Australian students take sexism gong for rape 'joke'

SYDNEY (AFP) - Students from Sydney University have been handed Australia's annual gold "Ernie" award for sexism for distributing beer holders branded "It's not rape if it's my birthday", organisers said on Thursday.

Gaffe-prone Prime Minister Tony Abbott was also among the recipients, taking the "The Clinton" category for repeat offences.

The politics award went to his conservative colleague Mal Brough for naming a quail dish on a menu at an election fundraiser after ex-premier Julia Gillard due to its "small breasts, huge thighs and a big red box".

But Wesley College, among several prestigious church-run residential dormitories at Sydney University accused of sexual harassment and wild initiation rituals in recent years, won the traditional "boo-off" at Wednesday night's gala dinner in Sydney.

Their gold Ernie was awarded for claims from an ex-student, published last November, that residents of the college handed out beer holders with the slogan "It's not rape if it's my birthday" during campus orientation week.

Ernies founder Meredith Burgmann said the past two years of the awards had been "the worst I can remember" in 21 years due to Gillard's appointment as prime minister, with many of the nominations and a number of the winning remarks about her.

"The sheer vitriol of some of the attacks on Julia Gillard is hard to stomach," said Burgmann. "The Mal Brough menu was a particularly worthy winner."

Fairfax journalist Paul Sheehan won the media Ernie for a piece about Gillard's famous misogyny speech in parliament in which he described her as "snarling" and noted that Abbott - then her opponent and the target of her remarks - "unlike the prime minister, has raised three daughters".

Radio shock jock Alan Jones took "The Fred" prize for faux pas by a celebrity for claiming Gillard's elderly father had "died from shame" - remarks that, when echoed in parliament by Abbott, triggered her furious sexism speech.

Abbott's "Clinton" prize, named after former US president Bill Clinton, came after he was nominated for 11 separate remarks reflecting what Burgmann described as outdated and old-fashioned views about women.

They included saying a candidate's "sex appeal" should win her votes and his daughters would live at home "until such time as they get married".

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