Teaching Law

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Sex appeal and the 'disorder of women'

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Did we get the vote so our sex appeal could be rated?*

The Leader of the Opposition, Tony Abbott, described Fiona Scott, one of his party's candidates for the forthcoming federal election as 'young and feisty' and that she has 'a bit of sex appeal'. The comments have gone viral, and have been widely reported in the mainstream media in Australia and overseas. Naturally, they have attracted comment - both from those who criticise his statements as sexist, and also from those who believe that the comments are at worst harmless, and at best, complimentary.

Behind the discussion about the offensiveness or otherwise of the comments is what they reveal about the place of women in public life in general, and political life in particular. It is interesting therefore to view the comments according to how we conceive of and justify civic participation.