The Dawn Chorus

Fresh Australian Feminism

Brief Thoughts On The Pauline Hanson Nude Photos “Scandal”

Posted by Clem Bastow on March 15, 2009

I can honestly say I never thought the day would come when I found myself expressing my respect for Pauline Hanson’s handling of any situation; the One Nation leader has been racist, bigoted, infuriating and beligerent, but I never expected this. Some back-story for those who are confused: if you’ve read the Sunday morning papers today (or browsed the News Ltd online offering), you will have seen that an ex-boyfriend of Hanson’s, Jack Johnson, has released some “provocative”/”seductive” (Daily Telegraph‘s words) photos taken when the pair were on a holiday some time between 1975 and 1977. Charmingly (though also, on some level, rather refreshingly – at least in the context of “former associates” who usually labour under false pretenses of “the public deserves to know…”), he has more or less admitted he only released the photos as he needed the money:

He said he was happy to give them back to the politician – “but sorry it’s come to this, sweetheart … that’s the way it is”.

It’s the same old sordid attempt to derail a woman’s political (or any) career – but what strikes me in this instance as notable is Hanson’s refusal to collapse into the usual press conference mea culpa expected of the victims of such “smear campaigns” (I use the air quotes because it always bothers me when apparently all it takes to derail a career is a healthy sex life – and for the record, I consider “healthy” anything two (or more) consenting adults decide to do together and don’t use it as a synonym for the greatly unhelpful “normal”). In fact, Hanson’s response – via her campaign office, in the Tele story linked to above – has been wonderfully brief:

Hanson was campaigning in Logan City south of Brisbane yesterday. Her campaign manager Bronwyn Boag said Hanson was too busy to come to the phone and they did not “care about photos”.

That is precisely the right response. Obviously politics is a field wrought with considerations of one’s electorate’s feelings and responses to anything that could spell a drop in votes, but how often do we see politicians selling out their lovers, sexual preferences and former associates solely for the ability to say, in essence, “but don’t worry, I’m okay now”? Saying “I don’t care” is the right response – because we shouldn’t care, either, nor should we be shocked or surprised.

The only person who should feel smeared by this rather sorry affair is Johnson; he’s the one who realised he needed to sell private photos in order to make a quick buck and descended into that grimy world himself. Hanson – while she should very much still feel ashamed of her politics, both personal and professional – should feel no shame at all. Perhaps she might wince at her mid-’70s choice of boudoir gear, or her hairdo (probably not), or her makeup, or remind herself why she didn’t end up staying with Johnson, but she should not – and, correctly, has not – fallen into a puddle of regret and hand-wringing simply to assuage the 1950s-worthy moral tut-tutting of the media commentators.

But the media needs to learn that women – even the ones we don’t like – have sex drives and sex lives. They vary infinitely from woman to woman, but the moral of the story is that revealing that a woman once took photos with an intimate partner (see also: Vanessa Hudgens, Jess Origliasso…) is not – or rather, should not – enough to derail a career. It is not “porn”, it is not a “scandal” – the only thing that brings such terms into play is the media itself, and the vultures feeding (and being fed by) the machine.


24 Responses to “Brief Thoughts On The Pauline Hanson Nude Photos “Scandal””

  1. datakid said


  2. […] Bastow expresses the natural reaction that’s hard to fight; I can honestly say I never thought the day would […]

  3. Clem Bastow said

    Isn’t it sad/worrying that all it takes to “derail” a political (or entertainment) career these days is a sex life? You used to have to kill someone or be a drug runner.

  4. ozsoapbox said

    I agree that it is sad but unfortunately (or fortunately) the public love public figure scandals.

    You only have to look at the recently supressed naming of a Victorian MP and his extra cirricular sexual activities to see this. What the courts fail to see is that in instances like that they do more damage then good because they re-affirm the notion that public figures sex lives are indeed scandalous and should be “protected”.

    If they continue to propagate this viewpoint then unfortunately incidents like this are going to continue to be huge deals in the Australian media and the public can’t help but see them as a scandal.

  5. rachel said


  6. Brad said

    I just saw the photos and the first thought I had was of the man who released the photos and how repugnant and opportunistic he must be.

    Side note: remember how cool everyone was with Kevin Rudd going to a strip joint? Double standards me thinks.

  7. Ngarmada said

    So she really does have a redneck!

  8. rayedish said

    I blame, besides the hard-up ex-boyfriend, the media. If those trashy papers stopped buying and carrying this kind of muck there would be a lot less pressure on women to apology for being human.

  9. Chrissy said

    I don’t know if this changes anyone’s opinion, but the fellow in question who sold the photos reportedly lives on a pension and did it to pay off debts incurred when receiving treatment for bone cancer.

    Not sure how I feel about all this.

  10. Clem Bastow said

    I know what you mean, Chrissy, but still – he didn’t have something else to sell that didn’t involve cashing in on the shaming of women who dare to be anything other than as sexually pure as the driven snow?

  11. Chrissy said

    Oh absolutely, selling naked photos of someone is a reprehensible thing to do, but to me through this whole debacle there is a whiff of desperation. Of course also at fault are the members of the media more than happy to pay out the nose for material like this – sad world.

  12. Les said

    Top post!

    Just a couple of things to add…

    When Johnson tried to return the images to her 4 years ago and couldn’t personally speak to her, why didn’t he just destroy them? What was the importance of giving them to her? I’m not going to say it but you know that thing that happens when one person has something over another… I’m sure people can make their own conclusions about this, it’s a matter of reading between the lines.

    Nineteen year old girlfriend, free weekend away, free alcohol, lingerie gift and a camera… Yes, erm, as he says “It was that innocent.” Why the hell dose he try to sugar coat it, it was a dirty weekend. Cherish the memory and cut the crap.

    Johnson sounds like a bit of a wanker that said, he probably didn’t have a justifiable reason to enlighten us all ten years ago. I’ve heard, he didn’t even get payed that much.

    Legalities aside I don’t think the two images that I’ve seen are degrading, although they are probably just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Presently it’s not a question of her morality, it’s about her trust and his respect for others.

    Tonight, I spoke with a friend in Darwin and she said the NT News (Darwin) featured the images in full, with small stars strategically placed where you would expect. The image of her topless is actually full frontal cropped just above her knees. At least the major online news providers showed some restraint.

    If she is a victim, I really do feel for her but I still wouldn’t vote for her.

  13. […] Brief Thoughts On The Pauline Hanson Nude Photos “Scandal” […]

  14. Linda Radfem said

    Hey all, first time commenting here.

    I agree that the material was not porn at the time the pics were taken.
    But, by using the images in order to profit, he is still pornifying them after the fact, which makes him a pornographer imo.
    Now other men are free to pornify her too, even if only in their own minds, and judging by the men I saw yesterday gleefully heading to the news stand and flicking straight to these pics, some will be doing that.

    First time I’ve felt compelled to defend Hanson, ever.

  15. jessesanythinggoes said

    humm interesting

  16. tina sparkle said

    lol at “pornify”. pauline hanson is a sexual being. so what. aren’t we all? my beef is not with johnson, but with the decision of the telegraph to publish. neil breen made a judgement to allow this moron’s opportunism a voice – or should I say ‘face’?(regardless of who the subject is). way to go on the work ethic there.

    love the way the headline yesterday also spoke of her ‘photo betrayal’. have I missed something? the fact that neil breen is an absolute fuckwit, perhaps?

  17. […] Post:  Clem at The Dawn Chorus commends Pauline Hanson’s reaction to the ZOMGSCANDAL.  Laine would be […]

  18. Mike said

    I am proud of this man for making this woman go down. You know many of us don’t like her – she is a racist! We pray for her eventual fall!!!!!!!!!

  19. sauer kraut said

    And here I thought us Americans were the only tacky aholes on the planet… these pix should never have made it out of the bedroom.

  20. sauer kraut said

    nude pix of hillary clinton…. eewwwww… was that necessary?

    did you know that Wellesley used to take topless pix of all its incoming freshmen? there are topless pix of Hillary and Madeleine Albright out there somewhere… rumored to be with skull and crossbones at Yale. Blogged about is last year.

  21. Matt said

    Agree. News Ltd should be ashamed of what they published – it was extremely low (disregarding the individual it attacks). The Daily Telegraph is a disgraceful paper and I am frustrated and appalled at people who pay money for such a toilet-rag.

    It’s the public who should get the blame here – buy that paper, and you’re fueling the economy of idiocy.

  22. […] Brief Thoughts On The Pauline Hanson Nude Photos “Scandal” I can honestly say I never thought the day would come when I found myself expressing my respect for Pauline […] […]

  23. Bearded Lay said

    Sometimes I wonder whether or not the media underestimates its audience.

  24. Bearded Lady said

    ‘Bearded Lay’?….curious indeed.

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