“Give A Blowjob To Save Your Career”

This was the title of one of Triple J’s Hack most recent, and controversial news piece. Presented by journalist Tom Tilly, Hack is unique in that it is both a popular media text and mediated public sphere, as news stories are both presented and then discussed on the program.

‘Give a blowjob to save your career’ was a news story presented by Tom Tilly on the 26th of March 2015; the story itself detailed the comments of top female surgeon, Dr Gabrielle McMullin, who suggested that female trainees would be better off having unwanted sex to save their careers (Hack Triple J 2015). This raised issues about the extreme sexism present in the medical field and the apparently ‘untouchable’ position of male surgeons.

This out of context quote was relayed again and again in promos for Hack in order to gain increased debate in the mediated public sphere and thus a higher listenership for the program.

Which it did, domestic advice campaigners called her comment “appalling and irresponsible”.

On the Hack on Triple J Facebook page, this story had 194 likes, 36 shares and dozens of comments from people like Jessie Foote (Hack on Triple J Facebook 2015):

 “Ridiculous. This is why we struggle for gender equality in the work place because people like this woman open her mouth and make it look like it’s acceptable to be sexually harassed in the work place. It is never ever ok. Not for any reason and not by anyone. No one is above the law.”

Even I myself, hearing the standalone comment on my radio as I drove to uni that morning could not understand what kind of woman could give such an inherently sexist and degrading message as advice for the career of other women in the medical field.

And so, I tuned in. This is the power of the popular media text; subconsciously forcing people to somehow interact with the story they are telling.

However, the context of Dr McMullin’s comment was the story she was recounting of neurosurgical trainee Dr Caroline Tan, who took her sexual assault case to the courts and won, but was never again appointed to a position at a major hospital.

Dr McMullin then explained her comment further within the discussion segment on Hack (Hack Triple J 2015):

“She would have been better off, for her career if she had given a blowjob to that man that evening… the point was that if she would have given him a blowjob not that she should have.”

This story from Hack illuminates the different facets of the mediated public sphere. There is the extremely moderated discussion segment of the show, where guests are elected by the program, but anything they say is moderated by the host Tom Tilly. While there is also the more free-range platform of the Facebook discussion page and then there is the even more random and unique public sphere of real-life discussion, which I found to be the most engaging with this particular media text.


Hack Triple J 2015, Give A Blowjob To Save Your Career, [17/04/15]

Hack On Triple J 2015, Give A Blowjob To Save Your Career, [17/04/15]  

Hack Image 2015 [17/04/15]



  1. This is a fantastic and interesting piece of writing!. I personally found this entry very very absorbing due to the fact that I am a feminist and an avid supporter of breaking down sexist issues. When I initially read the title I was also appalled but once I further delved into the post I truly discovered the issue of media manipulation. This article really does show the true power of the mediated public sphere and how we as listeners can be controlled and deceived by those within the mass media. The blatant misuse of Dr Mcmullin’s words definitely discredit this particular organisation and I find it wrong to do so, however that is how the media keeps functioning.
    This is a great blog entry and very very thought provoking. Keep up the good work Tayla!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You really expressed a perspective that I didn’t have, quite well!
    I feel as if I was the only person to hear that quote in the context of what McMullin was saying, and I was honestly going “wait, what’s the big deal? She wasn’t seriously saying to someone to go and suck a dick. She was criticizing the rampant sexism in the surgical community!”. Of course I probably ad-libbed the latter part because I wasn’t that clever and literate at the time. But yeah, I realized later just how butchered the context to that statement was.
    And I think that’s a brilliant example in which it provoked discussion in the public sphere, because absolutely everyone (except me :<) raged at her going "omg she's destroying feminism!!1!" and stuff like that, simply because media organizations took her statement out of context.
    I think though, because numerous news organizations jumped on the quote as a story, the context was incredibly diluted by the time it actually surfaced. Which you can assume to be a dangerous thing, and an absolutely justified criticism of today's public sphere.


  3. I have to say your title and opening quotation drew me in at first. Your presentation of the different aspects of mediation in these various public spheres is very concise and easy to understand. It’s funny how you used the same technique Tilly/’s producers did to draw in readers by taking the quotation out of context and then building around it. It’s actually a written demonstration of stripping away gatekeepers to get the story within, gradually un-mediating your own public sphere. I think it would help the flow of your writing if you were able to integrate your references within the sentence instead of putting them in parentheses. Thanks for this exciting example.


  4. I remember hearing that promo also, but I don’t think I ever heard the full story. I’m a pretty big fan of Triple J’s Hack and I like Tom Tilly as a presenter, so I was very interested to read your post. I like the way it is set out and the things you have said about how the strong ‘standalone comments’ are used to catch attention into listening to the full story. Also what you said on the Program controlling the public’s comments, and how there are more open and free discussion areas, for example on Facebook. I’m not 100% sure though if it’s Tom Tilly controlling who calls up or if it’s the producers though?
    I think it would also be interesting if you put in some of the things that the public called/texted in to say about the story. That might have shown what kind of mediated public sphere Triple J and Hack are trying to keep in control. Over all I really like it, and enjoyed the read.


  5. Great piece! As someone who thinks the idea of women bowing to sexism in the workforce in order to further their careers is abhorrent, the subject of this post really intrigued me. I really liked that you picked up on this story as an example of the way that media organisations can manipulate statements and take them out of context in order to create controversy. Even a program like The Hack, which is quite well known for having a wide range of representation, and doing a good job of producing unbiased stories, is not exempt from manipulating the public sphere and using shock techniques in order to gain greater listenership.
    The title and first line of your post is what really drew me in. The way you utilised capitalisation and over the top grammar (?!?!) really made it stand out, and placing the quote directly under that forced me to engage with the post before I even opened it. Overall, I think this is a very well put together piece of writing and effectively communicates the point you’re trying to make. Keep it up!


  6. First up, great blog. It was a good read and as a religious triple j listener I don’t know how I missed this story.

    The thing I enjoyed most of this blog were the quotes in their separate boxes. As it is a post about a mediated public sphere, it was good to see posts directly from one of the biggest public spheres in the world, Facebook, as well as one directly from the discussion that had taken place on triple j.

    This story emphasizes the control had on certain public spheres and they can literally take anything said during them and in some way, send it into another direction.

    Great blog and I’m looking forward to the next one!


  7. I tuned in when this came on Hack too, and like then, I’m still completely appalled by the ‘matter-of-fact’ way in which Dr. McMullin delivered her controversial statement. It really opened my eyes about the deeply-rooted, but quietly swept away, issue of sexual harassment in medicine.
    But I feel the issue stems deeper than just sexual harassment. It derives from the unspoken, but very real, gender roles that exist within the medical field. As Jessica Freedman (MD) states in her online article, “Women in Medicine: Are We There Yet?” (;
    “Although some of the 12 third-year medical students who were interviewed mentioned instances of sexual harassment, these incidents were not pervasive… During the first month of clinical rotations most female medical students found themselves behaving in stereotypical “feminine” ways, such as offering assistance to nursing or support staff, nurturing patients, or being apologetic for any errors.”
    These behaviours are being taught in their clinical rotations, further ingraining these gender biases in medicine. The issue, I believe, is a matter of tradition, with traditionalists believing science and math were for boys, and domestic activities like sewing and cooking are for girls. Even without consciously realising their choices, Dr. Freedman found that;
    “Although the students expressed a desire to work more with female supervisors, virtually all of them reported that their experiences with female attendings and residents were disappointing, which suggests that the students themselves had internalized sexist attitudes.”
    To make any permanent changes regarding sexism within the medical field requires a monumental amount of work, as you’re fighting against years of sexual oppression within such a conservative society, but we need to act to make the workplace a safer environment for our female physicians.
    I think I went way over the limit, but it’s a testament to how your blog affected me. Great work! Keep it up.


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