By MIA FREEDMAN
Following all the debate last week after Tony Abbott described liberal MP Fiona Scott as having “a bit of sex appeal” and Mark Latham’s follow-up comments describing her as ugly and the brou-ha-ha that resulted I thought we determined it wasn’t a good idea to have a running commentary of the appearance of politicians. No?
Because Cleo magazine immediately decided to run a poll to choose Australian’s Most Sexy and Least Sexy male politicians. Or, the way it’s being promoted by media: “Which pollies are Hot and Not”.
According to the magazine for girls and young women: “We thought we’d flip this one around and get your opinion on which MALE pollie has the most sex-appeal. ”
And here is their list [screenshot]:
I’m a feminist. I believe in equality. But does that mean treating men and women in an equally demeaning way? Admittedly, none of the men in the list above would probably object to being rated for their hotness. This is because men are rarely rated on their appearance. It’s not how society values them. With a few rare exceptions, men are valued for what they do not how they look.
So perhaps the idea of ‘flipping this one around’ could be seen as cute or amusing. A joke. Ironic.
But what about the other list? The one where Cleo names and shames the male politicians on their list of “Australia’s Least Sexy” male politicians? Or, as they put it: “these are the ones we’d avoid EVEN if we were stranded on a desert island.”
Underneath the most unflattering images of these men they could find, Cleo had to this say [screenshot below]:
Imagine – again – that a men’s magazine or a newspaper had published a list of the ‘Australia’s Least Sexy Female Politicians” with that kind of nasty commentary? Imagine if they’d rated Kate Ellis, Penny Wong, Julia Bishop, Sophie Mirabella, Tanya Plibersek, Christine Milne and Sarah Hanson Young according to how ‘sexy or unsexy’ they were along with demeaning descriptions of their faces, bodies and weight?
Imagine it. Any mainstream publication or website who did that would’ve been slammed. There would have been calls for advertiser boycotts. Social media – and traditional media – would have erupted. Political leaders from all sides would have united to condemn it. Society would have pushed back. Because we’ve evolved to the point where we’ve realised this kind of demeaning commentary is unacceptable.