The Politics of Menus

The latest battle in the election is not one of policy, but one of sexism. Right on the heels of commentary from Prime Minister Gillard that abortion would become “…a plaything of men who think they know better…” A menu from a Liberal Party fundraiser leaked on Twitter this week contained a shocking entrée. We apologise for the vulgar language, but this is precisely what the menu said:

“Julia Gillard Kentucky Fried Quail – Small Breasts – Huge Thighs & A Big Red Box”

Yes, in this day and age that was on the menu at a political fundraiser. Shameful. You would think it was something a group of adolescent boys would come up with, not men in leadership.

Julia Gillard

Not a good week for the Prime Minister. Image courtesy news.com.au

All women, especially those in leadership, have become accustomed to a certain amount of ridicule and sexism. It does not mean that it is right, and it does not mean that women condone it, it is more a matter of adopting a stiff upper lip. However, when it comes to poking fun at one another, jabs involving sexual innuendos are utterly inappropriate – regardless of gender – especially when the subject is the leader of a nation.

The menu originated from a Brisbane restaurant for at a fundraiser on behalf of Mal Brough, the LNP candidate running for the federal seat of Fisher. The owner of the restaurant denies the menu was ever handed out to guests, but it was Tweeted out by a member of the staff, so obviously it circulated.

It is one thing to make fun of politicians, but it is quite another to sink to the depths of referring to the Prime Minister’s private parts. When male politicians poke fun at one another, they may mention weight, they may mention hair, style of dress, etc. – but they do not use vulgar language and sexual innuendos. No, sexual innuendos are treatment reserved for women who dare to reach for great heights.

Tony Abbott came out and condemned the menu, but reverted to plausible deniability of Mr. Brough’s awareness of the menu. The talking point is that it was not handed out at the event, so he never saw it, and therefore he cannot be blamed for any of it. Though it would be gratifying to believe that somebody had the good graces to not hand out that menu at the dinner, it is impossible to know what happened because it was a closed, private event. It was not directly sponsored by the LNP, and attendees are sticking to their guns or declining to comment.

This is yet another occurrence that points the underlying sexism present in Australia. Julia Gillard may not be the perfect Prime Minister, but she certainly does not deserve to be objectified. No woman deserves to be objectified. Much like President Obama’s presence in the Executive Office has drawn out racism in the United States, Julia Gillard’s presence in the Prime Minister’s office has drawn out Australia’s underlying sexism – and exposed it for the entire world to see.

It is obvious that though women have come a long way, there is still a long way to go before sexism vanishes. It is taking on an ugly, subversive form. In this instance, no amount of exuded chivalry (as what happened with the Abbott’s “Women of Calibre” comment) could cover up the blatant disdain for women in leadership.

What are you seeing in the work place? Is sexism slowly fading away or is it subverting to secret circles, as with this vulgar menu?

Anna K. Journalist – Anna is an experienced journalist with a flair for researching Australian current affairs. With her nose always in research and her pen always in action, Anna expresses her interest in the Australia news market through blogging and daily research. Anna has over a decade of experience in journalism, graduating with a major in Journalism and a minor in Communications with honors. For copywriting services and more, visit www.expresswriterteam.com

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