When bestselling author and neuroscientist Colleen McCullough passed away this week, writers at The Australian should have published an obituary celebrating her incredible talent and remarkable professional achievements. Instead, the paper opened their obituary with the following lines:
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. In one interview, she said: “I’ve never been into clothes or figure and the interesting thing is I never had any trouble attracting men.”
This focus on Ms. McCullough’s looks is completely irrelevant to her life and career, and reduces the author of the highest-selling Australian book of all time to nothing more than a sex object. There is no excuse for this kind of outlandish sexism in a modern newspaper. The editors of The Australian should issue an immediate retraction of the obituary, and an apology to Ms. McCullough’s friends, family, and fans.
Sign now to demand accountability from the staff at The Australian!
Dear Mr. Mitchell and the staff of The Australian,
We are incredibly dismayed at how your paper’s obituary characterized the beloved author Colleen McCullough earlier this week -- instead of an introduction highlighting Ms. McCullough’s bestselling book The Thorn Birds, or discussing her remarkable career as both an author and neuroscientist, your staff chose to focus on her looks and speculate about her romantic relationships with men.
Reducing this remarkable woman’s accomplishments in such a way is incredibly sexist and an insult to Ms. McCullough’s surviving friends, family, and her legions of fans. We, the undersigned, are respectfully requesting that you please retract this offensive obituary and issue an apology at once.
Thank you for your time and attention on this matter.