Former newsreader Tracey Spicer has lifted the lid on the underlying culture of sexism in Australia’s television industry. In an exclusive interview with the latest edition The Australian Women’s Weekly, Tracey, now 49, says that during her 30 years in the TV industry women were often treated like Barbie dolls.
Sexual harassment, she says, has no place in any workplace, let alone an industry that relies on women for much of its commercial success. “It was a time when women were perceived as barbie dolls, just there to read the news. Let’s be blunt about it – we were barbie dolls that could be played with in many ways by the male executives. I was always the good girl so I didn’t want to cause a fuss and I let it go. However, that didn’t make it palatable….It was a wallpaper of misogyny. It was wallpaper because it was all around you but in many ways you became accustomed to it. When it is always there, you don’t always see it for what it really is.”
In a far-ranging interview, Tracey reveals how she was groped by one of her colleagues at a Christmas party and how she felt obliged to become part of the culture in one major news room by drinking with the boys and laughing along with sexist jokes.
“I feel ashamed of myself for doing that,” she tells The Weekly. “but it was almost like Stockholm Syndrome. We [the women] all felt like we had to assimilate to get along.”
Tracey, who read the news at Network Ten for 14 years before she was axed in 2006 after returning from maternity leave, also reveals that she dealt with death threats and a stalker who was obsessed with her.
For more, pick up a copy of the May edition of The Australian Women’s Weekly, out now.