Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Unpacking the Witch Thing

Whilst halfway through my slide in the car, I heard on the radio yet another rally of rabble rousers protesting against the carbon tax and chanting "Ditch the Witch, ditch the Witch."



Admittedly, I was rather busy at the time, thinking about such things as kerbs, tyres, life, death ... you know. But I keep getting flashbacks and the chanting is the soundtrack. Like a bad 'Tour of Duty' companion CD to the war.

Why Witch? Is it because our female Prime Minister has red hair and a long nose? Or because she is female? While on the female thing - how do interviewers and slangers such as this lovely character below get away with calling her by her first name and then stretching it out to a school bully taunt?



Sometimes the supposed Aussie egalitarian ethos gives me the shits. This egalitarian sentiment only activates when peering up to the roost above, not down to the socio-economic equivalent of the chicken hutch floor: that's for the Bleeding Hearts and Do-Gooders.

When Kevin Rudd lambasted an RAAF air hostess, provoking princess tears all around, for providing him with yesterday's newspaper and feeding him meat, Australians jumped up and down at his arrogance and cruelty. Like who does this prat think he is - The Prime Minister or something?
Perhaps Rudd could have been more dignified in his response. Perhaps the RAAF could have noted that Australian Prime Minister was vegetarian and would like to read that day's paper.He is their boss, after all. Duh.

Anyway, to pull my Australian egalitarianism whinge back to the Witch discussion, I'll put myself out on a limb here and suggest that the Witch thing goes beyond sexism or just plain bad manners. It is engaging in popularising misogyny ... an exercise in keeping the woman in 'her place'. A crowd of people chanting ditch the witch reminds me of a bunch of flat earthers holding rakes and pitchforks - those delightful folk who, if they could actually find enough firewood after burning witches for the last thousand years, would happily harry another red headed, unwed woman (and thank goodness she is not a midwife) to the stake.

I'm quite politically ambivalent. Yet I find this recent climate disturbing: that the opposition leader is okay with standing in front of the blatantly homophobic and misogynistic placards in order to whip up some popularity for himself - and that our women leaders are so publicly disrespected on a personal, rather than a political platform. Maybe it is just me.
Dunno.
Is it just me?

10 comments:

  1. I am also politically ambivalent, Sarah, and know nothing about Oz politics, but I still love that picture of the lovely character. If it were not frowned upon these days, I am sure right-wing USA would refer to Obama using the 'N' word - if they could get away with it too.

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  2. I think you are losing your ambivalence :) Not that I read your blog that way ...as politically (party or otherwise ambivalent).

    Australia's convict history has everything to do with how many Australians still relate to one another...with respect to power, position, women ...the works.

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  3. How exciting to find that not only a west australian but an ambivalent apolitical member of the community has some reservations about the whole 'bad behaviour' of the media and of the broader public. It smells like a witch hunt to me. What's wrong with this country. where have all the intelligent reasonable people gone?

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  4. It's not just you ST. Leaving my feminist leanings aside, oh well, maybe not for a second. Let's start a campaign against Abbott like 'Bunt the Misogynist Cunt'. And you are right, how does Alan 'Fuckwit' Jones get to call Julia by her first name?

    The level of political debate in this country is appalling, mainly from the Libs at the moment but Labor can be just as bad. I like Julia's strategy of simply not engaging at the moment. Some of the most insightful stuff is said on Q & I.

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  5. I'm not so sure about how ambivalent I am now, Sontag :). What I was trying to say is that I don't care much for either of the main parties.
    Michelle - do you remember 'Clinton Funt'? Was it the Doug Anthony Allstars?
    My problem with the Witch thing and other acts of worse-than-bad manners is that it has appeared to move from the far right to the mainstream and is not criticised enough.

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  6. I think you are right about the witch mentality becoming more mainstream, maybe just more public though. Australian culture still has a misogynistic undercurrent - what we are seeing is probably just the dying throws of a paternal culture that knows it is done for but won't lie down and die, so taps into formulas that have worked in the past, and unfortunately still do. I do think there are a lot of Aussie blokes out there who are more bi-partisan about sharing power though.

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  7. PS sorry, no I don't remember Clinton Funt....

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  8. Yes, absolutely Michelle. It is the push against positive change that is happening right now. I really liked your post about this. It's happening ... but in the meantime, we have the dross and bullshit, and like a bad relationship the fights are unproductive and hurtful.

    Clinton Funt was a bad politician of the Les Patterson ilk, interviewed weekly by a female journalist who hated him. Her MO was not to get soundbytes but to mess up his name. Every week. "So, Fenton Clint ... Clunton Fint ... Flunton Cint ..."

    I was on the edge of my seat.

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  9. I didn't watch that show but can imagine the suspense waiting for her to fuck up!

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