“I will not be lectured about sexism and misogyny by this man. Not now, not ever,” declared Julia Gillard, Australia’s Prime Minister, earlier this month.
By “this man,” she was referring to Tony Abbott, the leader of the Liberal Party, currently the opposition party.
Is this the first time any world leader has delivered such a powerful and forthright attack on misogyny in public life? It’s certainly the first time in Australia.
The Guardian quotes this response from an Australian associate professor:
“I almost had shivers down my spine,” said Sara Charlesworth, an associate professor at the University of South Australia. “I was so relieved that she had actually named what was happening. She was so angry, so coherent and able to register that enough is enough.”
The Australian Prime Minister’s attack on sexism in politics came during a debate about whether the speaker of the house, Peter Slipper, should resign for sending lurid text messages denigrating women to a former member of staff. Abbott told Gillard that unless she sacked Peter Slipper, she was just as bad as him, and that’s when Gillard’s denunciation of Abbott’s misogyny began.
From the speech (see the whole video at the bottom of the page):
The leader of the opposition says that people who hold sexist views and who are misogynists are not appropriate for high office. Well I hope the leader of the opposition has got a piece of paper and is writing out his resignation.
…If he wants to know what misogyny looks like in modern Australia, he doesn’t need a motion in the House of Representatives, he needs a mirror.
Wow! I love it: a coherent, angry and fierce woman.
As you can hear in the video posted below, Ms. Gillard brought up numerous instances in which Abbott has directed sexist remarks in her direction in the past. She stated that she was “offended” when Mr Abbott told her to “make an honest woman of herself.” This is a reference to the fact that she is neither married nor a mother. As Gillard pointed out, this is something that would not have been said to any man in her position.
At another time, Abbott had made a comment that abortion was “the easy way out.”
Is Tony Abbott pursuing these sexist tactics because he fears a woman in power? The Liberal Party leader’s style has been to portray Gillard, leader of the Labor Party, as untrustworthy, and to focus repeatedly on her gender. Does he, along with other Australian males, harbor a fear of successful women? Is Abbott threatened by a single woman in power who has chosen not to have children?
If so, he has the company with plenty of other woman-haters around the world.
In Saudi Arabia, a report given by King Fahd University to the Shura Council, stated that allowing women to drive would “provoke a surge in prostitution, pornography, homosexuality and divorce.” As a result of this report, the Saudi government is now considering a further ban on women displaying their eyes.
In Pakistan, 14-year-old women’s rights activist Malala Yousafsai and two other children were shot as they were leaving school by bus.
There is no shortage of such examples.
In the face of this sexism, Gillard’s speech was superb, and hopefully this will act as a turning point for Australia.
You can watch Julia Gillard’s awesome speech here:
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