Barnaby’s baby news & the hypocrisy of the left

 

There has been a lot of fuss over the last 48 hours over the revelations that Australia’s deputy Prime Minister, Barnaby Joyce, is expecting a child with National Party staffer and former Daily Telegraph Chief of Staff, Vicky Campion with whom he has reportedly been having an affair for the better part of, well, at least 9 months.

There has been considerable outcry from those who would consider themselves of The Left, objecting to the publication of dear Vicky and Barnaby’s baby news on the grounds the story violates their privacy and is not in the public interest.

For the uninitiated, you may remember Barnaby Joyce as the guy that threatened to deport Johnny Depp and Amber Heard’s dogs when they visited Australia.

 

Of course, Nationals backbencher Darren Chester argued that personal matters should remain private.

“The issues that have been canvassed in the media today have nothing to do with his performance as leader of the National Party and I believe that private matters should remain private,” he told the ABC.

But even the Shadow Attorney General, Mark Dreyfus showed his support for the Deputy PM, calling for his privacy at this difficult time.

Having spent many months soul searching over power dynamics, abuses of authority and sexual harassment in the workplace following the Weinstein revelations, it is disturbing to me  that progressives are being so selective in what they consider to be a newsworthy story.

Colleagues have already highlighted the hypocrisy with which this news has been met, given the baptism of fire that met former Prime Minister Julia Gillard after she deposed Kevin Rudd, for the sin of being unmarried and childless, so I won’t get into that again here. (But you should read this excellent piece by Junkee’s managing editor Rob Stott). Needless to say, those calling for privacy on behalf of the Deputy PM and his mistress do not have a leg to stand on.

Instead, I want to focus here on the hypocritical paternalism of feminism and The Left in how they have responded to this story, particularly as it relates to Joyce’s pregnant mistress, Vikki Campion, a National Party staffer and former Deputy Chief of Staff at the Daily Telegraph (the same paper that broke the story).


But first, some context for the uninitiated

Crucially, Barnaby Joyce was a key player in forcing a $80 million dollar non-binding marriage equality plebiscite on the people of Australia, making what everyone does within the confines of their bedroom a matter of public interest (so long as they share the same genitalia).

He campaigned on the sanctity of marriage during the campaign, turning his daughters into political fodder claiming to defend their right to a “secure relationship with a loving husband”, as if the one somehow cancels out the other, all while continuing an illicit affair with Campion behind closed doors.

In 2015 Joyce claimed that embracing marriage equality in Australia would be perceived as ‘decadent’ to our Asian neighbours.

He also opposed the life-saving cervical cancer vaccine on the grounds it might lead to promiscuity.

‘Decadent’ is earning the sympathies of The Left for getting his dick out on the job,  draining the public purse for a cruel, divisive campaign that pitted family members against one another over the sanctity of marriage while failing to live up to his own Catholic standards behind closed doors.

Right, so it’s fair to say most of us are in agreement that Joyce is a rank hypocrite who deserves everything he has coming to him. But why are the actions of his mistress not being held to the same standards?

 

Women are not paper dolls, stop treating us like ones

“But Barnaby is the one who abused the power of his office,” so the argument goes. “Poor Vikki doesn’t deserve this. Go after Barnaby, but leave his mistress out of it.” She didn’t deserve to have a photo of her crossing the street in gymwear splashed across the front page of the newspaper, because apparently Campion was simply an innocent bystander in all this.

 

This includes Greens Leader Adam Bandt who wrote on Facebook yesterday that the media ought to have left Campion out of their reporting:

“It’s despicable that Murdoch tabloids ran a front page paparazzi snap of a pregnant woman just because the father happens to be Barnaby Joyce,” he wrote.  “I’m no fan of Barnaby, and he’s arguably fair game for opposing equal marriage on the basis of ‘family values’ and putting the LGBTI community through the wringer while leading a different life himself, but leave her out of it. She hasn’t chosen to be a public figure and she has the right to a private life, especially while pregnant.”

Journalist, Georgina Dent acknowledged that Barnaby was fair game in a piece for Women’s Agenda, but also played the “leave Vikki alone” card:

“For the expectant mother, she is not a public figure who has sought a profile for her private life, and yet it is her photo that adorns the front page of a newspaper,” she wrote.

It seems as though the Australian right and left are strange bedfellows when it comes to female sexual agency.

First of all, pregnancy isn’t a disease, nor is it a shield against criticism. We do not need to be handled with kit gloves because we grow and give birth to your progeny and future workers. Secondly, Campion is not a child, or a victim. She is a grown woman who chose a life working for government. A government which has spent countless time and resources arguing against marriage equality and fighting for  a ‘religious freedom’ exemptions in racial & gender discrimination laws, no less.

To say that Campion is fair game is not to be critical of her personal decisions. (Whatever happened to sex positive feminism?) Relationships are difficult at the best of times. Marriages even more so. It is, as the statistics prove out, often not for everyone.

The reason Campion is as worthy of scrutiny as her baby daddy is because she works for a party that takes a puritanical view of non-heterosexual relationships, on the grounds that it threatens marriage.

https://twitter.com/Strangee55/status/960910053556469760

These claims create a double standard for anyone with a vagina, presenting women as some kind of porcelain dolls that might shatter at any moment when confronted with their own professional decisions. It seems as though The Left has decided that women are only allowed to be victims or role models. They cannot be conscious participants because that is inconvenient to its high-moral ground.

Campion is not some innocent bystander in all this. She has a brain, and a conscience, and a sex drive. Just like Barnaby.

That Campion is not an MP is an insufficient argument. She worked for the Nationals which makes up one half of the Federal Government Coalition, a party without which the Liberals could not hold onto power. Her work for Joyce helped bolster his image as a good Catholic from the bush, and supported his claims that somehow the rights of religious heterosexuals were worthy of more protection under the law than any other.

Some have expressed concern that the revelations could be a career-ender for Campion, previously the Deputy Chief of Staff of the Daily Telegraph.

And as a strong, capable and intelligent woman, Campion might very well have to answer professionally for her decision to embark on an affair with her employer. The Deputy Prime Minister, no less. But that doesn’t mean this is the end of her career. And it’s pretty insulting position for progressives to take.

For a start, it’s deeply paternalistic for The Left to accept claims made by conservative opponents that Campion is somehow professionally less than by pure virtue of her gender. And it’s pretty cynical to assume that Campion isn’t as capable of a comeback as Joyce.

If Campion were reporting on the story, rather than the subject of it, I expect she also wouldn’t spare herself the scrutiny.

Campion should not be raked over the coals for puritanical reasons. But for moral and political ones. She worked for a party that told Australian voters that homosexuals were putting the sanctity of marriage at risk, when it turns out she and Party leader, Barnaby Joyce were doing a pretty good job of that all on their own. Failure to address Campion’s culpability demonstrates a massive double standard and exhibits the very same sexism The Left and feminism claims to be fighting.

She chose to work as a government staffer and consciously and willingly consented to an affair with the Deputy Prime Minister while in his employ. Pregnant or not, this story would still be in the public interest. But entertain the idea that woman are as capable of immoral and unethical decisions as any man, and all of a sudden this story is no longer in the national interest & Vikki deserves her privacy. Bless.

Campion is as responsible for her actions as Joyce is for his.

It takes two to tango, as the old saying goes.

If Australian progressives really believe in equality, it would help if they started acting like it.