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February 1, 2024

Australian media outlets need to get their shit together

Our resident sexologist, Jamie Bucirde, weighs in on the sexual objectification of female MP Georgie Purcell by Channel 9.

  • Words: Jamie Bucirde
  • Graphic: Jayde Vandborg

In the spirit of this column, what kind of sexologist would I be without bringing up relevant sexual and cultural influences of this week’s Australian media cacophony to our CityMag readers? Today’s topic, the sexual objectification of female MP Georgie Purcell by Channel 9. Don’t know the story? Let me digress. 


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On Monday the 29th, Channel 9 posted a photo of Victorian Animal Justice Party MP Georgie Purcel in a segment covering changes to duck hunting rules. They photoshopped or “digitally altered” the photo to give her larger breasts and an added midriff to her outfit to make it look more revealing.


After Georgie called them out on her social media channels, as well as other understandably negative backflash on the image, the Nine Network then released a statement apologising, attributing the error to an AI tool in Photoshop. 

Georgie released a statement saying:

“Unfortunately, the difference for women is that they also have to deal with the constant sexualisation and objectification that comes with having images leaked, distorted and AI generated.

Let’s be clear – this is not something that happens to my male colleagues.

The message this sends to young women and girls across Victoria is that even if you end up at the top of your field, your body is always up for grabs.”

When female MPs, who are already underrepresented within Australian parliament and governing bodies, get sexually objectified and photoshopped by media outlets of influence, it has an impact. 

Not only would this never happen to a male MP,  but it sends the message that double standards for male and female figures are acceptable and that women (and gender diverse people) are reduced to the sexualised nature of their appearance. 

Not only that, but there is also no way in hell AI edited that photo without an internal line of approval on the image by someone human. I call bullshit.

As a woman, I’m frustrated. Sadly, while the sexual objectification of females in the media is nothing new, seeing such staggering contrasts between how females and males in positions of power are represented is super problematic. 


Read the entire back catalogue of On the Cusp here.

Australian media outlets like Channel 9 need to get their shit together. The media has a huge influence on Australian culture, and they need to start taking accountability for how their coverage of women negatively affects society. 

When Australians see the portrayal of women in media as overtly sexualised, it influences and normalises sexism, misogyny, the gender pay gap and sexual and gendered violence towards women. It reduces us to our bodies. 

This also opens up conversations about AI generated images and changing women’s faces or bodies without their consent. (Un)surprisingly, this isn’t the first time this has popped up in the news this week either. 

Taylor Swift was recently subjected to deepfakes – having her face digitally altered to non-consensual and sexually explicit photos. 

Deepfakes are nothing new; however, when such a powerful celebrity is subjected to this sort of online sexual abuse, it can finally pave the way to talk about how problematic it is.

A 2023 study by Home Security Heroes found that out of 100,000 deepfaked videos, 98 per cent were pornographic, and 99 per cent of the people featured were women. What this shows is that the influence and rise of digital technology to (whether inadvertently or not) harm women is getting worse.

Coming full circle, when media outlets play such an integral part in the process which lead to the online harassment of women, the world sees it and absorbs it. As consumers our job is to critically analyse what we are seeing online and play a part in actively rejecting things that are non-consensual and dangerous to society.

Here’s to you Channel 9 – do better.

Jamie Bucirde has a post graduate degree in sexology from Curtin University. Her advice is of a general nature and should be taken in the spirit of the column.

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