Sunday, 29 October 2006

"Pull Your Head In" published October 29, 2006

Any New Zealand woman who may be contemplating getting pregnant at 16, having a marriage break up with her business partner or becoming an advisor to the Prime Minister should be very afraid. Just when you thought sexism was over, along comes the media flogging.
Keisha Castle-Hughes, Annette Presley and Heather Simpson are just the latest to feature in a new media strategy designed to send a strong message to Kiwi women that while we may have won the vote early, we need to pull our heads in.
Keisha was front page news for days as journalists desperately tried to find someone who would have an insulting word to say about her teenage pregnancy. But after a long and exhaustive week it was found that she had a stable partner, her family was happy, her agent was happy, the guys she works for in Hollywood were happy. Disappointingly her career is not in tatters due to the shock pregnancy because in breaking news: women can work while pregnant. Welcome to our unique little corner of post-feminist backlash, as brought to you by the media.
Annette Presley’s crime is none other than she ended her marriage, and her ex-husband decided she would also end her involvement in their business. His word was widely reported before she had a chance to say “I am woman hear me roar” because disappointingly she was on a “luxury” yacht in Fiji and chose not to rush home to give interviews. Such was the media storm that one fully expected to see Annette being hauled home in chains and presented before the Bad Wife and Business Partner Tribunal for her sins. Personally I was anxiously awaiting Princess Diana style paparazzi shots of Annette in her bikini dangling one leg casually in the ocean while chatting eagerly with a tanned male friend of Greek origin. But I guess that would mean sending someone out to Fiji, and as we know media, whether on a flogging mission or not, are cutting costs.
And then there’s Heather, who unlike the other two has not appeared in Whale Rider or Dragon’s Den, so isn’t putting herself out there as public property. She’s just pissing a lot of people off which is the worst Womanly Crime of all. She does stuff we don’t know about behind smoke screens stirring away at her pot of sage advice and indifferent sexuality. If there was a media flogging equivalent to witch burning, Heather would be on the stake.
And accompanying every media witch hunt is the inference that the woman involved has gone loo loo la la, lost the plot, taken to the bottle, isn’t coping, can’t hack it. “See!” cries the inference, “this is what feminism gave you. You should never have strayed over into a man’s world where we do only one thing at a time and think really, really hard about things sometimes.”
Am I over-reacting to the portrayal of women who are anti Stepford Wives in their behaviour and refuse to join the army of blandness currently gripping this country? Let’s look at those who have gone before.
Diane Foreman: still the Scarlet Woman for having an affair with Don Brash. Suzanne Paul: made one bad business decision out of the countless good ones she made to become one of the richest women in New Zealand. And she’s paying every one of her creditors back. Judy Bailey: did nothing except get fired. Susan Wood: did nothing but dispute a pay cut. Julie Christie: crowned Reality Crap Queen and seldom gets a good local review for her shows, yet the public love them. As do the TV people in other countries, and she just happens to be really rich because of it. Lana Coc-Kroft: nearly died and has friends who took drugs.
I rest my case. Paul Holmes can call the secretary general of the United Nations a “cheeky darkie” and we still love him. Marc Ellis can receive a class A drug conviction and use a phrase like “sweating like a rapist” and he’s still a good bloke. Don Brash can’t keep his dick in his pants but is still taken seriously in the world of politics. David Wikaira-Paul, a former Shortland Street actor who became a teenage Dad had all the magazines ooh and aah over him for months. Where was his front page shock horror revelation?
Meanwhile news that Echinacea really does work heartens me greatly. That’s what I call news.

No comments: