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Australian paper: Rest in peace and sexism, Colleen McCullough

You can’t take it with you. Unless “it” is sexist media coverage.

Australian author Colleen McCullough died yesterday at the age of 77. While researching and teaching neurophysiology at Yale, McCullough started writing novels in her on the side — and ended up writing international bestsellers. Her most famous book was The Thorn Birds, which sold over 30 million copies and was turned into a miniseries. Just last year, she published another novel, titled Bittersweet.

But here’s how the Austrialian (a, erm, Australian publication) began its obituary:

Colleen McCullough, Australia’s bestselling 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 me.”

Clearly, the most important thing about any woman is how she looks and how she traps those men. And clearly it’s surprising that a fat lady might be smart and nice. (That “nevertheless”!)

On Twitter, ABC journalist Joanna McCarthy named the introduction “the worst opening lines of an obituary,” and others compared the paper’s coverage of McCullough’s life to its laudatory treatment of Bryce Courtenay — who, like McCullough, was an Australian author but, unlike McCullough, was a man.

Update: #MyOzObituary. Go read.

Washington, DC

Alexandra Brodsky was a senior editor at During her four years at the site, she wrote about gender violence, reproductive justice, and education equity and ran the site's book review column. She is now a Skadden Fellow at the National Women's Law Center and also serves as the Board Chair of Know Your IX, a national student-led movement to end gender violence, which she co-founded and previously co-directed. Alexandra has written for publications including the New York Times, the Atlantic, the Guardian, and the Nation, and she is the co-editor of The Feminist Utopia Project: 57 Visions of a Wildly Better Future. She has spoken about violence against women and reproductive justice at campuses across the country and on MSNBC, ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, FOX, ESPN, and NPR.

Alexandra Brodsky was a senior editor at

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