The date: 1st of June, 2011. The place: The Australian Senate.
Senator Penny Wong, Federal Minister for Finance and Deregulation, was speaking when she was interrupted. ‘If I could finish?’ she snapped with justified annoyance, glaring across the room. Immediately the room broke into a chorus of “oooh”, like a bunch of sniggering schoolboys.
Then Opposition Senator David Bushby made a meowing noise.
Gotta give props to Penny Wong – she let him have it: ‘It is just extraordinary. The blokes are allowed to yell but if a woman stands her ground, you want to make that kind of comment. It’s not schoolyard politics, mate!’
The issue had been hotly debated in the Australian media. There is no doubt it was inappropriate, but there is argument over whether it was sexist or not. I believe it was, because she wouldn’t have been meowed at if she were a man. People are accusing Ms Wong of being oversensitive, but I think she did the right thing – she called him out on his sexist attitude, she didn’t just sit there and let him get away with it.
Busby’s defence was this: ‘Her reaction to the issue…was like that of an angry cat. It could have been a male or female cat. So I thought she was like an angry cat, the way they sometimes strike out. I like cats.’
‘I like cats’…Really? That’s your defence, mate?
So, over to you, F-Bombers. Do you think David Bushby’s ‘meow’ was inappropriate and/or sexist? Did Penny Wong do the right thing in calling him out on it?
Here is the video of the whole situation:
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