One Tweet Perfectly Destroys This Newspaper's Sexist Obituary of a Beloved Female Author

Source: Getty Images
Source: Getty Images

Imagine if one of the greatest female authors died, and your country's top newspaper honored her with an obituary commenting on her body size and appearance.

That's what the Australian did Friday when it "honored" Colleen McCullough with this sexist obituary, beautiful harpooned in this tweet by feminist critic and author Van Badham:

"Colleen McCullough, Australia's best-selling author, was a charmer. Plain of feature, and certainly overweight, she was, nevertheless a woman of wit and warmth," the Australian decrees in earnest.

McCullough was more than "Australia's best-selling author" — she was an amazing woman who wrote over 20 books, including a biography, a detective series and a multiple-volume historical series, the Masters of Rome, which earned her an honorary doctorate from Macquarie University.

McCullough was also a feminist novelist. Her books positioned male characters as the objects of desire and the female protagonist as the transgressor. McCullough, however, was most known for her critically acclaimed 1977 novel the Thorn Birds, which sold over 30 million copies. The book became a miniseries in 1983, and it one of the most watched miniseries of all time, according to the New York Times.

Born in New Zealand, McCullough was a journalist and a teacher; she taught neurology at Yale Medical School. 

But apparently none of this matters when it comes to the life of a woman, or so the treatment afforded her by the Australian would suggest. What does matter, it seems, is how much she weighed and how she dressed — you know, things that matter to men because this is how they relate to women.

Reaction to the Australian's insipid and infuriating obituary was swift and fast. People let the paper know that a woman's worth lies beyond her body size.

The outrage on social media turned into mocking the newspaper with the hashtag #myozbituary, as people tweeted their own mock obituaries, written as if penned by the Australian:

Jokes aside, McCullough's obituary reveals the sad truth about the state of the female artist: No matter how much she achieves, people are only going to talk about her beauty and body size.

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Marcie Bianco

Dr. Marcie Bianco is a Staff Writer at Mic, a Contributing Editor at Curve Magazine, and an adjunct associate professor at Hunter College. She has contributed to AfterEllen, Feministing, The Feminist Wire, The Huffington Post, Lambda Literary, XO Jane, and The Women’s Review of Books. She writes and lectures about ethics, from feminism to race relations. Her current writing projects include a manuscript about lesbian academic affairs and a collection of feminist essays.

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