Skip to main content

Oh yeah. Sexism! I'd forgotten about that...

Sometimes, I lose confidence in the things I write about, and how focused on gender I remain. Surely things can't be that bad anymore? But then I read about incidents like this one, where a male Liberal National Party* staffer, Max Tomlinson, wrote a hideous email to Dr Carole Ford, who wrote an op-ed piece suggesting that women are still marginalised in politics, and I think, 'Oh yeah. Sexism. Misogyny. Discrimination. That's right.' And I get back to reading and writing and working with renewed gusto.

Here's the email from Tomlinson, which was published along with an interesting commentary, over at;

Dear Carole,
I have just read your pathetic piece in the Courier-Mail.While I generally ignore the bleatings of sourpusses like you, your piece was so depressing and negative that I was moved to find your email address and simply say: Get a life.
The world would be a better place if people like you stood for political preselection and learned the hard way that ability is not measured by chromosomes.
Question: Why don’t you have a go? Answer: Like most women, you probably don’t possess the necessary drive, determination and decisiveness that men innately possess. It’s not a personal criticism; it’s a fact of biology. Where, for example, are the great female explorers, mountaineers, warriors, inventors, chefs? Blokes dominate most areas of human endeavour because Nature equipped them with something called testosterone. That was part of Nature’s grand design to enable men to be stronger, more fearless and more determined than their sisters. Sorry, Carole, fact not fiction.
Women occupy a special but different place in the world to that of men. I’ve been married to a wonderful woman - a proud mother of four successful adult children, not a nuclear physicist - for nearly 40 years. For yeras [sic] I’ve heard women like you ask my wife at cocktail parties, functions and dinner parties: And what do you do? The clear inference in the pregnant silence that follows my wife’s answer that she is a proud home-maker makes my skin crawl. Women like my wife are the life-givers, the embodiment of sacrificial love (the purest form of love), the primary keepers of the flame of civilisation that separates us from the animal world, and yet the Sisterhood frowns on them for not joining the anti-male club that you so typefy [sic].
The anti-male world of conspiracy theories in which you and the Sisterhood inhabit is the complete antithesis of the world in which positive women thrive. Women who can’t cut it in - what did you call it?, the boys’ club - can easily cover their inadequacies by claiming bias, s-xism, misogyny, chauvinism etc. etc. ad infinitum. It’s so tiring to read such twaddle.
Face reality, my dear. Smell the coffee. Try to turn your sour, negative, anti-male view of the world into something more positive and productive. Demonising men may be your life’s quest but fewer and fewer people are listening.
I repeat: GET A LIFE.
Kind regards,
Max Tomlinson
So, there are many, many points to make about this, least of which is to note that when he wrote this email, Tomlinson was reported to be working as a media advisor to Queensland LNP Senator Ian Macdonald. What a shithouse media adviser this guy must have been. I mean, seriously! What kind of advice was he giving Senator Macdonald? I shudder to think.

Because despite him pleading otherwise, Tomlinson's email serves as an excellent example of "bias, s-xism, misogyny, chauvinism etc. etc. ad infinitum". The argument he puts forward, that men have a biologically determined superiority, sounds like some fundamentalist bullshit that is not only patronising and offensive to women, but also to most men. Unfortunately, this email suggests that it is Mr Tomlinson himself who is not so "naturally equipped to succeed", especially not if he thinks that the emails he sends are ever 'private'.

Unfortunately, Tomlinson does himself, his wife and any children they may have, a massive disservice by suggesting that women inherently lack the capacity to be successful, creative, adventurous, determined and otherwise bad-ass. Because, despite the attitudes and aspirations of men like Tomlinson and their misguided 'facts of biology', women have been and are all of these things. Not always of course. Like some men, some women women are uninterested or lazy or happy to cruise along in life, all of which is fine by me. And sure, women may have some physiological differences than some men, but while this might mean they can't run quite as fast or jump quite as high, it does not preclude women from working hard, achieving goals and succeeding in ways that are hugely inspiring and significant.

To paraphrase Mr Tomlinson, 'Sorry Max, but that is fact, not fiction.'

In amongst the vitriol of his sexist email, Tomlinson fails to understand that part of what 'sourpuss' feminists are trying to do is to point out such women and their successes - to bring them to light in a world where men's achievements have historically been the overwhelming focus. This endeavour is not an attempt to ridicule, belittle or diminish men, but instead to add to what we know of the world and the ways we can imagine it. Feminism isn't man-hating, nor is it opposed to women becoming wives, mothers or homemakers. Far from it! Feminism - the feminism I subscribe to anyway - questions our assumptions about men and women, and tries to provide space and opportunities for us all to move beyond them to be women and men in a range of ways, rather than subscribing to existing ideals. Tomlinson and his ideas are offensive because they suggest that not only have women never achieved any kind of 'success' and are biologically incapable of doing so, but also because in making this point he also diminishes the contributions to the world of women who bear children and keep homes. Basically, women can't win.

It is also worth pointing out that sadly, in their article about this incident, the BrisbaneTimes effectively buys into Tomlinson's nonsense by finishing with a defence of Carole Ford's credentials as a feminist by promoting her status as a wife and mother;

Dr Ford said she had been married for 43 years and had three children and in her first lecture she talked about the work women did "both paid and unpaid" and was a supporter of stay-at-home mothers.

See! She's okay, she's a mother herself! I find this kind of defence a bit depressing, because by locating herself as married, heterosexual and a mother, she becomes validated via the very ideals that Tomlinson values women by. I don't know, it just seemed un-necessary and trite because, does it really matter whether she's married with kids or not? Isn't that beside the point? I am single and don't have kids, so would that make me more suspicious to Tomlinson than Dr Ford? Would that make my argument less defensible? Would that immediately evidence my man-hating, anti-stay-at-home-mother stance? Because I support neither. Anyway...

So thanks for the reminder, ex-LNP media adviser, Max Tomlinson. You self-important, self-righteous, sexist, ignorant bully. The men I know in my life are loving, supportive, open-minded, inspiring people, who are not only confident in their own male-ness, but remain unthreatened by the myriad successes of the women around them. Rather, they are proud of them! Your nastiness and sexism served only to remind me that this stuff still goes on and that outdated attitudes like yours continue to exist. And now that you yourself are unemployed, Max, just remember that the most important, "sacrificial", "life-giving" work goes on in the home, so give your wife a hand!

*For the information of those of you beyond Australian political shores, despite the big L in their party name, they are not liberal, politically. They're conservatives, they're Tories. They're the Australian version of America's Republican party.


  1. Ollie1:39 AM

    Really well written Bec. Thanks for the read :-)

  2. Please remain focused. How can you lose confidence. Listen to you. Look at you. We need you.

  3. Thanks for the support and encouragement,G.Bobs.

    And right back at you! We need YOU too! x

  4. Anonymous8:11 AM

    I got as far as his third paragraph and it was as if Ron Burgundy really existed, only I imagine that guy doesn't have as nice hair.

  5. Mel Shortt (Boots)12:24 PM

    Beautifully written Bec. Cant believe this shit still goes on.
    Hope you are well.x

  6. Hey Mel. Thanks for the kind words.



Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Memorialise this! - Politics of inclusion in surfing history

Fragments of surfing bodies

Stupid women (Always in the way)