A senior adviser to conservative Queensland Liberal National Senator Ian Macdonald, Max Tomlinson, has resigned from his position after launching a misogynist spray against a feminist academic.
This week, Tomlinson wrote to Cairns-based activist Dr Carole Ford complaining about a Courier Mail article penned by Ford on the lack of gender equality in the new Queensland parliament. He called Ford a “sourpuss”, told her to “get a life” and explained that men were superior to women “because Nature equipped them with something called testosterone”.
Last night, the former News Limited staffer was hung out to dry by Opposition Leader Tony Abbott, who told Crikey the comments were “completely unacceptable”. “It is repudiated by me and the Coalition,” he said. An Abbott spokesman confirmed Tomlinson’s departure this morning.
The fracas started on Monday, when Ford wrote a mild op-ed headlined “Women Struggle for a Political Voice” noting that the George Street benches had been “reduced to a virtual political boys’ club” under the new LNP regime where just 18% of government MPs are women compared to 49% under Anna Bligh.
But the intervention enraged Tomlinson, a Townsville-based media adviser, who previously worked for years at News Limited’s Townsville Bulletin.
He quickly dashed off a private email to Ford, obtained by Crikey (read below), goading the Cairns Women’s Network coordinator with a challenge to run for parliament if she didn’t like the status quo. But he didn’t rate her chances: “… like most women, you probably don’t possess the necessary drive, determination and decisiveness that men innately possess. It’s not a personal criticism; it’s a fact of biology.”
“Where, for example, are the great female explorers, mountaineers, warriors, inventors, chefs?”, Tomlinson mused. “Blokes dominate most areas of human endeavour because Nature equipped them with something called testosterone.”
Tomlinson, whose has two journalist sons, confirmed the authenticity of the email when contacted by Crikey, explaining he had made a “personal comment” to the “rabid feminist” in a “private capacity”. Ford was previously an ALP candidate, he added.
“Hell hath no fury, you know what these feminists are like, if you say something they don’t like they want to have your balls on the desk … go for it girls, have a bit of fun,” he told Crikey. His message to Ford remained loud and clear: “C’mon, get a life my darling, life goes on, it’s all about ability not gender.”
In his email, subject-lined “Please get a life”, Tomlinson contrasts Ford’s “Sisterhood” with his wife of 40 years, who proudly undertakes home duties and is often dissed by other women at cocktail parties what they find out what she does.
“Women like my wife are the life-givers, the embodiment of sacrificial love (the purest form of love), the primary keepers of the flame of civilisation that separates us from the animal world, and yet the Sisterhood frowns on them for not joining the anti-male club that you so typefy [sic].”
Tomlinson said that the reader comments reacting to Ford’s piece “essentially reflected what I said … perhaps I was bit more colourful”.
Ford ran for Labor in the Victorian state seat of Nepean in 2002, narrowly losing out by 100 votes to Martin Dixon. Tomlinson is also a former parliamentary hopeful, having been preselected by the LNP for Thuringowa in 2010 before later withdrawing on “doctor’s orders”. Gallingly, Labor roads minister Craig Wallace was rolled in the seat by replacement LNP candidate Sam Cox at last month’s election, erasing Wallace’s 16.8% margin in a pitched battle with the Bob Katter’s Australian Party. In 2010, Tomlinson had previously helped run Ewen Jones’ successful bid for the federal seat of Herbert.
This morning, Fairfax‘s Brisbane Times satellite ran a curious story on the yarn without linking to Crikey in contravention of usual journalistic standards. Online journalist Bridie Jabour referred to Senator Macdonald as “Senator McDonald”.
Ford told Jabour that it was “extremely disappointing that any man in 2012 would think that way.”
“It surprised me that in this day and age people would get angry about a request for woman to have better representation in parliament. It’s astounding that people would be angry that we make that request.”
The full email text …
I have just read your pathetic piece in the Courier-Mail. While I generally ignore the bleatings of sourpusses like you, your piece was so depressing and negative that I was moved to find your email address and simply say: Get a life.
The world would be a better place if people like you stood for political preselection and learned the hard way that ability is not measured by chromosomes.
Question: Why don’t you have a go? Answer: Like most women, you probably don’t possess the necessary drive, determination and decisiveness that men innately possess. It’s not a personal criticism; it’s a fact of biology. Where, for example, are the great female explorers, mountaineers, warriors, inventors, chefs? Blokes dominate most areas of human endeavour because Nature equipped them with something called testosterone. That was part of Nature’s grand design to enable men to be stronger, more fearless and more determined than their sisters. Sorry, Carole, fact not fiction.
Women occupy a special but different place in the world to that of men. I’ve been married to a wonderful woman – a proud mother of four successful adult children, not a nuclear physicist – for nearly 40 years. For yeras [sic] I’ve heard women like you ask my wife at cocktail parties, functions and dinner parties: And what do you do? The clear inference in the pregnant silence that follows my wife’s answer that she is a proud home-maker makes my skin crawl. Women like my wife are the life-givers, the embodiment of sacrificial love (the purest form of love), the primary keepers of the flame of civilisation that separates us from the animal world, and yet the Sisterhood frowns on them for not joining the anti-male club that you so typefy [sic].
The anti-male world of conspiracy theories in which you and the Sisterhood inhabit is the complete antithesis of the world in which positive women thrive. Women who can’t cut it in – what did you call it?, the boys’ club – can easily cover their inadequacies by claiming bias, s-xism, misogyny, chauvinism etc. etc. ad infinitum. It’s so tiring to read such twaddle.
Face reality, my dear. Smell the coffee. Try to turn your sour, negative, anti-male view of the world into something more positive and productive. Demonising men may be your life’s quest but fewer and fewer people are listening.
I repeat: GET A LIFE.