, like the three men mentioned, incurred the wrath of the Twitterverse for her rude, disruptive behaviour when she was on Q&A. It wasn’t misogyny that prompted widespread viewer anger at her aggressive chanting of bumper sticker slogans that added nothing to the debate (even if she and her supporters resort to dismissing any valid criticism or exposure of her hypocrisies as misogyny). As a feminist atheist, I was annoyed she had diminished my point of view on that show, not to mention making a religious loony look reasonable by comparison!
While Tony Jones failed dismally as a moderator this week, he should not be expected to give each panelist an even 20% air time. This is the flaw with your statistical comparisons. A good moderator would allow those with the most interesting or pertinent viewpoints to contribute most and would cut off those who were detracting from the debate or had nothing valuable to contribute. Deveny clearly fell into this latter category with her empty platitudes rudely delivered when she was on the show and should be more appropriately likened to Piers Akerman than Kate Ellis in this instance. Tony Jones did well to stop her irritating disruptions then but failed to do the same to her male equivalents this week.
It’s a big week for misogynists being called out – first Alan Jones, then these three men on Q&A and now Abbott in the PM’s blistering speech. As the feminist Left is finally gaining ground but with a long way left to go, we should not commit the same hypocrisies as the Alan Jones crowd by defending the indefensible in supporting people like Catherine Deveny with her history of repulsive utterances. Bravo to Gillard and Ellis for standing their ground against misogyny in different ways this week.
Obviously I disagree. I will criticise anyone, including Deveny, when I think it is due. In the case of her Q&A appearance, I believe it was misogynistic vilification at its worst and I stand by my comments. I do agree that the role of moderator is not necessarily to give every speaker completely equal time. However, there is a disturbing trend on Q&A towards fewer female panelists given less opportunity to speak. Jones’ failure to control Pyne et al in their efforts to prevent Ellis from speaking this week is another concern. In the case of Deveny’s appearance – the differential between her word count and Jensen’s was significant. Ellis was not so hard done by in terms of word count, but the constant interruptions had much the same effect – to mute her message. You may not agree with the way Catherine Deveny delivers her message – I don’t always agree either – but feminism is a broad ‘church’ and there is room for many different approaches. Deveny has a right to be heard as much as everyone else – even if she offends the middle-class sensibilities of some.
Thank you for writing on this. I could not bring myself to watch the full show as I have enough anxiety without having to tolerate seeing or hearing Pyne or Akerman ever again.
However I did catch the last minutes of the programme. This was a programme I used to watch every week when it first aired. I was excited that we were going to have a robust and respectful question and answer show that would inform and encourage debate. Now it has become a rallying point for bullying and overt self agrandisement.
I have always admired Lindsay Tanner. I found him, in the past, to be a highly intelligent and clear speaker who knew his portfolios and his position with representing the people and the Labor Party. I found him to be caring and loyal and was brilliant at clarifyng circumstances and ideas that were muddied by a confusing and bloody minded opposition.
I admired that he left Parliament because he had shown loyalty to his elected Prime Minister who was ousted. I found this honourable.
Now having said all that I am shocked to read here ( no I cannot rewatch the beginning of Q&A) that he behaved as an interrupting bully to a sitting minister of the Australian Government. I believe you when you say he was involved. The last several minutes did not show that. I saw that he was explaining his ideas on where the Labor party has ‘gone wrong’ ( which by the way I kinda agree with) but did not see him be rude to or interrupt Kate.
I have no real impression of Minister Ellis until this show. I have to say I was so disgusted with her treatment, with the smarmy, smiling contempt show by Pyne and the sneering slathering asides by Ackerman that I was glad I had not seen the rest of the show. It also made me admire and applaud her keeping her head ‘whilst all around her others were losing theirs’. She gain my respect…as did the Prime Minister yesterday with her wonderful castigation of Abbotts hypocrisy. I was (for the first time since she came to be PM) cheering her on and clapping my hands in glee. She earnt my respect and admiration for the wonderful clear take down of an unworthy opponent.
So I came in where the child care worker had asked a question about care workers leaving the profession by droves and the need for the raising of their wages. I have to say I did not hear Ellis answer her question. I did hear her give her political piece on it and that was expected and usual for a Minister. However, the interruptions, the overtalking, the fake laughter and the loud retorts WHILST SHE WAS SPEAKING was embarrassing, crass, disrespectful and contemptible.
I was yelling at the telly saying; “THIS is a minister in our government. Shut up and listen. Show some respect if not for the woman than for the position she holds. Hold your tongue Pyney and give some deference to someone who has a great deal of responsibility in our nations running”.
I was so so glad I had not watched it all.
So thanks again Chrys for your painstaking work, word counting and interruption counting and observations of this continuing tactic being utilised by the Conservative side of pollitics ( and Tanner if he was a part of it…it doesn’t matter really any more what he does. He is neither in politics nor in the media so is a done deal).
Does it have to always be misogyny when boorish behaviour is shown by a male. Not saying that this isn’t the right definition at times, but I have my doubts that Sophie Mirabella’s vagina would somehow make her any less aggressive, interrupting and repulsive in character as Christopher Pyne.
Women can be misogynists too – believe me, I’ve me ’em. No, it doesn’t always have to be misogyny, but in this case it was. The issue is that these blokes know women are a soft target in these situations because there is NOTHING we can do that won’t damage our reputations. Look at Gillard being branded ‘aggressive’ today for speaking out against Abbott’s vile misogyny and repetition of the meme ‘die of shame’. We’re damned if we fight back and damned if we don’t and they know that and capitalise on it. THAT’S why I’m calling it out for what it is.
Excellent article. One point though, you wrote “Pyne and Ellis launch in to a kind of inept, vaudevillian double-act” when it should be Pyne and Tanner. Thanks for the article!
Will fix – late night!
Kate also flicked her hair indignantly 34 times
As well she should have!
On seeing who was on Q&A Pyne and Ackerman I decided I did not want to have to clean up my own vomit off the floor and did not watch.
I am not at all surprised at what happened though, this sadly has become the norm for the LNP and sadly often labor politicians.
I am disgusted to hear that Tony Jones was unwilling or incapable of dealing with this problem, I am delighted that the audience was aware of what was happening.
The message given by “I am the father of daughters” Abbott is respect women so long as they stay in their place and do exactly what you want them to do.
Personally I don’t think that is what respect means.
As quite a few of your readers have stated, I too gave up watching Qanda a while back. Mainly because of Tony Jones’ attitude at times when chairing the discussions. Christopher Pyne has never appealed to me (to put it politely) as someone who has anything relevant to say. I actually always have this vision of him at school being bullied, & he is now getting his own back! Piers Ackerman’s views & columns have always turned my stomach. However, I was really surprised to hear that Lyndsay Tanner joined in this appalling behaviour. I felt that when he resigned from the Labour Party it was a great loss of an intelligent, compassionate & human politician. To think that he could lower his standards to the level of C. Pyne shocks me.
For Tony Jones to allow this to happen on National TV, appears as if he is condoning this bullying behaviour. What are these men afraid of ???
Maybe we need somebody else to chair this show – maybe a woman! Geraldine Doogue does a great job of keeping the peace while allowing each to have their say.
thank you for broaching this sad affair. I watched the program in disgust. Pine acted like a schoolroom troublemaker. Tanner disappointed me. Piers Akerman’s input was pointless. I was also disappointed in Tony Jones’ behavior. He was as bad as his male panel members.
Yes,’maybe we need someone else to chair this show’.
I did not watch the program. I looked at the panel and decided I might end up smashing the TV. Based on what I have read (not just your article), I am left wondering did their parents actually teach them any manners at all. Cloddish behaviour at best, childish, brattish at worst.
I think a good QandA panel would be you, Catherine, Julie Posetti, Tony Abbott and myself. 😉
When is the standard of civility in public life going to live up to expectations?
Liberal or not, I thought Julia’s speech brilliant and well delivered. I loved her little smile when she had a dig at Tony for looking at his watch!
Thank you for providing your in depth analysis of Q and A. I am appalled and outraged not only that the behaviour of Pyne and his co panalists occurred but that the ABC and Tony Jones allowrd it to continue.
We have a long way to go in shaming the likes of Alan Jones, Christopher Pyne and Toby Abbott but we should not shirk the challenge. Bullying is par for the course in the Liberal Party of today but what gives with Tanner?? Still sore obviously! Or is it a deeper behavioural attribute.
Your analysis should be forwarded to Media Watch as well.
Paul Burns Traralgon
Excellent analysis of Q&A… I was appalled at how docile Tony Jones was, but even more outraged by the complete lack of civility of the ‘boys’ on the panel. My concern is that not enough liberal voters would have bothered to watch, what is potentially (and I hope not) the next government team….. Heaven & Hell help us then!!!
Geez people , chill down, it is politics,one of the toughest and often dirtiest jobs, and bullying is integral part of it. Politics are for people with tick skin, not for sissies, regardless of gender. Like it or not, but that the way it is. If you can’t handle it, then you shouldn’t be in public politics.
Female politicians behave not different to male politicians, and treated by their opponents similarly, equality of genders in politics, isn’t that what everyone wanted? Ellis wasn’t bullied because of her gender, but because she wasn’t tough enough to stand for herself. If it was male in her place, he would be treated just the same. If it was tough female like Margaret Thatcher those three clowns would have been pulverized to saw dust.
Stop this childish misogyny hysteria, there is so many real issues being ignored, so many mistakes to hold government accountable for, don’t let politicians to drag you into futile and pointless reality show style demagogy.
You are quite wrong, of course, and have entirely missed the point. The point is that while a man might be closely questioned – and quite rightly – he would not have been subjected the kind of cowardly attack launched on Ellis. Women see it for what it is because we are subjected to it, as Gillard said this week, day in and day out.
Two readers of Ben Pobjie’s blog have explained the problem better than I.
1. Why is this different to the normal ‘cut and thrust’ of politics?
On Pobjie’s blog, Lou Pardi said: “For those asking ‘why play the feminist card’ just because Kate Ellis happens to be a women bullied by three men enabled by another man…
– if she’d been a man, she wouldn’t have been being bullied by three men enabled by another man
– if she’d been a man, the way in which the other men interacted with her (belittling, smirking, talking down, having side-conversations) probably wouldn’t have happened. And if it had, it would have been curbed.”
2. Why didn’t she stand up for herself?
On Pobjie’s blog, Polly said: “You cannot sit still, you cannot be quiet, you cannot yell back, you cannot ‘put them in their place’, you cannot raise your voice, demand to be heard, beg for respect…etc etc. You can do none of this because you will pay for it…damned if you do damned if you don’t.”
Just look at the response of the Australian media to Gillard’s self-defence against Abbott this week. While she’s been lauded elsewhere, the misogynist Australian media have castigated her for ‘not setting a good example for women’. Oh yes. They don’t want us women talking back! Women know that if we respond assertively to the sneering, belittling, eye-rolling, condescension we will be branded as ‘nuts’, ‘over-emotional’, ‘over-reacting’, ‘reacting to nothing’, ‘imagining things’. That we are ‘paranoid’, ‘just can’t deal with the pressure’ (it’s a man’s world, honey). They’ll look at us in dismay and say, “What was THAT about?” – rolling their eyes to their friends – as if they haven’t been subtly undermining us for months. They’ll sneer to their mates, “Must be THAT time of the month!”. And, if we’re public figures, as Deveny found, we’ll be castigated for our ‘loud-mouthed’ aggressiveness with a host of nasty, gendered, abuse. Thus, we women are well trained to take the abuse stoically and try to press on regardless as Ellis did.
I have been at the end of this kind of treatment as many, many women have. Some have been writing to me privately about their own workplace experiences where they are undermined every, single, day – not because ‘that’s the way it is’ for everyone – but specifically because they are women. We know it. We live it, and men like you can deny it until you’re blue in the face. But we will NOT be silent and we will not just sit back at take it any more.
“If she was he” ? Just wondering, if she was Liberal and they Labor, what would be direction of messages here.
This was a debate, not an auctioneer competition, words counts don’t matter as much as messages they convey.
Minister Ellis could have said a lot in those 1,962 words, from your transcripts it is clear, she didn’t say anything noteworthy, not saying opponents were much better, they just wasted more words.
I wouldn’t take sides in Julia Gillard – Tony Abbots argument over whose misogynist is better, I am not competent on the topic. My objection is against parliament being turned into “Jersey Shore” style reality show by both sides.
I don’t care about how strong Tony hugs his wife at night, or if Julia Gillard hates men or in fact anything about their personal tastes and preferences. On a side note, I find PM attractive as a woman, she is strong, tough plus bonus red hair! But again, who cares ??
What matters to me, and I believe millions of Australians is that PM repeatedly broke her promises, misled, made obviously wrong decisions, failed to accept her mistakes and most importantly ignored issues which really matter. As opposition leader Tony Abbott failed badly to keep political debate focused on these matters and propose clear alternatives.
What bothers me is that years ago I came as skilled worker to a big company employing thousands in factories and R&D centers, and now not only factories are gone, which is global process, but so are high tech development centers, and I had to, either leave, or stay but do local job which requires mush less competence than my skills.
Selfishly I want politicians to talk about these issues once in a while. If my views make me misogynistic, so be it. Then as a convicted misogynists, I just plead you to focus political debate on economy and development issues, which mater so much to us misogynists, but I hope to you as well.
Asef, it’s pretty difficult to make a coherent, noteworthy argument when you’re being interrupted every 50 words! As I said, I don’t know what kind of a politician Ellis is and it may be true that, even give the opportunity to speak, she might have been full of empty rhetoric. That’s not the point. Let her have her say then call her on it.
As for ‘if she were Liberal’ would my reaction be the same. You bet. Look back on some of my blogs about Julia Gillard. I’m no blind Labor Party supporter. In fact, I can’t remember when I last voted Labor. Only this morning I an anti-Gillard policy tweet from Dr Jennifer Wilson with my own observation included:
“The REAL Gillard hypocrisy « No Place For Sheep http://noplaceforsheep.com/2012/10/11/the-real-gillard-hypocrisy/ … Agree!Rousing speech doesn’t get @JuliaGillard off hook for bad policy.”
I will continue to criticize the ALP and Gillard on issues where I believe it is appropriate. She gets no free pass from me because she is a woman!
I appreciate the tone of your argument and the coherent way in which you put it. It concerns me, however, that you are pulling the typical male ‘dismiss and deflect’ tactic by saying, “Oh, misogyny doesn’t matter – hey LOOK at all these OTHER things we could be talking about! How’ bout that economy, eh?”
Well, yes, the economy matters. But SO does misogyny in public life and in the workplace. The fact that one is important does not take away from the importance of the other no matter how you might like to try to divert us ‘girls’ with “Oh, look at the pretty shiny thing over HERE!”
You seem like an intelligent man and I’m sad that you really don’t seem to ‘get’ it. Perhaps you should speak to some of your women friends about their experiences. Perhaps you should also stop assuming that because women support Julia Gillard’s opposition to misogyny we necessarily support her policies ‘just because she’s a woman’. You underestimate us!
Just as you are not an expert on gender politics, I am not an expert on the economy. I would note, however, that if you came to this country ‘years ago’ it is likely you came BEFORE there was a Global Financial Crisis and that, had you been in any other Western country, it is likely that you would be far worse off economically than you are now given the way in which the ALP managed the economy through that crisis. I am a vociferous critic of the ALP on many issues, but I think it is incredibly wrong to blame them for a global economic downturn which they had no part in creating and have been internationally lauded for their role in diminishing its impact in this country.
It is ironical how you think that issues like economy and development are distractions from most compelling issue we face as a country – misogyny. While I think that this whole misogyny hysteria was started to divert public attention from real issues like economy and development. Lets agree to disagree on this one.
I sincerely don’t see any misogynistic behavior around me. Both my managers are females, I never perceived nor treated my female coworkers somehow different to males, because of their gender.
I accept that my situation might be exceptional and misogyny is widespread and rampant elsewhere in Australia. Even then, how could that outburst in parliament by PM, which can be summarized as “don’t touch my misogynist (Slipper), you bloody misogynist (Abbot)”, be considered inspirational ? Does it mean that from now on, best defense for women suffering from misogyny, is to get themselves pet misogynist and use him to tease their misogynist abusers? Confused here..
Btw I don’t even understand why mr Slipper is labeled as misogynist, by all parties and media, they just argue on who is worse offender – him or Abbot. Only argument I heard is private text message where he likened female genitalia to shell-less mussel, which geometrically speaking, kinda close. I love mussels, and sea food in general, naturally I adore female genitalia and entire body in general, so this whole affair is very confusing to me.
Back in my home country, things were easy; if my wife comes home saying that she is being mistreated by some jackass at work, I would go and beat the crap out of him, and everyone, even police would expect and approve that. In Oz things don’t work like that, and are much more complicated and confusing.
Bottom line, I accept that I might be ignorant, not able to see things, and even be unaware misogynist myself. I am willing to open my heart and mind to hear your message, if you can formulate it in simple terms, so male mind can comprehend it. Example “You can’t liken female genitalia to mussels, even if it does! You must say, it looks like petals of blooming rosebud in fresh spring morning”. I am sure most men would be happy to follow.
Unfortunately no time left for economy, just briefly, I did work on projects in many places, including Australia, Europe and US, before and after GFC, I can make comparisons, and I don’t like where we heading at all. But that trivial discussion can wait for better, or shall I say, worse times.
1. I have never said misogyny was a bigger problem than the economy. I said it was a problem that needs to be address – regardless of the state of the economy.
2. I never said that Slipper’s text message was misogynistic. It was tacky, but I wouldn’t expect much better from him. He is a ghastly human being, but frankly, I have no idea whether he’s a misogynist or not. I don’t think the text message was particularly bad. I certainly don’t think it’s as bad as 30 years of public misogyny from Abbott.
3. I have other things to do now, but will try to answer your question more completely later.
Asef is surely a misogynistic type of male. Great article Chris. I emailled Chris Pyne about his intolerable behaviour. Tony Jones has become a very poor host to allow such behaviour on what used to be a very interesting TV programme. Get your act together Aunty.
Peg I agree – Asef your comments were respectful initially but by the end have just reverted to belittling women, indicated by your carry on about how to describe female genatalia and the female body. I found Julia Gillard’s speech inspirational and am proud to see such a prominent female figure standing up for women.
Chrys, thank you for the article and transcript, it is fantastic and really highlights how bad the episode was. I was horrified when watching, not just at the disrespect and rudeness shown to the MP, but also to the female audience members. Communication is not just what people say but also their tone and body language, and the look on Pyne’s face when the female audience members asked questions, said it all. All the females who spoke up and had an opinion were shot down and treated poorly.
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Christopher Pyne is my hero.
Well, Edward that tells us just about all we really need to know about you.
I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t be too difficult to find many people who are much more deserving of hero-worship than the likes of Christopher Pyne.
Hear, Hear, Chrys. Poor Christopher, at least one person likes him, I haven’t met anyone else who does!
Thanks Chrys; I came here hoping to find a comparative analysis of this week’s Qanda with the Deveny/Jensen exchange, and there it was. I have this strange feeling that we’re entering a new era of calling it, and the pushback be damned.
This post hit the nail on the head.
Tanner and Pyne were behaving like childish school boys. Never expected to see those 2 chumming up.
Akerman was, well, Ackerman.
Tony Jones has become a lame and at times partisan moderator of these debates. So disappointing.
Overall its just so ironic that the debate began on the gender topic, and throughout the whole program Kate Ellis was consistently interrupted by ‘the boys club’.
Its not that men shouldn’t be able to adopt a vigorous tone with women and debate their point robustly; goodness knows women have shown they can handle it, and also give as good as they get.
No, its got more to do with the quality of political discourse in the parliament and beyond, and the bullying culture that has been allowed to flourish in politics and our shameless media, and ultimately setting the tone for the nation. And if you were watching studiously at that program, it was there evident for all to see.
I don’t care if its women, blacks, overweight people, gays, whatever; show some respect! Lest we become a nation of hateful spiteful people. The kids are listening you know.
There are guilty parties on all sides when it comes to neanderthal views on women in power, but few would disagree that Tony Abbott’s track record has made it somehow OK for people to express such views publicly and often with alarming offence.
Misogynist however is a bad choice of words. This would imply that he is aware of his attitude and actions towards women and is doing it out of hate. I wouldn’t give him credit for being self aware, I rather think he is simply ignorant of the opposite sex and is therefore sexist.
One thing we all agree on…let’s hope they can get on with the job from here.
With respect to all,
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I think I can see why Tony Jones failed to give Kate Ellis a fair go. He needs to boost his anti-Labor credentials in case he has to line up, cap-in-hand with that goose Lord Monckton, for a part-time PR job for Gina Rinehart.
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