Tina Arena, Matt Okine Call Out Ageism, Gender Inequality During ARIA Acceptance Speeches

27 November 2015 | 9:30 am | Uppy Chatterjee

"What I have struggled with is the complete ostracisation of a woman at a certain age..."

Inducted into the ARIA Hall Of Fame last night by none other than pop superstar Kylie Minogue, legendary pop queen Tina Arena called out the gender inequality — as well as the ageism and lack of Australian music on the radio — during her lengthy but very hard-hitting acceptance speech.

Echoing her sentiments earlier in the night, comedian and triple j host Matt Okine also spoke of the lack of performing women at the ARIAs, while accepting his ARIA for Best Comedy Release.

Arena told the enthralled crowd — who were upstanding for her speech — to continue "supporting Australian music on the quality of the song and not the age of artist". She said, "Don’t meet your Australian quotas because you have to. Exceed them because you want to."

Calling out veteran superstars like Minogue, Madonna, Annie Lennox and Jennifer Lopez, Arena said, "Ladies over 40 are still in the game. Keep doing what you’re doing, ladies, because we will decide when it is time for us to stop. 

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"Who decided in radio that a woman at a certain point in her life is no longer viable?" 

After accepting her award, Arena spoke further in the media lounge about her sentiments.

"A woman in hers 20s is in the middle of creating that journey, and that's not to say for one second that she doesn't have anything interesting to say, the contrary. Women and men of ALL ages have something interesting to say, but what I have struggled with is the complete ostracisation of a woman at a certain age going, 'well, no, we don't really find you interesting anymore.' What do you mean by that? 

"That's something to be proud of as a woman, be proud of your age. Man or woman, it's something that is endearing and beautiful. There's so much to share, so much to learn … I just want people to be able to think outside the box, that's all. It's really that simple."

Okine similarly said in the media lounge about the lack of female performers at last night's ARIAs: "It was not a point that I was expected to make, but I literally had about five minutes before that I was looking through the program — and Alex [Dyson] can testify to this — I turned to Alex and I was like there's no women featured here.

"Except for Tina Arena, I can't believe I called her Tina Turner on stage", he laughed.

"I just looked around and thought, 'That's really bizarre that not a single— I can think of so many artists or bands with leading women that could be on that bill. Then I thought about my own category and thought, 'hold on, there's no women in this either.'

"Now I feel guilty, now I feel silly about it, like I'm going to be judged, like, 'oh, that's just something you'd say if you wanted to get attention or something'… but I feel like, what am I supposed to do? Be passive about it?"

Interestingly, Okine's spiel was cut from the ARIA live broadcast.


ARIA has made a statement regarding Okine's speech not making it to air: "Best Comedy Release was never scheduled to go to air."