Silence Of The Lambie In The Echo Chamber of Penetration


As if we hadn’t heard enough about the preferences of the Tasmanian PUPs at their last/first electoral contest, without now being privy to their sexual preferences as well.

Senator Jacqui Lambie’s radio gabble about her whipper-snippered map of Tassie and hunt for a ‘well-hung’ sexual partner on Hobart’s Heart 107.3 breakfast show may well have broken records in callback response from a certain demographic of exhibitionist young men.

Hobart’s codpiece subculture a’calling. Hard to know the order of business for rapid responder ‘Jamie’ – his dating Lambie or letting ‘Heart’s’ listeners know that he is ‘hung like a donkey’.

But it was Lambie who transgressed the rules of decorum, rules that pertain particularly to women in public life.

She was explicit = crass, mercenary = unromantic, and she agreed to date a man younger than her own son who was ‘cringing at home’ (I’d say she got that much right).

Cue earnest and sober reflections from ornery feminist, I know. But once we get past the dick swinging and hee-hawing, there are a few thoughts that have been missed in the skid of indignation.

Whether Lambie was sexist has, I think, been reasonably well handled by various debunkers of the ideal of gender equality.

Can the burden of discrimination be carried equally by dominant and subordinate players over a field pocked and troughed by the slings and arrows of discrimination?

We women continue to keep one eye on the liberal-feminist utopia, with its soothing invocations of ‘parents’, ‘sex-workers’ and other non-gender-specific incarnations.

Meanwhile we go on strategizing our way through the ‘asymmetries’ of mothering, whoring, waitressing, nursing, lady adjuncting and other daily realities of our gender-geometricised lives.

Yeah, so, it’s different to be sexist to men, because the very difference that gender inscribes, positions men and women differently in relation to such expressions of power.

Sexism in this latest outing is reduced to its most familiar expression – objectification.

Lambie reduced men’s worth – ‘they don’t need to speak’ – to their physical attributes. Worse she unashamedly identified as a Size Queen.

But there’s a twist to Lambie’s lady objectification – it’s different! The emphasis is not on perceptual relations, or visual encounter. It’s about sensation, touch, let’s just out with the P word… it’s about penetration.

Sure, when men objectify women they assess our visual appeal towards making physical contact. The end game is undoubtedly all of the above.

Frankly, as long as women’s vaginas enclose and clasp their penises in moist heat, men don’t give a toss how they actually look.

If there’s one thing porn has graphically exposed, there’s no such thing as an unsightly vag, which makes recent trends in labioplasty surgery all the sadder.

Nevertheless ‘men act and women appear. Men look at women. Women watch themselves being looked at’, said Berger. And he was largely right.

But Lambie suggested that women’s objectification has entirely different ends, so to speak, to this visual appraisal.

Putting to one side the Senator’s quest to be financially dependent (curious given her newfound position and moreso, connections), what Lambie wants from the unsighted Jamie after their breakfast date, is an unequivocal sensation of penetration.

And by calling for it explicitly, she suggested this particular desire might be compromised by size and other unmentioned contingencies.

Now that we’ve got that straight – and it has to be said this is more about heterosexual relations than gender relations – the issue to hand here pertains not to whether women have a preference for larger penises (see tasteful studies-have-shown hyperlink). The issue is about women’s comportment in public life.

Perhaps it’s a function of our relatively recent admission to the public stage, or mediascape, that women (or perhaps their male minders) are excessively chary about the impression we make.

It’s now accepted wisdom that a kind of professional veneer encased our first woman Prime Minister, suffocating her voter appeal. No doubt it afforded her some protection while she endured the slings of arrows of misogyny.

Wooden Julia was possibly a byproduct of being strictly scripted to recite only. Her cramped vitality and spontaneity were roundly lamented.

That her dignity is now widely celebrated suggests we’re a little confused by what we want from women politicians. The quest for Julia’s life-spirit stemmed from the confusion between celebrity and politics, one that Clive Palmer adroitly exploits.

But it’s different for women. Arguably Lambie simply took a leaf from her leader’s radio campaigning twerk, sublimely naïve about how such transgressions of decorum are differently apportioned to men and women in politics.

Broadcasting your sexual proclivities, be they bottom waggling or donkey gibbeting, does not a lady politician make.

Wonder what she and Jamie order for breakfast. What’s the bet he’s lactose intolerant while she has a horsemeat allergy.

Liz Conor is a columnist at New Matilda and an ARC Future Fellow at La Trobe University. She is the author of Skin Deep: Settler Impressions of Aboriginal Women, [UWAP, 2016] and The Spectacular Modern Woman: Feminine Visibility in the 1920s [Indiana University Press, 2004]. She is editor of Aboriginal History and has published widely in academic and mainstream press on gender, race and representation.