The women, the Weekly and the worm

Article by Lauren Rosewarne /
Larvatus Prodeo  /
August 03, 2010 /

Link to original unavailable /

While I can balance a keyboard on my lap and wax lyrically that likeability is unnecessary for politicians, of course their throng of advisors and image consultants and media boffins aren’t listening to me. Nope. They’re listening to the polls. And those polls are telling them that it’s close. It’s close. It’s boring and it’s anyone’s game. And in a peculiar election that’s both neck-and-neck and as drowsying as a cup of warm Milo, evidently there’s suspicion that almost anything could tickle the worm.

While I’m still bemused at how someone could watch Tone schlep his daughter around a fish market and think he’d do orright’ as a PM, nevertheless, the polls did turn in his favour. And in that same week, Jules’ numbers – Jules with her glam happy snaps and Jules with her not-so-salacious confessions – took a dip. Those very women who pumped their fists when she ascended turned against her. Fascinating business, polls.

I’m still hoping the numbers are a blip, but for conversation’s sake, let’s blame the Weekly. Let’s blame the image manipulators who pretend that women are stupid. Let’s blame the dumbing down of campaigns in general.

Female politician plus a Women’s Weekly spread always equals Cheryl Kernot. Cheryl in (what a Texan man I once knew would call) “bordello red”. Cheryl, in an Old West brothel madam dress complete with a “spend… a little time with me” boa. Julia, wisely, played it conservative. Pictures more party propaganda and less Oasis Active. Pictures of the “many faces of” variety. Smiling, cheeky, wistful, tough, busy.

While the cover promised “dating, drugs & life with Tim”, the article was certainly not of the casual sex, coke or cross-dressing boyfriend calibre. Nope. Because the Weekly is recipes. It’s wrinkle cream reviews. It’s weight loss tips. But wouldn’t it be just wonderful if those readers – those recipe clipping nanas and academics searching for a blog post idea – decided that they would punish Julia. Not because she isn’t married. Not because the stork hasn’t blessed her. Not because she smoked that wee bit of pot. But because they voted against manipulation. Voted against cheap and cynical efforts to get votes. Voted against getting political puff when they wanted pasta recipes.

By absolutely no means am I encouraging anyone to vote against Julia. In a two-party system the consequences of voting conservative are too frightening to imagine. (I don’t do Facebook groups, but if did, Friends don’t let friends vote for Tony Abbott looks a little clever). That said, I can’t pretend I wouldn’t be delighted if women realised they were much smarter than the campaign manipulators thought they were. And decided to scare them. Just a little.

© Lauren Rosewarne