The Lady Garden

Tea and Strumpets

Singing our song

Women in Australia, and all throughout the world have been chortling with glee today, delighting in every word of Julia Gillard’s truly wonderful speech calling Tony Abbott out on his appalling misogyny.

For nearly three years now, Abbott has used the most sexist epithets against Gillard, and against women. He has tolerated the use of words such as bitch, witch, “that woman”, allowed his supporters to use vile language against her, told Australian women that they ought to get back to doing the ironing, that they just don’t have what it takes to be a leader.

Gillard has simply taken it all. She has had to. We know what happens to women who dare to fight back. They are simply subjected to a further round of abuse, derided as shrill harridans who can’t take a joke. Abuse, followed by dismissal. She simply could not afford to fight back. She had to (pretend to) ignore it all.

How demoralising that has been all of us. When Gillard took power, my daughter and her friends raced around the oval (playground) at their school, thrilled that a woman had become prime minister. It was a tremendous moment of liberation for them. They could aspire to anything!

And then they watched. And I watched and other women watched, as Julia Gillard was attacked for the sin of being a woman. Each time my daughters watched, and each time I watched, and each time women in Australia watched, we learned the lesson that to be a woman in a public role is to invite abuse, for the crime of being a woman in public.

Finally, Gillard hit back. Hard. In a forum where her chief tormentor was forced to sit and listen. Just for once, a woman could tell a man exactly what she thought of his despicable beahviour, and he couldn’t simply walk away. At last, he was being held to account for his misogyny.

Didn’t he hate it?

It gets so wearying, day in day out, watching and listening to women in power being derided simply for being. So often we just shut the rhetoric out, try to let it not get to us. But it is so very, very tiring.

And this is why women everywhere are cheering for Gillard. Just for once, a woman has had a chance to tell it like it really is, and the bloke has had to sit and listen. And be held responsible for the hate he has been spewing.

Today has been a good day.

Should you not have watched the speech yet, make yourself a cup of coffee, or pour yourself a glass of wine, and take 15 minutes to enjoy it.

Julia Gillard’s speech in the Australian House of Representatives, calling Tony Abbott out as a misogynist.

Or you can read a transcript: transcript of Julia Gillard’s speech on the Sydney Morning Herald site. But seriously, if you have time, watch it.

Mum, you will *love* this. And so will you, my beautiful daughter, who was so pleased when Gillard became Prime Minister.

Cross posted

9 responses to “Singing our song

  1. Carlist October 11, 2012 at 4:33 am

    I wonder what ur beautiful daughter thought when Gillard refused to allow marriage equality and sent asylum seekers to prisons in Nauru

    • tallulahspankhead October 11, 2012 at 6:56 am

      Well, given that Deb’s daughters have inherited her cleverness, possibly they, like many of us, are capable of holding two thoughts in their heads at once.

      So, yes, maybe she thinks that some of Gillard’s policies are horrendous. Maybe she also recognises that this speech was 15 minutes of unmitigated brilliance, and that possibly were there more like it, and more women in roles of institutional power, some of those policies wouldn’t be necessary.

      Maybe she could think that the most powerful woman in this region calling out a sexist gives her hope that things might change, even if it was politically expedient. Maybe she recognises that Tony Abbot having to pretend he’s offended by sexism means we’re getting somewhere.

      Or perhaps she thinks that 15 minutes of watching the misogynist little troll squirm under a stream of articulate fury was just good TV.

    • Deborah October 11, 2012 at 2:42 pm

      @Carlist, Mindy at Hoyden about Town has written an excellent post that captures my sentiments about Gillard exactly: When is anger allowed?

      • Carlist October 11, 2012 at 2:54 pm

        Mindy pretty much captures my thoughts on this exactly (I had forgotten about the single parents thing Im ashamed to say)

  2. Psycho Milt October 11, 2012 at 8:30 am

    The best parts are where they cut to shots of Abbott – the smirk soon changes to the grim look of someone with no choice but to sit and listen to a pretty ugly assessment of his character.

  3. Emma October 11, 2012 at 3:45 pm

    I loved this. And I showed it to my (pretty apolitical) partner, and he loved it too. And yes, even while I was enjoying it, I was finding it problematic. But the thing is, I don’t have to “support Julia Gillard”, or not support her. I don’t have to pick a team. I can cheer for what she says here, and still criticise her attitude to LGBT people. No problems at all.

  4. Draco T Bastard (@DracoTBastard) October 12, 2012 at 3:25 pm

    It appears that some people actually think that Gillard’s speech was in defence of Slipper and yet I’m sure that she lambasted him in her speech as well.

  5. ludditejourno October 13, 2012 at 9:25 am

    Hi Deborah, thanks for this, interesting for me to hear more context of Tony Abbott’s behaviour. And like you, I could enjoy this while not enjoying Julia Gillard’s policies in many other areas.

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