Julia Gillard – trial by gender. Verdict – exile!

THIS CARTOON, DRAWN AT THE END OF JULIA GILLARD’S TENURE AS PRIME MINISTER, WILL BE ON DISPLAY IN THE MUSEUM OF AUSTRALIAN DEMOCRACY AT THE OLD PARLIAMENT HOUSE IN CANBERRA.
THE EXHIBITION, TO BE KNOWN AS ‘WOMEN IN PARLIAMENT’ WILL COMMENCE IN LATE AUGUST 2018 AND WILL RUN FOR APPROXIMATELY 12 MONTHS.

It is as if the metaphorical media lens is a microscope, 1,000 times more scrutinising of women — indeed, less critical of men. If Julia Gillard had bat ears, it is unlikely she would have made it to the prime ministership in the first place.

A word of caution: If you happen to be a highly intelligent woman with deep philosophical convictions and passion for the future of Australia, and have aspirations to become prime minister, go for it. But only if you do not have any physical imperfections that make you lesser in appearance to Elle McPherson. But then again, if you are blond, the media will destroy you anyway.

As if looking back on the demise of Julia Gillard, Marilyn Lake wrote a piece for The Age, just one day before Australia’s first female prime minister was ousted by the Labor caucus, in favour of a … you guessed it … a male … who will, odds on, not be sexualised by Australia’s media and wider culture. By Bruce Keogh

An excerpt from Marilyn Lake’s article 25 June 2013:

How could we have foreseen what would befall her? The relentless persecution by senior male journalists, the vilification, the sexist mockery, the personal abuse and the contempt with which she would be treated. Between 2010 and 2013, the full force of Australia’s masculinist political culture would be brought to bear on this path-breaking woman.

It is now a truism that history will prove more sympathetic to Gillard’s prime ministership – and the policies she introduced – than contemporary commentators have been.

What will mostly attract historians’ attention, however, will be how she was treated, the rabid misogyny, the hysteria of men who could not abide the spectacle of a woman in power, who labelled her a bitch, a witch, a liar, a usurper, an illegitimate claimant who refused to bow down before her male rivals.

She has been sexualised in a way no previous prime minister has been sexualised.

In the past three years, obscenity has become a favourite mode of prime ministerial denigration.

Full column by Marilyn Lake who is Professor in History at the University of Melbourne researching the international history of Australian democracy.

BILL THE CONSENSUS CEPHALOPOD: “I AM NOT AN OCTOPUS SHORT OF AN ARM”

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As a CSIRO marine scientist examined a tragic creature, a seven-armed octopus discovered in a load of baloney by an abalone diver just off Dunder Heads, he mused, “Could this be the discovery of a new species, a heptopus, or has this tragic met with foul play?”

Scientist: You appear to be an octopus short of an arm.

Creature: I will admit that I am akin to a sandwich short of a picnic, a can short of a slab and a village short of an idiot when I’m out of town. Yes, I accept that I am an opposition leader short of a policy platform. But, but, but I am not willing to accept that I am an octopus short of an arm.

Scientist: So you are a stupid opposition leader with no policies and you are in a in a state of denial.

Creature: Yes, I’ll go along with that. Just call me Bill.

Scientist: OK Bill, so you agree you are in a state of denial.

Bill: Yes, I will not deny that I am in denial. I deny that I am short of an arm.

Scientist: Stupid with no policies hey? Little wonder the media is having a field day with you.

Bill: Yes, I’m dumber than a bag of hammers and as sharp as a bowling ball. In fact, the press reckon I’m as exciting as drying paint, all froth and no beer, and couldn’t fight my way out of a wet paper bag. And they are right.

Scientist: So, you are a dumb, slow-witted, boring, weak opposition leader with no substance, no self-esteem, let alone policies. You are deeply flawed.

Bill: Yes, I’ll go along with that. But I am not an octopus short of an arm.

Scientist: Why are you so obsessed with this missing arm?

Bill: What missing arm? Listen here! I have always been one to go along with things, to drift with the changing tides popular opinion, to be a consensus cephalopod, to be a majority mollusc. Remember how I got rid of Rudd and Gillard? I went with the flow of Labor’s moods. I’m a numbers octopus.  Can you imagine how a numbers octopus would look with only seven arms? I must have eight arms. I cannot afford to look ridiculous.

Scientist: You are incapable of facing up to reality. You are ridiculous.

Bill: And you, a CSIRO scientist are talking to an octopus. Don’t call me ridiculous!