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  • Writer's pictureKate Halfpenny

Gender offender: When you’re a woman, you won’t be easily forgiven

We were warming up the telly before last Friday’s AFL preliminary final when a friend texted. She was watching footy too: “Why does Wayne Carey still get his head on TV when Nadia Bartel and Georgia Love are cancelled?″⁣

Fantastic question. I was distracted by it for most of the first quarter and am still wrestling with it now.

A double standard is at play when women make mistakes. CREDIT:JIM PAVLIDIS

To recap, influencer Nadia Bartel lost contracts and reputation when a video of her snorting white powder at a 4pm ladies’ party went public. She endured schadenfreude scorn, was fined for flouting lockdown rules, was called a “moron” by former Victoria Police commissioner Kel Glare. A week later, Seven News reporter Georgia Love lost her on-air job after she posted a photo of a cat in the window of a Chinese restaurant with a lame old trope of a caption: “Waitress or lunch?” She endured being stoned in the court of tabloid opinion, was exiled to a production desk for being racist, was called out by “completely bummed” MasterChef judge Melissa Leong.

I’m not defending illegal drug use – if indeed that’s what Bartel was doing – or racism. I’m asking whether the punishment fits the crime. The suggestion that Chinese people can make a meal out of a wide variety of ingredients isn’t revolutionary or even untrue. And celebrities doing lines instead of fattening white wine – hold the front page while clutching your pearls.

I’m asking about double standards. I’m asking why Teflon men get to restore reputations and stay beloved while women who make dumb jokes and snort stuff in private are expendable.

Hugh Grant kept his career after soliciting a prostitute. Robert Downey Jr became Tony Stark after being arrested for speeding down Sunset Boulevard with heroin and a handgun. Shane Warne – where to start? Nadia’s own ex-husband Jimmy Bartel remained in his lucrative media role after leaving her when their sons were tiny for another woman.

Why are women held up to higher standards of legal and moral behaviour, and when we falter, the punishment is excessive ridicule and a limited chance of redemption?

If I catalogued the risible comments Sam Newman survived making for decades we’d all need a week at a wellness retreat.

Which brings us back to Wayne Carey, a commentator for Love’s employer Seven and a columnist for this masthead. His CV includes being a character witness for gangster Jason Moran, pleading guilty to indecent assault after grabbing a stranger’s breast in the street, having an affair with a teammate’s wife and being charged with assaulting a female police officer in Miami after allegedly glassing his girlfriend’s face.

Oh, and he admitted to using cocaine for years after retirement.

Unlike Love, Eddie McGuire has stayed on air for Nine (owner of this masthead) after making homophobic jibes about figure skaters, drowning ″⁣banter″⁣ about Caroline Wilson, the line about Adam Goodes and King Kong. To be fair, he gave himself a one-match ban from Fox Sports after mocking double amputee Cynthia Banham’s SCG coin toss. If I catalogued the risible comments Sam Newman survived making for decades we’d all need a week at a wellness retreat. Let’s just say last June he finally faded to nothingness after calling George Floyd a “piece of shit”.

Actually, for fun I’ll share the respectful way Newman treated me during an early 1990s interview: “All things being equal, after this we’ll go back to my place, drink Frangelico and make love.”

Yassmin Abdel-Magied faced death threats and job loss after a 2017 Anzac Day tweet, while Barnaby Joyce became Australia’s 2IC again after being an unfaithful hypocrite.

Christine Holgate copped a shaming from the Prime Minister over watches worth $20K, while Gerry Harvey scored $22 million from the same PM in JobKeeper subsidies for Harvey Norman during a year of record profits. Help me out here, people. Name one high-profile woman who has survived with job and reputation intact after assault convictions, habitual drug use, affairs, making laundry lists of racist and misogynistic gaffes. I’ll go back to re-reading Anne Summers’ Damned Whores and God’s Police in the meantime.

Kate Halfpenny is the founder of Bad Mother Media.

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