celebrity

Bec Judd, Pip Edwards and Australia's history of turning prominent women into villains.

Jameela Jamil has succinctly explained a phenomenon we've watched play out in front of our eyes for decades.

"Discredit is the new death. When a woman steps up and speaks out, she’s taken out of context, compulsively over exposed, her tone is exaggerated by media to look hysterical and violent, her integrity is questioned and society tries to slander her into silence. Every single time," the actor and activist wrote earlier this year.

She was talking about her own experience. Slowly but surely, she'd been watching the media turn the public against her. 

She explains the process as so:

First, the tabloids build a woman up to an expectation she can't meet. They hyperbolise how great she is so that others will start to feel annoyed that her talent or skill or body is being exaggerated. 

Then they start to associate this with her somehow having a big head, even though she's not writing the articles herself. 

Then she's hyper-exposed, her face appears daily under increasingly negative headlines so people get sick of her, and think she's 'selling' herself to the papers, desperate for attention. 

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"Now that you have exhausted her image and people are sick of her face, she is primed and ready for the smear campaign, the rumours, branded a 'liar, whore, cheat, diva, annoying, b*tch' etc, and people will welcome the exit of this person rammed down their throats," Jamil explained. 

We've watched it happen to Meghan Markle, Taylor Swift, Greta Thunberg, Princess Diana, the list is endless.

And right now, in real time, we're watching it happen in Australia to influencer and businesswoman Rebecca Judd. 

The tabloid press has been skating around the edges, looking for a way to take her down for years, priming their audience for this very moment. 

From the moment Judd started making headlines there was always a steer towards focusing on either her weight, with articles alluding to her being 'too skinny', or her wealth, making it appear as though she was 'out of touch'. Once there was an entire news cycle focused on the fact she only wears a g-string to bed.

But in reporting that revelation, the fact she is a mother-of-four was subtly placed in the same sentence as "g-string" in an attempt to build up an expectation on other women. A gentle push of, are you wearing g-strings to bed after putting the kids down too?

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This year, while Melbourne was under strict lockdown, Judd shared an Instagram post referring to the state's premier as 'Dictator Dan'. 

She did so, while spending lockdown in the Judds’ Brighton mansion, recently reported to be worth $7.3 million. 

After intense criticism, she removed the post. But then posted an Instagram video wearing a 'Free Melbourne' shirt. 

Yes, her actions were questionable. But it was the indiscretion the tabloids had been waiting for and right now they're going in for the kill. 

Her face is everywhere. And the headlines are far from positive:

'Rebecca Judd enjoys a lavish lunch while in lockdown in her $7.3 million Melbourne mansion.'

'Bec Judd labelled 'bogan' for yelling at her kids' sporting games.'

'The Block viewers turn on guest judge Bec Judd.'

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'Bec Judd reveals 'embarrassing' job as actor in Thai music video.'

'Rebecca Judd flaunts VERY slender frame in ab-flashing activewear.'

Through hyper exposure and constant negativity, Judd's public image as a fashion icon and entrepreneur has morphed into one where people "just don't like her" but they can't quite put a finger on why. 

Then there's Pip Edwards. The tabloids have just about finished destroying her too, although they didn't have quite as long a run up to 'set the mood' before the perfect moment arose. 

In October, she made headlines after her staff tried to stop her portrait being submitted to the Archibald Prize because it "made her look old". Somehow Edwards' publicists' wrongdoings became her own and the PE Nation founder spent a good few weeks copping negative press. 

Once again it was this small indiscretion that seems to have been the tipping point after months of following her new relationship with former cricketer Michael Clarke.

A headline like; 'Pip Edwards sizzles as she shows off her washboard abs and tiny figure', building up how 'great' and 'perfect' she is would be followed up by a headline like, 'Pip Edwards and Michael Clarke enjoy luxury yacht date,' as the focus turned to making us consider her potentially 'big head' and love for the finer things in life.

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Then boom, after weeks of overexposure, The Archibald presented the perfect bubbling over into operation smear campaign. 

You only have to look at what happened to fellow WAG and iron woman Candice Warner to see how one indiscretion can be enough to destroy a woman's public image forever. 

In 2007, a then single 22-year-old Warner was filmed having sex with footballer Sonny Bill Williams in the bathroom of a Sydney hotel. 

While Williams later issued a brief apology after the incident, he’s never faced the same sort of scrutiny that she has despite being the one who was in a relationship at the time.

Thirteen years on, Warner is still being connected to the incident, and her name will no doubt forever be linked with the mistake from her early 20s, while Williams' involvement has been somewhat forgotten. 

She's since married and had three children, has a successful career as an iron woman to her name, and yet during her interrogation on Seven's SAS Australia recently, it was back to Clovelly Hotel we went.

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Watch: Warner is probed about the incident on SAS. Post continues after video.


Video via Seven.

"It’s sad when that (the bathroom incident) had to be the main focus," she told the Not Here To Make Friends podcast. "My journey at that time … I was in a position where I almost took my own life and coming back from that, I think, is a far more important story than the storyline they were (going for)."

Interestingly, the three women focused on in this article are also all WAGs - the wives or girlfriends of Australian sportsmen. And while this kind of scrutiny and takedown isn't reserved for these women alone, there does seem to be a particular element to the 'WAG' narrative that makes them easy fodder. 

Are they just with him for the fame? Money? Glamour? Fancy dresses? It's an easy diving board for tabloids to launch off as they build up their prey for the ultimate takedown. 

But the problem is larger than the headlines. It's also the audience that's willing and waiting to click on them. 

We live in a society where judging and bringing women back into line is part of our cultural fabric. There's a reason the media sticks to this tried and tested formula - it works. Time and time again.

Unfortunately, the very nature of the digital media dance, giving us 24/7 access and a constant stream of updates, means that discrediting a woman in the media is quicker, uglier and more incessant thanks to social media giving disgruntled readers the direct access to tell Judd, Warner and Edwards exactly how they feel about them. 

Or more specifically, how they've been taught to feel about them. 

Feature image: Instagram.
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