IT’S not a country whose reputation is synonymous with the softer side of life – but it appears that Australians don’t like sexism.
The country has been gripped by a wave of stories, mainly driven by political accusations and counter-claims.
And this week the country’s German football coach Holger Osieck walked straight into a storm of criticism following a press conference after the Socceroos’ win against Jordan in a World Cup qualifier.
The manager told one of the organisers of the event that “you push me around like my wife”.
After it was picked up, he then informed the journalists present of a phrase he knew that translated as “women should shut up in public” – something he said was an in-joke with his wife.
His next words appear to be the swiftly-made apology.
“I got information it created waves,” he said. “That was not the intent. To everyone offended, I sincerely apologise.
“There was no seriousness in it. If my wife knows I’ll probably be in big trouble when I get home.”
The phrase about women being quiet in public may not have made such big news had it not been for the continuing ruck between Australian PM Julia Gillard and LNP opposition leader Tony Abbott.
One of the main problems is a menu. Or more specifically one of the dishes on said menu.
At a fundraiser for Mal Brough, an opposition LNP candidate, a menu was produced that included a starter you don’t see very often.
It included a dish of Julia Gillard Kentucky fried quail which was described as having small breasts and huge thighs. It also included a reference to Ms Gillard’s red hair. But not on her head. All very nudge nudge, wink wink schoolboy stuff.
Mr Abbott condemned the menu as “tacky” but said he backed his candidate, leading Ms Gillard to accuse him of a pattern of behaviour that culminated in the menu.
In October last year in a bit of a barnstorming speech to the Australian parliament the PM had squared up to Mr Abbott and told him rather than needing a motion in parliament to see misogyny, he should just use a mirror.
The heat of the gender wars had cooled down until recently when the PM, who is under pressure at home and facing an election in September, fanned the flames when talking about abortion, still a thorny issue in Oz, said: “We don’t want to live in an Australia where abortion again becomes the political plaything of men who think they know better.”
Ms Gillard was criticised for her outspokenness, predictably, by opposition figures who accused her of starting a “gender war to divide the nation” and even some in her own party shifted in their seats.
At first glance it would appear that the Aussie stereotype of a bloke in stained vest and shorts (complete with hat with corks on) telling his Sheila to get him a tinnie while watching the footy was still alive and well; The ‘Bruce’ that was exported across the world through TV soaps and films of the strong, independent ‘bloke’ and his timid wife, scurrying around.
But Gillard, who is Australia’s first woman leader, is now seen as top choice for the top job by 50 per cent of voters, up three points, while opponent Abbott has slipped four points to 40 per cent.
Her male-dominated party however trail by 52-48 in the polls.
Maybe the Bruces could learn something from this Sheila.