Feminism | Posted by Zoe G on 06/7/2011

Cat-Calling In The Australian Senate

Penny Wong

Penny Wong

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:

I also have a blog here.

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  • Talia bat Pessi @ at 1:17 pm, June 7th, 2011

    I like cats too, and I do enjoy making meowing noises, but I certainly wouldn’t have done so if I was Busby.

  • Zoe @ at 2:16 pm, June 7th, 2011

    Wow. Just, wow. Do people ever grow up? Good for her, I’m glad she spoke back. To me, this is a prime example of sexism at work in the government structure, if grown men resort to acting like 10 year olds on the playground when a woman is speaking.

  • Mariella @ at 3:18 pm, June 7th, 2011

    The “meow” alone is just embarrassingly patronising, and I don’t believe they would’ve reacted the same way if it was a man who snapped like that. He doesn’t seem to be taking her seriously at all, which shows a typically bad attitude towards female politicians.

  • Alex F @ at 7:45 pm, June 7th, 2011

    Her response made a very good point and I admire her for keeping her cool, but not letting that behavior to slide. He should not have meowed, I believe. It, clearly, was inappropriate and very immature. If I was in Senator Wong’s position I would probably be like “You wanna go, asshat?!” Props to her for not doing that ;)

  • Renee @ at 8:21 am, June 10th, 2011

    To me it doesn’t matter if it was sexist or not it was fucking innapropriate and it furthe pisses me of that he isn’t getting further scurtiny

  • RJ @ at 7:50 am, June 12th, 2011

    She was awesome

    And no matter what anyone says: the ‘meow’ was definately because she was a woman. No one would have disrespected a man like that

  • NWOslave @ at 7:49 pm, June 12th, 2011

    It really doesn’t matter if it was sexist or not. If you wanna run with the big dogs be prepared to be bit. If your sensibilities are so delicate you wilt after an insult go work in a flower shop.

  • Anonymiss @ at 2:43 am, June 15th, 2011

    Hell yah tht was sexist! Guys only making meowing noises when it comes to girls. I mean, come on. She was right at calling him out. I bet if she where a man & a woman made a sexist remark their wouldn’t be any debate in te media.

  • Alexis @ at 5:43 pm, July 5th, 2011

    it was definitely sexist. She was in her right to say something and then try to finish her speech. The man shouldn’t have meowed at her, if the roles were switched people wouldn’t debate about it. People would’ve already said that she was in the wrong. So yes thank you Mr. Busby for inspiring a woman to stand up for herself.

  • oklejanie samochodów gdańsk @ at 8:08 am, December 5th, 2011

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  • Victoria L @ at 9:07 pm, March 6th, 2012

    Well done for not flipping Busby off. Incredible self-control!

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