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The Verdict

Last night I had the misfortune to catch an episode of The Verdict on Channel 9 and I was appalled, not only by Karl Stefanovic’s poor hosting skills which see panelists all speaking over the top of each other while Mark Latham shouts his barroom opinions incessantly, but by the absolute rubbish they confidently espouse.

Michelle Payne’s comments about chauvinism after winning the Melbourne Cup led to a discussion about the gender disparity in sport which sees women paid far less than men, not having access to commonly held workplace entitlements, and women’s sport receiving very little coverage in the media.

Some boofy footballer said there’s nothing chauvinistic about it, he just doesn’t like watching netball or basketball. Because that’s all women play, right?

Mark Latham said the fact of the matter is that, if the men’s cricket team played the women’s team they would flog them. Men are stronger, get over it.

A journalist said sport’s a business and because more people want to watch the men, that’s what will be telecast. Which completely ignores the lack of marketing for female sports and the value of their achievements. Sport has just become something for TV execs to fight over.

Amanda Vanstone suggested it was just genetics. She feels sport is a display of strength and men aren’t interested in watching strong women. They choose their partners by who they want to have sex with and who they want to mother their children. Women, on the other hand, want a strong man to protect them. Simple.

I should have turned off then and there but an interview with Albo was coming up so I thought I would hang in – a bad choice.

The discussion turned to Victorian schools who will soon have access to a new feminism curriculum called “Fightback”, created by Fitzroy High School’s Feminist Collective, a group started by teacher Briony O’Keeffe and some of her students in 2013.

The Feminist Collective started as lunchtime sessions on feminism, and turned into an elective offered twice a week. The classes became a safe place for young feminists to vent.

The students were angry that good friends were falling victim to eating disorders; that white middle class men dominated their reading lists; that objectifying images of girls they knew were circulating on Facebook; and that they were being branded “feminazis” on social media.

The response to this was facile and predictable – there is no place in our schools for that sort of stuff; they should all be doing more maths and science; it’s up to the families.

Had they done any research, they would have found that a recent National Community Attitudes towards Violence Against Women Survey showed younger men, particularly those aged between 16-25, are more likely to hold attitudes that support violence.

The course, which has been aligned with the Victorian curriculum, and is aimed at male and female secondary students, includes about 30 lessons on systemic sexism, the objectification of women, and the link between gender inequality and violence against women.

Students taking the course are asked to reflect on their experience of objectification, compare images of famous men and women in the media, deconstruct sexist cartoons, and debunk “hairy armpit” myths about feminists.

They explore the term “patriarchy”, and examine statistics on the gender wage gap, violence against women, and female representation in sport.

If I was teaching it, I would include a discussion on how men are treated in child custody cases as well because that is one area where males are often subject to gender-based discrimination.

The woman who devised the course said the boys in the class initially found the experience confronting.

“It’s like when you understand that you’re privileged because you’re a white person – you didn’t choose it, there’s nothing you can do about it, but you have [privilege] nonetheless – and it’s a confronting thing to know how [you] are supposed to feel about it.”

I found this a very pertinent analogy which could lead to discussions about Indigenous disadvantage, the pros and cons of positive discrimination, same sex marriage, and how feminism is not just about women but about equality.

With our growing focus on the importance of literacy and STEMM subjects, it is worth remembering that young people spend far more of their waking hours at school than they do with their parents. There are also discussions that young people may be hesitant to have with their families. Teachers have a great responsibility to not only teach their subject matter, but to help young people become productive, well-rounded, emotionally secure adults who can contribute to a cohesive society. Life isn’t all about maths.


Note: Regular panel member psychologist Sandy Rea and guest Indira Naidoo both tried to inject some sanity into the discussion. Sadly they were shouted down and interrupted every time they tried to speak.



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  1. Wally

    Watched about 30 seconds before Latham opened his mouth and turned the TV off.

  2. Roswell

    It sounded like an appalling episode in what appears to be an appalling show.

    I must remind myself to miss it.

  3. Delia Lord

    Exactly the reason I didn’t watch it. I feel the same about the Bolt Report. It makes me physically ill.

  4. jimhaz

    I watched a bit while channel surfing but turned over when Indira Naidoo started speaking on the women’s sports issue.

    It is too boring hearing these tired old meaningless feminist arguments for womens sport and too annoying to see the opportunistic sycophants jump on the bandwagon. The only time I enjoy women playing sport is during the Olympics.

  5. Kaye Lee

    Oh well if YOU don’t enjoy it then it must be crap. And this old feminist is very tired of having the same arguments for 50 years.

    Netball regularly gets capacity crowds turning up at the game- often 10,000 if the venue can accommodate it. There is a market for it but tv scheduling is often a problem.

    It wasn’t that long ago that no-one watched soccer here. Smart marketing changed that. We are the world champions at netball and it is possibly the highest participation sport in Australia. It’s time the women were recognised and the public educated. If you don’t know the rules then learn them just like we women have had to do to watch football and cricket. Or at least recognise that not all of us think aerial ping pong is worth watching either.

  6. Matters Not

    tired old meaningless feminist arguments for womens sport

    You don’t know what ‘meaning’ to give to their arguments? Not surprised. Somewhat sad.

  7. Roswell

    Exactly the reason I didn’t watch it. I feel the same about the Bolt Report. It makes me physically ill.

    Just knowing that Bolt has his own show is enough to make me physically ill. It must apply to a lot of people, as I understand that his ratings (and rantings) are poor.

  8. mars08

    I am still waiting for dumb to go out of style….

  9. Roswell

    ‘Dumb’ became to ‘in-thing’ after 13/09/2013.

  10. paul walter

    Kaye Lee is right, feminism a default component of a stifled progressivist critique concerning where society breaks down at this stage in human history, involving cultural inscription, unquestioned assumptions involving misunderstood subjective drives, to do with what actually constitutes repression and those things that comprise what some call the human condition. It is aspace whereby the shaky concept of the Rational Agent and subsequent behaviours get a second look, with surprising results sometimes. It turns out that there are many things that look much different on a second view with the help of a fresh perspective. Feminism actually embellishes and develops social theory including the from Marxian and structuralist critiques.. provides good examples of what Marxists claim has happened.

    It is not to be feared and can be a key for male liberation also, because men are also culturally coopted, imho.

    As for the Verdict, it is a poor person’s dumbed down QA, almost a direct pinch.. However, the seating arrangements and wooden moderation create an overt adversarialtiy that doesn’t occur with QA so much, it is often more about the quick tabloid shock horror grab than serious efforts to get to the bottom of issues.

    Mark Latham remains a paradox, someone who almost monotonously mixes intelligent insights with crass reductionism, who says something bright and then almost invariably follows up with something crass.

  11. john mcquire

    any news show with Stephanovic can’t be taken too seriously he is an idiot.

  12. Ann

    It’s a wannabe Q&A and a Bigot and Racists wet dream.

  13. Terry2

    I think that Mark Latham has twigged to something that Andrew Bolt twigged to some years ago : if you are prepared to expound outrageous theories and take a contrarian position on many contemporary issues then, you may just make a quid if the MSM pick you up.

    Kaye, I turned it off I’m afraid, it just wasn’y interesting but it could still develop into a decent program. I think I would drop the boofy footballers and Latham for starters.

  14. mars08

    No need to worry about it…

    If this show doesn’t involve ridiculing fat people, renovating bathrooms, preparing food or police chases/car accidents…. it will be too high-brow for commercial TV. I don’t expect it to last long…

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