by David Marler
June 17, 2013
Yesterday on the ABC Radio National Outsiders program, debate turned to cleavage.
On the panel to discuss the ‘Pandora’s box of political sexism’, National Affairs Editor for Crikey, Bernard Keane; writer, feminist, sociologist and social commentator, Eva Cox and Grace Collier, columnist and industrial relations consultant.
For the first half of the interview it was a reasonable enough discussion on the events of the past few weeks. The Prime Minister’s ‘blue tie’ speech featured prominently. Also taking centre stage was ‘Menugate’ (where references to body parts of the PM were printed on a menu that was never distributed to tables at a Liberal party fundraiser).
As the discussion moved to the Prime Minister’s gender agenda, Grace Collier questioned the statement that the PM was constantly being attacked for being a woman.
“The Prime Minister, in my view, has a dysfunctional relationship with the Australian populace and there is an element there of responsibility that falls on her shoulders…”
Eva Cox explained that there were two different issues, the PM not being good at the job and that being attacked for being a woman was inappropriate.
“Not doing well at the job because she’s not doing well at the job but then attacking her for being a woman is inappropriate.”
“Well, I’ve never heard anyone attacking her for being a woman,” Ms Collier stated.
Ms Cox explained, “Read some of the commentaries, read some of the stuff there. I mean, which male Prime Minister has ever been asked if his wife that is actually having sex with him at that particular time or having sex with some other woman. I mean they would not do it to a man.”
Ms Collier appeared to agree with Eva Cox but then made an unexpected right hand turn across three lanes of traffic.
“Well, also I agree with that but also, I don’t think it is appropriate for a Prime Minister to be showing her cleavage in parliament. It is not something…”
At which point both Bernard Keane and Eva Cox seemed lost for words.
Keane: Oh, for goodness sake … what a load of …
Cox: Come one Grace …
Collier: Well, I think it is inappropriate and unprofessional …
Keane: Grace, can you … explain
Collier: No, I … No Bernard, I’m not here to explain to you. I think it is just … I’m entitled to my opinion.
Keane: Just explain … just explain
Green: One at a time …
Collier: I’d like to finish my point.
Keane: … is somehow not related to the fact that she’s a woman. How can you …
Good lord, the Prime Minister’s cleavage now!
The conversation descends into a discussion about right wing politics with Ms Collier taking exception to being labelled as part of the ‘right’.
So what exactly was Grace Collier referring to here?
If we step back a month, Ms Collier tweeted a photo of the PM and condemned her attire in Parliament.
The photo appears distorted and some have suggested ‘photo shopped’ with the PM’s head placed on another body.
I’ll come to that one in a moment.
However, was it really a photo of the PM? Let’s pan out and look at the original picture. The original photo is attributed to News Limited photographer, Gary Ramage circa 2007. It shows Prime Minister Kevin Rudd seated in Parliament in front of Wayne Swan and Julia Gillard. On 4th May, 2013 The Australian published an opinion piece by Henry Ergas entitled, ‘Bad policy does not just happen’ discussing Labor’s fiscal strategy in 2007 and comparing it to present day. The photo was included as a reference to that time.
It is at this point that Ms Collier sends out her disapproving tweet.
Shortly after her ABC Radio National interview, Ms Collier was challenged over twitter that the photo had been altered.
She explained that she had taken a picture of the photo from The Australian newspaper with her iPhone. At the angle the iPhone was held, it does tend to distort the image.
What have we proven?
The image tweeted by Ms Collier did not tell the entire story. Julia Gillard was not the Prime Minister at the time the photo was taken.
Remember, that during the ABC Radio National interview, Ms Collier’s point about the Prime Minister was that she “has a dysfunctional relationship with the Australian populace.”
She also challenged the statement that the Prime Minister was attacked because she was a woman and then threw in the, “I don’t think it is appropriate for a Prime Minister to be showing her cleavage in parliament” line.
Ms Collier has obscured the facts. She has not told us the entire story behind the photo.
So what? I’m quite sure she can find another photo of the Prime Minister wearing something ‘inappropriate’ to share.
However, as readers and viewers, is this what we want to see from our journalists and politicians? To see constant attacks against the Prime Minister of Australia based on her body shape and what she wears?
Some will answer yes. While she does not like to be labelled as ‘right wing’, many of Ms Collier’s tweets are anti-Gillard Government in nature. Her followers delight in her statements and picture shares. You can check out her timeline here, @MsGraceCollier.
Personally, as a reader and viewer, this exercise has made me question Grace Collier as a genuine political commentator. She’s also not shy of the odd media stunt as in the James Bond style microphone in her bra episode. (You can read that story below).
Can I gain insight and information on the current political situation from her? Would I spend time reading her columns or watching her segments on PMLive?
I think not.
Update 19 June, 2013 – Andrew Bolt Says Grace Collier Is ‘Simply Wrong’.
Ms Grace Collier has confirmed that it was The Australian photo that was the point of reference in her ABC Radio National interview.
From: “David Marler”
Date: 19 June 2013 11:23:54 AEST
To: ‘Peter Anderson’
Subject: Questions for Ms Collier
Dear Ms Collier,
Do you have any response to the article “@MsGraceCollier Cleavage fact check” as posted at https://nofibs.com.au/2013/06/17/the-truth-behind-the-cleavage ?
What would you say to the multiple women (some men) that have posted pictures of their cleavage to support Prime Minister Julia Gillard at the Joint Destroy FB page?
Do you feel your comments about Julia Gillard are still justified or would you consider retracting them?
Journalist Andrew Bolt objected to the ‘right-wing’ labeling of Ms Collier but added, “In this case, however, I think Collier is simply wrong – on the evidence.”
** Can I please stress that the twitter account displayed, “Bolts Blogs @AndrewBoltsBlog” is NOT affiliated with journalist Andrew Bolt **
Below is the link to the real Andrew Blog blog and his thoughts on Ms Grace Collier’s interview.
Andrew Bolt Blog: ‘Grace Collier becomes a “right-winger” for criticising Gillard’s cleavage’
The "I'm not of the Right" @MsGraceCollier is a featured speaker at a HR Nicholls Society event in July http://t.co/EhkoaKWwt6
— Bernard Keane (@BernardKeane) June 19, 2013
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