Originally published on The Hoopla and cross-posted here with their permission.
Dear Mr. Sexist,
I’d like to thank you for everything you’ve taught me over the past 25 years.
Why, I had no idea I was so fat, ugly and stupid. I thought being a Size 12 was perfectly acceptable.
But when you yelled across the newsroom, “I want two inches off your hair and two inches off your arse,” suddenly, a light went on.
Of course! The size of my posterior is directly related to the content and credibility of the stories I’m reporting on for this network. Silly me. You’re right. I’ll never make it as a TV journalist.
Those wise words of yours from 1986 are still ringing in my ears: “That’s why you don’t see blonde newsreaders,” you explained patiently. “People don’t take them seriously.”
It reminded me of another sage piece of advice, from a radio boss during a job interview some years ago.
He put it simply yet eloquently: “There’s a reason why you don’t hear women on commercial talkback radio,” he said. “No-one wants to hear the whiney sound of a female voice. Us blokes get enough nagging at home!”
Really, in retrospect, it was foolish to think I was worthy of such a role.
Like all women, I only have two areas of specialisation: shoes and handbags. We all know high heels are a patriarchal construct to disempower us by constricting movement. (Oh dear. Must stop having thoughts like that. Sorry, I have no idea where that came from.)
Anyway, through some quirk of fate, I managed to land a newsreading job.
I know what you’re thinking. I finally decided to speak into that flesh-coloured microphone you were always pointing in my direction.
Oddly enough, I was offered the job by a woman. Who would have thought? Initially, I was wary. You always said you’d never work for a female boss because, “You can’t trust anything that bleeds for 5 days and doesn’t die”.
Hilarious! It’s a good thing I was wearing a corset or my sides would have split.
Fortunately, there were enough blokes around to keep me on the straight and narrow.
On my first night, the station manager came down and said, “You need to stick your tits out more”.
Once again, my brain wasn’t working properly.
In between the raging bushfires, the political crises and savage cuts to welfare, I’d forgotten to flirt with the camera.
A couple of years later – I’m ashamed to say this – I “porked up”, according to one of the producers.
My new boss quickly raced out and arranged sponsorship from the local gym.
Frankly, I was unsightly. I stood out like a bull in a china shop, around those fragile lollypop ladies with their skinny bodies and massive heads.
Speaking of heads, I got a nasty shock when I looked in the mirror one day. Wrinkles around my eyes AND on my forehead. Too much thinking? Surely not.
I remember you reviewing a video tape of one of my colleagues – clever girl, Walkley Award winner as I recall – and saying, “The problems seems to be here and here,” pointing to her ghastly crow’s feet.
As it turns out, wrinkles were the least of my worries. I’d gotten myself knocked up.
I wanted to go back to work when bubby was three months old but, once again, it took a man to show me the error of my ways.
“Women should be at home with their children,” my news director said. “Or the fabric of society will be rent asunder.”
“Anyway Trace. You’re getting a bit long in the tooth. Why don’t you give some of the younger girls an opportunity?”
Suddenly, all the lights went on. And it was so bright – it made your light look like a limp insipid flicker.
This is difficult for me to put into words but if I had to, it would sound a bit like this: Fuck you.
F*ck you, you misogynist bully with your archaic beliefs, intellect of a pygmy, and tiny dick. F*ck you, and all who sail with you.
The reason I am writing this letter is to thank you.
Among others – too many to mention – you lit a fire in my belly that’s become an inferno and these days, I don’t cop sh*t from anyone.
When I was sacked by email after the birth of my second baby, I fought the f*ckers.
I use the term “f*ckers” advisedly, having checked with my attorney. After all, truth is a defence in this country.
I do hope you receive this correspondence. I had trouble finding a forwarding address after you lost your house due to that unfortunate sexual harassment case.
(I’m sure the b*tch was asking for it.)
Yours in emancipation,
Tracey Spicer is a respected journalist who has worked for many years in radio, print and television as Channel Nine and 10 news presenter and reporter; 2UE and Vega broadcaster; News Ltd. columnist; and Sky News anchor. Tracey is a passionate advocate for issues as diverse as voluntary euthanasia, childhood vaccinations, breastfeeding, better regulation of foreign investment in Australia’s farmland, and curtailed opening hours for pubs and clubs. She is an Ambassador for World Vision, ActionAid, WWF, the Royal Hospital for Women’s Newborn Care Centre and the Penguin Foundation, Patron of Cancer Council NSW and The National Premmie Foundation, and the face of the Garvan Institute’s research into pancreatic cancer. Visit her website or follow her on Twitter.