By Dannika Bonser
Australia, like America, carved an identity for itself as a land of opportunity, where fortune favours the bold and hardwork is rewarded with success. But also carved into the stone of our foundations is that old chestnut the ‘gender clause’; i.e. leave the big stuff for the men. Well a few events in the last week’s media coverage saw this carving dusted off once more.
Gina Rinehart, now the world’s richest woman and Australia’s weathiest person, has the matriarchial media frothing at the mouth for some time now. She has been painted (or tainted?) as a ‘Baroness‘ for attempting to diverisfy her assets with shares in Fairfax (isn’t it good business practice to diversify one’s portfolio anyway?), and labelled ‘greedy’ by left wing politicians for not sharing her hard earned wealth.
Little do they remember she has created more jobs with the opening of one mine than Ted Ballieu can managed to drum up in the whole of Victoria in the last year.
In stark contrast, Rupert Murdoch (owner of News Coporation) is lauded internationally as a ‘Media Mogul’, and finds country leaders falling over themselves to be in his good favour. So why such a fuss about Gina having a seat or two on the Fairfax board? Has everyone forgotten Fox News and it’s extreme inclination for media bias?
Another obvious candidate vilified on a gender basis (need I say it) is PM Juilia Gillard. Yes, there have been a good few turn arounds on election promises, but this is not new for a PM by any stretch. But Julia’s policy is not what she’s most hounded for. The top 10 most publicised ciriticisms of Jules include a bad haircut and tweed jackets, choosing to remain ‘deliberately barron’, and having an empty kitchen when film crews were invited into her house. The worst John Howard got was diretions to the nearest Brow Bar.
In stark contrast to the barbs Gina and Julia recieve on a daily basis for being strong, independant women, is the outpouring of love for Jill Meagher. The media coverage of Ms Meagher, who allegedly died in horrific circumstances, has been overwhelming. ahowever Ms Meagher wasn’t the first person to go missing this year, in fact someone goes missing in Australia every 15 minutes.
Which begs the question – why was this case so publicsed? I tend to believe it was the ‘perfect storm’ scenario; it had close emotional proximity to all Austrlian urbanites, there was concern of foul play, and Jill Meagher fit perfectly with socieies idea of a ‘female victim’. She was an attractive, physically vulnerable female walking home from a bar alone.
Of course the alleged fate of Mrs Meagher is an extremely tragic one, but we must ask ourselves – would the media have cared so much if it was a female who broke with the gender cast and challened lingering traditional ideals? I think not.