Apropos of yesterday’s revelations regarding cockles, mussels and jam, not to forget to mention the Gillard excoriation of Abbott in Question Time, I’m driven to wonder just why Peter Slipper needed to be racked out like so much biltong.That the Slipper-Ashby business is a dyed-in-the-wool setup is hardly in question. The machinations by former Howard government minister, Mal Brough to secure Slipper’s seat by hook or crook have become legend. The personal animus between the two evident in every media story ever written on the subject. It’s all about power and privilege, jealousy and over-inflated egos. One would presume, whatever the personal sexual foibles might be on the Slipper side of the fence, that if he knew full well that an ambitious political enemy was gunning for him, that communications either business or personal would be circumspectly approached. Apparently not. Hubris, perhaps?
All political theatre aside, I have to admit to finding myself chuckling wryly reading through the ‘Slipper texts’, especially with relation to allusions to female genitalia. To me, it’s obvious that James Ashby being a gay boy, and Slipper being a taunting type of smart-arse heterosexual male, has conversed with Ashby in a manner to be expected of two male acquaintances where one is constantly taking he piss out of the other. Among males, conversations about females, their bodies, their peculiarities very often, indeed regularly take lurid and obscene turns. Mind you, lurid is okay and obscene is in the mind only of the perceiver. Between two men, whatever is said by one and tacitly accepted by the other without exception, is obviously regarded as discourse du jour. Such conversations only become sexist, obscene or objectionable when regarded so by those who were not party to the original conversation, nor were ever intended to become party to it. So, is it sexist for two males to converse privately in a lurid manner about things which males converse about? Absolutely not. It only becomes so if the conversation suddenly becomes public, which was never intended in the first place. Schroedinger and his cat would seem to apply here.
As to whether female labia bear any semblance to shucked mussels, well…..let’s be honest & say yes. Every vaginal opening I’ve ever seen certainly does look remarkably akin to the flesh of an oyster. These once private conversations conducted via SMS simply point that out. Again, I see nothing overtly sexist about such remarks, but then again, I’m male. I certainly wouldn’t go around telling my female friends that their cunts look like bearded clams. Equally, I don’t publically exclaim what marvellous tits they have either. That, is sexist behaviour. At least it is to some people.
Why am I even bothering to write about this theatre of the ridiculous? Two reasons – (1) because I can; and (2) because in my view this is yet another example of societal norms blown out of all proportion purely for both political and personal gain. I’d like to say that we, as a supposedly modern, reasoned society really need to get over ourselves and focus more on the realities of the gender differential. Fairness and equality. No-one will ever convince me that women don’t discuss men in precisely the same manner, given the opportunities and circumstances. If it’s good for the goose, etcetera. These things happen, it’s no big deal. They only become a big deal when we as a society choose to feign shock and dismay that other members of our society behave in such manners. In reality what we’re saying amid our expression of shock and horror is this – “stupid dickheads should know better than to place themselves in positions like this”. If you’re in the public eye, if you’re representing a constituency, yes, you should know better. Better than to even think that one day your sexual allusions, foibles and desires won’t suddenly become public knowledge. That is the core issue. Do we really want such idiots running our affairs as duly elected representatives? Most assuredly not.
That, is why Peter Slipper had to resign. That, is why Gillard stepped into the intellectual void created by Tony Abbott yesterday with his blind ineptitude on display. That, is why Gillard ought to be applauded. No more, no less. She showed up the alternate Prime Minister for the incompetent fool he really is. Nothing whatsoever to do with flesh of a mollusc or the English colloquial nominative for vagina. Intelligence is what we want and expect from our elected representatives, not blithe ignorance and stupidity. We saw plenty of both yesterday. I know where my vote will go.