The ‘Julia Gillard Kentucky Fried Quail’ menu is the latest sexist attack on the Australian PM. But it’s the same for women in politics everywhere., writes Emine Saner. In her Guardian column she included Kumara Welgama’s sexist attack on Rosy Senanayake in last December.
Sri Lanka’s ‘beauty queen’
Rosy Senanayake, member of Sri Lanka’s opposition United National party, has been involved in politics for more than 20 years, serving as a UN Goodwill ambassador and Sri Lanka’s high commissioner in Malaysia. And yet, when asked a question by her in parliament, Kumara Welgama, the transport minister, said he was “choked” by her beauty. “I am so happy to answer a question by a beauty queen,” he said (Senanayake is a former Miss World). “You are such a charming woman. I cannot explain my feelings here. But if you meet me outside Parliament, I will describe them … My thoughts are running riot … I don’t want to reveal [them] to the public.”
Senanayake, who is a vocal activist for women’s rights, was strangely not impressed: “I’m still being recognised as a beauty queen, but I’ve been a high commissioner and in politics for such a long time. As a woman you are not recognised as a person who has done so many portfolios, but always referred to as the beauty you were in your heyday.”
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