Lara Bingle, Michael Clarke and Peter Roebuck sitting in a tree
Posted by Katie Olsen on March 10, 2010
The Age online today published another in the list of its growing collection of out-dated and apparently un-subbed features. And it wasn’t even in Ask Sam or Essential Baby, it was right there on the front page (by Peter Roebuck): “Michael Clarke needs to choose between a fraught personal life and his career in cricket.” As far as pullquotes go, that one is a doozie.
Firstly, it was amazing to see that for the first time this reader of The Age has ever seen such an old fashioned denial of ‘having it all’ directed at a man. Rife in Australia (and echoed in rom-coms, chick flicks, chick lit, and other rhyming forms of entertainment) is the belief that for a woman to be super successful in her career she must sacrifice. Sacrifice any chance of a functioning marriage (certainly no man could want to be groom to some power-suited, heartless, soulless, manlike Career Woman); sacrifice a family (not enough hours in the day to hug a child and write emails); sacrifice her looks (surely one can’t be both attractive and clever unless witchcraft is involved). This was the first time a man was told he had to sacrifice. So I clicked and read the rest of the article. Speculation and sexism ensued.
“He [Clarke] is locked into a love affair with a beautiful young woman…. Lara Bingle stumbles from public relations disaster to public relations calamity. Restaurateurs complain about her manners and the poor company she keeps. Fashionistas talk of her headstrong ways and dubious customs. Moreover she seems intent on boosting the sales of all those magazines purchased by the female of the species. In short, she craves attention and courts controversy. Yet Michael, the class act of the pairing, seems besotted. Beauty and danger have always been a potent combination.”
“She stumbles from public relations disaster to public relations calamity” – seems unfair: the cancelling of the Where The Bloody Hell Are You? campaign wasn’t her fault, she didn’t write the script; and she certainly wasn’t to blame for Fevola’s behaviour int the camera phone fiasco. “Locked in”? “Beauty and danger”? He may as well have called her a Black Widow and Photoshopped a Scarlet Letter on her image. The unsubstantiated claims about her manners and “dubious customs” have little or nothing to do with the Fevola scandal or Clarke and Bingle’s relationship and have no place on the homepage of a newspaper. Adding that Clarke is the “class act” of the coupling was just another immature and transparent dig.
But it gets better (read: worse).
“Maturity is the issue. From a distance the romance has all the traits of a schoolboy crush. Clarke has scored a stack of runs for his country, has travelled to many places, has seen and done a lot, has become accomplished. By now gilded youth ought to have given way to adult sensibility. Perhaps it has. Perhaps the problem is that Bingle remains the same waif-like figure supposedly in need of protection.”
So not only is Bingle a media whore, she’s also damsel in distress and Clarke is apparently some egghead sports-dude who has succumbed to her feminine wiles. As somebody who very rarely pays attention to the good bits of sport in Australia, even this moi can see that aside from being sexist, it’s neither an educated nor researched argument. All we know is that Clarke left a sports game to be with his fiance, whatever the reason. Quite the opposite of being some weak little boy, isn’t Clarke being a Real Life Grown Up by supporting his partner?
And then: “Her chivalrous partner rode to her rescue. Nothing in her life, though, suggests that she has ever emerged from the chrysalis of youthful beauty. It’s a dilemma. Clarke yearns to fulfil himself yet remains in thrall to a lass living in a celebrity time warp.”
Just, WOW. Mostly I like how he not only used the word “lass” but then accused her of being in a “time warp”. Oh irony, missed you. PS. You misspelled ‘fulfill’. [I'm wrong, that's the American spelling. My bad.]
In his article, Roebuck has painted Bingle (who may or may not be intelligent, kind, funny, whatever – we don’t know and doubt he does either) as a femme fatale, a Jezebel, an unstable, untrustworthy, unworthy, hysterical woman. Clarke got off lightly, he’s just been reduced to an juvenile simpleton who has been caught in a spider’s web, driven only by sexual desire and a Prince Charming complex.
What’s bigger than a trifecta? Quinella? Whatever it is, Roebuck got one in the worst possible way.
UPDATE: Here’s another charming screen-grab from The Age. Nice Photoshopping. From 11th March.