Destroying the joint?

AUSTRALIA is a a sexist country. There’s that phrase again. And with good reason.

Last Friday, one of the country’s well-known radio broadcasters, let fly a tirade against the prime minister Julia Gillard and women in general.

In the words of shock-jock Alan Jones, known for his sympathies to the conservative cause, the women he cited — he also mentioned Clover Moore, the mayor of Sydney, and a former police commissioner of Victoria, Christine Nixon — were “destroying the joint”.

Australia has a fairly decent number of women in positions of power – in addition to the three mentioned above, the governor-general is a woman, as is the attorney-general. There are a number of women ministers and plenty of women in public life. Many of them are capable.

But Jones is not required to substantiate his point; he just rants on and on and people do not bother to raise a stink about him.

This particular piece of abuse got him attention on the BBC, which was where I first heard it on a Saturday evening. It wasn’t particularly shocking as Jones has form on things like this, but it is a disturbing trend in a country where women are often treated as chattel.

Jones carries the can for the conservative opposition which is straining at the leash to get into power. Given the current poll ratings, they should take office when the next election is held, but that cannot come too soon for the likes of Jones.

Gillard has a tough gig. She is prone to talk in a patronising manner to people, as though she is talking to a two-year-old and that adds to her problems. Being a woman leader of Australia is not easy.


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