Sarah MacDonald rang to complain about Mark Latham’s column. The AFR called her husband back - Women's Agenda

Sarah MacDonald rang to complain about Mark Latham’s column. The AFR called her husband back

Earlier this year I received a furious message from a friend. She’d just got off the phone to a builder who had informed her he’d have to talk to her husband before he’d commit to a particular job. Never mind the fact it’s her house, her money and her decision. The inference was that she’s not as capable of making an important decision as her male partner. How can this happen in 2014, she asked?

It can happen because some people still view women as substandard, or, less capable than men. And it seems that some of those people edit one of Australia’s national newspapers.

Yesterday after discovering she and her daughter were the subjects of a certain Daddy Blogger’s latest diatribe, Fairfax journalist Sarah MacDonald and her husband called the Australian Financial Review’s editors to complain. Five minutes later the deputy editor called her husband back. Seven hours later? She still hadn’t heard a word. Truly.

When I first saw Macdonald’s tweet explaining this I thought it was unbelievable. A few seconds later I realised it was, unfortunately, all too believable. Over the past few weeks it has become increasingly clear that The Financial Review holds women in fairly low regard.

The fact Mark Latham’s shameful column on Lisa Pryor was published in the first place is indicative of this. The fact Pryor didn’t hear back from anyone at the newspaper for a week and they published a second scathing column (with front page billing no less) confirms it.

Is it any wonder that the same people who each week choose to give Mark Latham a national platform to spruik his nasty, vindictive and misogynistic views, failed to treat Sarah MacDonald with the respect of returning her phone call? Ringing her husband is sadly paternalistic and entirely fitting. Let the men sort out the problems, so Sarah doesn’t have to worry her pretty little head.

As I have written previously there is nothing unpredictable in a Daddy Blogger of Mark Latham’s ilk being disparaging and insulting. There is something, however, deeply unimpressive about a national newspaper providing a regular home for views which so consistently degrade and devalue women. That many of the women subject to Latham’s vitriol are widely respected Fairfax columnists compounds the disappointment.

Of course the enormously obvious elephant in the room is that the more vile Latham’s columns are, the more traffic the newspaper will receive. In part, because, the more likely it is that angry readers like me, will respond.

We add oxygen to the fire. By writing this I acknowledge I am playing directly into the newspaper’s hands.

Tempting as it is to starve Mark Latham’s ‘views’ of oxygen (which is easy in part because his pieces are so disparate they require no response) there is a more sinister dynamic at play that I am unwilling to ignore. And it’s the way The Financial Review is treating women.

It is one thing to publish disparaging columns about women but it’s another thing altogether to fail to return those subjects’ calls. Or worse still, to call their husband.

John Dee is one reader who is voting with his wallet and I urge you to consider doing the same.

*UPDATE Sarah MacDonald received a phonecall from the editor of the AFR yesterday afternoon and was told the piece was humour. 

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