Aussie Life

Aussie Life

7 August 2021

9:00 AM

7 August 2021

9:00 AM

The voiceover says new ABC series Ms Represented is all about Australian women in politics but really it’s all about the dudes.

Fresh from outing Christian Porter and her own political biases when texting about him as a ‘strange dude’, host and show creator Annabel Crabb is at it again tweely agreeing that Hitler was a ‘bad guy’ after Amanda Vanstone for some reason references him when referring to incompetent men in the Australian parliament and the fact that you can find them anywhere even in pre-war Weimar Germany.

Ms Represented is all about these sort of wry asides, and Reverend Rod Bower’s solidarity head tilts of which Crabb is a master (or mistress), but most of all it is about the dudes that have stopped the women (dudettes?) from getting their fair share of political action in parliament.

If you learn nothing else from this series it is that it’s all the dudes’ fault – but especially Tony Abbott when he talks about his mother doing the ironing (well just about anything Tony Abbott does, really. Like Hitler, Tony is not a good dude and is a regular fixation – a visual three-second counterpoint flipped up on screen to subliminally convince you like a Jane Caro op-ed that all men are evil and marriage is prostitution except for Jane’s husband and Jane’s marriage).

Every ideology needs its sustaining mythologies. The beauty of Ms Represented is that we get to see them all in the same place at once, and this may never happen again unless you read the Guardian. Let’s fact check some of them:

Is Cheryl Kernot right, that being attacked for quitting your party would never happen to a man? Yeah/Nah. Kernot – who quit as leader of the Democrats to join Labor – seems to have forgotten Mal Colston and Peter Slipper who were both shredded by their former colleagues for ‘ratting’ on their parties to grab  highly paid and prestigious Speaker roles. Given Kernot was in parliament during the Colston events it’s an odd thing not to remember. Kernot also gets upset about being mocked for wearing a red boa as this would never happen to a man, but I say: red boa, I raise you a pair of red budgies.

Is an empty fruit bowl just an empty fruit bowl, or is it hyperbowl? Until her supporters started talking about how Julia was photographed beside an empty fruit bowl for a magazine spread I had no idea there even was a fruit bowl or indeed that owning one is a move into a women’s political death zone that only cooking a roast on Celebrity Masterchef or dressing up like Nigella can fix. Anyway, if we want to talk duelling fruit and veg stories go no further than Tony (see red budgie smugglers above) who continues to be derided as a village idiot because he took a bite out of an uncooked onion.

Is Julia Banks right? Was Malcolm Turnbull removed in a Latin American coup and does that make ScoMo Che Guevara? Note to Crabb and all other journalists interviewing Banks (looking at you, Laura): please stop letting her get away with referring to the ‘Turnbull Coup’ with the implication that it was somehow illegal and akin to what happens to dodgy Latin American regimes. It’s sort of embarrassing (especially that none of you pick her up on it). All it does is expose how much Banks (who keeps pointing out her corporate background) really doesn’t understand about political parties and Australian democracy. Which then again, may explain a lot.

Btw, is calling it a ‘coup’ cultural appropriation?  Speaking of Julia’s removal of Kevin (oh, sorry, they weren’t): was Gillard’s removal of Rudd really a sisterhood kumbaya moment or more a Game of Thrones Machiavellian manoeuvre sans Mother of Dragons aimed at satisfying her own ambition, and supported by a largely male caucus who despised Rudd – and doesn’t this show how women are exactly the same as men when it comes to the ruthless desire for power or control of the remote when binge-watching overrated fantasy TV series? Then again, maybe it was just a coup.

Julie Bishop, who gets quite agitated that she never got to be PM, should have asked Julia for advice. Or as Julia (Gillard or Banks) would say; ‘that’s not a Latin American coup, this is a Latin American coup.’

Is there misogyny? For those playing at home, yes the largely now-meaningless m-word does gets a run. In fact the usually sensible Amanda Vanstone goes the whole The Castle vibe saying that Abbott was ‘probably a misogynist’, only to clarify so we don’t perhaps think he’s the Yorkshire Ripper that he wasn’t a ‘new-age guy’, thus to everyone on the program’s disappointment downgrading his status as a feminist hate figure.

Speaking of misogyny, and That Speech which attains iconic status in Ms Represented, it would be nice to hear something about the Jesuitical logic that led to Gillard delivering a speech attacking a man for misogyny in an attempt to defend her man (Speaker Peter Slipper) after he posted what using her own new age rubbery definitions were highly misogynistic tweets. Just saying.

Does including Liberal politicians mean the series is balanced? Yeah/nah to quote Cheryl Kernot. It does have Amanda Vanstone, and the Bishop twins but their responses are just counterpoints to the ‘consensus’ feminist views of the Labor and Green participants (Penny Wong, SHY ad nauseam). While they are asked about their views on say, female quotas for elections, it’s very obvious what Crabb thinks the correct answer is and yes, as Penny Wong, etc. explain, quotas we must have.

Btw, much of the archival footage of parliamentary protests against the Anti-Discrimination Act or pro-abortion legislation shows that many of the protesters are in fact women, discrediting the talking heads and Crabb who are all very certain that these were changes women universally wanted. But most importantly, what about the sisterhood? As an enthusiastic and freshly-elected Natasha Stott-Despoja found out when attending a women’s cross-party lunch: what sisterhood? Or more specifically, as fellow attendee Bronwyn Bishop responded as she dug into the steak, ‘you’re no sister of mine.’

Why they never made Bronnie PM I’ll never know.

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