It seems only yesterday that I was writing about Julia Gillard's outburst in the Australian parliament when three years of daily sexist jibes and, yes, misogynistic horror stuff circulating among redneck backbenchers finally conspired to make her speak her mind. When she lost her job a couple of weeks ago many women in Australia – and some modern men, I'm sure – hung their heads in dejection while reflecting on how unready this nation is to appreciate the attributes women can bring to high office.
I worked in publishing houses in London for many years. There were always many more women on the staff than men, but that disproportion was never reflected at board level. Perhaps over that time I became inured to underlying sexism such as this. It is comparatively easy to rail against some of the more obvious daily examples, but sometimes, for sanity's sake, you have to put them out of mind. What a pleasant surprise it was in the Outback when, on chatting to a couple we'd just met, I was asked what I did for a living. It was the woman who asked me, natch.
So, from sexism in politics and the workplace to sexism in sport.
We have just endured Wimbledon. Don't get me wrong, I love tennis, and stayed up to watch Andy Murray win his second Grand Slam title in 12 months. I would have liked to watch the women's final too, especially as there were 'new' faces, but I didn't fancy two days of sleep deprivation. People still don't seem to know much about this year's champion, Marion Bartoli, even though she was a Wimbledon finalist in 2007. She hasn't got long blonde hair, you see, or slim bronzed legs up to her armpits. I actually can't bear to watch some of those candidates: Maria Sharapova may be beautiful but the excessive volume of her grunting renders watching her unenjoyable. Anna Kornikova was gorgeous, too, and acquired 'hottest female athlete' and lots of similar labels, but how many people remember that a WTA singles title eluded her?
Watching Wimbledon has several other irritations. I didn't mind seeing Andy Murray's girlfriend in her nice green Victorian Beckham frock as she took her place in the players' box. But I didn't want to witness her reaction to every point, and I didn't want to miss replays of key shots in order to marvel at her big hair or whatever it was that repeatedly attracted the cameramen. Neither do I give a toss whether or not Murray is going to propose to her now he's achieved his Wimbledon goal. One of the worst blunders of the tournament was silly-old-sod commentator John Inverdale's comment that Bartoli was 'never going to be a looker' while discussing her tennis technique. There were complaints about his sexist comments during Wimbledon back in 2009, too, so obviously he's a bit of a slow learner. The BBC apologised but still allowed him to commentate on the men's final the next day.
Since the weekend it has been pointed out ad nauseam that Murray is the first man to be Wimbledon champion since Fred Perry in 1936. I assumed the media were talking about the men's title even when the headlines replaced 'man' with 'Briton'. But what that change did, of course – and let's give them the benefit of the doubt – was to inadvertently overlook the four British women who have won the title in the years between Perry and Murray. Shame on them, and me.
Meanwhile, sexism is alive and kicking in Oz, despite the Gillard debate dying down. Now we have the latest porno, sorry, promo for surf retailer Roxy in the run-up to the World Women's Championship Tour of Surfing. There are lots of pert-butt shots and much sensual panning up and down long tanned limbs but no surfing footage whatsoever. All the model does is paddle out rather awkwardly. Women's surfing here has been battling gender inequality for years. As with tennis, people prefer to watch the men, in the water that is. The sexualisation of female athletes – beach volleyball probably takes the biscuit – in order to garner bigger audiences and more customers is peculiarly disquieting.
I'm sure I'll be called all manner of things for banging on about this subject again. Bitter and twisted, whingeing, etc, etc. Hey, I should just get on with it, shouldn't I, as a woman in Australia? And that's exactly what I'm going to do, highlighting sexism whenever I can.