Male-dominated talkback radio schedules and Q&A panels aren't outliers in an otherwise gender-equal world - they're representative of how women are routinely sidelined in Australian society, writes Clementine Ford.
During the course of this lecture, I reported the following:
Until recently, there was only one woman in the whole of the country hosting a weekday solo commercial talkback show. Now there are two - Belinda Heggen in Adelaide (who replaced Amanda Blair) and 6PR's Jane Marwick in Perth. I looked at 8 of the largest commercial talkback stations around Australia and found that of 140 presenters whose identities were promoted across all the networks' websites, only 17 were women. 17 lone female voices up against 123 men, on the nation's airwaves week after week.
This was a year ago. Jane Marwick is no longer on 6PR's programming schedule, which is now entirely made up of middle-aged white men. Belinda Heggen is similarly no longer at 5AA, having been replaced by Will Goodings, a youngish white man who finds himself in good company now at a station on which only 10 per cent of the weekday presenters are female - that is to say, one woman in a line up of 10 people. And rather than present her own show, 5AA's Jane Reilly forms one third of the breakfast team.
Updating the statistics over at Melbourne's 3AW is similarly disturbing. Of the 36 presenters listed on 3AW's website, only five of them are women. Of these five women, one is an entertainment reporter; one is an expert in horticulture; one is a health communicator; and the remaining two appear to be general talkback hosts. None of them feature on 3AW's weekday programming, which is wall-to-wall men.
Over on Sydney's 2GB, with the exception of two female presenters on "The Garden Clinic" (following a trend to have women fill roles as gardening experts, entertainment reporters and health professionals in order to bump up quotas), the only evidence I could find of a woman appearing anywhere was on Sunday evenings. Miranda Devine, a journalist whose views I despise but who at least can lay claim to being well known, gets two entire hours to herself on a station whose weekday programming is made up of shows titled, 'The Alan Jones Breakfast Show', 'The Ray Hadley Morning Show', 'The Chris Smith Afternoon Show' and - shaking things up a bit - 'Nights With Steve Price'.
Of course, it may be that a solitary Sunday evening shift suits Devine, and that's perfectly fine. But it doesn't account for the fact that the rest of 2GB's programming schedule seems designed for an audience comprised of people who have never encountered a woman (or a person of colour) in their life.
Yes this is a major issue in Australia — and possibly around the western world... But this problem lies mostly with the two major prongs of the general purpose of commercial talk-back radio...
One: Selling stuff... Selling consumer goods.
Two: most consumerism is a patriotic occupation according to the indoctrination of the vile-right wing... If you don't believe in selling holes to China, you're unpatriotic.
Most radio stations (and most TV spruik shows — there is only one really: Bolt) love their hosts to cultivate prejudices with bitter passion and acid bile, especially against the weak and powerless, and against the "lazy unemployed".
The talk-back shock-jock "needs" to be right-wing or at least be an ultra-conservative right-wing nut who hates anything that has a dash of "social" values... Sure, the Jones and some of the other motor-mouths will enter the social arena from the back door of "charity" — but "charity" died a long time ago when it became structured like "businesses"...
To be a talk-back radio shock-jock, one needs to love freedom with a gun in one hand and a flag in the other. Apart from the rare beast, most of the radio talk back hosts are geared to bash the left and promote the vile-right, while most commercial talk-back shows would also be "anti-feminist", Devine included...
This is why there is a paucity of PROPER talk-back personnel that knows what they are talking about...
For most commercial radio stations, scientific knowledge is to be avoided at all cost. Science is "too" complex... The commercial stations mostly want simplicity and easy prejudices that any moron can grab to explain their ills. For the spruikers, the concept of science being correct about uncomfortable subjects needs to be fought with "doubt", cleverly crafted illogiscism and stirring emotions.
Most of the fairer members of the talk-back species haunt the ABC and of course are deemed to be lefties by the right-wing lynch mob... Some of the ABC radio hosts appear to be right wing or, like Fran Kelly, they appear to pander to the right wing in a discreet biased way.
Thus, Clementine, what's the point of having a woman spruiking like Alan Jones or Ray Hadley?... A woman talk-back radio host needs to be different. But the commercial radio station bosses want to advertise tanks and Mercs, not tampons.
A women with strong feminism views and a great sense of social values would be rejected by most commercial radio outfits. Most women who profess such views have to be subtle in their approach and be slightly satirically sneaky in presenting ideas in order to stay afloat...
And of course most of the male shock jocks talk-back radio — and here I don't mean the light-weight radio morning crews with one joke a minute and a rowdy female companion — are condescending to women even if they say they're not... Imagine! Our primal Minister voting himself the "minister for Women"!!! Not even Russia would have this caper!... As some school kids in Newtown grilled the PM about him being the "minister for sheilas", Abbott condescendingly weaselled his way around the issue...
The true question would have had to be: "Did you have PMS before the last time you had your period"...
That could have shut him up for a couple of minutes...