John Hargreaves

TBS Boomers: Northern Territory leading the nation in archaic sexism

Picture: Justin Kennedy

The Northern Territory embraces its status as being stuck in the past, and ordinarily, it’s harmless fun. However, it seems the long dead idea of the ‘Page 3’ girl is alive and well.

 

Some time ago, an intellectual dwarf in the Northern Territory had the temerity to bag out the National Capital. Can’t remember the details, but I remember being really ticked off because we were under a barrage of Canberra bashing at the time. As an old retired Labor warhorse, I subscribe to the mantra “don’t get mad, get even” and “hate and wait”.  What goes around comes around and the NT News handed me something on a plate on fifteenth of June this year of Our Lord 2017. They took the diminishing of women to a new low.

Moons ago at games of AFL (incidentally, played in Heaven), the Warriors would burst into the Coliseum flanked by rows of scantily clad young nubiles waving all manner of wobbly bits (flags, I mean).

This debasing practice was outlawed so many years ago, people have been born, lived their lives, and died since the gyrating to boom music was the in-thing.

Not so with Thugby Union and League. I found myself watching a game the other night because the AFL had finished. And lo and behold, a try was scored, deafening fireworks waking the dead and what did I behold?  A bevvy of scantily clad young ladies jumping enthusiastically into gravity-defying space with absolute ecstasy, waving pom poms (better used for swatting flies) and urging their muscle rippling and neck removed bruisers onto bigger and better things!

It has been said that if AFL is aerial ping-pong, Rugby in both its forms is a game played by thugs but watched by gentlemen. Well, no gentleman should condone the exploitation of youth and flesh at these blood sports.

I notice that the cycling events; all of them called a “Tour” of something, always have this quaint practice of spraying the winner, the also-rans and the crowd with champagne, whilst being flanked by young women in skin tight and revealing outfits, augmented by botox-enriched lips designed for pouting or pashing, whichever happens along. You don’t see it at the tennis, now do you?

Maybe this perpetuation of bevvies of young ladies is an adrenalin-induced male thing. It couldn’t be condoned by womenfolk surely. One would hope that the fairer sex looks on with a combination of disgust and wistfulness hoping that the gentleman-like approach of the AFL, Soccer, and the Tennis (not to mention rowing, archery, gumboot throwing) would infect the administrators of their chosen displays of combat.

Back to the NT News though.  What I spotted in the paper of 15th June gave me the creeps on so many levels that I want to share with you the worst of them.

Incidentally, I came across the paper because a person very dear to me, knowing that I love to scan local media pieces from time to time to keep myself grounded, brought me home this particular copy after a flying visit to that backwards Territory.   

Apart from a financial bungle of huge proportions by their top cop, the major story of the day was the soon to be contested V8 Supercar race. Now I know the petrol heads out there think I’m gunning for them. I’m not. If people want to get off on speed and noise, to the mind-numbing smell of petrol and carbon dioxide fumes, so be it. Each to their own.

Here’s the thing. The picture below is the front page of the NT News.

It features six lovelies, decked out in high heels you couldn’t chuck a gumboot over, and body revealing outfits, posing seductively to the camera with that come-hither look in all twelve eyes. An exploitation of flesh or what!

The next photo is the back page of the same edition.

Picture: Justin Kennedy

Now this story regards a young woman (Swiss actually, and for me, this is more important than gender) who is “taking it up to the boys”.  She is a competitor in the Supercars race, matching her hair-raising driving expertise against those legendary daredevils of the speed-of-sound defying, gasp-inducing of the supercar track. A photo and story of Simona de Silvestro, the first full-time female driver in Supercars in a clearly male-dominated sport, also appeared on page 38.

So it would appear that the media barons of the NT News felt it a better bet for newspaper sales to feature six sex kittens on the front page than a story of a trail-blazing young woman in a male dominated sport.

What an insult.

This demeans women in general, invited exploitation, invites inappropriate behaviour in young girls, invites leering and inappropriate role definition in young men, and shows the buying public are way behind the times and should have a real good look at themselves. (on top of it all, the young beauties were all Anglo-Celtic; not an Asian, sub-continental, South American among them, let alone an indigenous woman)

The media has a responsibility to report fact (not fake news), to give opinion and analysis, to lead discussions and to encourage forward thinking in our society.  To a great extent that happens, even though some would charge one media conglomerate with being left wing and the other being right wing. But by and large, the media is responsible. 

One would hope that the Page 3 girl is a remnant of the past.

One would hope that we live in interesting but also enlightened times. One would hope that we regard women with the respect that they are due, and not hand out a dose of unhealthy leering, smarmy innuendo, and downright insult.

This is my news for the NT News.  Women are not chattels, they are not born to satisfy the lust of menfolk, they are not here to be gawked at by slimy sexually inadequate animals.

It is this approach by some men that give the rest of us a bad name, especially if that happens to be magnified by a major publication.

Just a thought or two.

John Hargreaves

John Hargreaves was a Labor MP from 1998-2012 and is a lifetime member of the Labor Party. In a storied career, he was Government Whip as well as the Minister for Disability and Housing, Multicultural Affairs, Industrial Relations, Corrections and Industrial Relations among others.

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