Pigs In Suits

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Published in The Age May 7 2008.

Sam Newman’s latest demeaning stunt is the tip of an ugly but lucrative iceberg.

SAM Newman insults and undermines women once again. Not news, I know, more a day in the life of a serial misogynist. He fondled a mannequin with the face of a respected female football commentator and then, when women kicked up, bagged all women associated with football, using the caveat “I love women, I’ve been married to two or three of them”.

Liberal politician Troy Buswell has previously admitted to snapping a Labor staffer’s bra strap and been accused of making sexist remarks to another female MP. Last week he ‘fessed up to sniffing a female colleague’s chair in a room full of people.

Josef Fritzl kept his daughter locked in a dungeon for 24 years, raping her repeatedly and fathering her seven children.

Oh, and Kate Ritchie wins Australian television’s highest award for being popular. Dull, unthreatening, uninspiring, but popular.

How far have we really come? Despite the visible progress we’ve made (when I say we, I mean women and men), we’re still knee deep in what feminist commentator Eva Cox has pinpointed as insidious, invisible forms of cultural discrimination.

Look closely and listen closer still and you’ll pick up constant reminders, subliminal threats, that no matter what women do, there’ll still be men threatened by the progress of women. Men who consider it an attack on their sense of entitlement, prepared to retaliate sexually to prove their point. And we’d be asking for it. Don’t get too big for your boots, missy, or you’ll be sorry. There’s a sense that we’ve been given a bit and that should be enough. Don’t be greedy, don’t be a smart mouth, don’t be pushy. If you ask questions, ask for more or poke the cage, you’ll be in big trouble.

I can’t help thinking of that quote “women’s biggest fear is men killing them and men’s biggest fear is women laughing at them”. I wish I knew who said it. It’s the truest, saddest and scariest thing I’ve ever heard.

At many schools, girls’ uniforms are still dresses. Why?

The AFL issued a DVD to all players asking them to consider whether it was appropriate to watch their mate have sex with his girlfriend, have sex with a drunk woman or have sex with another player’s girlfriend. Why?

Bureaucracy still forces women to choose between Miss (not married), Mrs (not available) or Ms (none of your business but at least you know I’m female). Why? I want no title, yet I’m constantly forced to choose one or the computer program won’t complete the task. I choose Dr.

Sure, it’s non-gender-specific but instead I end up with a title suggesting some socio-economic supremacy when all I want is nothing.

WA Liberals rallied behind Troy Buswell. Yes, I’m serious. Why did he sniff the chair? Insert Freudian analysis here.

If it was for a laugh, what could possibly have been the joke?

Sam Newman’s actions and attitude were — as usual — defended, diluted and supported by Eddie McGuire in an article entitled “Sam stuffed it up but calm down” and by Garry Lyon’s acceptance speech at the Logies.

Lyon said that television was beige and Newman was the most colourful man on the box. He called Newman a star. “He generates enormous publicity for this show and we continue to draw great numbers. We benefit from it.”

Who benefits? Not the women on the boards of the football clubs. Not the girls and boys and men and women who love footy and love each other. Not the confused people who sit surrounded by other people laughing at this maggot and wonder why they find him offensive, abusive and corrosive.

Channel Nine benefits. The blokes who get paid by The Footy Show benefit. And the advertisers who promote their products through The Footy Show benefit. This controversy is doing Channel Nine no harm. The show’s ratings spiked last week. If you want to hurt them, boycott the advertisers and the station.

Why is Newman popular? The guy’s a creep. I wrote an article about The Footy Show last year titled “Bankrupt orgy of male chauvinism“. I called the show media-sanctioned misogyny, said it degraded the culture of football, alienated women and taught boys that females were either slaves, trophies or bitches. I called Newman vain, ugly, a megalomaniac and a bully.

I got 100% positive feedback. The guys who sit by rolling their eyes saying “Oh Sam!” are just as bad. The show should be called “Pigs in Suits”.

Has Kate Ritchie broken new ground in creative endeavour, challenged outmoded cultural stereotypes or questioned the human condition? Is she brave? Is she smart? Is she funny? No, she’s been on Home and Away for 20 years. And she’s pretty. What a good girl.

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