Dirty deeds down under…


Is it time to take the Men out of Mensa? If you’re an Australian conservative politician, then the answer’s yes. While women in Britain have been holding vigils for Sarah Everard and exposing “rape culture” through the “Everyone’s Invited” campaign, thousands of Australian women have also joined rallies demanding more robust responses to sexual harassment and assault.

As an Aussie, I totally understand the reason for Antipodean female outrage, especially of late. Misogynistic misdemeanours are currently piling up on each other like circus acrobats. In the last month alone Brittany Higgins, a former ministerial press officer, claimed that she had been raped by a colleague in the office of the woman who is now Australia’s defence minister. Separately, a senior cabinet minister, the attorney-general Christian Porter, has taken mental health leave after being accused of raping a teenager more than 30 years ago. The victim took her own life last year.

Then, last week, videos emerged of male government advisers having sex within the parliament buildings. In other footage leaked to the media (an unfortunate term under the circumstances) one man is seen masturbating and then ejaculating on a female MP’s desk; giving new meaning to the term “desk job.”

Allegations of sexual misconduct then escalated when Peta Credlin, who was chief of staff to the former prime minister Tony Abbott, claimed that a group of government staff members held regular gay orgies in the middle of the day while MPs were in parliament for question time – raising questions about Cabinets and closets not even IKEA can answer. (It’s not known if orgy participants wrote letters of appreciation on parliamentary note paper – “Thank you for coming…”)

It’s also been alleged that the prayer and meditation room in Parliament House is regularly used as a quickie venue for many busy MPs keen on a different kind of religious experience – well, they do call out “Oh God! Oh God!” quite a lot…. Although, being egotistical male pollies, at the peak point of satisfaction I suspect they’re more likely to call out their own names.

Let’s just say that Sir Les Patterson would feel totally at home in Scott Morrison’s parliamentary prayer room right now.
Of course, Aussie politicians falling on their pork swords is nothing new. In 2008 Matt Brown was appointed NSW Police Minister and invited some intimate friends back to his office to celebrate. The celebration featured the minister stripped to his jocks, leaping on his sofa and, there’s no polite way of putting this, offering to “tit f*ck” the nearest woman. He still holds the record for the briefest stint as Police Minister – four days.

During Julia Gillard’s time at Prime Minister the chauvinism intensified. At anti carbon tax rallies, opposition leader Tony Abbot was photographed smiling in front of protesters holding placards reading “Ditch the witch”. Cartoonist Larry Pickering invariably depicted Ms. Gillard naked, wearing a strap-on penis. The relentless sexism culminated in Menu-gate. The Sexism de jour on the menu at the Conservative Party fund raiser dinner was a dish named “Julia Gillard Kentucky fried quail,” featuring “small breasts, big thighs” and coming in “a big red box.”

Gillard didn’t just lie back and think of Canberra but promptly served up a new dish on the parliamentary menu – chauvinist pig on a spit; her retaliatory speech smacking down Tony Abbot made global headlines.

Meanwhile, what is the current Prime Minister’s response to this latest litany of dirty deeds Down Under? The backlash has sent Scott Morrison’s conservative government sliding in the polls. Sco Mo retaliated with a toe-curlingly mawkish press conference in which he blubbed about how much he loves his wife, mum and daughters. It was a real two hanky job – but a little like trying to put out a bush fire with a damp squeegee.

And speaking of bush fires, this time last year our koalas were being barbecued; now it’s kangaroos waterboarded in the floods. As our coal-fondling PM resists political measures aimed at mitigating climate change, it’s ironic that his government is currently enduring its own climate crisis, with reputations going up in smoke amidst a flood of accusations.

Even though Australia was the first country in the world to give women the right to stand for election in 1902, it’s always been very blokey Down Under. “Why do women exist? … So men have something to like down on, while having a shag,” runs a typical joke. “Australian foreplay? “Are you awake love?”

Male politicians try to hide behind this mask of matey banter and laddish bonhomie, deriding “hairy legged femocrats” for not being able to “take a joke”. So, perhaps the answer is to fight back on their “hilarious” terms? We could ask Scott Morrison if he knows the difference between government bonds and his male cabinet members? Government bonds mature. And explain to the Minister for Home Affairs, Peter Dutton, who wrote to a female journalist calling her a “f-ing witch”, that the reason Conservative party male politicians can’t get Mad Cow Disease is because they’re pigs. And if any of them retort that women can’t tell jokes, simply reply: “that’s because we vote for them.”

p.s. Boris Johnson has recently rewarded Tony Abbot with a job advising on trade. Perhaps they can discuss Johnson’s views on the ways to deal with a female colleague, i.e- “just pat her on the bottom and send her on her way”, as Johnson once said. Or they could brain storm on what to do with the children of single mothers who are “ill-raised, ignorant, aggressive and illegitimate.” Yep, another of the British Prime Minister’s views. Sadly, it’s important to remember that sexism thrives in both hemispheres.

Clearly we need more women into parliament. Time to tell the fellas that we no longer want their seats on the bus; we want their seats in government.

Love to hear your thoughts.

Cheers for now, Kathy x

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