155 x 234 x 26mm
'Media Tarts' examines the part the press has played in the downfall or discrediting of prominent women in politics - including Bronwyn Bishop, Natasha Stott Despoja, Cheryl Kernot, Carmen Lawrence, and Pauline Hanson - and what part they played themselves. Their grisly heads are displayed on spikes in political memory, and serve as a warning to those who wish to follow them. In the noughties, women MPs are told to keep their heads down. The message is clear: fly too high, and you will be shot down. And look like a fool while you fall. 'Media Tarts' asks the question: what went wrong and what needs to change?
Through in-depth interviews with these women, as well as the opinion leaders in the press gallery, 'Media Tarts' tells the story of women who tried to change the way politics was viewed, and played, and who were attacked for it with a ferocity that has surprised even the most seasoned of observers.
Baird concludes "The difference between what women are thought to bring to politics, and what they actually do has played havoc with the careers of our most successful female politicians. An assumption - often fostered by women to their own advantage - that women are cleaner, more ethical than men, and that their presence will bleach politics of grime, has been their greatest burden. Trumpeted as sincere, honest and accessible, when they turn out to be human, the pundits marvel and sneer. Women and power, water and oil. Or at least that’s what you might think if you relied only on the media for information".
Despite this, Baird also argues it is wrong to simply, constantly, see women as powerless victims of an unfair press. Instead of playing what journalists call ‘the gender card’, politicians - and feminists - need to be smart about the way the media operates, and learn from what the icons of the 1990s did wrong. 'Media Tarts' provides practical tips on how to handle the media, but suggests that, by playing the game, women should not give up trying to change politics.