“It’s probably my ovaries making me do it, Steve” – Van Badham on QandA 2016
QandA is an excellent example of a mediated public sphere, as it is constructed to provoke debate, with the chosen participants purposely possessing a variety of contesting ideologies. But we must wonder:
Who is excluded from this version of a public sphere? Whose voices are not heard?
Whilst the content broadcasted on QandA is controlled, the issues that are discussed are broad and current enough to still allow for political action to arise in a wider public sphere. The above clip features an excerpt from QandA which prompted direct responses across many social media platforms. The issue of domestic violence is explicitly being discussed, although a further issue of societal attitudes towards women becomes apparent as the deliberation between Price and Badham draws on. Within the immediate public sphere of QandA, neither side of the ‘argument’ seems to be silenced, however Price’s use of the word ‘hysterical‘ continues an age-old attempt to silence women’s opinions.
The original issue was a remark made by Eddie McGuire on Triple M which sparked outrage due to its ‘sexist’ nature. Badham’s later argument on QandA reflects issue of the legitimisation of so called ‘boys banter’ (evident by Steve’s defence of McGuire) which is reflected in the normalisation of domestic violence in Australia.
Although the discussion of women and gender equality is a widely discussed media issue, it is not uncommon for events such as this to prompt direct responses from the public. Thus, this particular debate had news agencies and the public alike buzzing about the issue, evident in the running of many stories, and airing of further debate, as well as widespread social-media outrage. Social media is possibly the most inclusive public sphere, as it allows anyone and everyone to chime-in on what they believe to be true. For example, a quick scroll below the embedded video allowed me to witness further debate on gender equality and domestic violence. Here are some of my favourite responses (click the image to enlarge).
But comment threads are not the only platform for debate. The Price v Badham issue cropped up on Facebook, and Twitter (#myovariesmademe), whilst issues of domestic violence and gender equality even found their way onto Snapchat’s news feature, and Instagram.
It is very interesting to consider the ways in which the notions of a public sphere have changed since Habermas’ original 1962 theory. A debate that began with McGuire’s ‘boys banter’, was continued on QandA, all the while being discussed across social media. So, the public spheres for deliberation about gender equality and domestic violence were seen to morph and change – according to where they were being discussed. In some places, like QandA the discussion was mediated, whilst in others, such as on social media, voices within the discussion were more omnipresent and uncensored.
Do you think our public spheres are now wider and more accessible?
Espach A 2017, ‘What It Really Means When You Call a Woman “Hysterical”’ Vogue, 11 March 2017, viewed 30 March 2017 <http://www.vogue.com/article/trump-women-hysteria-and-history>
Marler, D 2016, ‘Steve Price faces criticism for his comments on QandA to Van Badham’ Online Video, 12 July, viewed 30 March 2017 <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TvYK6uHreVM>
Marler, D 2016, ‘Domestic violence: Steve Price tells Van Badham she’s being hysterical’ 11 July, viewed 30 March 2017 <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ruM0fQTmcyk>
Nguyen D 2016, ‘My mother is a victim of domestic violence and Steve Price made a mockery of her efforts.’ MummaMia, weblog post, 12 July 2016, viewed 30 March 2017 <http://www.mamamia.com.au/steve-price-domestic-violence/>
O’Conner C 2016, ‘Social media responds to never-ending sexism with #MyOvariesMadeMe’ Techly, weblog post, 13 July 2016, viewed 30 March 2017 <https://www.techly.com.au/2016/07/13/social-media-responds-never-ending-sexism-myovariesmademe/>
Turbull, S 2017, ‘The Media Theory Toolbox’ Powerpoint Slides, BCM110, University of Wollongong, delivered 26 March 2017.
Unknown, 2016, ‘Eddie McGuire, Triple M commentators escape punishment over Caroline Wilson comments’ ABC, 22 June 2016, viewed March 30 2017 <http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-06-22/triple-m-issues-apology-over-caroline-wilson-comments/7533694>
Zilber, A 2017, ‘Florida man, 24, ‘fatally stabs his roommate, 21, after she hugged him goodbye and told him she leaving to move in with her boyfriend”, Daily Mail, 29 March 2017, viewed 29 March 2017 <http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4356634/Man-accused-killing-ex-roommate-stopped-say-bye.html>