On the weekend I was on an ABC Radio National panel discussion about major topical events of the week. The return of IRA-toasting Jeremy Corbyn to the leadership of the British Labour party, and the implications of Essential’s fascinating poll showing voters across the spectrum wanting a ban on Muslim immigration, were worthy topics of polite debate, and were debated politely.
The third topic, however, was an earnest discussion of the Ernie awards, started by far-left former New South Wales Labor MP Meredith Burgmann, to call out what they portray as outrageous examples of sexism. Of course, the ABC reported it so very seriously, happy to take digs at the likes of betes noir of the Left, Mark Latham and Andrew Bolt.
Bolt’s nomination was particularly absurd. His gong was simply for offering old-fashioned gallantry to his co-presenter of a documentary on constitutional recognition of Aborigines, new federal Labor frontbencher Linda Burney. Just for giving her a compliment, stressing her personal charm, he was condemned at the Ernies by Ms Burney herself. Having once been publicly berated by an ungrateful woman for offering her my seat on a train, I sympathise with Bolt being punished just for trying to do the polite thing, as we of our generation were brought up to do!
Malcolm Turnbull was derided because he went to lunch at a Melbourne gentlemen’s club during the election campaign. Oh, the horror! I didn’t get to mention that the club in question, the Athenaeum Club, just happens to be my club: if I had I would have been awarded an Ernie on the spot. Certainly the raucous behaviour of the Ernies gathering, cat-calling and table-thumping, would never be tolerated in a club that values respect and courtesy like the Athenaeum or its ladies-only equivalent, the Alexandra.
Professional curmudgeon Mark Latham got his gong for criticising sweeping statements by domestic violence campaigner Rosie Batty, who has become a Mother Teresa figure beyond criticism in media and political circles. Which was, as I recall, his point.
The other, female, RN panellists saw the Ernies as good-natured ridicule of comments that cause offence to women. I respectfully disagreed, and suggested that in condemning what they saw as misogyny, the Ernies crowd displayed a form of misandry, condemning men on the basis of their gender. This, of course, was dismissed.
But think about it. The purposes of media-grabbing stunts like the Ernies is for elitist, educated Left wimmin to impose their ideology, standards and values on the rest of us. They are happy to take statements and actions out of context and stripped of their humour and irony – humour and irony these feminists know not – to demonise men, like Latham and Bolt, they see as ideological foes. In McCarthy-like condemning as they do, Dr Burgmann and her sisterhood are as bad, if not worse, than those they seek to humiliate and ridicule.
Yet, of course, they want to insulate their own from deserved, merit-based, criticism. Three years on from her deposition in 2013, Julia Gillard obsessively claims sexism and misogyny are what destroyed her leadership. That Ms Gillard simply turned out to be an ineffectual and principle-free leader, having been a highly able and competent cabinet minister and deputy PM, is airbrushed from history thanks to her efforts and those like Dr Burgmann’s. That a public figure, be it Ms Gillard or Ms Batty, should be considered beyond criticism simply on account of her gender is as ludicrous as it’s dishonest. That sort of denial of reality from the feminist sisterhood is even more patronising than the sort of comments they revel in calling out.
The Ernies are silly and undeserving of serious discussion, even on Radio National. But they do reflect a cadre of hard Left feminists seeking to impose their agenda and values on the rest of us. They highlight how that ideologically-obsessed cadre is doing women in general a disservice: to borrow from the Reformation’s John Knox, they are the monstrous regiment of women of our time.
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