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Both sexes are to blame for misogynist vitriol against Gillard

Date

Eve Mahlab

Vicious attacks against the PM say more about our society than about her.

'There is failure to focus on achievements and instead exaggerate mistakes.'

'There is failure to focus on achievements and instead exaggerate mistakes.' Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

RUBY Hamad is right when she claimed on this page that hatred of women exists in the West. Nowhere is this better exemplified than in the Australian witch hunt for Julia Gillard, the first woman who has dared to become Australia's prime minister.

Hamad is also right when she writes that patriarchy (usually defined as a system of society in which men hold the power and women are largely excluded from it) isn't just men oppressing women, but requires the participation of women. This explains why some of the Prime Minister's severest critics are women.

Women will recognise the symptoms of patriarchal hatred.

First, there are the double standards in which women are expected to perform better and more ethically than men. Second, there are those workforce cultures in which women's achievements are taken for granted but their mistakes and transgressions are highlighted. Third, there are forms of intimidation designed to keep women in their proper ''traditional'' place - barefoot, pregnant and dependent on men.

In regard to double standards, the issues of hair, body shape and dress seem to have been added to the prime ministerial key performance indicators for the first time. Then, deposing of a previous leader seems to be unforgivable but only when practised by a woman. There is also an unprecedented level of outrage over Ms Gillard's broken promises. John Howard broke promises to keep interest payments low and never introduce a GST. Bob Hawke's broken promise that ''no child will live in poverty'' was forgotten quickly.

There is also the failure to focus on Gillard's achievements and tendency to instead exaggerate her mistakes.

She has shown excellent skills in negotiating and achieving solutions with a minority party and independent members whom the Australian people chose to elect. Furthermore, in the post-industrial technical revolution engulfing us, she is investing in infrastructure and education and training for our children. She has negotiated a tax deal with the mining industry. Although controversial, her carbon tax may encourage investment in renewable energy sources, investment most Australians see as worthwhile. The disability insurance scheme is much needed and probably a world first.

Among her great achievements is her appointment of a record number of highly capable women such as Nicola Roxon, Jenny Macklin, Kate Ellis, Tanya Plibersek and Penny Wong to ministerial positions, meaning there is, for the first time, a critical mass of women adding their voices as workforce women, mothers and daughters, reflecting their priorities and experiences in the major decisions affecting our national future.

No wonder the patriarchal women-haters are outraged. No wonder they focus on marginal considerations that serve as distractions from Gillard and her government's ability to get things done.

And there is the intimidation illustrated by the vitriol and filth spat out by would-be patriarchs and their female accomplices.

Examples have been collected by Wendy Harmer on the Hoopla website - thehoopla.com.au/top-10-insults-aimed-julia-gillard/

Consider the following: ''she bungled it with a less than flattering haircut and a frumpy '80s tapestry print jacket … Get yourself a stylist your own age.'' Anita Quigley, Daily Telegraph, December 2006. ''She looks like a real weakling.'' Mark Latham, Sky News, August 2010. ''Juliar Bob Brown's Bitch", ''Burn the Witch''. Placards at anti-carbon tax rally, March 2011 ''You've got a big arse, Julia, just get on with it.'' Germaine Greer, Q&A, ABC, March 2012. "(Australians) … ought to be out there kicking her to death." Grahame Morris (former John Howard staffer turned lobbyist) Sky News, April 2012. "She has showcased a bare home and an empty kitchen as badges of honour and commitment to her career. She has never had to make room for the frustrating demands and magnificent responsibilities of caring for little babies, picking up sick children from school, raising teenagers.'' Janet Albrechtsen, The Australian, July 2010.

It is high time that decent Australian men and women spoke out against the misogyny being demonstrated so viciously against our first woman prime minister.

Eve Mahlab is the co-founder and chairwoman of the Australian Women Donors Network.

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104 comments

  • It has nothing to do with Gillards sex, I hate her as much as I hate Swan, Thompson, Oakshotte , Windsor, Milne, Brown and the rest of these useless fools who are taking our country down the drain. She along with the above mentioned people are the worst pollies we have had in decades. They literally have no idea what they are doing.

    Commenter
    Brisbane Bear
    Location
    Brisabne
    Date and time
    May 08, 2012, 8:00AM
    • I agree with all of your comments, but I don't find it necessary to 'hate' anyone, in fact I think such emotions simply hinder reasoned judgement of controversial issues unnecessarily.

      Commenter
      SteveH.
      Date and time
      May 08, 2012, 10:02AM
    • you are right, I should say I hate what they have done & are doing to the country. I hope they are the last of their type, power at all costs and not a moral compass between them.
      Hopefully that will be their lasting legacy, a return to standards that we can aspire to. Gillards support of Thompson when she said he had her full support for a long, long ,long time spoke volumes to how she herself views women. Mere playthings for credit card abusing former union bosses. Gillard supports unions above women.

      Commenter
      Brisbane Bear
      Location
      Brisbane
      Date and time
      May 08, 2012, 10:23AM
    • @ Brisbanebear - Please read the article again. Then read any article about the economies of European countries, and the USA. Australia is not going 'down the drain' - Australia has a budget in surplus, a strong economy and low unemployment - all at a time that most western economies have suffered from the GFC. The current government has to take some credit for this situation - especially as it is a hung government. In terms of the 'game' of politics is has been it's own worst enemy, and while this is good 'copy' for journalists - thankfully the citizens of Australia can face the future in confidence.
      My only criticism of this article is that it doesn't deal with the issue that Labor has seemed to throw their high flying women into leadership, when the party is suffering. Australia needs to reassess how to deal with women leaders, for we run the risk of discouraging half the population of Australia from running for public office.

      Commenter
      David
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      May 08, 2012, 11:04AM
    • Hate hate that's all some of you know it seems. You do not have to agree with her but hate? Weird take a good look at yourself.

      Commenter
      simonj
      Location
      fawkner
      Date and time
      May 08, 2012, 12:08PM
    • David - Why would you compare Australia with the US and the Eurozone? Have you not heard ad nauseam that we are part of the Asian economy? Does the US or the Eurozone rely on exporting resources to China like Australia does? To what extent do you think Labor can take credit for Australia being bestowed with the resources that China happens to need as it modernises its economy? Labor also can't take credit for the relatively acceptable government debt in Australia (that positive will be gone if Labor stays in government for much longer). As for the low unemployment, think "lies, damn lies and statistics".

      Commenter
      hbloz
      Date and time
      May 08, 2012, 12:39PM
    • Yes Simonj, we "hate" what Labor is doing to our country but there is only one more year to wait.

      Commenter
      liklik
      Location
      sydney
      Date and time
      May 08, 2012, 1:06PM
    • Taking our country down the drain?....@Brisbane Bear, I take it you're under 30 (or close), or have a ridiculously short memory. Sure, Australia faces some challenges but you can't have felt the full brunt of the economic climate/results of Hawke and Keating. Up to 12% unemployment, inflation at 10%, 16.5% interest rates (try that one!), mining industry and agriculture in the toilet due largely to low commodity prices, spiraling govt debt and balance of payments out of control.
      I agree with much of the article. Gillard's best play is getting things done. She is exposed on political tactics but taking the country to ruin? Short memory.

      Commenter
      Ron
      Date and time
      May 08, 2012, 1:53PM
  • I noticed you failed to mention how much of a hard time Abbott gets EG his Budgie smugglers or his nickname the mad monk. Gillard cops criticism not because she is a woman but because she blatantly lies to the electorate.

    There will be no carbon tax under a government I lead - What did she then do?

    Her polling is lower then Rudd's who she knifed in the back to get the PM. If she was a man she would have already been gone by now.

    You can't have it both ways. When a male politician cops a hard time he is fair game when a woman does gee it has to be sexist.

    Yet you talk about double standards.

    Give me a break.

    Commenter
    Rooboy
    Location
    Melbourne
    Date and time
    May 08, 2012, 8:07AM
    • And do you think there was anything like this vitriol for Howard with his "never ever" GST, or his "core and non-core promises", or Abbott and his "don't believe anything he says unless it's scripted"? No, there was not. Nothing like as poisonous as the attitudes toward Gillard. I don't recall any radio announcers saying they should be murdered a la Alan Jones wanting her drowned.

      Commenter
      Kitteh
      Date and time
      May 08, 2012, 9:59AM

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