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 columnby Marilyn Lake who is Professor in History at the University of Melbourne researching the international history of Australian democracy.
Blue Mountains Women’s Health and Resource Centre – click here
10 March 2014
As usual, she (who for the purpose of this report wants to be called Helen) enters the kitchen at 7 am to prepare the kids’ breakfast and cut their lunches. She greets the three boys with her usual cheery “Morning” and gets the usual grunt in unison, “Whatever”. Their eyes stay glued to their iphones.
They don’t notice that today she is not wearing her usual black business suit. She is wearing a short pink skirt, knee-high white boots and instead of her briefcase, has a large bag stuffed with pink balloons and streamers – and a tape recorder.
The boys blithely collect their lunches – not a word – no eye contact – and head off to catch the school bus. One returns to say, “Dad has slashed your tyres again.”
The Intervention Order she has taken out against her ex is a useless piece of paper, she muses.
Being a single, unprotected, unappreciated mother is tough.
She makes a cup of coffee and skims through Saturday’s paper, taking time to read about that day being International Women’s Day, which she well knew and still plans to celebrate, even though it is now Monday.
She calls a cab to take her to work for just a half day. Her hours have been cut back. She had applied for an in-house promotion for the top job but was beaten by a younger, less qualified and less experienced male.
And now the bank is foreclosing on her for unmet mortgage payments.
She arrives at work where she is the only female. At the sight of her outfit – as she expects – she gets cat-calls and uncouth remarks, most notably from the boss who says “What are you doing after work sweetie, making a bit of extra money on the side, or should I say on your back. Must say you were pretty good at the Christmas party, but you were too drunk to remember.”
She gets on with her usual work until her early knock-off time. Then she starts adorning the office with those pink balloons and streamers, happily chanting ‘Happy International Women’s Day.”
The boss is outraged and demands she take them down.
In recent months she has overheard him boast about his extra marital affairs and has used a concealed voice recorder. Today she has used it to record his uncouth comment. She produces the recorder and plays it to him. She then picks up her phone to call his wife.
The boss is a lather of sweat and pleads with her to reconsider. She puts the phone down and says, “Only if you give me my rightful job … your job”
He agrees on the basis she does not say a word to his wife. She agrees – with a smirk – then demands a bribe of $10,000 – just enough to bring her mortgage payments up to date.
With that accomplished, and a personal cheque for $10,000 in her pocket, she leaves the office and heads for the bank – the one that is threatening to foreclose – still with a good supply of balloons and streamers. She is planning a party. After all, there’s no law against having a party in a bank – is there?
The police will surely say, “Nothing we can do about it” which is all they are capable of saying in her experience. Unless she has a witness, but violent ex’s are too smart for that.
Once inside the bank, she sets about decorating the branch with balloons and steamers, whilst chanting over and over: “Happy International Women’s Day, Mr Manager.”
She then takes out her CD player and Helen Reddy’s I Am Woman blares. (YouTube)
She then goes to her chosen teller (who for the purpose of this report wants to be called Stella) to deposit the cheque. Stella is the wife of Helen’s boss and notices the name of the drawer. Stella looks shocked and then without a word – as per the agreement with her former boss – Helen hands over the tape recorder, which happens to contain proof that Helen’s ex- husband, who happens to be the bank manager, took advantage of the inebriated Stella at the bank’s Christmas party.
Within one hour, Stella has taken the voice recording to the HR manager, who happens to be a woman, at head office. The manager is summarily dismissed and Stella is appointed manager. Helen’s foreclosure proceedings are annulled.
The now-ex-manager had foolishly called the police in response to Helen’s revelry. The police officers, who happen to be women, say simply, “ Nothing we can do about it. There’s no law against having a party in a bank.”
Helen asserts that he has slashed her tyres for the fourth time, to which he – now a dribbling mess – replies, “I’ve only done it three times.” He is arrested.
Stella, now back at the branch, accompanies Helen entertaining the bank patrons with a rousing rendition of I Am Woman, which is posted on social media and goes viral.
Next morning, as usual, she (Helen) enters the kitchen at 7am to prepare the kids’ breakfast and cut their lunches. She greets the three boys with her usual cheery “Morning” and gets the unusual exclamation in unison, “Mum, you’re a legend”. Their eyes stay glued to their iPhones – in disbelief – and admiration.
HAPPY INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY … FIGHT FOR THE RIGHT TO CHOOSE YOUR OWN FUTURE.
The Guardian Saturday 8 March 2014 ‘International Women’s Day marchers take to the streets of Sydney’ ~ Coverage of IWD with explanation of ‘Zoe’s Law’ Click here
The Age Saturday 8 March 2014 ‘Dancing on the glass ceiling on International Women’s Day’ ~ Opinion piece by Suzy Freeman-Greene Click here
Well here I am in Australia and I must say dat it’s a strange place. Dese Australians confuse da crap out of me. So dat I can explain meself, I’ll tell you about da Prime Minister. Dat’s a portrait of her on da front of dis postcard. She is da first Australian Prime Minister who is a woman.
Her name is Julia Gillard and she is in da Labor Party – dey can’t even spell it properly like we do in Ireland. It’s supposed to be Labuor isn’t it?
I always thought dat Australians liked people who worked hard to get places, but dey don’t seem to think she got to the right place. Being Prime Minister dat is.
I always thought dat Australians believed in a fair go. Boy, dey don’t give her a fair go. Even a Sydney shock jock called Alan Jones reckons she should be put in a chaff bag and dumped at sea. On da internet, people say she should be assassinated.
I always thought dat Australians liked Australian accents because dey were Australians. Well dis lady has one and no-one likes it.
I always thought dat Australians liked strong leaders. Well dis lady is as tough as nails but no-one seems to like dat.
I always thought dat Australians were easy going. I can tell you dey don’t go easy when dey pick on her big nose and her clothes and her big bum.
I always thought dat Australians were broad-minded. Dis lady has never married, has got no kids, lives with her boyfriend and doesn’t believe in God. Guess what – dey don’t like dat either.
I think dat it’s because she is a she. If she was a he, he would be everybody’s mate. I’m sure you’ve heard about da great Australian spirit of mateship.
Seems to me dat when Australia got its first lady PM, Australians became un-Australian. Or maybe da Australian ethos has always been a big fat myth. Dat reminds me of a word dey use … mythogyny or maybe it’s misogyny.