By Annette Sharp
The Daily Telegraph
June 01, 2013
Click here to view original
A NATIONAL women’s magazine gave Kerri-Anne Kennerley a dramatically overloaded weapon to open fire on me this week. And why not.
As a gossip columnist, I know the game well. I play the game hard and, well, I realise that I will, on occasion, be fair game.
But because I am an old hand at this, I understand the rules of engagement better than most and, it has to be said, the magazine involved, The Australian Women’s Weekly, bent those rules out of shape with this article.
For those unfamiliar with these rules of engagement, they require that we, as journalists, give the subjects of our articles opportunity to respond to any claims being levelled at them.
Now, what I find a bit rich about the Weekly’s so-called “debate” on “Why Women Hate Women” is that in a four-page spread I am the only person named as a woman-hating woman. No one else, just me. And, it’s a complete lie.
One would believe from this wordy composition that I am responsible for single-handedly sabotaging women by withholding information from them, failing to mentor them, fuelling in-fighting among them and promoting “acts of bitchiness such as gossiping, ostracising and dismissing” – criticisms levelled at anti-women women in general.
There’s even a picture of me, enemy No.1.
On the affirmative team for this “debate”, the subject of which presumably is “That Women Do Hate Women”, are TV variety presenter Kennerley, Sky newsreader Jacinta Tynan, University of Melbourne social scientist Dr Lauren Rosewarne, Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg, Channel 10 news anchor Sandra Sully, ABC current affairs host Leigh Sales, author Kasey Edwards and psychologist Warren Cann.
On the negative team, arguing against the topic, I contribute not one word to this “debate”- unlike my “adversaries”.
Seven women and one man, gathered by the Weekly to admonish women failing to further feminism and promote some fantastic utopian view of “The Sisterhood” – and I’m the only woman in their path.
Now, as you and I happen to know, there are numerous female national media commentators discussing and criticising the flaws in Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s policies, condemning Gina Rinehart’s cheap labour proclamations, shouting down Germaine Greer’s negative comments about the PM’s bum – but I am singled out over one burning issue for this “debate”.
Kennerley has taken issue with me including her in a Logies story which addressed – wait for it – how mature female television stars have bared their cleavages at the Logies.
Up until this point, being a decent sport, I process this as a bit of storm in a teacup. I am a columnist who puts her opinions on paper every day. Some celebrate men and women, some criticise them.
However, on page three of the Weekly’s “debate”, you get to the defining words in the story: “Annette was unable to respond by the time of going to press.” What? A convenient half-truth, at best.
What this paragraph should have said was: “As we left calling Annette until the day before we went to print, we were unable to properly connect with her as she was too busy with her work. She did, in fact, say she would like to have the opportunity to participate.”
Subtle difference (not so subtle, perhaps) but it makes the point that either I was a last-minute oversight or the magazine didn’t really care for my response. For fair-minded readers, it might have undone all the important messages the article aimed for.
As the magazine has a monthly deadline and not a daily one, like me, it would be reasonable to assume I might have been given enough notice, a few days perhaps, to digest the “debate” and offer a response.
Not exactly pro-Sisterhood, is it? Especially from a women’s magazine whose associate editor claimed this week the piece was commissioned to help “tackle the issue”.
In my professional opinion, it was a questionable topic, although carrying an impressive line-up of “experts” delivering one side of an argument. No contrary comment was offered, so there was no “debate” as advertised. In the end, not exactly top quality journalism.