Georgie Purcell, a member of Victoria’s state parliament, has recently found herself at the center of a controversy after an Australian news channel doctored an image of her, enlarging her breasts and exposing her midriff. The altered image was used in a Nine News bulletin after she had criticized the Victorian government’s rejection of a duck hunting ban.
Georgie Purcell Fights Back Against Sexist Image Altering
Georgie Purcell is a member of the Victorian Legislative Assembly for the seat of Bendigo West. She was elected in 2022 and is currently serving her first term in parliament. Purcell has been an outspoken advocate for animal rights and environmental issues, particularly those related to duck hunting. At just 31-years-old, she is the youngest woman in the state of Victoria’s parliament. Ever since her election, she has been on the receiving end of an incredibly sexist discourse. (1)
The tattooed former stripper says that this newly altered image of her has restarted this conversation. Ms. Purcell promptly took to social media, sharing both the original and altered images and highlighting the manipulation of her outfit. (2)
“I endured a lot yesterday,” wrote the young MP on Twitter. “Having my body and outfit photoshopped by a media outlet was not on my bingo card. Note the enlarged boobs and outfit to be made more revealing. Can’t imagine this happening to a male MP. What gives?”
She went on to note that her bare midriff in the photoshopped image is free of tattoos. The young politician, who’s arms are both fully tattooed, stated that her stomach also is covered.
I endured a lot yesterday.— Georgie Purcell (@georgievpurcell) January 29, 2024
But having my body and outfit photoshopped by a media outlet was not on my bingo card.
Note the enlarged boobs and outfit to be made more revealing.
Can’t imagine this happening to a male MP.
What gives? pic.twitter.com/NhnkDRMidc
The incident sparked outrage, with the news station receiving backlash for its actions. Nine News later issued an apology, attributing the alteration to “automation by Photoshop.”
“I would like to sincerely apologize to Georgie Purcell for a graphic error that occurred in last night’s bulletin,” Hugh Nailon, director of Nine News Melbourne, said in a statement. “Our graphics department sourced an online image of Georgie to use in our story on duck hunting. As is common practice, the image was resized to fit our specs. During that process, the automation by Photoshop created an image that was not consistent with the original. This did not meet the high editorial standards we have and for that we apologize to Ms. Purcell unreservedly.”
Adobe Photoshop, however, says that photoshop can’t be entirely to blame. In a statement, a spokesperson for Adobe told the BBC: “Any changes to this image would have required human intervention and approval.”
Addressing The Sexist Treatment of Women In Government
As the youngest woman in the state’s parliament, Georgie Purcell has been a vocal advocate against the objectification and sexualization of women in Australian politics. She expressed her shock and disappointment at seeing her body altered on television in her own home. She noted that such a situation would never happen to a male politician.
The incident also drew condemnation from other politicians and members of the public. Victorian Premier Jacinta Allan, herself a victim of controversial depictions in the media, stated, “That’s no way to represent any woman, let alone a woman who holds a position in public office.”
While Georgie Purcell accepted the apology, she expressed skepticism about the explanation offered by Nine News. She highlighted concerns about the potential threat of artificial intelligence (AI) to women in public life and questioned why newsroom staff failed to notice the sexualization of her outfit.
“This is not just some random person on the internet. This is an organization with a lot of staff and a lot of resources that frankly should know better.”
Re-Starting Sexist Rhetoric
This incident has only served to reinvigorate the barrage of sexist abuse directed towards Ms. Purcell, who has previously spoken about working as a stripper to support herself through law school. Criticisms, including telling her to “get back on the pole,” have resurfaced, further emphasizing the prevalence of sexism in Australian politics.
Georgie Purcell’s ordeal brings to light the overarching issue of a deeply rooted and prevailing sexist culture in Australian politics. A landmark report conducted in 2021, in response to an alleged rape inside Australia’s Parliament House, revealed that a third of employees in federal parliament had experienced sexual harassment.
This incident involving Georgie Purcell serves as a stark reminder of the challenges women face in the political arena. It highlights the urgent need for a more inclusive, respectful, and gender-equal society. Ms. Purcell’s courage in speaking out against the manipulation of her image demonstrates her unwavering commitment to combating sexism and empowering women in Australian politics and beyond.