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.