The Dawn Chorus

Fresh Australian Feminism

Lara Bingle, Michael Clarke and Peter Roebuck sitting in a tree

Posted by Katie Olsen on March 10, 2010

From The Age article by Roebuck

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.

11th March 2010


20 Responses to “Lara Bingle, Michael Clarke and Peter Roebuck sitting in a tree”

  1. AFox said

    Here, here Katie Olsen! The only time warp I can see is the one in the lobby of The Age building.

  2. This hideous piece was on the front page of the Sydney Morning Herald too. Part of me thinks that Roebuck has been itching to have a go at Lara Bingle because she doesn’t like cricket – she doesn’t want to sit and watch Michael Clarke play all day, so therefore she is “unworthy” of his attention. And on the time warp business, he goes on to write that suitable wives are those who know their place.

    I can’t believe it’s still acceptable for this bullshit to be published, let alone on the front page.

  3. Jackie said

    Thank you so much!

    I read this bit of ‘journalism’ this morning and was so white with rage that all I could articulate was a ‘grrrr….’ in response. You say it much better!

  4. blu-k said

    And I love that this whole controversy started when Bingle was photographed against her will and the photo was spread without her permission. Yet it’s all her fault apparently …

  5. Sylvia said

    Oh good lord. I’m not sure whether to wet my self with laughter at the ridiculousness of Roebuck’s article, or to cry at the fact that his weak, insubstantial, backward opinion on the matter could possibly be considered publishable material in anything other than a trashy magazine.

  6. […] Jo Tamar at Wallaby provides a translation, Kim at News with Nipples notes the old-time misogyny that Roebuck trots out, and Katie Olsen at The Dawn Chorus discusses the diminishing of Lara Bingle. […]

  7. Nic Heath said

    Has Fairfax removed the piece? The link doesn’t work – probably a good thing.

    I’m glad you have written about the media circus building around Bingle this week – it is totally out of hand.

  8. […] at In a strange land, “This Bingle-hatred is ridiculous” at the news with nipples and “Lara Bingle, Michael Clarke and Peter Roebuck sitting in a tree” at The Dawn Chorus – thanks to Deborah at In a strange land for the […]

  9. The media circus around Bingle has been out of control for ages. Why on earth would the theft of her car get such prominent coverage? Because the media is obsessed with her. And Bingle stories always get loads of comments online – most of them are incredibly nasty, and always along the lines of ‘who cares’? But yet news editors keep making a big deal out of these stories because it’s all about the clicks, and it doesn’t matter if 10,000 of those are from people saying ‘why is this news’?

  10. MarianK said

    How about this part [in reference to the wives of cricketers Viv Richards, Ian Botham, Steve Waugh etc]…?

    ‘In each case the wife had the maturity and adaptability needed to survive the demands of the distant life. They understood their role, did not make any extra demands. They were the counterpoint that ambition required. Accordingly their partners were able to focus on their cricket.’

    Isn’t it interesting that women who choose a marriage in which their husbands will constantly be leaving them to raise their families alone for many months at a time in order to play professional sport(or fight wars or engage in global business) are being ‘mature’, ‘adaptable’ and ‘non-demanding’.

    By contrast, women who choose to raise children alone through divorce or unmarried parenthood are a scurge on society and are singularly to blame for everything from poor male school performance to rising crime rates to promiscuity in teenagers to 9/11.

  11. Penhhie said

    Nice piece. I’m disturbed that Clarke might have listened to Roebuck and chosen the dubious customs of cricket in favour… Follow up articles have been equally as riveting; apparently Bingle has a male friend. Shock.

  12. Katie Olsen said

    Sorry I must not have linked properly. Here’s the piece by Roebuck:

  13. kt said

    I totally agree with you and am glad to know why these people have been in the papers at all. But ‘fulfill’ is the US spelling; here we spell it ‘fulfil’.

  14. Catherine said

    Katie, congratulations on this article. I don’t know how you managed to keep it so concise. Let’s face it – there’s enough material for a whole book on the despicable treatment of Bingle by the Age (and the rest of the media). I thought it couldnt get any worse after the Roebuck piece *bites fist* but when Age on-line informed me this morning “Dermott Brereton says Bingle knew Fevola was married” that was the last straw. In my impotence, I can do nothing but remove the age link from the “Favourites” list, and share my disgust with the like-minded peeps online. thank God for Dawn Chorus. I will not be reading The Age again.

  15. Linda Radfem said

    Great point, Marian K! It’s an example of the way in which roles prescribed to women are interpreted in ways that suit male power.

  16. Alan Moore said

    Katie Olson,

    Decrying sexism is a fine ambition but when it gives more attention to this utterly unworthy, media-driven shambles it just seems suspicious. Instead of merely denouncing Roebuck you pumped up the already-turgid story (put in some nice pics too) and gave it another angle. Why was that necessary?

    PS: ‘fulfil’ is the correct spelling, unless you’re living in the United States.

  17. Ariel said

    I read this article and was pretty appalled by it too. Was wondering if anyone would write about it. Thanks! You summed up my thoughts.

  18. Catherine, that story was also given a huge run by News Ltd sites. I guess someone forgot to tell Fevola he was married.

  19. Katie Olsen said

    Indeed I did give this article and its writer more attention – I thought it was important to note each example of misogyny and bullying that this journalist wrote rather than ignore it, which is often more damaging.

    Thanks for correcting my mistake though (and to Kt who pointed it out first).

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