Q&A is built by design to generate at least one major argument per episode, most of the time it’s terrible and pointless, but occasionally manages to start conversations that actually needed to be had.
For instance, this week’s episode saw frequent panellist on ‘The Project‘ Steve Price choose the worst possible time to defend Eddie McGuire‘s deadshit joke about paying someone to drown sports journalist Caroline Wilson.
He was asked by audience member and family violence awareness ambassador Tarang Chawla how politicians and media figures could address the way violence against women is normalised by jokes like McGuire’s, creating a culture where one woman a week in Australia is killed by an intimate partner.
After he dismissed the significance of Eddie’s comments, he then proceeded to repeatedly talk over fellow panellist Van Badham – describing her as ‘hysterical’.
The term ‘hysteria’ is a hugely loaded word, used to dismiss women’s opinions and emotions as a product of them being emotional and irrational because they are women.
In a pretty strange situation, his colleagues Carrie Bickmore and Waleed Aly interviewed him about it on ‘The Project‘ and did not mince their words in explaining how he fucked up.
Bickmore explained that despite her friendship with and high opinion of Price as a co-worker, she was surprised that he would take a seemingly contrarian stance on such an important issue.
Interestingly, she also referred to his quite conservative role on the show as ‘theatre’:
“A lot of what happens on the desk is theatre, I think you would agree it’s theatre, but I don’t think there’s any room for theatre when we’re talking about violence against women – one woman is dying every week.
“I think this is an issue where there’s no room for debate and creating good TV. A man talked to you about the death of his sister and I was so surprised that you didn’t immediately want to show compassion and use that time you had to constructively and positively talk about something I would have believed that you really believed in stopping: violence against women.”
Price partially blamed not being warned by the producer that the question (which he was prepped for) would be coming from someone who had felt the impact of domestic violence so immediately, but should who you’re talking to really affect how seriously you’re taking an issue?
Waleed then took the time to explain the historical significance and gendered nature of ‘hysterical’ as a term of dismissal and asked if, knowing that now, he would acknowledge that it was inappropriate to use that word, but Price would not:
“No. I will describe things as I see them, I don’t need to make judgements about whether it’s a man or a woman. If that’s the way the person’s acting, I’ll call it out every time. I don’t need to change my behaviour in that area.”
Which may sound reasonable on the surface, but this sort of “I’m blind to gender” attitude requires completely ignoring existing problems and hoping that inequality will just go away by itself.
Turning a blind eye to a culture that promotes inequality will never actually address it – we have to acknowledge that things are currently not equal between the genders before we can actually make them equal.
Some post-interview discussion between Peter Helliar and Waleed sure makes it seem like they were generally frustrated to be unable to get through to someone they work with so closely.
Have a watch for yourself:
Source and photo: Facebook.