Let’s get one thing straight: women don’t become journalists if they’re princesses. If you’re a chick who’s easily offended then there are hundreds of other jobs out there better suited to you than being a journo.
The past week or two, however, I’ve witnessed a concerning phenomenon. Seemingly, if you’re a female journo and someone “offends” you (on the telly usually), then the public will go on a outrage crusade on your behalf, regardless of whether you want them to or not.
I’ve been a journalist for some 15 years and during that time I’ve been propositioned, stalked, told many times that I don’t “look like a journalist” and that I had nice tits (well, I do) and generally been harangued by a huge variety of people, not all of them men.
The stalking scenario was serious and was dealt with appropriately, but the rest of the “offences” didn’t really bother me overly much. I often found them funny and usually tried to have a witty retort when something was a bit on the nose. I guess my point of view is that sometimes some people are just dicks and know not what they say because of that rather dangly impediment. It’s not a hanging offence. They’re just idiots – temporary or otherwise. Especially when one’s job involves dealing with relative strangers on the record and off. Humans are unpredictable creatures and sometimes, yep, we make mistakes.
Who knows why some people take offence and some don’t? It’s clearly got something to do with psychology and I don’t think my girlhood was any better or worse than any other woman my age. I grew up in the ‘70s and things were much different then. Many women worked as secretaries, very few went to university and I guess even fewer were journalists.
While today’s teenage “role models” writhe around singing in the nude on a wrecking ball while licking its chain, we had still mostly-clothed idols that “pushed the envelope” by singing about abortion and about being single. It really does seem bloody tame in comparison.
We had teachers who tried to feel the bra strap under your shirt when you were 12 (it was a waste of time with me back then) and others who screamed and yelled at you in a locked gym after school hours when you mucked around “too much” at basketball.
All of these things are now rightfully illegal but back in the day it was kind of normal. That’s because some people are creepy, dirty pervs who should never have been teachers and sometimes they’re just having a bad day and you had the bad fortune of getting in their way.
Thinking back on that time, which was and wasn’t as innocent as today, it’s interesting that these days we have the very worst of humanity available at our very fingertips. Via the internet, if you’re so inclined, you can access hardcore porn and vision of murders and beheadings. There appears to be nothing sacred any more. Yet, paradoxically, we also live in an age where minor indiscretions become major issues just because someone, at one moment in their lives, is deemed not to be perfect by a vocal minority, with a global platform they don’t deserve, and the “outrage crusade” swings (momentarily because it’s always that) into action. What a farce.
Making a public play for a female TV reporter on-air just made cricketer Chris Gayle look like a douche. The journo has admitted she wasn’t overly fussed and wanted to move on from it, but Australia at large decided to be outraged on her behalf. Who knows why? Perhaps to make themselves look like good people who clearly have never tried to chat someone up – at work or the pub – and made a complete knob of themselves in the process.
The politician who called a journo a mad witch in a private message and then mistakenly sent it to her isn’t the devil incarnate, he’s a Neanderthal technophobe who needs to learn how to use his mobile phone better. We’ve all sent messages to people in error, including me when I accidentally text my mum years ago with a sexy love ditty meant for my boyfriend at the time. Her reply was simply, “I don’t think this is for me, dear.”
In the “witch” instance, again the journalist didn’t over-react to receiving the text and in fact was very good-natured about the incident. Like I said, if you’re a female journalist you have to have thick skin – and not because you’re a woman. Because as a reporter your job is to ask people questions that they don’t want to answer to try to uncover the truth. So if you’re going to run away and hide at the first denial, well, you won’t make it very far in the media and might as well go and work as a barista. I don’t think either of the women in these latest episodes are wilting waifs who need society to jump to their defence. They both seem pretty damn capable to me.
Sexual harassment is never okay but neither is trying to turn relatively benign fuck-ups into something that they’re not. I truly believe that sometimes people are just knob-heads and unless you can hand on heart say you’ve never said something offensive (in public or private) or done something you regret, then please don’t get outraged on my behalf because of my gender.
I’m a big girl. I don’t need someone to take the moral or sexual high ground for me. When something offends me, it’s only me that can make that judgment because I am the sum of my experiences not anyone else. And if that does happen, which is very rare I must admit, you can bet the poor person on the receiving end will feel every ounce of my justified outrage because, get this, I am a woman and I can also stand up for myself.