Jan 21, 2013

Still an old white man telling women how to behave

You’d have to be living under a rock or enjoying an internet free rural paradise (my internet’s been out again) not to have noted the furore caused by the bumbling oafishness of David Koch, the Business journalist turned morning show host on the nation’s leading Breakfast variety show.

He’s generally an affable bloke, outside of his area of expertise (finance) he’s a bit of a soft touch, sort of what you’d require in a morning show host. 

If you can forgive him the collection of groan worthy jokes he puts out and the fact that he’s chairman of Port Adelaide Football club. He’s not too bad, like an affable uncle who thinks he’s still funny. 

Relatively harmless.

But he chose to weigh in on the issue of breastfeeding, was criticised for it and was unrepentant.

He clarified his position such that he believes women have a right to breastfeed in public (actually it’s the law, regardless of what he thinks), but that he thinks they should be discreet about it, classy even.

Perfectly reasonable one might say. Except of course that I’d be hard pressed to think of a time that I have seen women breastfeeding indiscreetly (and I come across a few in running the Mums and Babes session in my Library work).

In reality it’s not really a problem is it -  the majority of Australians  are not assaulted by the sight of milk laden mammaries to the point of revulsion.

Bikini covered bosoms on Sunrise are another matter entirely though eh?

Yet here we have a high profile media figure expressing an opinion on it, letting women know (ever so affably) what he thinks they should do.

Everyone has a right to an opinion, to express it, is his view. 

Yes, everyone can have an opinion they’re as common as the aperture that I’d suggest Koch has his head in inserted in.

The trouble is not everyone has a platform to send that opinion nationwide. 

One could argue that to broadcast your opinion widely, it had better be an informed one. Because for all the unthinking oafs on television, there are hundreds of unthinking viewers out there willing to take their opinion as gospel.

I suspect Koch is adamant that he won’t back down because, he’s been caught out being an oaf, expressing an opinion on something he has no experience or knowledge of and he’s so used to being in a position of power and knowledge, so used to being perceived and perceiving himself as the nice guy, that he can’t cope with the challenging reaction.  He’s not a bad guy, he’s not a misogynist, he must think.

No he’s just an old white guy letting the girls know how they should behave. Reinforcing cultural myths surrounding women.  Contributing to that cultural bias that means we have discussions about breastfeeding, or how women who get raped should have been dressed more discreetly.

Standing steadfastly by an opinion is not a good thing when that opinion is opposed by well argued points of view. The bigger person has the courage to reflect, see that they were wrong and admit it.

It gets harder to do the older we get, the less challenged we are in our spheres of influence.

And Koch is a privileged old man, atop the celebrity talk show pile.

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