The Australian carried this interesting opinion column by Elizabeth Merryment on Friday about the death of feminism in Australia, which included the following lines:

There is a general acknowledgement among young women that
feminism has failed, although how it has failed these girls might not
be able to articulate. But it is obvious that the cause of furthering
the rights of women to live without fear of harassment has been lost.

Worse,
the reality is that the failure of feminism, and the failure of young
women to take up the cause of feminism, is beginning to have an impact
on society; the behaviour in the Big Brother house is one piece of evidence of this.

Merryment
says that a group of female university students she used to tutor
believed “feminists were hairy-legged lesbians who hated men. Feminism
to them was Germaine Greer: sad, old, unattractive, insane.”

So
is the media to blame for this? Looking back at the old Crikey, we were
pretty blokey with very few female voices getting an airing and an
audience that was more than 75% male. Thankfully, this is changing
under the new owners as the present Crikey bunker has a clear majority
of female staff.

But old Crikey was not much different from the
rest of the media. Rupert Murdoch is a bit of a sad old patriarch who
doesn’t have a woman on his board and seems to only support his sons
coming through the ranks to take over running News Corp. His highest
profile Australian columnist, Andrew Bolt, wrote a notorious column in
October 2002 which started with the statement: “Study after study shows
that women tend to be more irrational than men. Why, then, does the ALP
insist on a dangerous stacking of parliamentary benches with the
sillier sex?”

Kerry Packer has profited for years from seedy
girlie magazines and Murdoch still quite outrageously publishes page 3
girls every day in The Sun, his biggest newspaper cash cow for
three decades. The blokey culture in Australian television is also
legendary. The fact that a sexist pig like Sam Newman has prospered and
Shane Warne has been paid millions by the Packers says it all.

Then you have Southern Cross Broadcasting, the new owner of Big Brother
producer Southern Star, which runs the very blokey shock jock network
featuring names like Derryn Hinch, Stan Zemanek, Steve Price and Howard
Sattler. Check out the line-ups at 4BC, 3AW, 2UE and 6PR and you won’t find a female in any prominent spot.

So
is it only the media to blame for resurgent male sexism in Australia?
It doesn’t help when you have a prime minister who structures the tax
system to keep women at home looking after the kids. It’s an
interesting debate and we’re prepared to have it so send your thoughts
to [email protected]

Peter Fray

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