I is for Intelligence, Integrity – and Ita.

 This morning I heard an interview with Ita Buttrose. I love listening to Ita and heartily applaud her choice as Australian of the Year. I think her the greatest ambassador for women, standing up for us with charm and dignity: subtle, yet tenacious.

 Thankfully, she has put to flight the unkempt stereotypical image of the 1970s Women’s Libber. Invariably perfectly groomed, Ita would be appalled by hairy armpits, I feel; and, as far as I know, has never advocated the burning of bras; but with diplomatic finesse, she continues to beaver away for feminism.  

In the same gentle, conciliating manner, Ita both praised and reproved the Prime Minister, Germaine Greer and the Opposition Leader.

‘He’s not a misogynist,’ she said of Tony Abbott. ‘Men say things without thinking. They need re-educating.’

‘What will we do, Ita?’ asked the interviewer.

‘Continue to educate them,’ she said.

I could hear the smile in her voice, the tolerance, the charm that allows her to comment without offence. I hope they were listening and took note of what she had to say.

 And then there is her famous lisp, making her the butt of various comedians, whose derogatory sketches she accepts with patience and humour. I wonder if you’ve ever thought what a monumental impediment it is to being taken seriously? Yet, Ita overcame it, made it part of her identity. An incredible achievement when you realise that authors give their characters a lisp when they wish to portray them as effeminate(men), weak, or childish.

 Ita is practical, having a wealth of experience at her disposal. She knows what it’s like to have a husband walk out on her; to rear her children alone; to succeed in a man’s world and come out a wiser person, without losing any of her femininity. If you want practical advice on any of the above, you can do no better than to ask Ita.

 As a journalist, Ita commands respect for her attitude and integrity. Journalists everywhere: take a tip from an acknowledged leader of your craft. Her disapproval of the modern penchant for reporting rumours and just plain untruths as fact resonates with me. And what she had to say about them wasn’t subtle.

‘I have my own opinions,’ she said. ‘I don’t want to read the opinions of journalists. I want the truth. And then I can form an opinion for myself.’

I will go along with that. I stopped reading women’s magazines years ago because I was disgusted with the spiteful innuendo and frankly damaging gossip reported as fact.

Pay attention, Journos, and you will have at least one new reader and possibly many more.

 I have said, tritely perhaps, that I is for Ita but I have found a few more I-words that are apt.

I personally find her incredible: infinitely inspiring. Kerry Packer found her indispensable in saving the Womens Weekly. She is the indisputable hero of her industry, truly a Media Icon. She is an indomitable champion of women’s rights. Yet, through it all, Ita has maintained her individuality with common-sense, warmth and charm. She is immaculate, inimitable in her insight and feminine wisdom. Just now, she is focusing her innovative ideas on health.

 Towards the end of the interview, Ita said she felt her work(on earth) wasn’t yet finished. She was waiting for the door to open. ‘They do, you know,’ she said.

Well, Ita: Australian of the Year is a pretty substantial door. I think it has opened. I, for one, am looking forward to the next exciting episode.

 I is for Inspiration and Ita.

One thought on “I is for Intelligence, Integrity – and Ita.

  1. Yes. I’ve always loved Ita too. All of the above, plus her great work as the national president of Alzheimer’s Australia, and her awareness campaigns for breast cancer, HIV/AIDS and prostate cancer. Go Ita!

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