Where’s Wendy?

From The Handmaid’s Tale: hulu

The Silence Of The Wives

With the not-quite-revelation that Barnaby Joyce (Deputy PM and loud anti-equality campaigner), may have been booted from the family home by his angry wife, amid rumours of this highly esteemed country member’s jiggety-jig with a female staffer, a question arises.

In all this talk about the sanctity of heterosexual marriage, where are the wives? Why is half the picture missing? If Mr & Mrs is so important, where has Mrs got to?

I know Tony Abbott has a wife, because we caught glimpses of her during his stint as PM, but (unlike her daughter and sister in law), during the marriage debate she is completely silent.

Other NO enthusiasts also keep their wives gagged. I didn’t even know – and even now find it hard to imagine – a Mrs Joyce, or even more unlikely, a Frau Abetz. These gentlemen’s support for the maintenance of apartheid-style heterosexual-only marriage would be bolstered considerably by the sight of wives decorating their arms, but it simply isn’t happening. Why?

Is it just the rather shopworn convention that we ‘keep the wives out of it’ – except when required to bolster pollies ‘family’ credentials at election time?

Or could it possibly be that they don’t agree with their husbands position? Do we have a quiet Canberra wives rebellion happening under our noses? Or is it because, like Barnaby, there are other issues at play?

Of course, keeping the wives out of it is also happening on the other side too. Mrs Pyne, for example, has not been seen backing Christopher’s pro-equality stance, for example. But we’ll forgive Mr Pyne, because he’s batting for our team. The YES team, that is.

In the Christaliban camp, the most bizarre absence is the complete invisibility of Wendy Shelton. The most fervent defender of traditional marriage campaigns with a black hole by his side where, surely, his wife should be.

As far as I can recall, Lyle never mentions the presumed light of his life by name. He rarely mentions the fact that he is married. No-one seems to have noticed how very odd this is.

Perhaps he subscribes to the extremist Christian ideology that says women must remain silent, be obedient to their husbands etc., confine themselves to the ‘womens sphere’ of home and children only. But you would have thought that this most overtly religiose figure would have been snapped at least once, perhaps escorting his lady to church. But nothing.

The situation invites speculation. We know he was married to Wendy, but given her complete invisibility, questions are starting to be raised. Does he keep her locked in an attic? Or in a cellar, rubbing lotion into her skin? Does she even exist?

Where’s Wendy?




About the author

Veteran gay writer and speaker, Doug was one of the founders of the UKs pioneering GLBTI newspaper Gay News (1972) , and of the second, Gay Week, and is a former Features Editor of Him International. He presented news and current affairs on JOY 94.9 FM Melbourne for more than ten years. "Doug is revered, feared and reviled in equal quantities, at times dividing people with his journalistic wrath. Yet there is no doubt this grandpa-esque bear keeps everyone abreast of anything and everything LGBT across the globe." (Daniel Witthaus, "Beyond Priscilla", Clouds of Magellan, Melbourne, 2014)