Nov 24, 2016

Sexism is frustrating, but so is the idiotic debate about gender ‘equality’ at Triple J

There’s one Triple J-related question that sends Helen Razer spare: what was it like to be a woman on the radio?

Helen Razer — Writer and broadcaster

Helen Razer

Writer and broadcaster

2017's Triple J Breakfast hosts Ben Harvey and Liam Stapleton with newsreader Brooke Boney and regular guests Gen Fricker and Dylan Alcott
2017's Triple J Breakfast hosts Ben Harvey and Liam Stapleton with newsreader Brooke Boney and regular guests Gen Fricker and Dylan Alcott

Centuries ago, back when women were still steam-powered, I used to be one of those “wacky” breakfast radio hosts. For a time, I was quite well-known and even liked by some listeners in a nation curiously grateful to hear a 20-something idiot talk about her menstrual cycle between Pearl Jam tracks. There was little that was unpleasant about this labour, and I remember most of it with warmth and disbelief — I was paid to be an arsehole! Really, the only thing that fouls my memory are the journalists.

Ever since I left the damn place close to 20 years ago, journalists have contacted me to comment on its future. What did I think of the playlist? How do I rate the Twitter account? These, clearly, are inappropriate questions for a person of my advanced age; you may as well ask my mum for her opinion on ride-sharing. So, I ignored the requests, which, in any case, receded to become an annual event, and treated them only as a reminder to change the battery in the smoke detector.

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4 thoughts on “Sexism is frustrating, but so is the idiotic debate about gender ‘equality’ at Triple J

  1. Meg

    thankyou. I am so tired of my mundane worker existence being made to feel even more meaningless and empty by even intelligent media’s focus on the glamorous and powerful.

    If one has not been born into wealth and privilege (and the wealthy and privileged will never admit they are, they consider themselves ordinary — probably much like I consider my tatty house and old car ordinary and unassuming, despite these assets being far beyond the reach of millions in the third world … but that’s another story),

    …. back to the point, if you’re not born into the wealthy and privileged with the right networks and contacts to get you in to glamorous and powerful positions, or if you’re not so fabulously talented, and very importantly — in the right place at the right time — sufficient to escape the working class, then your life has no validity and your concerns are irrelevant – you will never see them reflected back in the media which crowds out all other discourse.

    1. Helen Razer

      It’s very annoying, isn’t it? Of course, when one is young and full of confidence that it was not luck but excellence alone that delivered you to a position of power, one can, and one did, confuse my “struggle” for the struggle of all. There were times I really felt I was everywoman, because journalists often addressed me as though I were. So, I forgive people under thirty for pretending that they’ve got some oppressed, representative deal. But never the journalists.

  2. mikeb

    With myself having a head for Radio it’s bemusing how many pretty female faces are seen on commercial TV offset by usually older and much more wrinkly men. I then wonder where the plain of face women end up. Presumably they work behind the scenes making the pretty young things look good and sound knowledgeable.

  3. Nathan Lee

    So Helen, what’s it like being a *woman* on Crikey.


    No, seriously I can see how bloody tiring it must be having the background sexism of the media class be the sole thing people can think of to talk about. Perhaps it’s more down to originality and dumbing down of the political discourse I guess.. Sophisticated topics aren’t what they’re after – they want shock value or someone to get caught in a “GOTCHA” moment.. Or perhaps something to put out there as a conflict story in the hope of engaging the very human impulse to sticky beak on dirty laundry.

    >”I didn’t “make a difference” because the entertainment industry is in the business only of pretending to make a difference.”

    Well, I’d like to think you did – hearing something other than blokes on the radio as a teenage boy growing up in the 90s and listening to triple-j is a healthy thing. Especially ones that weren’t afraid to plough on into a topic that might otherwise have gone untouched. So I’d thank you for your contribution – perhaps it’s the indirect and 2nd generation impact that is harder to quantify – that the men and women raising kids themselves are going to be a bit more open and equality focused.. Shit, maybe the sales of pink for girls and blue for boys bullshit will drop off for the next generation, maybe we’ll talk to young girls about becoming engineers and scientists more, and then slowly but surely (as with feminism throughout the ages) attitudes will change. The bit that’s annoying is how damned slow it seems to get at times I guess.

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