Sexism in Australia – the Ernies show clearly that it’s not going away

A friend invited to me to attend the 21st Ernies Awards for Sexist Remarks and, since it was a thing I’d always meant to see, I went along.

While it was a raucous and boozy night filled with good humour and old friends catching up, the continuing slather of horrible, vile, demeaning sexist remarks was depressing.

As a number of attendees noted, the list of eligible remarks gets longer, not shorter, every year. This merely reinforced for me the lessons of the last few years; that deep misogyny remains embedded in our culture. This problem is summed up neatly by Gavin de Becker :

 “At core, men are afraid women will laugh at them, while at core, women are afraid men will kill them.”

The sheer violence of many of the words used against women still astonishes me. The language and tone employed against women seems so very different from the terms of abuse that men hurl between each other. Also many of the words hurled between men use comparisons to women and girls as a way of demeaning their opponent. It has become increasingly clear from this ongoing language battle that being a woman is not seen as a good thing by men. Consider how many terms of opprobrium take the form of  ‘you are acting like a girl’ or ‘harden up princess’, translating as ‘you are stupid and weak like a woman’.

It is time for parents who care to stop this tide of sexist remarks from growing. Time to stop children from throwing about the sexist language upon which they are suckled, especially from our sporting media.

It is worth noting that the Prime Minister appears to be a wind powered sexist remark generator on an industrial scale.

I also found encouragement in the Good Ernie award finalists and was pleased to see Lt. Gen. David Morrison win this award for his leadership and willingness to speak out. Until more men have the bravery to speak out like Morrison this battle will continue without end.

2013 Ernie Award Winners

The Ernie Award winners for 2013 and more information can be found at

GOLD ERNIE and Industrial Silver Ernie
Wesley College students for distributing stubby holders bearing the words “It’s not rape if it’s my birthday.”

Political Silver Ernie
Mal Brough for the Liberal Party dinner menu featuring”Julia Gillard Kentucky Fried Quail – Small Breasts, Huge Thighs and a Big Red Box”

Media Silver Ernie
Paul Sheehan
“The mask fell away” and Gillard came out “snarling, accusing Abbott of having a hatred of women, a man” he said – before his paper deleted it – “who unlike the Prime Minister, has raised three daughters.”

Judicial Silver Ernie
Professor Paul Wilson
“My findings were remarkably similar to studies in California and Scandinavia which suggest child victims of adult sex offenders are generally willing or active participants, and that they not infrequently initiate the sexual relationship.”

The Warney (Sport)
Nick Riewoldt – said that team mate Stephen Milne who was charged with 4 counts of rape, should be allowed to continue playing because “Milney is the absolute heart and soul of the football club.”

The Fred (Celebrity etc)
Alan Jones
“Every person in the caucus of the Labor Party knows that Julia Gillard is a liar… The old man recently died a few weeks ago of shame, To think that he has a daughter who told lies every time she stood for Parliament.”

The Elaine (For remarks least helpful to the Sisterhood)
Janet Albrechtsen
“While lack of humour infects both sides of politics, the Labor girls in particular need to loosen their pigtails. In Canberra today, there are far too few Fred Dalys and far too many Tanya Pliberseks.”

The Good Ernie
Lt General David Morrison
“On all operations, female soldiers and officers have proven themselves worthy of the best traditions of the Australian Army. They are vital to us maintaining our capability now and into the future. If that does not suit you, then get out.”

The Clinton (for repeat offenders)
Tony Abbott


7 thoughts on “Sexism in Australia – the Ernies show clearly that it’s not going away

  1. Kate,

    Not withstanding that I agree that many of these posts are indeed sexist, many of them are not. The “Fred” for example, awarded to Alan Jones for example is far from sexist. Perhaps it is politically biased (no we know it is), maybe it is callous, but read as it stands, nothing in that is sexist.

    Furthermore I have to take exception at your blanket statement (ironic that it is so generalist) “It has become increasingly clear from this ongoing language battle that being a woman is not seen as a good thing by men”

    Not only are these type of comments most inflammatory, but they do nothing to stem the flow, present a level-headed commentary nor provide a constructive way to move our society ahead.

    At the end of the day, sexism, racism and other forms of social ostracism are perpetuated through misinformation, and extremist views. Sadly I cannot see how you are helping.


      1. Thanks Kate. I am not surprised you disagree, after all, you did publish the article in the first place.

        I just think sometimes – and to a degree, this is a case in point – that mountains are made of molehills. No matter, thanks!


  2. While I found that the recent misogyny being displayed about our former Prime Minister was quite disturbing, I wouldn’t let ‘The Bernie Awards’ make you feel too depressed. Its a pretty ad hoc measure of society when there is no standard selection criterion.

    I can’t find the eligible list of entries on their website, just the winners. May I ask if you have this information?

    Thank you Kate. All the best!


  3. In the case of most misogynists, perhaps all, one only needs to give them what they ask for. Personally there are no worse punishments than the ones they devise for themselves. So if they want a hardened up princess, let them have one. If they say women ought to be insecure, because that fits their nature better, let them marry a series of insecure women. Really nothing would be better.


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