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What a week – is ‘casual sexism’ alive and well? By Miriam Borthwick

What a week – is ‘casual sexism’ alive and well? By Miriam Borthwick

What a week! If anyone was thinking sexism in Australian society was an out-of-date topic, dredged up by the Prime Minister to gain support from a few women voters, then they can’t but think again.

The week kicked off with Socceroos coach Holger Osieck saying “women should shut up in public”.

This was closely followed by restaurateur Joe Richards and his menu demeaning the Prime Minister. It wasn’t scribbled on the back of an envelope; it was printed and formatted, making it hard to believe it wasn’t to be issued.

Then the armed forces were rocked to the core with allegations of embedded sexism.

And capping off the week, Perth afternoon commercial radio broadcaster Howard Sattler showed breathtaking disrespect for the Prime Minister by asking about the sexual orientation of her partner.

Tragically these were not isolated occasions that happened to occur in the one week. Only a fortnight ago Swimming Australia’s president resigned over inappropriate behaviour toward women.

In relation to the degrading of the Prime Minister and of the office of Prime Minister, these should not be dismissed as part of Australia’s lively political debate. Quite simply, they were glaring examples of sexism. They show a deep lack of respect for women. Alarmingly, all the examples of this past week were uttered by mature men, most in powerful positions.

How did we get to this place? Australia has so many marks of a desirable society – promoting education to give opportunities to both girls and boys, equal opportunity legislation, legislated equal pay rates – and international recognition for having our two most senior positions filled by women.

How sad it is that in a time of such progress, when so many leaders of both sexes are broad-minded, philanthropic and interested in other’s achievements, we still have some mature successful men making degrading comments about women.

Very recently the phrase ‘casual racism’ became part of a national discussion after racist comments were shouted at footballer Adam Goodes.

We now need a discussion about the phrase ‘casual sexism’ or ‘embedded sexism’. One can only hope we all tackle the issue with the wisdom and grace displayed by the likes of Adam Goodes.

By Miriam Borthwick