Has lockdown made misogyny worse? We could find out tomorrow when the 29th Annual Ernie Awards for sexist remarks give out their gongs, marking another year of celebrating world-class sexism and inappropriate speech.
Ernies founder and organiser Dr Meredith Burgmann commented says that misogyny comes and goes over the years but the eruption in March this year seems to have reached a peak that hasn’t been seen since the Julia Gillard (Big red box, ditch the witch) period’.
With frontrunners like SA radio host Jeremy Cordeaux, on the Brittany Higgins allegations, ‘I just ask myself why the Prime Minister doesn’t call it out for what it is — a silly little girl who got drunk,’ and on the same subject Peter Dutton referring Higgins assault ‘I wasn’t provided with the she said/he said details of the allegations’, and Canberra Raiders coach Ricky Stuart’s ‘If I can’t have tough conversations with my better players, I might as well coach netball’, (oh yes he did!)
The original Ernie
The actual Ernie was Ernie Ecob the secretary of the AWU, the old Shearers’ Union, in the 80s and 90s. He was famous for his comment that women only wanted to be shearers for the sex.
‘Those of us involved in the trade union movement in NSW had battled with him on many occasions. So in May 1993 when he announced his resignation, Vicki Telfer from the CPSU suggested that we have a lunch to celebrate. And that’s how it all began.’
At the first lunch, a trophy was awarded for ‘the most bestial remark of the year’. The trophy featured a miniature portrait of Ernie Ecob and a sheep rampant atop a brass plinth, a reference to Ernie’s origins in the Shearers’ Union. Guests were advised to wear a ‘good frock – something Ernie would approve of’ and forty women came, suitably attired.
‘We all had a wonderful time and promised to repeat the exercise the next year.’
From there the Ernies grew and grew. There are now six categories, plus the ‘Good’ Ernie, The ‘Elaine’, for the woman who makes the remark least helpful to the sisterhood and the ‘Clinton’ (renamed the ‘Trump’ in 2017) for a repeat offender.
Boos and Booze
Dr Burgmann said there is a different process for this year owing to the COVID restrictions. ‘We can’t hold the usual noisy “Boos and Booze” affair known as the Ernies Awards Dinner which is usually normally attended by 330 angry and “emotional” women in NSW Parliament House, so we are holding a virtual Ernies on Tuesday 19 October where an Ernies “Council of Elders” will judge the quotes sent in during the year from over 3,000 women.’
Dr Burgmann said the Elders will choose the Gold Ernie winner and the winners of the eight categories – including the Good Ernie trophy for “Boys behaving better” and the Elaine for “the remark from a woman least helpful to the Sisterhood”.’
Good Ernie hot favourite pulled at last minute
‘This process will of course be transparent and fair – actually, it will be totally rorted). For instance, the hot favourite for the Good Ernie has had to be pulled at the last minute because it transpires that Liberal MP Russell Broadbent is a soft anti-vaxxer and the Elders decided that, although it had nothing to do with sexism, it counted against him.
‘Also there was a shocking late entry for the Good Ernie for Kyle Sandilands for objecting to Dom Perrottet appearing on his show for opposing abortion and same-sex marriage. Does one good statement make up for years of terrible jibes?
Dr Burgmann said she is astounded that the same names crop up every year. ‘Mark Latham has been winning his category fairly regularly since 1998 but the soft red leather of the NSW Upper House seems to have dulled his sexism.’
‘Coming into our 30th year, it is important to remember that although the Ernies are entertaining and often comical, they have a serious intent which is to remind Australians that women are still not equal and are subjected to shockingly prejudiced views and remarks. It is remarkable that what began as a joke so long ago has become an institution, known around the world.’
Here are some more on the contenders:
General Angus Campbell, Chief of Defence, told incoming female ADFA cadets, they should avoid making themselves prey to sexual predators by being aware of the ‘’four As’: alcohol, out after midnight, alone and attractive’.
Judge Robert Sutherland, NSW District Court, regarding Nicholas Drummond who hit a young woman after telling her to ‘put her tits away’. Judge Sutherland wished Drummond ‘good luck’ and concluded: (He made) ‘a lewd and completely inappropriate remark towards
someone he didn’t know but whose dress might have been perceived by a former student of Knox to be provocative.’
Scott Morrison has made more than one comment for consideration:
1. Talking about the Women’s March4Justice ‘This is a vibrant liberal democracy Mr Speaker. Not far from here, such marches, even now, are being met with bullets, but not here in this country.
2. Following Brittany Higgins’ allegations of rape ‘Jenny and I spoke last night and she said to me you have to think about this as a father first. What would you want if it were our girls … Jenny has a way of clarifying things’.
3. To Grace Tame after her Australian of the Year speech detailing her experience of child sexual abuse ‘Well, gee, I bet it felt good to get that out.’
Senator Eric Abetz, when asked if Christian Porter was the unidentified minister who was accused of rape, was alleged to have said ‘yes… but not to worry, the woman is dead and the law will protect him… as for that Higgins girl, anybody so disgustingly drunk who would sleep with anybody could have slept with one of our spies and put the security of the nation at risk.’
Senator Abetz has said that he categorically denies every having made such a comment.
Andrew Bolt, Sky News, discussing the allegations made against Christian Porter, ‘By way of introduction, let me say that one of the silliest and most dangerous slogans of our time is “believe the victim”,’
Alan Jones on Sky After Dark, referring to NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant, ‘how many villages are missing their idiot?’
Dave Sharma, Member for Wentworth – marked International Women’s Day by handing out pink flowers to female commuters.
John Coates, AOC President, speaking to Annastacia Palaszczuk after Brisbane’s winning Olympic bid, ‘You are going to the opening ceremony. I’m still the deputy chair of the candidature leadership group … none of you are staying behind and hiding in your rooms.’
Brendan Fevola, objecting to Ash Barty being asked to present the AFL Premiership Cup ‘I know what they’re trying to do, they’re trying to look good. Virtue signalling, that’s the one.’
Football Federation Australia, for failing to produce the Matilda’s away kit in women’s sizes for fans. It was only available in Men’s. Phil Gould tweeted ‘Be patient my son. Relax. Some fans are like my missus. She can’t stand having money in her wallet. She has to rush out and spend it straight away in case it evaporates into thin air.’
George Christensen, Nationals member for Dawson, regarding a proposal to increase childcare subsidies, suggested ‘parents were outsourcing the care of their children to big corporations’.
And competition for The Elaine for remarks least helpful to the sisterhood is as ruthless as ever. These are the standouts:
Linda Reynolds, referring to Brittany Higgins, ‘She’s a lying cow.’
Teena McQueen, Federal Liberal Party Vice President, commented at a meeting, ‘I would kill to be sexually harassed at the moment.’
Janet Albrechtsen, The Australian, called Jane Caro ‘A pox on the menacing face of modern feminism’.
Anne Ruston, Minister for Families and Services, responding to criticism that the budget did not deliver on women’s issues, ‘women can drive on the new roads’.
Jane Hume, Minister for Women’s Economic Security who suggested that women domestic violence victims could use their superannuation to escape the violence.
And, of course, the Good Ernie for boys behaving better:
The Sydney Swans degendered the club song from ‘her loyal sons’ to ‘our loyal Swans’
Liberal MP Russell Broadbent asked the PM to convene a national gathering of women and that all cabinet submissions, new policies and legislation have a gender impact statement and that politicians ‘need to be quiet, listen and learn’.
Richard Hinds ABC Sports reporter, ‘I’ve no idea whether (Rugby Australia CEO) Raelene Castle was a good CEO or a disaster. I’m 100 per cent certain women in power are still held to a much higher account than men.’
If you’d like to find out more about The Ernies, visit: www.ernies.com.au.