Yesterday, one Coalition staffer send an expletive-laden text to a female journalist. They eventually chose to send them home with pay. Not good enough.
40% of Australians think women exaggerate how unequally women are treated; one fifth believe that domestic violence is a “normal reaction to day-to-day stress and frustration”; 42% think that sexual assault allegations are a common way of “getting back at” a man; 1 in 5 believe that “since women are so sexual in public, it’s not surprising that some men think they can touch women without their permission”; and 36% think that women fail to recognise all that men do for them.
Well, let’s get ready to say a big thank you then to the government for deciding to place a Liberal National Party staffer on indefinite paid leave following an expletive-ridden and violent text he sent to News Corp journalist Annika Smethurst. What a brave thing for them to do, they really took a stand. Bravo.
The message read that the staffer wanted the award-winning “feminist c*nt” journalist’s family to “die of…vicious cancer”, and that he’d like her to come by his home so he could “slap her bitch face”.
And what did this woman do to deserve the vitriol of this unnamed staffer? She wrote an article critical of Barry O’Sullivan’s track record with women in politics.
But, it’s okay, because it wasn’t intended to go to her; it was meant to go to his friend and used his “personally funded phone” when he wasn’t at work. I mean, that’s a relief to me, isn’t it to you? It’s a relief to me that speaking this way about a woman was fine. That the message was apparently “not about the journalist” and that he’s seeking counselling.
Now, Nationals leader Bridget McKenzie has stated that there’s “no place in the workplace” for language like that. And she’s right. So why wasn’t the staffer fired? It would be enough in any other party or industry to fire the offending party, but not this time. This time, it’s fine, because he was only blowing off steam, and it wasn’t meant to actually go to the subject of the text, and it wasn’t even about her anyway, so all good.
The reaction of the Nationals is an interesting choice, especially for a party whose website claims that they were “the first party to recognise the problems and have a policy written into the Party’s platform”, and seems to pride themselves on women’s issues, wouldn’t take a more zero tolerance policy for this sort of behaviour.
Our government has a women problem. Not only do they not treat the women who work beside them with contempt, and seem to have no interest in fixing the problem. It would not shock me one iota if a number of men currently working in our government, men who pin on their White Ribbons and bow their heads in solidarity in all the right public appearances, are the types of men who fit safely in the statistics at the top of this article.
Tony Abbott thought it was appropriate to stand in front of a crowd bearing signs like “Ditch the Witch” and “JuLIAR Bob Brown’s Bitch”; Peter Dutton saw fit to refer to a female journalist as a “mad fucking witch” in a text message he accidentally sent to said journalist; David Leyonhjelm told Senator Sarah Hanson-Young to “stop shagging men”; our current PM du jour Scott Morrison thought it was funny to say that he’d “had plenty of mates who’ve asked me if they can be my special envoy to sort the issue out with Pamela Anderson”; the list goes on and on and on.
If our leaders want to put their money where their mouth is, this staffer should have been fired. No question, hands down. But he wasn’t. Because people don’t see what he did as such a big deal, certainly not something to ruin his future over, can’t she just get over it?
The fact of the matter is, our government doesn’t care, and they won’t care, until we show them that we care.
So, the question is, do you?