So, Julia Gillard made a speech. You’ll have heard about that. It’s been picked up all over the western world, which is nice. Nice to have been heard of, and all that, cultural cringe not being quite as last century as one would have hoped.
But wait! You say. A woman has made a speech calling out misogyny and it is being reported approvingly? Why, the End Times are upon us, and all us feminists can retire gracefully from the scene, warm in the knowledge that Our Work Here Is Done.
Except, of course, that it’s not true. Relax, feminists! Throw off your cats* and rejoin the battle.
Peter Hartcher thinks that Gillard’s attack on Abbot, due to its failure to be an attack on Slipper (of whom she did, in that speech, say “On the conduct of Mr Slipper, and on the text messages that are in the public domain, I have seen the press reports of those text messages. I am offended by their content. I am offended by their content because I am always offended by sexism. I am offended by their content because I am always offended by statements that are anti-women.”) is indicative of her showing that “she was prepared to defend even the denigration of women if it would help her keep power. If Gillard will not defend respect for women, what will she defend?”
Tim Dunlop, in an otherwise interesting article about the way in which the Australian media is out of touch with this story, even as it unfolds, believes that “If we want to stand up for women, let’s start by standing up for these women” because obviously, one cannot stand up for more than one group of women at the same time, much less all women. I mean, if we want to stand up for them at all, which Dunlop clearly believes to still be a question up for debate.
I’m just going to pause here to add in this picture:
I’m sure Dunlop doesn’t really mean that it’s up for debate, though.
And here is a roundup by the always thorough Crikey of the Australian opinion pundits. Spoiler: they all think Gillard is a screeching harpy who is ‘playing the gender card’.
(In case anyone is in any doubt that Gillard has been the victim of sustained sexist attacks, I direct them to this link. With a NSFW warning on some of the images contained therein. Actually that’s just a great link, please read it).
So the Australians are doing their best to criticise Gillard. The rest of the world is applauding her. There are any number of reasons why; nobody outside Australia knows or cares who Peter Slipper is, but a whole lot of them care about sexism. Or possibly, it’s because Gillard isn’t their leader, so they don’t feel compelled to tear down a powerful woman? Or the Australian media is woefully out of touch with its audience. I don’t know, do you?
*There is a rule. Anyone referencing feminists more than three times must add in a cat joke. It’s like ‘bless you’ with sneezing.