‘Flaunting’ their bodies, the male ego and being called a bogan: Bickmore, Keller and Molan on being a woman in the media

In this session from October's Radio Alive Conference, Erin Molan, Carrie Bickmore, Amanda Keller, Susie O'Neill and Angela Bishop discuss the challenges faced by women working in media.

Erin Molan, co-host on 2GB’s The Continuous Call Team, and The Project’s Carrie Bickmore joke about tabloid articles which describe them as “flaunting” their legs, and describe their breasts as “contained” but also “obvious”.

“That’s just the reality of it. That’s the age we live in,” says Molan.

A Daily Mail article in which Molan is described as ‘flaunting’ her curves while working to raise awareness of cancer. The same article describes her as ‘showcasing a hint of cleavage’

“I remember I was walking around ‘flaunting my baby bump’ and I was like ‘I actually can’t put it away’,” adds Bickmore.

Molan admits that social media does effect her, and while she’s “much better at dealing with it and much more resilient to it now”, she does choose her battles, because “things are taken out of context and Daily Mail will write an article a week on something I’ve said in total jest.”

She references a comment she makes earlier on in the talk where she jokes about having low standards in men. “I was honestly just being self-deprecating and trying to make a joke, but that will legitimately be a headline later,” she says.

Bickmore similarly sees social media as a problem, admitting: “I do wonder how different my career path might have been and how different it might be for young people starting now if that’s the sort of thing they have in the forefront of their mind going into starting to work in the industry.

“I could never start out now. The world of social media, brands, all of that – I think it’s ruined a lot of the joy of it, and I think you have to fight really hard to go above that a look beyond that, and look beyond things like brand.”

Ex-competitive swimmer Susie O’Neill, who now co-hosts on Nova’s Ash, Kip and Luttsy show in Brisbane, says: “Social media, I can’t be on it. I’ve tried to be on it – I feel like there’s strangers in my lounge room telling me that I’m an idiot, I’m ugly, I can’t speak, I’m a bogan. I just don’t want to be subjected to that, so I’m not on it.”

The panel’s moderator, Angela Bishop, entertainment editor at Network Ten then brings the panel around to the topic of Harvey Weinstein and sexual harassment.

“It’s weird that I feel ‘lucky’ that I haven’t had any negative experiences like we’re talking about… so far in my career. I’m sure there’s been moments, there’s been times, but nothing that’s completely transformed me or my ability to do a job,” says Bickmore.

“But it shouldn’t be luck, I shouldn’t feel lucky that that’s the way it is. And I know lots of other women and friends who haven’t had the same experience.”

Molan agrees with Bickmore, saying she also feels lucky, and that she’s “gotten opportunities over male colleagues that have probably earned it more, deserved it more, were probably better broadcasters than me at the time of the opportunities, so I’ve actually found it much more in my favour being a female in this industry than the opposite.”

While she hasn’t suffered from sexual harassment, Keller feels the problem of male ego is one she’s had to learn to tackle throughout her career.

When she started working in the comedy world, she admits she suffered from impostor syndrome, which meant she would “defer always to the male ego”.

“I’d go on shows like Good News Week and I’d think of something to say, but I’d let other people say it, or I’d say it quietly, and a big male voice would say it and everyone would laugh.”

Bishop points out how “all four of you said you ‘escaped it’ [sexual harassment], with the assumption being that it probably is out there.”


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