Oct 112012

Listening to ABC Radio National this morning, I am now convinced more than ever that Main-Stream Media – MSM to we in the ‘sphere – are entirely out of touch with issues of gender surrounding our body politic at present.Listening to Michelle Grattan on RN this morning, as I do every morning, I am now convinced more so than ever that media punditry in this country is more out of touch with popular sentiment on political issues than it has ever been. I wrote this piece yesterday to which I’ve had several responses, all female, which entirely agree with my thoughts on the matter. I am yet to see, hear or read anything from the MSM which even remotely approaches my assessment.

Grattan, this morning, practically dismissed any suggestion that the Gillard tirade in the House of Representatives on Tuesday had anything at all to do with personal affront, or more broadly, a positioning by the PM on issues of gender inequality and sexism in political life and greater society overall. Yes, I agree entirely that use of the term ‘misogynist’ and its derivatives has been grossly over done. Misogyny is defined as a hatred of women, and inherently difficult to prove. Sexism on the other hand is self-evident in the attitudes and behaviour of those to whom it can be attributed. What has been levelled at Julia Gillard since she took the role of Prime Minister – regardless of how she took that role – has been blatantly sexist in portrayal. We’ve all seen it, we’ve all heard it, and we’ve all read it. Speaking of female genitalia in terms of molluscs is sexist behaviour, pure and simple. Equally giggling either in reality or metaphorically about phallic representations cast as jewellery or desk ornaments, is also sexist behaviour. We all do it, there’s nothing new in that. There’s also nothing uniquely derogatory about it, unless that behaviour is deliberately aimed at an individual or group in a bid to be demeaning or otherwise insulting. We’ve all done that as well.

What I’m seeing from media personalities and commentators in regard to the popular reaction to Gillard’s speech in the House is entirely disconnected from that reaction. Women in particular, and most men of my acquaintance, thought the reaction by Gillard to the Abbott motion against Slipper as Speaker of the House was not only warranted, but extremely well delivered and justifiably so. As a political tactic to further destabilise the government, it failed from the outset. Government, under the Westminster system is bound by tradition to support the Speaker, come what may. Abbott knows this and he was attempting to blur the lines between Slipper’s performance in the role and unproven allegations of sexual harassment & impropriety which the media seemed to want to make a bigger deal out of than was and is appropriate given the rules of subjudice. The context of Slippers texts to Ashby, whilst banal and stupid, have no direct impact on his ability to carry out the role of Speaker of the House. Therefore, Gillard was and remains vindicated in my view for her attack against Abbott.

What I’m seeing from the MSM, and this not only disappoints me, it also doesn’t in the least surprise me, is a blinkered assessment based purely on political aspects of the larger game being played in Canberra. The game of one-upmanship, of numbers and favours. Intrigue and division, back-stabbing, name-calling, bile-driven, vitriolic spitting and clawing over who has and who desperately wants this mythical talisman called Power. Mark Textor last night on twitter flatly refused to see any personal or popular aspect in the issue, claiming effectively that we would applauded the Gillard speech are simply sheep and don’t know any better. The op-ed’s in yesterday’s dailies all said virtually the same. Some – Paul Sheehan’s pathetic and later altered effort  sank lower than most(as is only to be expected given his known allegiances) – were even deliberately derogatory not only of Gillard and Labor  but demeaning of the general populace’s intellect in believing there was any more to it than simple political manouvering.

If ever there was a single event which highlighted the discontinuity between what we, the consumers of Main-Stream Media believe about & understand from current affairs, it was the Gillard response to the Abbott motion in Parliament last Tuesday. Her display was masterful, political, extremely well and powerfully delivered. It also came from a place within her where more than the political animal resides. It came from the person and that is what so impressed such a huge number of Australians. That, is also what the Main-Stream Media has completely missed and dare I say it, deliberately so. The MSM is not only letting itself down, it’s actually showing it’s consumer base just how inept at marketing it really is.