“My message to Shane Warne? Just shut up and eat the grubs”
That was the headline that ran in the SMH last week above a piece penned by author, Fairfax columnist and Australian Republican Movement Chairman Peter Fitzsimons. The piece tore strips off Shane Warne.
It was written in response to some disparaging comments Warnie made in the jungle on I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here about fellow cricketing legend Steve Waugh.
The column was personal and divided readers. Depending on their allegiance to either Warnie or Waugh, Fitzsimons was either BANG on the money or completely off his rocker.
Two men, two positions, two distinct camps.
But neither Peter Fitzsimons or Warnie were accused of betraying the brotherhood because of their dust up.
Their divergent perspectives was not cast as a catastrophic failing on the part of all men. It was not viewed as proof that men simply cannot get along. That men are their own worst enemies.
It was seen as two blokes having completely different opinions.
Now contrast this with another public-dispute-via-newspaper-column in recent days.
ABC journalist Virginia Haussegger took issue with a skit that fellow tv presenter Samantha Armytage was involved in on Channel 7’s Sunrise program last week and yesterday she wrote a no-holds-barred article saying exactly that.
Armytage responded with her own column yesterday afternoon saying Haussegger has “disgraced feminism” by calling her a “mindless bimbo”, “daft” and head of the “bimbo brigade” .
“Whatever your interpretation [of feminism], it does not provide a license to attack — personally and professionally — another woman,” Armytage wrote for News Ltd.
Watch Sam talk about her pain at the criticism she’s received – and you can catch the whole interview here) (Post continues after the clip):
So, what might otherwise have been a legitimate discussion and disagreement about the content of breakfast television, swiftly descended into an almighty blue about what feminism means.
Of course it did. Because two women cannot possibly disagree with each other without it being the fault of all women and proof of feminism’s flaws.
The grand irony is that until women can publicly disagree with one another, without it being seen as an indictment on their entire gender, we need feminism.
Feminism does not prescribe a finishing point for every argument. It prescribes a starting point.
It’s believing that men and women ought to have the same opportunities as one another.
From there, it’s game on. There is no prescribed manual, dialogue or path forward.
Feminism does not exist because all women need to agree with each other on every issue. Feminism does not exist because all women need to like each other or make the same choices.
It exists because those things are implicitly expected.
Men are not expected to sing from the same song sheet on every issue.
When Waleed Aly takes on Andrew Bolt, masculinity is not in crisis.
When Malcolm Turnbull ousted Tony Abbott (and vice versa) it wasn’t proof of men being their own worst enemies.
When James Packer and David Gyngell came to physical blows it was mind blowing but it wasn’t seen as a fatal indictment on male friendship. It’s the same with Kanye and Wiz Khalifa, John Howard and Peter Costello, Kevin Rudd and Wayne Swan, Bob Hawke and Paul Keating.
Men fight and fall out all the time….and the world keeps turning.
If all men were expected to agree on everything, all the time, why exactly would we have political parties? We have them because people have different opinions. Even if all politicians vaguely want the same thing – national prosperity, security and social infrastructure – there is no one path or set of beliefs to achieve that. And so it is with feminism.
Samantha Armytage and Virginia Haussegger are entitled to disagree with each other – even bitterly – without it being proof of anything other than two women having very different views.
So wherever you stand, whether you agree with Virginia or Sam or you can’t decide, don’t paint this as a fight about feminism. It isn’t. It’s a fight about breakfast television.
You can catch more of Sam’s very candid interview with Mia here: