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Abbott the father deserves more respect

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Roses, a thorn and the prickle of criticism.

Roses, a thorn and the prickle of criticism. Photo: Joe Armao

I'll tell you what's creepy: journalists and media taking an everyday comment from the probable next leader of our country about his daughters being "not bad-looking" and sexualising it like a pack of sticky schoolkids who can't watch a deodorant ad without sniggering.

There are many subjects upon which I do not agree with Tony Abbott but his decision this week to appeal to Big Brother's household of twenty-something fame whores while standing beside his daughters wasn't a bad one.

Did we really expect a policy pitch in 24 seconds? Why not try to manufacture some semblance of empathy with young Australians by showing he also lives and regularly talks with other young Australians - his children?

Yet a father saying his daughters were "not bad-looking" was immediately translated as ''vote for me because my daughters are hot" by one reporter. Even more vile was the characterisation by another writer, for an esteemed masthead, likening the appearance as a "man flanked with babes like an oily ganglord entering a nightclub".

Politicians have long decided it's acceptable to put words into people's mouths, invent motivations for others and just plain make up stuff when they feel like it. But we're truly lost if this has become the accepted method of operation for our media.

Words, as we're constantly reminded by Abbott's critics, matter. "Not bad-looking" has no sexual connotations, particularly when said by a father, while "hot", a word never uttered by Abbott, implies sexual arousal in the observer.

Motives, as we're constantly reminded by Abbott's critics, matter. Standing beside your children in a political campaign is as old as politics. Abbott has gone out of his way on many occasions to describe the intelligence, opinions, aptitude and energy of his three tertiary-educated daughters, yet it is a gender-aware media-writer that diminished them as "babes ... entering a nightclub".

Abbott, certainly, has perception problems when it comes to his attitudes to women, but to suggest a man complimenting the looks of his children is sexist or reduces them to ornamentation is just crude, offensive barrow-pushing.

The innuendo the comment was somehow, vaguely incestuous - and let's not kid ourselves this wasn't one of the snide implications of this piece - should be met with contempt and illustrates the lengths so many sulking reporters will go to to tarnish a politician they do not agree with.

I can't say I'm overly excited about the prospect of Abbott as our next PM, but I am looking forward to seeing the father-daughter relationship given some prominence and respect over the next three years.

If you watched Annabel Crabb's excellent Kitchen Cabinet interview with Abbott and two of his daughters on Tuesday night, what you'll plainly see is a 55-year-old man who has raised bright, opinionated 20-something children who respect and actually like being around him.

How many parents can make that claim?

You can follow Sam on Twitter here. His email address is here.

Please don't take it personally if I do not reply to your email as they come in thick and fast depending on the topic. Please know, I appreciate you taking the time to write and comment and would offer mummy hugs to all.

0 comment

  • Abbott's father-daughter relationship is none of our business - but if you are prepared to use your children as assets in the war zone of a Federal Election, you should expect to suffer collateral (or is that coalition?) damage.

    Rudd has a daughter, too - did he not give enough "prominence and respect" to that relationship for your taste, Sam?

    Either way, being a good father and an utterly contemptible PM are not mutually exclusive traits.

    Commenter
    Rex E. Dopus
    Date and time
    September 05, 2013, 5:30PM
    • Since this election is over already Tony has started on his strategy for the next Double climate tax election thingy
      1)The LNP's new inflatable candidates in WS will actually be smarter than the old candidates, say less crap and have more gas appeal too. (CO2 is a gas right)
      2)Netball is good for climate change. (Do hot daughters affect the climate? No don't tell me..)
      3)Malcolm isn't doing anything much so maybe he could figure something out. He invented the internet, it's pretty fast he tells me.
      4)Rich women's babies (cars and all their other stuff) make less gas than other women's babies (and other stuff). Rich stuff is better.
      5)Hey it's just an invisible gas so who cares.
      6)What does Rupert think? (I think people know me by now.)
      7)What was Johnny Howard's policy? Same as Kevin's? How confusing.
      8)Those Indonesian fisherman liked selling us their boats maybe we could pay them to take some of our dumb gas as well.
      9)The north of Australia is a big wasteland, maybe we could bury some big ballons up there and fill them up with this Carbon stuff. Solved. (What do you mean there is no room, full of old junk fishing boats and stuff).
      10)$3.5 billion should be enough to deal with it. I mean how much of a problem is it really? It's only one little planet. We don't want to overestimate our significance.
      11)Costings aren't important anyway, (noone cares, not now that we won).
      12)Affect the surplus? What surplus?(Joe!!!).
      13)Kevin just Stop the Gas. That should do it. I told him(What happened to Kevin anyway?)
      14) Gas can't get married, God told me. Sorry. Oh I thought you said gays can't get married? Ha...ha...ha...just trust me.
      15)Greens are Baddies. Gas is a baddy. Baddies V Baddies. Haha

      Commenter
      GOV
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      September 05, 2013, 11:31PM
    • Hey @GOV, more cut-and-paste attempts by the rusted-ons to try and con people into voting for the ALP - the Australian Liars Party.
      No attempt at even making one sentence in regards to the actual article either.
      Saturday night is going to be really sweet, seeing Rudd-the-Dudd and all his fellow liars all teary-eyed. By Sunday though, the knives will be out and the purge will begin.

      Commenter
      The Other Guy
      Location
      Geelong
      Date and time
      September 05, 2013, 11:58PM
    • Other guy, I believe there was a reference to Tony's hot daughters and many of the other dumb things Tony has said. What was the article about anyway? It's true I didn't bother to read it.....much. Articles apologising for Tony Abbott are ridiculous. People must be worried about their jobs or something.

      Commenter
      GOV
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      September 06, 2013, 1:11AM
    • GOV - I stopped reading your bizarre ramblings after your second point.

      Why is it that the Abbott-haters can't even make sensible posts?

      Commenter
      Simon
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      September 06, 2013, 4:37AM
    • I agree totally Rex. You had me at 'contemptible".
      Abbott has said he will do anything to get the job (to Tony WIndsor).
      He has said he doesn't always tell the truth (to Kerry O'Brien)
      He has blatantly lied (to Leigh Sales and god know how many millions more)
      He has used his daughters as prop to try and get the female vote.
      He's verbally adopted a lot of Labor policy after railing against it for years
      How someone adopting such an obviously manufactured position can be seriously considered for the top job in Australia beggars belief.
      Of course Labor has done itself no good, but it has implemented some good policy during it's term. Abbott will undo that as it suits him.

      Commenter
      M.A.C.
      Location
      Terrigal
      Date and time
      September 06, 2013, 4:42AM
    • Well done Sam for showing a bit of balance versus your normally secular lefty articles...some of these comments say more about the writer than Tony Abbott and it is not pretty if you value respect and integrity

      Commenter
      One more day
      Date and time
      September 06, 2013, 6:20AM
    • Hey Gov, Grow up

      Commenter
      James
      Location
      NSW
      Date and time
      September 06, 2013, 6:40AM
    • Pimping your daughter to the members of big brother house, his comment about the "sexiness" of his candidate, it all points to how Abbott objectifies women. The message a father ought to give his daughter is not "you are sexy, therefore you are good", it ought to go more to "you are intelligent, kind and articulate, therefore you are good", his emphasis on the superficiality of women's looks makes me wonder how he would feel if his daughters put on weight, had less attractive faces or dressed more dowdy, would the girls have less merit then?

      If there are questions about Abbot's daughters and his relationship with them, it is not because the electorate is filthy minded, but because he threw them into the spotlight in this light.

      Commenter
      Woman
      Date and time
      September 06, 2013, 8:14AM
    • When GOV's critics can make comments even half as witty as his, then they'll be able to comment about how sensible they are.

      Thanks GOV for the bright spot on what is otherwise a very dark day for Australia - the day before Tony Abbott (OK, Rupert Murdoch really - but we can pretend) looks likely to seize the PM's chair.

      Commenter
      Mark
      Date and time
      September 06, 2013, 8:17AM
Comments are now closed
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