Has lockdown worsened misogyny? This year’s Ernies go to...

Has lockdown worsened misogyny? This year’s Ernies go to…


2021 has been a hell of a year (to put it mildly) and then, on top of global chaos, we had certain individuals icing the cake with egregious displays of sexism. Last night, the Annual Ernies Awards returned in full force to celebrate/commiserate the extent some dinosaurs will go to diminish women.

In it’s 29th year, Ernies founder and organiser Dr Meredith Burgmann declared that misogyny “…comes and goes over the years but the eruption in March this year seems to have reached a peak that hasn’t been seen since the Julia Gillard (Big red box, ditch the witch) period.” 

This year, confined under COVID-19 restrictions, the traditional gathering of more than 330 women in NSW Parliament House will be replaced by  a virtual show, which will be judged by a panel of Ernies ‘Council of Elders’.

The Elders will choose the Gold Ernie winner and the winners across eight different categories, including the Good Ernie trophy for ‘Boys behaving better’ and the Elaine trophy for ‘the remark from a woman least helpful to the Sisterhood’ from more than three thousand nominations.

Dr Burgmann said that despite the Ernies’ entertaining and often comical bent, “…they have a serious intent which is to remind Australians that women are still not equal and are subjected to shockingly prejudiced views and remarks.”

“It is remarkable that what began as a joke so long ago has become an institution, known around the world,” she said. 

“It also astounds me that the same names crop up every year. Mark Latham has been winning his category fairly regularly since 1998 but the soft red leather of the NSW Upper House seems to have dulled his sexism.”

On this year’s list of perpetrators (no surprise here) we welcome the usual suspects; Scott Morrison, Peter Dutton and Andrew Bolt. 

Dutton, along with SA radio host, Jeremy Cordeaux both placed themselves front runners for the Gold Ernie when they decided to share their opinions about Brittany Higgins’ rape allegations. 

“I just ask myself why the Prime Minister doesn’t call it out for what it is — a silly little girl who got drunk,” Cordeaux, one of Adelaide’s longest-serving and most controversial radio hosts, said in March. The 75-year old was later sacked from his job after he aired his comments. 

Referring to the Brittany Higgins assault, Peter Dutton remarked— “I wasn’t provided with the she said/he said details of the allegations.”

Of course, our PM Scott Morrison added his two cents on the case, saying — “Jenny and I spoke last night and she said to me you have to think about this as a father first. What would you want if it were our girls … Jenny has a way of clarifying things”.

And let’s not forget Linda Reynolds’ monstrous description about Brittany Higgins, calling the young ex-Liberal staffer a “lying cow.” (Definitely a candidate for the Elaine Award) 

Also in the running for the big award is Canberra Raiders coach Ricky Stuart, who insinuated back in May that netball was not a tough” sport: “If I can’t have tough conversations with my better players, I might as well coach netball.”

He later apologised for this remarks. 

Staying on sports, Brendan Fevola made a questionable remark about Ash Barty, objecting to her being asked to present the AFL Premiership Cup with this: “I know what they’re trying to do, they’re trying to look good. Virtue signalling, that’s the one.”

When Football Federation Australia failed to produce the Matilda’s away kit in women’s sizes for its fans (only available in Men’s sizes) rugby league broadcaster and former player and coach Phil Gould tweeted “Be patient my son. Relax. Some fans are like my missus. She can’t stand having money in her wallet. She has to rush out and spend it straight away in case it evaporates into thin air.”

And remember that horrifyingly insulting incident of mans-plaining committed by AOC President John Coates against Annastacia Palaszczuk after Brisbane’s winning Olympic bid?

“You are going to the opening ceremony,” he said with arms crossed, body slumped against the back of his chair. “I’m still the deputy chair of the candidature leadership group … none of you are staying behind and hiding in your rooms.”

And how can we pass on Judge Robert Sutherland of NSW District Court, who has had his words plastered across a moving billboard in very public campaign about women’s pain by Ovira: 

Referring to the male perpetrator, Nicholas Drummond, who hit a young woman after telling her to “put her tits away” in Sydney’s north shore last year. 

Judge Sutherland wished the ‘ex-Knox student ‘good luck’ and concluded that the 20-year old made “a lewd and completely inappropriate remark towards someone he didn’t know but whose dress might have been perceived by a former student of Knox to be provocative.”   

Andrew Bolt of Sky News added, “By way of introduction, let me say that one of the silliest and most dangerous slogans of our time is ‘believe the victim’.”

Nationals member for Dawson, George Christensen is also in the running for the Ernies when he jumped into the debate regarding a proposal to increase childcare subsidies by suggested “…parents were outsourcing the care of their children to big corporations.” 

And how can we ignore the other discriminatory remarks made by prime minster this past year; talking about the Women’s March4Justice in March this year, he said, “This is a vibrant liberal democracy Mr Speaker. Not far from here, such marches, even now, are being met with bullets, but not here in this country.”

And after Grace Tame made her Australian of the Year speech detailing her experience of child sexual abuse — he commented, “Well, gee, I bet it felt good to get that out.”

Sadly, misogyny and sexism is not an activity practised only by men: contending for the Elaine Award for women making troubling sexist remarks include Teena McQueen, Federal Liberal Party Vice President, who said at a meeting, “I would kill to be sexually harassed at the moment.”

Janet Albrechtsen, writing in The Australian, called Jane Caro “A pox on the menacing face of modern feminism”.

Anne Ruston, Minister for Families and Services, responded to criticism that the budget did not deliver on women’s issues by saying “women can drive on the new roads”.

And Jane Hume, Minister for Women’s Economic Security who suggested that female domestic violence victims can use their superannuation to escape the violence.

It’s a tough world out there. But let’s end on a good note, with some optimism; the Good Ernie Award for men behaving ‘better’: 

In March, The Sydney Swans de-gendered the club song from “her loyal sons” to “our loyal Swans.”

In the same month, Liberal MP Russell Broadbent asked the prime minister to set up a national gathering of women to focus on cabinet submissions, new policies and legislation that have a gender impact statement. He also said politicians “need to be quiet, listen and learn”.

ABC Sports reporter Richard Hinds is also in the running for saying, “I’ve no idea whether Rugby Australia CEO Raelene Castle was a good CEO or a disaster. I’m 100 percent certain women in power are still held to a much higher account than men.”

But also, any decent, conscientious human adult knows this to be a fact. If women in power are still held to a much higher account than men, we also understand that men who state facts that recognise the reality of the world as it is for women, are rewarded and commended at a lower threshold. 

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