If you have hoped, like I have, that Australia has somehow moved beyond a point where the blatant sexualisation of female politicians – whereby the body parts of a Prime Minister are presented on a menu, for example – was readily accepted, the news isn’t good.
Last week Advance Australia, a conservative activist group formed in November of 2018, unveiled Captain GetUp, a ‘superhero’ who fights what it describes as GetUp’s ‘radical left-wing agenda’.
— Matt Burke (@matttburke) April 14, 2019
It seems that’s not all he does. On Sunday evening a video was posted by the group featuring Captain GetUp rubbing up against an image of Independent candidate in the Sydney seat of Warringah Zali Steggall.
@TonyAbbottMHR and @ScottMorrisonMP, you accept Advance Australia’s support. Does this represent your values? Is it any wonder the Coalition has a problem with women? #womenvote #respectwomen #warringahvotes #auspol https://t.co/IQp7j6Ecnq
— Zali Steggall (@zalisteggall) April 14, 2019
“I think there is a level of sexualisation with that, which is inappropriate.There is no place for that kind of behaviour in the 21st century. It is disrespectful, it’s inappropriate.” Steggall told Fairfax Media.
On Monday the video was pulled and Advance Australia said it was “posted in error”.
Advance Australia says a video showing 'Captain GetUp' gyrating against a billboard of Zali Steggall – posted to the mascot's official Twitter account – was 'posted in error' and has been removed https://t.co/ZZNeBUMIhd via @smh
— Josephine Tovey (@Jo_Tovey) April 15, 2019
The fact it was posted by the group on multiple social media platforms, including a sponsored post on Facebook, makes this difficult to believe.
Why, exactly, did the video exist at all if it wasn’t going to be shared? Why was the ‘error’ only discovered after it was being called out as sexist?
It is base and gratuitous and ought to be unequivocally denounced by the Liberal party. Advance Australia is not the Liberal Party, it is a separate and distinct entity, but the Liberal Party receives its support.
— Julia Banks MP (@juliabanksmp) April 14, 2019
It is no secret that the Liberal party has a problem with women: whether it is inclined to do anything substantive about it is unclear.
But if it isn’t willing to reject this kind of imagery it’s clear it hasn’t even moved to a point where treating candidates with respect and dignity is expected. And what a poor indictment on them that would be.