Lady Macbeth, Really?

“He should have killed the mistress instead.”

This is one of many comments referring to Toni McHugh, the former lover of Gerard Baden-Clay, jailed for life for murdering his wife, Allison.

While our deepest sympathies surely go to the victim and her children, spare a thought for the woman stained as Lady Macbeth after Sunday night’s 60 Minutes interview.

Let’s be clear: When asked by reporter Tara Brown, “Do you think Toni McHugh had anything to do with Allison’s murder?” lead investigator, Detective Superintendent Mark Ainsworth, says, “No, I don’t”.

She’s innocent of any crime. Yet, McHugh is cast as the ‘damned whore’ in contrast to Allison as ‘God’s police’. (Seems we haven’t come a long way from the labels of our colonial days, which prompted Anne Summers to write her seminal book.)

In tweets, Facebook posts, and blogs, McHugh is vilified as an “ugly whore” with a “face like the north end of a south-bound cow”. It’s the modern equivalent of the medieval townsfolk spitting on the ‘loose woman’, paraded in her underwear.

The men who sleep with these women? Well, they’ve been led astray by ‘Jezebels’. If Eve hadn’t tempted Adam with the apple, he wouldn’t have sinned, right?!

This appears to be the line of questioning by Brown, who asks McHugh, repeatedly, in different ways, whether her affair contributed to Allison’s murder.

An email trail is produced as the Holy Grail, with Baden-Clay writing, “Leave things to me now”. But a cursory read reveals he was referring to divorce, not death: “I will be separated by 1 July.”

Then, critics leap on her use of language: “No, Toni, Alison didn’t “lose her life”. Her murderous gutless husband took it from her. And took her from their children.‪#60mins ‪#badenclay”

What she actually says is, “What this has done to my life should be seen as insignificant compared to Allison, who’s lost her life”.

For others, her language is the least of their concerns: “Do YOU feel better now Toni? Never speak publicly again #60Mins”

Yet these are among the 1.8 million viewers who pushed the program to Number 1, contributing to the figure, somewhere between $50-$80k allegedly paid to McHugh for being a human punching bag.

Anyone else see the hypocrisy here?

Re-watching the interview, I see how this woman can be viewed as “narcissistic”, “delusional” and “selfish”. Her only tears are for herself; she can’t bring herself to use Allison’s name. But I also see someone, scared and confused, who’s never dreamed of becoming the poster girl for extra-marital affairs.

After all, she’s not the first woman to be seduced by a self-centred, power-hungry and dangerous man – a “sociopath”, according to a former business partner. Let’s remember who the real villain is here.

“Talk about looking for a convenient female scapegoat for a male crime,” author, and girls’ educator, Dannielle Miller writes on her facebook page.

“Whilst it may be considered immoral to have a relationship with a married man, the mistress wasn’t the one who had made promises of fidelity. He was. And although she may have pressured him to leave his wife, that’s not the same as demanding he kill! The killer had no right to lift a hand against any woman – his wife, mistress, or other. And we have no right to suggest otherwise.”

One female commenter suggests, “If that whore had kept her legs closed, poor Allison would still be alive”.

Just like if we all stopped going out at night, we wouldn’t be raped.

As McHugh puts it succinctly, “He killed for himself”. None of the woman associated with him deserved to die.