Sometimes I meet someone and enjoy our connection so much that I’m on a high for the rest of the day. That’s what it was like to chat with Tracey Spicer. She’s warm, generous, smart, playful, passionate and fun, and she called me mate. I like that.
I know Tracey best as the presenter on Australia’s Ten News. But her 25 year media career has seen her work in radio and print, as well as TV. And she still does.
It was for none of those reasons that I wanted to interview Tracey. It was because of a letter she wrote spilling the beans on the rampant sexism she encountered in the TV newsroom. She addressed it Dear Mr Sexist, and it’s spread across social media channels like wild fire, thousands and thousands of times. When I read it, I dearly wanted to know about Tracey’s take on power.
I wondered what Tracey had wished she’d said when this was yelled across the newsroom to her: “I want two inches off your hair and two inches off your arse.”
And I wanted to ask her about the time the station manager said to her, after her first night presenting the TV news, “You need to stick your tits out more.”
It brought back memories – not so fond – from my journo days. I remember the radio host who wouldn’t let me read news bulletins during his show because I’m a woman. Men’s voices are more credible, apparently. That’s what his listeners wanted, apparently.
I witnessed all sorts of sexism, and experienced more than I can remember in this moment. Perhaps I’ve blocked it from my memory. And perhaps I was spared some too, because my hair’s dark brown, not blonde. Tracey was told you don’t see blonde newsreaders because people don’t take them seriously.
From comments like “not trusting anything that bleeds for 5 days and doesn’t die,” to assertions that women should be home with their children rather that at work, that Tracey was getting “a bit long in the tooth,” and then how she was sacked by email after the birth of her second child, the contents of the letter are confronting and disturbing. And unfortunately, not much of a surprise.
You can read Tracey’s letter here.
And then listen to our chat about how:
- Tracey’s survived 25 years in what’s still considered a sexist industry
- She wishes she’d stood up for herself more
- A lot of women still fear speaking up in the media
- Being outspoken has given her more power
- The Prime Minister helped Tracey to give herself permission to publish her letter
- Being yourself will give you exactly what you need
The interview’s just 10 minutes. It’s so worth it. Click play now.
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