This morning in court: the misogyny has to be heard to be believed

Published: February 23, 2017 at 5:21pm

Whenever I listen to Labour Party apparatchiks, politicians, cabinet ministers and – this morning – legal counsel to the Labour Party/government rant and rave against me, I always ask myself the same thing.

“Would they be saying this, in this tone and with this attitude, would they be saying these things specifically, if I were a man?”

And the answer is invariably, “No”. Before you listen to the words of what they say, pick up on the tone: it seethes with savage hatred and anger, with contempt, and above all, with extreme irritation that a woman not only opens her mouth without stroking egos (or something else), but then won’t shut up.

The simmering rage beneath their words is the kind that all women who live in fear of their husbands, women who get hit, women who tiptoe around the house trying to keep the peace, immediately recognise.

This afternoon I faced three archetypal Maltese misogynists in court: the Economy Minister and his EU Presidency policy aide, who objectify women and treat them with contempt, Chris Cardona and Joe Gerada, and their legal counsel, Pawlu Lia, who, when I hear him rant on about me in court, makes me think of a prosecutor before the Inquisition Tribunal or at the Salem witch trials.

The essence of his arguments against me in court has, over the long years, inevitably been the same: “This evil woman is bad for society, dangerous to its senior male members, and must be put to death.”

It wasn’t any different this morning. At one point I had to leave the courtroom because I couldn’t stand to hear any more of the vitriolic stream of nastiness, uncontrolled hatred and lies. Pawlu Lia looked and sounded like he regretted this is the 21st century and he can’t have me tortured to death in some Inquisitorial dungeon.

At one point, when he was raging on about how evil and bad I am, he turned to his client Cardona, who looked all swollen as though he’d spent the night knocking it back, and said, his tone switching instantly to that of a greasy lackey: “Do you mind if I mention it?”

“Of course not,” the womanising barfly said.

Lia then launched into a rehearsed spiel about how I am causing major distress to the Economy Minister’s children even as they study for their exams (apparently, exams are a big thing in primary school), how cruel and nasty and terrible this witch is & c & c.

This is where I walked out, unable to stomach the revolting hypocrisy, the chauvinism, the misogyny, the freaky lies, the abuse and injustice. Malta is full of narcissistic men who are completely oblivious to the effects their own behaviour has on their children (forget their wives) and who instead blame everyone else. This was just one too many.

On my way out of the courtroom I did something I shouldn’t have, because I should have waited until the hearing was over and said it to the Economy Minister outside instead. But they were the pits, and I felt anger for the hundreds, if not thousands, of women and children who have had to suffer at the hands of awful men like those.

“I’m the one who harms your client’s children?” I said loudly to Pawlu Lia on my way out. “Which set of children anyway? Your client has cheated on two wives and was thrown out, sleeps around and is harming his own children.”

It sounds better in the original Maltese.

After I’d calmed down and gone back in, I was met with the sound of Lia describing how a bad woman who lies in bed with an iPad and writes about people is not a journalist. You can see the mindset: woman = housewife = nothing to do all day = stays in bed with iPad = gossiping about people.

Or, let’s cut to the chase: woman = bed.

I sat as far away from him as possible, and asked myself the usual question: Would he be discussing or describing a man in the same way? No, of course not.

“Mario Frendo joqghod fis-sodda bl-iPad jikteb fuq in-nies.”

I have never written anything in bed in my life (I couldn’t even if I wanted to, because I touch-type), and I don’t own an iPad (ditto). But I do wonder what sort of women these dreadful men have been accustomed to in their lives, that they should have such disturbing contempt for our gender.

Imagine sharing a home with this man and vexing him by not doing exactly as he says, or daring to protest because he has spent yet another night bar-crawling while you’re at home with the children.