I don’t know about you, but I always vote on the basis of sex appeal. Why bother about all of that boring policy stuff?

These are the pertinent questions: How big are the ‘cans’ on your candidate? And what about the size of your local member’s – ahem – member?

Tony Abbott is fast becoming a parody. Except it’s not funny. You only had to look at the cringe on Fiona Scott’s face to see that.

The Liberal candidate for the federal seat of Lindsay holds a Bachelor of Business and Master of Business Administration, volunteers at local disability groups, and belongs to one of the oldest farming families in the Nepean.

But according to her boss, her greatest asset is that she’s “young, feisty” and has “a bit of sex appeal“.


abbott-fiona-scottOpposition Leader Tony Abbott and Liberal candidate Fiona Scott.

As @Msloulou77 tweeted, “In any other workplace, a superior or colleague referring to you as having #sexappeal would be sexual harassment”. It’s not just a workplace issue.

“When men are in a position of power, and they use that type of language, they reinforce the notion that the first thing anyone notices about a woman is how they look,” according to Greens MP, Cate Faehrmann.

Calling someone “sexy” sounds benign to a society steeped in the sounds of Psy and LMFAO. But this is not the bedroom – it’s the boardroom.

Too often, a woman’s stocks rise and fall on the value of her sexuality. I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s wanted to scream, “Stop looking at my tits and listen to what I have to say!”

Then in middle age, we are disappeared by the diminution of this appeal.

Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey argues it’s “not offensive”. Well, how would he know? As a male politician he’s judged on accountability, not bonkability.

Liberal MP Pru Goward says it’s not sexist because, “a lot of politicians are described as sexy”.

Indeed, Bill Clinton, Bob Hawke, and Malcolm Turnbull have been described in these terms. But it’s not their outstanding characteristic; the first thing anyone notices; or how they’re described by their superior.

I like to apply the sexism test devised by the author of How To Be a Woman, Caitlin Moran. “The best way of detecting whether some sexist bullshit is afoot is to ask the question, Are the men doing it? Are the men worrying about this as well?


Let’s do a role reversal: Can you imagine former PM Julia Gillard saying this about two young male candidates? No. Therefore, it’s sexist.

In the words of GetUp, “The 1950s called – and even they don’t want this kind of sexism back”.

Channel 10’s political editor Paul Bongiorno asked, “Is a sense of humour out of the question?” Of course not. But the joke wasn’t funny.

All isms – racism, sexism, ageism – start with a little joke which is “not offensive” or “lighthearted”, unless you happen to be the butt of it.

US President Barack Obama once called California’s top law enforcement officer, “the best looking Attorney-General in the country”.

In response, senior editor of The Independent, Ellen E. Jones wrote, “Those who do overcome institutional sexism to arrive at high office are routinely valued according to appearance. Can you see how this might be irritating?”

It’s incredibly frustrating to fight the sticky floor, glass ceiling, and structural discrimination, only to have some dinosaur say, “Nice arse, sweetheart”.

tony-abbott-3One day, these dinosaurs will become extinct. But not while Tony Abbott continues to feed them. Late last night he apologised, calling Fiona Scott, “smart and savvy”. But it was too late: the damage had been done.

Combine “sex appeal” with “housewives doing the ironing”, a girl’s virginity as a “gift”, and abortion at “the mother’s convenience”, and you have a toxic cocktail.

The Opposition Leader once told the ABC that what he said in the heat of the moment couldn’t always be believed. But the opposite is true: Our off-the-cuff comments reveal our true selves.

Misogyny ain’t sexy.




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 src=*Tracey Spicer is a respected journalist who has worked for many years in radio, print and television.
Channel Nine and 10 news presenter and reporter; 2UE and Vega broadcaster; News Ltd. columnist; Sky News anchor …it’s been a dream career for the Brisbane schoolgirl with a passion for news and current affairs.
Tracey is a passionate advocate for issues as diverse as voluntary euthanasia, childhood vaccinations, breastfeeding, better regulation of foreign investment in Australia’s farmland, and curtailed opening hours for pubs and clubs. She is an Ambassador for World Vision, ActionAid, WWF, the Royal Hospital for Women’s Newborn Care Centre and the Penguin Foundation, Patron of Cancer Council NSW and The National Premmie Foundation, and the face of the Garvan Institute’s research into pancreatic cancer, which killed her beloved mother Marcia 11 years ago. But Tracey’s favourite job, with her husband, is bringing up two beautiful children – six-year-old Taj and five-year-old Grace. Visit Tracey’s website at www.spicercommunications.biz or follow her on Twitter @spicertracey.

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