Article by Lauren Rosewarne /
ABC The Drum /
March 8, 2016 /
In this week’s episode of When Councillors Go Wild, Cr Craig Ogilvie of Greater Brisbane’s Redland City has admitted to using his employer-provided tech gadgets for pursuits of the more intimate variety.
Think Ashley Madison emails. Think handmade sex tapes. Think a bountiful stash o’ downloaded porn.
Rather than a mea culpa, rather than skilfully blaming it on the dopey intern, instead, Ogilvie has attempted to reframe the scandal as testimony to his virility. That, if he’s guilty of anything, it’s being “red-blooded”. Apparently, his libido is just so red-hot, that far from it being bridled, it needs to be captured. For posterity. On council-issued devices.
Ogilvie’s defence strategy here is a curious three-pronged rationalisation. First, he’s claimed that domestic use of council-supplied equipment is, like, totally acceptable. (Those three crucial letters of F, O, and I appear, seemingly, to have dropped off his radar).
Second, he’s used the rock-solid primary schoolyard claim that the other kids are doing it – making erotic movies, watching porn – so why is he being singled out?
Third, and here’s where his delicto gets thoroughly delightful, Ogilvie has accused anyone daring to question his behaviour as a slut shamer. Aha. Yes, indeedy. Because finally someone has dared demand justice for society’s most tragic victims: white male politicians with insatiable appetites for sweaty shenanigans.
Oh. Wait. Hang on a tick…
“Slut” is not a gender-neutral word. It has a very specific application as a slur used to judge, and condemn, a woman for her sex life: either her real sex life or the one that plays out exclusively in the minds of busybodies.
Sure, men have occasionally borrowed the term. A male friend once told me about a “slut phase” he went through after a break-up. His deployment, however, was just a colourful way to describe quantity: he knows – we all know – that in our world of double standards, no man ever gets condemned for the quantity of sex he’s had and no man’s “slut phase” will ever be read as anything more than a bit of festive bed-hoppin’.
Ogilvie, however, is having a bob each way. Like many a disgraced politician before him, he’s gone down the biological, my-manly-chromosomes-made-me-do-it path. But at the very same time, he’s pilfered a phrase describing a sexuality-based attack on women and applied it to himself to garner sympathy for his status as yet another sexually scandalised politician.
Yep. Trainwreck is the word you’re grappling for.
A trait essential in the workplace – and nowhere more so than in politics – is judgment. Is adequately conveying the impression to your electorate that you know what constitutes good behaviour and that you have sufficient political acumen to anticipate how a scenario will play out.
Not only has Ogilvie demonstrated a severe lack of forethought, but worse, his excuses revolve around one hell of a shonky bait-and-switch-strategy: Sure, I’ve been caught stockpiling masturbation accoutrements but, please, take pity on me. I’m but a victim of your judgment.
Technically Ogilvie is right when he says that many people sext, that lots of people enjoy the odd debauched video, that we’re a judgmental and oftentimes completely hypocritical society. All true. But the councillor can’t consider himself part of that society – a representative of that society – and also somehow be shocked when that very same society chooses to remind him that we hold public figures to a different set of standards.
No, it may not be fair, but it happens and gents lose their jobs. Frequently. We remember names like Bill Clinton, Anthony Weiner, Larry Craig, Eliot Spitzer precisely because their yen to partake of a penis-palooza was more memorable, and more damaging, than anything else done behind their desk.
Ogilvie’s crime here isn’t that he clicked “record” on a bit of slap and tickle, nor is it his treasure trove of torrid torrents. His crime isn’t even his gross misunderstanding of the phrase slut-shamed. Ogilvie’s sin here is that he stupidly partook of his shenanigans on a phone, on a laptop, owned by his employer. His sin was not catching his breath long enough to consider just how badly his behaviour might play publicly. His sin was not understanding FOI laws.
He might be hot-blooded, red-blooded, and he might have some interesting insights into puritanical sexual mores. But he has also exhibited a frightening paucity of nous.
© Lauren Rosewarne