In the days, weeks and months after Julia Gillard gave her rousing speech to parliament in 2012, where she defiantly – now famously – told our then Opposition Leader she would “not be lectured on sexism and misogyny by this man”, a curious thing happened.
Few argued with her general point. Tony Abbott’s own quotes did much of the talking: Women are at home “doing the ironing”, some of his candidates have “sex appeal”, and the “aptitudes and abilities” of men and women are “physiologically” different and therefore why should women expect to secure leadership positions?
In the ensuing analysis of her speech, some took issue with her conscious use of the word misogynist in a context as public as parliament. Debate re-focused as a discussion about the definition of misogyny, rather than the behaviour of the accused misogynist at hand.
Does a misogynist have to exclusively hate women, or does having an overarching prejudice for women fit the definition neatly enough?
It depends, it would seem, who you ask.
This week, if you’re a reality TV fan, conversations about The Bachelorette have centred, almost entirely, on Sam. He was unceremoniously dumped from the show, his character on television appearing to be one with no filter, no humility and a lack of respect for women.
He showed us, in sprinklings of conversations littered throughout the series, that brief glimpses of sexism can come together to paint a picture of misogyny.
Consider the scene where he deliberately and publicly declared he was staring at Sophie’s “cans”, and steadfastly peered down her shirt.
His justification for his intent to stare was a charming one: “I’ve been in a mansion with men for a week, and you’ve got boobs.”
(Ah – a modern day crime against the man, withholding a couple of boobs from them for seven days.)
Then there was the time he spoke about sex and explosions and lust in the car with Sophie’s dad, and he would go on, just a few episodes later, to try to and tell Sophie Monk how to, well, build her career just a little better. ‘I don’t try in my career, things just fall in my lap, but you need to get back into singing’, he told her, in so many words saying, you are yet to reach your potential.
LISTEN: Michelle Andrews and I share our thoughts on Sam on the latest episode of Bach Chat (post continues after audio…)
“I can even send you chords. Stuff that I have written, I help a lot of my friends write, help them come up with ideas. If I hear an instrumental, I’ll have 30 melodies go straight into my head.”
And then, there was the quiet red flag of his admission he has a habit of taking on the “broken” woman, the one who needs fixing. The implication was clear: Perhaps this is a man who thrives on a relationship’s power imbalance, of always acting like the knight in chunky, shiny, chick-saving armour.
In isolation, you could argue his intentions in the latter two examples may have been pure. Compassion may have been the driving force of both exchanges, a desire to offer support, and showcase an empathetic heart.
And then came this claim from Sophie herself, about a forceful kiss that made her uncomfortable and for that reason didn’t make it to air.
“What happened is, I gave him a rose and pecked him to be polite, and he said ‘Can I have a peck?’. I said, ‘That was a peck…’, and then he grabbed my head and kissed me and made me feel really uncomfortable. If they cut it out, that’s why,” she told Kyle and Jackie O on Friday.