By MIA FREEDMAN
How many times can the words “deeply offensive to women” be said in a single week? I’ve lost track. The past few days have been astonishing, depressing, and exhausting as the news spews an avalanche of sexist incidents that range from the puerile to the grotesque.
The menu describing our PM’s most intimate body parts in explicit terms as though she is meat.
The Socceroos coach ‘joking’ that women should shut up in public.
The radio announcer questioning Julia Gillard about her sex life and her partner’s sexuality.
The defence force scandal revealing an organised network of more than 100 high ranking soldiers distributing obscene images of women they’ve had sex with along with graphic, revolting descriptions.
But you know what? I think it’s been a good week for women. And I say that without sarcasm.
While like many people I’ve been left reeling by each successive story of sexism, I’ve also been strangely buoyed by one thing: we’re talking about it. We’re condemning those involved and we’re treating the topic as worthy of public debate.
There have been consequences. The radio announcer has been sacked. The socceroos coach was stalked by the media and forced to apologise in a humiliating press appearance.
The defence force chief David Morrison immediately stood down the main perpetrators of the email sex ring, gave a blistering smackdown to all those involved and delivered a ‘get out’ message to anyone in the ADF who thought sexism was acceptable.
A generation ago, none of these incidents would have even come to light let alone be condemned so resoundingly. They would have remained backroom jokes, implicitly condoned and without consequence. All at the expense of women.
I don’t believe for a moment that we’re seeing a sudden spike in sexism in this country. The jokes, the off-hand remarks, the dissemination of degrading material is nothing new.
What’s new is the way sexism is no longer being allowed to stay hidden in dark corners.