I'm embarrassed to admit it - but in an unfeministic moment, I giggled at the news of Pauline Hanson's alleged nude photos. And, if we're to be honest about it, I suspect I wasn't the only one.
Later, when I reflected on it, I wasn't sure why exactly I'd laughed. I guess there's a rather childish glee in seeing someone you don't like get their comeuppance - 'just desserts' are the standard ending of many a traditional story.
But there's something more to it. The idea of a powerful woman being sexual is a fraught business - it's as if such a woman must be some kind of femme fatale, like Madonna; or be branded as a 'deviant', like Helen Clark and the lesbian rumours; or be regarded as frigid or asexual, like 'iron lady' Margaret Thatcher.
Whoever photoshopped Pauline Hanson into those pics knew the idea of Pauline Hanson being sexual would seem ludicrous to many - and it did. It's hard to say why, but the idea of a woman being both powerful and capable of sexual affection just doesn't fit well within our culture. For a woman, an aspiration to power remains somewhat odd or deviant - being submissive remains a part of 'normal' female sexuality. This isn't the case for the male of the species. Although there are some exceptions, power is normally considered an attractive quality in men.
For the record, I don't particularly give a shit about Pauline Hanson as an individual. I think she deserves every bit of scorn she gets for fostering racial prejudice, and her objectionable politics are exactly what our dislike should be directed at. But the principle remains an important one - a prominent woman should be critiqued for her ideas, not belittled because of her sexuality. This belittlement is a tearing down - a reminder to the powerful woman that, ultimately, she's just a p*ssy like the rest of them. In that respect, making fun of one powerful woman is an attack on the sexuality of all women.