by Alessandra Izzo
In 2016, #dressgate monopolised the internet for a day with people scrambling to work out if a dress was white & gold or blue & black.
Today we are witnessing #dressgate 2.0., this time involving Channel 9 Sydney newsreader Amber Sherlock, who had a meltdown off-air because her colleague Julie Snook was wearing what appeared to be a white dress, alongside a third woman guest Sandy Rea, also wearing white in a three person interview segment.
While admittedly Amber’s behaviour is something she will probably hope to forget, the way the worldwide media and social media are responding with gleeful schadenfreude and abusive name-calling is shameful. Keyboard warriors are popping up in comment threads all over the internet to attack Sherlock’s character, appearance and ability to do her job.
Firstly, it’s obvious that someone has it in for Amber, given this footage occurred while they were off-air. It can only have been leaked by one of a handful of possible people. Reasonable to assume it’s someone who doesn’t like Amber very much.
However the problem as I see it with this kind of outrage is that it demonstrates the overwhelming desire for people (both men and women) to smack down a woman who steps out of line, and forgets to “behave like a lady”.
Julie Snook has responded to the incident saying “these things happen”. That her and Amber are good friends and she really enjoys working together. I have watched the footage several times over – and can see while as an isolated incident it seems “diva-esque”, if you put it in the context of a friendship it’s not really that offensive. It’s just someone having a meltdown over something trivial – which ultimately is a place we have all been, surely. I know I have, and I’m quite a reasonable and respectful person.
The fact that this situation has gone viral is testament to the fact that we as a society just love to take down a woman. If she dare “lose control”, “behave unreasonably”, or “throw a tantrum”, we just relish in the opportunity to say “what a bitch!”, “what a diva!”, and then take it as open-season to attack her character, looks, abilities, and everything else. Don’t believe me? Read the comments section of any article about this incident floating around Facebook.
Ultimately, we know nothing about Amber Sherlock – except that she sometimes likes wearing white. By sharing the footage, laughing at her in mock outrage and judging her outburst we manage to perpetuate the view that “women are unreasonable bitches” and they “act like divas”. It undermines all of us to play along with this dangerous game.
Commenting on Amber’s character based on one minute of footage not only reduces her to a “reality TV segment” caricature, it creates a mob mentality, launching an army against one person. This is a disproportionate reaction for something that need only be diffused via an apology from Amber to Julie in private once she had calmed down.
Instead, by sharing this footage we continue to give unspoken permission for the War Against Women.