Anthony Albanese was cheered for skolling a beer. Are women in power treated the same?

On Monday night, prime minister Anthony Albanese received a standing ovation as he downed a beer while attending a concert by rock band Gang of Youths at the Enmore theatre in Sydney.
In video footage shared online, Mr Albanese can be seen sitting with his partner Jodie Haydon and employment minister Tony Burke, and skolls his drink after being spotted and cheered on by the crowd.
It’s not the first time an Australian prime minister has been celebrated for drinking alcohol.
Former prime minister Bob Hawke famously earned a spot in the Guinness Book of Records in 1954 after drinking a yard glass (1.4L) of beer in just 11 seconds while a student at Oxford University in the UK.
Mr Hawke gave up alcohol while in parliament, but in his retirement, he was filmed on a few occasions at Test cricket matches skolling a glass or cup of beer.
In contrast, over the last two weeks, Finland’s prime minister Sanna Marin has been facing backlash after a video emerged showing her dancing with friends at a party.
Following the video leak, critics branded Ms Marin ‘”unprofessional”, and a poll commissioned by Finnish TV channel MTV3 at the time found two-thirds of respondents thought her night out was a “serious mistake”.

Over the weekend, she took a drug test to “clear suspicion” over the video.


Is there a double standard?


Dr Sonya Palmieri, gender policy fellow with the College of Asia and the Pacific at the Australian National University, says women in politics “definitely” face a double standard compared with their male counterparts.

“We know from research across the globe, that the kinds of criticism – particularly now on social media – is more vicious and more personalised, and it’s certainly more widespread,” she says.

“People feel compelled to say anything they like about women in particular, but it’s usually in a very sexist tone … so it’s about activities or images or their presentation, their personal style, those kinds of very personalised attacks that are coming through social media.”
Dr Palmieri believes gender and age (Ms Marin is 36) are likely the main reasons for negative reactions to the Finnish prime minister partying compared with cheers for Mr Albanese.
“In both cases, we’re seeing a really strong drinking culture in both countries, but one is celebrated and in fact encouraged, and the other is discouraged, primarily because of her age and her gender,” Dr Palmieri says.

“I think they’ve sought to delegitimise her activities at home, in private, on the basis of the kinds of things she did, which was to dance and have fun with some alcohol … and then the whole discussion around whether she took drugs and the legality of that, I think is very much specific to her generation.”

When it comes to the future of women in politics, Dr Palmieri says research has shown women are at an “all-time low” in their likelihood of aspiring to a career in politics.
This, she says, demonstrates a need for change in culture, and for men to recognise inequality and the importance of women’s participation in politics.
“Cultural change comes (when) men also accept the need for gender equality, and they then kind of create spaces in which these conversations and cultural changes and changes in practice occur,” she says.
“I’m not saying it takes men letting women be supportive of each other, it’s about men taking responsibility and recognizing gender equality or inequality affects them as well.”

SBS has contacted Mr Albanese’s office for comment.


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