A social media storm raged last night following an interview on 60 Minutes with Jacinda Ardern that has been slammed as repugnant, sexist and cringeworthy.
During the interview 60 Minutes reporter Charles Wooley commented, "I've met a lot of prime ministers in my time, but none too young and not so many so smart, and never one so attractive."
One viewer took to Twitter afterwards to say, "Commenting on jacinda ardern's level of attractiveness, doesn't seem to be at all relevant to her ability as a nation's leader."
Another remarked, "I assumed #60mins would have a second half of the Jacinda interview after the break that talked about her policies and political achievements. But... nothing. All we got was sexist comments about her looks and baby talk."
Wooley further shocked viewers with the following exchange:
"One really important political question that I want to ask you, and that is, what exactly is the date that the baby's due?"
When Ardern told him the baby was due on June 17 Wooley replied: "it's interesting how much people have been counting back to the conception date".
Ardern initially seemed shocked but did oblige with an answer, saying the baby was conceived when the election was over - "not that we need to get into those details".
Not every viewer felt Wooley had been out of line, though. One said, "Ardern delights in putting herself out there boldly. Not just Vogue USA and foreign TV, she's in every NZ woman's magazine by turns, cares meticulously for long dyed hair and always has full makeup on. So, the perception of being attractive important to her. Why not mention it?"
Another said she felt that Ardern sent "mixed messages" by agreeing to photo shoots like the one in Vogue USA.
A third said, "I think in a way it is relevant. She's not your typical older, austere, or boring politician. She's a breath of fresh air and proof anybody and at any time can be a leader."
Jacinda Ardern has provoked debate and discussion around sexism and women's roles in the workplace and in politics ever since she became Labour party leader - starting with AM Show host Mark Richardson clashing with Ardern over his comments that employers should know women's baby plans before hiring.
After announcing her pregnancy as Prime Minister she was accused by prominent UK columnist Liz Jones of "betraying New Zealand voters".
We say talking about it has got to be better and healthier for us than not talking about it. Never before has awareness around sexism and the complexities of being a working mother seemed so heightened in New Zealand, and as long as these discussions remain in the public domain, that can only be a good thing.
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