The Dawn Chorus

Fresh Australian Feminism

Fairfax can do better

Posted by Nic Heath on July 1, 2009

Fairfax’s nest of gender stereotypes, the online Life & Style section has some smashing content to provoke a mid-week ponder.

Thanks Lisa Pryor for asking what men want in a wife, and thanks too to the subs who stuck ‘Maid to Order’ on the graphic linking to the story. Domestic help then I gather.

I hope included in this story simply for effect, ‘nightclub impresario’ Nicholas Atgemis ticks all the chauvinist boxes and more.

Having addressed the emasculation that comes with a financially independent wife, ‘Atgemis is fine with the idea of a wife with a career, so long as she stays home with the children for the first seven years or so; years he considers crucial to a child’s development.’

He actually talks about the future primary care giver of his children in these terms: “I want something a bit exotic, something no one else has got their hands on.” Straight from the showroom floor then?

It is clear that Atgemis represents the extreme end of a spectrum of views, and his inflammatory comments are balanced by the spirituality of Anglican Minister Justin Moffatt and construction manager Luke Keller’s balanced salt-of-the-earth approach to relationships.

Freedom of speech and all that, but this two-dimensional article isn’t breaking any new ground in the area of personal relationships or representations of character.

Australian model Alyssa Sutherland reflects on pole-dancing for fitness:

“It’s not in the bedroom, it’s in the living room. But it’s a brand new pole and it’s way too slippery. Apparently, it needs to be worn in. One trick is to put shaving cream all over your body so you’re sticky,” she says.

Definitely newsworthy.

Meanwhile Sam at Ask Sam taps into a mob-like single consciousness in her look at interstate dating. Inhabitants of Melbourne and Sydney attain a single gendered voice - Sydney women say their men are commitment-phobes! Melbourne women are livid Sydney women are on their turf!

As Sam is clearly in possession of some sort of literacy I assume this obtuseness is a stylistic choice, but that doesn’t save it from being pointless and dull and actually counter-productive.

Melbourne/Sydney rivalry is artfully rendered by Sam in a totally novel way:

Melbourne men are only too happy to meet a new crop of singles. One gent told the media Melbourne women were too hard to meet because they were all “introspective and introverted,” while saying Sydney women were “much more assertive.” (Which is interesting, considering Sydney men will say that Sydney women are impossible to talk to!)

And answering Sam’s opening gambit, “what do you think is so wrong with women in this city these days?” – I’d say it’s that any of them read her blog. Advice I usually follow, when not seeking to stir myself up on a quiet day.

To finish on a positive note, The Guardian’s website has a Life & Style section that doesn’t rely on such formulaic content. The articles on the Women page regularly engage with serious issues affecting women – such as legislation affecting the sex industry - and call on feminist perspectives. Fairfax on the other hand have turned tabloid – probably because it is easier to do so than trying to surpass standard tropes.

4 Responses to “Fairfax can do better”

  1. estelle said

    Oh, I saw that article about Nicholas Atgemis. Kind of like reading about someone from another planet, except, bewilderingly, he belongs to ours.

  2. Rachel said

    I, too, noted the weekend papers were plumbing new depths of inanity. What is with this Sunday Life turned women’s mag deal? Aren’t there enough of those in the world? I don’t mind the odd witty opinion piece, but couldn’t we have some serious journalism, please! We can read blogs online. Is this really what Fairfax has decided are the limits of our intelligence? Think I might take out that subscription to The Guardian now… (And lucky for Atgemis that he has money, ’cause he ain’t got much else going for him.)

  3. gemma said

    i adore the guardian – their fashion writing especially is brilliant. hadley freeman is tremendous.

  4. Jaa said

    Grand mid week ponder. I’ll just be off to shaving cream up my pole..

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