There have been many, MANY eyebrow raising moments to have come from the Federal Government’s recently held Women’s Safety Summit.
That Prime Minister Scott Morrison dealt himself the plum role of delivering the first keynote speech, is one.
That rape survivor & advocate Brittany Higgins (whose story was incidentally the catalyst for the summit in the first place) was not invited to partake, is another.
That the government chose to move ahead with the summit in the same week that they rejected 49 of 55 key recommendations from Kate Jenkins’ landmark Respect@Work report, is a third.
But the Coalition’s coup de grâce was their decision to select Sunrise host, David Koch to speak on a panel focused on domestic violence.
As the chairman of the Port Adelaide Football Club, which runs a program to teach Year 10 boys how to recognise disrespect towards women, Kochie was determined by the government to be uniquely qualified to deliver this expertise.
Far more qualified than the hundreds upon hundreds of men and women in real, full-time advocacy roles and frontline domestic and family violence services.
The mind boggles.
But beyond his lack of meaningful authority, the real clincher is that the government chose a man, who, throughout his decades-long media career, has used his considerable platform to degrade and diminish women on several occasions.
Here’s a quick recap:
“Men work harder than women”
Yep, this was a real claim made by the man in question.
During a segment on Sunrise in 2017 that looked at research from Canada supporting the reality of “man flu”, Kochie told his fellow (all female) panelists that men have a weaker immune system because they work ‘harder’ than women.
‘It’s official, man flu is real. A Canadian researcher says males have a weaker immune system than women because we work so hard and are more likely to suffer complications,’ Kochie said.
‘Do men demand more sympathy because women go to bed and get over it and men just keep moving and going on and working?’ he asked, adding that men ‘rarely whinge and moan’ about being sick.
Sexually humiliating and belittling his female co-host
In 2014, Kochie overheard his female co-host Samantha Armytage comment uncomfortably on set about a new pair of shoes she was being made to wear: “have you seen my new stripper heels?” the presenter asked.
Later, on air, Kochie had a stripper pole brought on set with Joe Cocker’s famous stripping song You can leave your hat on played in the background. A visibly shocked and uneasy Armytage was then forced to play along with the impromptu skit less she be maligned as uptight.
“These shoes are the choice for pole dancers all over the country,’ Sam said. To which Koch replied “Be careful because they’re quite reflective” as he peered down at his co-host’s bare legs.
“Be more discreet”
This was Kochie’s advice to breastfeeding mums.
In an op-ed for News.com in 2013, Koch said critics could “call me a dinosaur” but respecting a woman’s right to breastfeed “anywhere, at anytime” is “a two-way street.”
“Whether they be generational, cultural or religious sensitivities, some people in the community are just not comfortable with uncovered breastfeeding,” he said.
His comments followed public furore after Bribie Island aquatic centre staff asked a Queensland mother, Liane Webster to move or stop breast-feeding her baby on the poolside.