The Dawn Chorus

Fresh Australian Feminism

Fairfax Still Loves Bettina

Posted by caitlinate on April 4, 2009

A short while back The Age published this piece by Bettina Arndt (an anti-feminist pro-rape sociopath masquerading as a sex therapist). There were, you know, some disgruntled people as a result. Their way of restoring balance isn’t to publish a well written, articulate and composed response (of which there are so many available) but to instead publish this piece of crap. An article that presents itself as a rejoinder to the fucked up notions that Arndt is pushing but, in actual fact, does nothing to explain why anyone would find Arndt offensive or why her women-blaming misogyny is, you know, not okay. Instead it tacitly legitimises Arndt’s arguments by publishing a juvenile, confused and completely fucking stupid response involving something about men being old, fat and bald and that’s why we don’t wanna fuck em. I suspect the author of the article is trying to be funny (forgive me for not getting the joke) but the whole article is based on the premise that, yes, women are to blame, women are doing something wrong, it is the fault of women that men aren’t having sex… but here are some reasons why. Why are we still coming up with fucking reasons why it is okay for a person to say no to sex? Why can’t we just accept NO!?!

Part two of my outrage involves the ‘Your Say’ page for this article. First off they refer to women as “fairer sex” in the blurb. I kid you not. Hello, calling Fairfax, are you aware we’re in 2009? Arriving at this page I then made the fatal error of scrolling down and actually reading some of the comments and I’m so choked with anger and jaw-to-the-floor I can’t even type straight so will rely merely on quotes. Here is the very first cab off the rank comment for your perusal:

“I think the photos of the men in the Age and the Heading Implying that men are to blame is In appropriate.

Women also are looking overweight and gross..”

Yes. It is inappropriate to suggest men are to blame because that would mean we weren’t blaming women and brain explode for Andrew.

The next best one is about ten down:

Wow what a bitter and biased article. I find it particularly suprsing that this article is written by Wendy Frew, who I put politely will certainly not be challenging the next Miss Universe contest.

The point of the initial survey is that after having children many women focus too much on themselves and the children, and not enough time on the relationship with their husband. It doesn’t have to be the bitter slant Ms Frew put on it but it is a very real issue.

I find her comments particularly stupid considering out of the group of friends that my wife and I spend time with I’d say as far as appearance goes this would be a fair indication. Out of 10 males only two would be considered overweight and none would be considered obese. Out of the ten females I’d say 5 of the women would be over weight and 2 would be considered obese. I’d also say that of these seven over weight women, only the two who are obese would actually think they are are over weight. Yes it is true that most of these women have had children but we are purely talking about attractiveness here, not how it happened.

Many women have what I call the “David Brent” opinion of themselves. They delude themselves to thinking that being overweight is just normal and still attractive.

Now are the men in the survey complaining about their overweight partners? On the contrary they want more sex and their overweight wives are not giving it to them.

As far as I can tell this guy can be summarised as saying: “fuck fat bitches, you’re a fat bitch, fuck you”. Which is quite a thoughtful and considered argument really. I wish that guy would bring his thoughtfulness and consideration over to my neck of the woods. We could have a beer, go for a walk, maybe kill a little time in the park kicking a ball around. It’ll be swell.

This is all just another reminder of why I find myself regularly boycotting The Age… isn’t it meant to be better than the Herald Scum? At least the HS aren’t pretending to be something they’re not.

– Edit – In the comments Amber mentioned a Lateline interview with Bettina Arndt. It’s 17 minutes long and you hear some pretty yuck things from Arndt but it’s worth taking a look at – Emily Maguire and Tony Jones (the interviewer) do a great job of bringing light to and discounting some of Arndt’s more questionable assertions and placing them closer to the context of reality. You can read the transcript or stream the video here.


10 Responses to “Fairfax Still Loves Bettina”

  1. Clem Bastow said

    ARGH, Caitlin thanks for also feeling the rage at Frew’s tawdry piece. I started reading it, like you I imagine, hoping for an even vaguely balanced response. I ended it feeling like breaking things.

  2. I had similar thoughts. I understand what the article was getting at (people are less likely to want to have sex with their partner if they don’t find them attractive, or – and I suspect this one might be crucial – if they don’t like them all that much), but Frew’s argument was way too similar to the kind of criticism people like the commenters on Sam de Brito’s blog throw at women every day.

    I’m not surprised readers responded the way they did.

    Has anyone here actually read Arndt’s book? I’m planning on opening it this afternoon to see how accurate the media response to it has been.

  3. caitlinate said

    Rachel, you’re a stronger woman than me.

  4. Rachel said

    Yep, the bedroom is only one room. If we’re going to start talking “ethics and obligations”, why not broaden this thing out to every other room in the house? Anyone done a study of the relationship between how housework/care load is being divided and how much sex is being had? Think it might offer a few clues…

  5. bhakthipuvanenthiran said

    I find Frew bizarre, illogical and daft. That is all.

  6. Amber said

    I don’t know why they didn’t get Emily Maguire to write something, she was wonderful when pitted against Ardnt on Lateline (I have never seen Tony Jones so uncomfortable during a debate).

  7. Liz said

    Is Tony Jones ever comfortable? Just an aside. Don’t know anything about this writer but have followed this debate for decades.Rape is about power and control with sex as the instrument.Women are never to blame but bad communication often doesn’t help and neither do choices about company,venues and activities.Fact is we aren’t safe and never will be in certain places, at some times and in some company and enraging as that is, the only sensible choice is the safe one.Unless of course you want to be a victim.
    Wasn’t good sex about choice and rights and self respect?What happened to those things?And others respect for them? What woman who has gone to a full time job,done all the housework,shopping and cared for kids as got the energy or desire for sex with someone who doesn’t take their fair share of the work? There’s a direct correlation between work and sex, unsurprising really!

  8. caitlinate said

    Sorry Liz but I don’t think anyone ever wants to be a victim. And bad choices does not and should not equal blame, ever.

  9. Jaa said

    Word Rachel.
    Ah what an over sexualised society we live in. The only positive I can see from Ardnt’s ‘just get over it and have a shag’ ideal is that it enables broader discussion maybe?

  10. Jamie said

    Hey Caitlin. When I was doing my internship at The Age at this time I had to moderate the comments on that particular “your say” forum. I agree that the nature of some of the comments left was quite sad and it seems a bunch of readers used the post to merely vent their anger at their sexless marriages… I wonder how many of them actually felt like this when it comes to the crunch? Does the anger stem from frustration in other areas of their marriages?

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