Oct 12, 2012

Those Slipper texts and a life of decision in women’s mags

Crikey's publisher (and former women's magazine editor) wasn't personally affronted by the Peter Slipper text message -- but it is entirely understandable many people were.

I was asked if I was offended by the Peter Slipper private text that likened a v-gina to an unshelled mussel. The very idea of it took me back to the days of the Cleo and Cosmo sealed sections, with entire 16 pages jammed full of images of female g-nitalia or p-nises of all sizes and shapes. They had to be sealed, not because the images were offensive to the readership but because they may have caused offence to anyone casually flicking through at the newsagent. I wasn't personally affronted by that particular text message in the context of all the alleged indiscretions of the former speaker. But it is entirely understandable that many people were. The point of it for me is this: he is a man who doesn't admire the female body and that's OK with me. There are many women who similarly are not fans of the male form. We like what we like. Is it damaging to the reputation of his office to have this particular detail revealed about him? No. Is it an issue that he describe a v-gina in those graphic terms with what was clearly a negative sentiment? Well, yes if it becomes accessible to the public, for the same reasons described in the sealed section example above. I was once asked if I would be comfortable allowing a magazine to run a cover photo of a man with an obviously erect p-nis. It was about seven years ago when I was being interviewed for the board of the Office of Literature and Film Classification. Part of the rigorous process in sorting the reasonable from the unhinged was to attend an experiential day. We were shown movies, videos, photographs and video games and asked to rate them with an accompanying explanation. The items were mostly borderline p-rnographic (with some horrific exceptions that -- I thought -- were beyond p-rnography) and they were keen to see which side of the socially acceptable line we were on. I don't mind admitting the day's events traumatised me, even though I had been desensitised to all manner of g-nitalia of both genders via my previous women's magazine experience. It wasn't what things looked like that troubled me, it was the messages that the scenes were conveying. We were treated to the likes of misogyny, r-pe, p-dophilia and bondage. I rated and reported with a mixture of anger, horror and sadness. With regard to the erect p-nis cover try, my decision was that it wasn't a goer unless it was sold in a brown paper bag (defeating the purpose of the cover). I didn't decide that because I'm a prude. My concern was with the consequences of the accidental viewer. Children, for example, do not need to see that. And young girls who are already body conscious do not need to see Peter Slipper's thoughts on their body either. The issue, of course, is that the text messages were private. But he is a public figure and at the time had a key Parliamentary role so should have behaved better. Perhaps we could put our politicians through the experiential day that I went through before we elect them, just to be sure. In case you were wondering, I must be on the acceptable side of socially acceptable because I was deemed suitable to join the board. *This article was originally published at Women's Agenda

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8 thoughts on “Those Slipper texts and a life of decision in women’s mags

  1. Jack Phat

    No wonder it’s snowing in Canberra, talk about Hell freezing over, it’s just where our current politicians and political media deserve to be. Tony and Julia should have been made to stay and let their better halves go to Bali in their place, thoroughly more deserving to get out of Canberra.
    This whole Peter Slipper thing has been blown totally out of proportion, what transpires between consenting adults privately is not a matter for the media or politics. As tasteless as they both may be, I’ve seen no evidence of Ashby reviling from the communication.
    Be all that as it may, I can’t wait to get down to the Manly Hotel tomorrow night to have a VERY close look at my oysters natural and clam chowder, it will be in a totally new light, I just have to stop my self thinking of Sophie Mirabella at the same time.

  2. Lyn Gain

    Marina, You say Slipper ‘is a man who doesn’t admire the female body’. I see no evidence for this. To support my view, below is a letter to the editor I sent to the SMH yesterday which for some unaccountable reason they failed to publish.

    Dear Editor,

    Titillated by what dreadful things Peter Slipper must have said to bring about such indignant revulsion by the Leader of the Opposition, and such coyness by the SMH, other media and parliament in refusing to reveal Slipper’s words to the tender public, I looked up the Book of Evidence Annexure published on the internet by the Federal Court to read Slipper’s own words. What an anticlimax. Far from reviling women, Slipper said two things on which the accusations of ‘vile’ and ‘misogynist’ are presumably based. Firstly he said that Mal Brough was a c***. I bet he’s not the first or last to say that. In that context he then mused philosophically about why people used the c word pejoratively when many men were in fact fond of the phenomena – almost an enlightened perception there I thought. The second set of comments was when he said that female genitalia looked like ‘shell less mussels’ which he also described as tasting ‘salty’ and ‘briny’ – a factual description. He didn’t say he didn’t like mussels, and even suggested that Ashby might take in interest in them to divert him from his ‘wayward’ ways. Where’s the misogyny and what’s so vile?

  3. Matt Hardin

    @Lyn. You’re not going to get far on the internet using facts. It’s a rookie mistake :-).

    Good work and work journos shuld have done. There is another article on Crikey today saying how hard court reporting is. If it is easily available on line they have no excuse.

  4. Shaniq'ua Chardonnay

    Very well said Lyn.
    I also wonder why this article wasn’t first published in Crikey or published in the Woman’s Agenda at the same time as published in Crikey. Is Crikey ‘Mens Agenda’? Why must we always be relegated to the ‘separate sphere’ – we are more than 50% of the population after all.

  5. mikeb

    @lyn – exactly! Some people just love to be offended.

  6. zut alors

    If Slipper chooses to spend his time pinging forth unremarkable texts then it’s his business. He wasn’t compiling these missives whilst parked in the House of Reps Speaker’s chair presiding over the chamber so who gives a toss?

    No doubt there are more than a few sheepish male MPs very grateful not to have their previous observations on females made public. As usual, hypocrisy dominates our nation’s capital.

  7. Rhona Johnson

    Mabye one day we will grow up and stop veiwing the human body and its sexual functions as obscene. Get shot of religion.

  8. justin cotton

    For god’s sake, it was a private text. I thought the comments were funny really

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