I’m searching furiously for a few credible sources to confirm this story, but in the mean time, here is one source to outline the story:
While I am going to attempt to reflect more deeply on this issue when I ascertain its veracity, my initial ‘red flags’ (besides the obvious problem with blatantly sexist remarks of the Senator) are thus:
1. That Senator Katrina Shealy is the ONLY female member of Senate. It brings to mind the issue that the current Liberal Party of Australia are having in regards to its under representation of women in Cabinet and the wider party (and don’t even get me started on how the Minister [assisting the Prime Minister] for Women is a man).
2. The claims by Senator Corbin that ‘it was a joke’ (and by implication saying that sexist comments are ok as long as they are funny) is something that I know that I have confronted in myself with regards not only to gender, but to sexual preference. I like to try and keep things light-hearted and have a desire to please people and not upset others, but I have noticed in myself and my peers that it seems to be acceptable to make insensitive remarks about minority groups if its funny. An example would be the apparent acceptance of the word ‘gay’ as being something that is stupid.
3. I make note of Senator Shealy’s comment regarding having ‘worked 3 times harder than [Senator Corbin] to get here.’ I wonder at the background to that comment. Was it merely a reference to her having struggled due to her gender, or was it a dig at the Senator’s quick rise in Politics due to his own privilege? If anyone has insight, I’d appreciate knowing.
4. The reference to Senator Shealy having put a ‘knife in the back’ of Senator Corbin has made me think: it seems to be a phrase reserved for an action only performed by women. An action like this done by a man is more commonly, in my opinion, analogous to a ‘punch in the face’. The distinction is that a knife sounds more vicious and subversive.
For the women in Australian politics, who have to watch a man govern the interests of women in Australia.