Digits make for finger wagging politics
The campaign to get more men to engage in rubber glove love to check out the condition of their prostates has become the object of much political chatter.
The PM’s office, and Ms Gillard herself joined those not laughing at the joke. Not only did Mr Mathieson have to apologise in a written statement, he was instructed to front a pool TV camera to repeat his contrition for the evening bulletins. This is a similar type of public humiliation to that imposed on, say, a Treasurer who has a tax which doesn’t bring in any revenue.
The good news, fingers crossed, is the uproar has done much to promote that campaign and the importance of check-ups to mens’ health.
The bad news for the Julia Gillard government is that controversial comments on the matter from Lodge co-habiter Tim Mathieson could damage her campaign to regain office.
“I don’t think we want to have a culture of finger waving in this country,’’ Liberal front bencher George Brandis told Sky while discussing the matter. Too late. Mr Mathieson has made digits a rollicking political subject.
He has been accused of being sexist and racist for suggesting men try to get a prostrate examination from a small Asian woman doctor. He offered the advice Monday night at a function at The Lodge for West Indian cricketers.
“We can get a blood test for it, but the digital examination is the only true way to get a correct reading on your prostate, so make sure you go and do that, and perhaps look for a small, Asian, female doctor is probably the best way,” he said.
It’s a variation of a line Mr Mathieson has used before during his voluntary work for the Men’s Shed movement which promotes mens’ health issues at meetings around Australia.
It was a line which might not have been suitable for a function at the Prime Minister’s residence. But Mr Mathieson was not being sexist or racist. Certainly he was not suggesting - as some easily aroused critics have proposed - there might be a happy ending to the examination.
He was being digit-ist.
He was, in a light-hearted way, making the point that a rectal examination might be less daunting when performed by a fine boned Asian female medical practitioner than by some hairy-knuckled Anglo doc who played rugby at medical school.
That’s all it was.
But, as Senator Brandis warned, we are plunging further into finger waving as a substitute for debate.
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