Jul 23, 2014

Rundle: like a Lambie to the slaughter as dick jokes uncover the Right’s elitism

Accusing Jacqui Lambie of sexism is unfair, and ignores the spectres of prejudice caused by class and gender.

Guy Rundle — Correspondent-at-large

Guy Rundle


Last week Senator Jacqui Lambie rose to her feet in the red chamber and asked her first set of questions without notice. She was as wobbly as the wooden bike she would later be riding around the forecourt of Parliament, laughing just a little too much -- but she wasn't a disgrace, either, and there's no reason she won't get the hang of it. Yet she is rapidly proving to be the most visibly eccentric of the new crossbench senators, as her two PUP companions, Glenn Lazarus and Dio Wang, are relatively straightforward types, the staged victory hug at the carbon tax repeal notwithstanding. Now she's in hot water again for playing along with a Hobart breakfast DJ crew -- isn't that just about the most depressing phrase you've ever heard? -- and telling them and their several listeners that her ideal man was one who was well-endowed financially and well endowe- oh for god's sake, who had a big dick. After which, chaos erupted. For days it had become increasingly irritating that two stories -- MH17 and Gaza -- were crowding out all others. That this became the only item worthy of adding to the roster, suggested that news selection had officially become insane. Lambie was slated for being a goose, for offending the dignity of blah blah, and -- well, it wasn't completely clear what the objection was.  Then inevitably, this being Australia, Sweden of the south, comment took a gender equalitarian turn, and Lambie was slammed for saying something that a man couldn't say in the equivalent manner, and was it sexist to say this about a man, and was it encouraging sexism against women to say this about a man, and etc, etc. Every awful aspect of Australian cultural politics -- the endless invitation to joyless self-censorship -- was on display. The obvious answer to the conundrum was this: cultural power is not symmetrical, and a man saying he was on the lookout for a wife with an outstanding front bench fnarr fnarr, wouldn't get away with it because women's bodies are pre-objectified in our culture. It's a little more complicated than that, since it's about the straight gaze -- I suspect Penny Wong could get away with some incorrect on-air musings if she were that type of person (which, of course, she isn't).
"Cultural power is not symmetrical, and a man saying he was on the lookout for a wife with an outstanding front bench fnarr fnarr wouldn't get away with it because women's bodies are pre-objectified in our culture."
But the main objection to Lambie, implicit though it was, was that she didn't play the role of the politician in these situations, which is to be flustered. The breakfast FM appearance is a time-honoured enactment of the elite-popular split in Oz politics -- having resigned ourselves to being ruled by a self-selecting caste, the mass of the population gets a taste of reverse power, of sorts, when pollies are embarrassed in pop culture situations. Lambie didn't play that game, because she's not from the political caste -- she gave the answer a lot of listeners were probably giving back, jokingly, listening along in the car. The horror is not at the crudity of the remarks, the horror is that she didn't see her role as being a stooge representative of Parliament, to the people it rules. For added giggles, the issue centred on a dick joke, and the phallus, as the locus of power, must be veiled at all times. Indeed the half-buried Parliament house is a veiled phallus. For $500, you can buy this topic for your cultural studies MA. What it also shows is the way in which the arrival of the PUP senators and Ricky Muir has thrown the whole "elites" bullshit of the Right into sharp focus. For years, party and media members of the political caste have presented themselves as representatives of the masses against the elite, this line reaching its absurd heights with Nick Cater's The Lucky Culture. The masses, we were told, were right-wing,  free-market, piously conservative and religious. And were happy to be represented by the likes of Miranda Devine. Well, surprise. A few of the masses made it into Parliament, and they are nothing like the straw dogs that the Right had established. Their politics cleave to no simplistic Left or Right split, their manner is far from the petit-bourgeois fantasy of the Caters et al, and they don't seem to be in a mood to conform to a deadened Australian political culture. So one cheer for them, however they got there, and whatever might happen. Anyone who really thinks that a senator giving a zoo crew as good as she gets hasn't realised the degree to which they've internalised Australian political ideology.

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41 thoughts on “Rundle: like a Lambie to the slaughter as dick jokes uncover the Right’s elitism

  1. Darren

    Crikey, your standards have been slipping for some time in my opinion and I have been considering my subscription for a whole now. But this, this confirms it. My subscription is over at the next renewal. What a load of garbage this is. So according to Rundle, because women are objectified it is ok for them to make whatever comment they want about men and that is just fine. No consideration of the Christian based but I think general philosophy of do unto others as you would have the, do unto you. No according to Rundle, it is just fine for a woman to judge a man on huge size of his package at the same time as screaming harassment, sexist etc at a man should he do the same about her body parts.

    Objectification of women is, I agree, asymmetrical by a large degree. But I cannot see how that justifies this behavior. The way to fix the asymmetry is not to remove it by having equal objectification of men.

  2. Chris Hartwell

    By the by Darren – that ain’t a Christian-based philosophy. More a humanist one that Christians have (appropriately) appropriated. One that more of them really should cleave to.

  3. Wobbly

    Parliament House = phallic?!? Jesus Guy you’re gone a bit cock-eyed.

    One huge pubic mound with pornstar labiaplasty. Reeks like a tuna factory too!

  4. Lyn Gain

    Really Wobbly, Shades of Slipper!

  5. Mike Smith

    Darren, objectification of (most) men wouldn’t work, they’d smirk and enjoy it. Those that don’t have small packages.

  6. Ken Lambert

    I am glad that most correspondents are taking the piss out of Guy’s pissant piece.

    I said before that this litter of Pups…..The Brick, Yeo, Jacqui, Ricki are just doing what pups do…defecating and pissing all over the place, chewing the furniture and sniffing each others asses.

    Jacqui was just having a sniff around for a Clivealike with a lunchbox she could get mischief into.

    Don’t worry big Clive will have them house trained in no time….he has a training camp on the Sunshine Coast manned by dinosaurs which could teach these Pups the essentials of Clive’s world.

  7. Darren

    @ Chris Hartwell, I should have inserted the words “commonly considered Christian” at the front of that. I fully agree with you.

    @ Mike Smith. Therein lies the exact issue here. The notion that males are somehow a homogeneous bunch who would all like it so it is acceptable is precicely the point.

  8. Chris

    Well, gee, a politician off message and having a joke. What a disaster. Maybe we should all lighten up a bit.

    Our democracy clearly works in electing the best candidates to the senate.

    Gives new meaning to choking on your cornflakes.

    And on the flipside, a man with a big package would need a woman with a big slot to put it in…

  9. Jennifer Green

    The last sentence doesn’t make sense. Do you mean
    Anyone who really thinks that a senator giving a zoo crew as good as she gets [is a bad thing?]hasn’t realised the degree to which they’ve internalised Australian political ideology.

  10. warwick fry

    Sorry Derrin – but Guy has you outclassed

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