No Man's Land

“It was we, the people; not we, the white male citizens; nor yet we, the male citizens; but we, the whole people, who formed the Union.”

— Susan B. Anthony

I feel in some ways as though I am writing an obituary with this post - which, considering that I attended a funeral yesterday, perhaps makes sense. And to be a bit melodramatic, there has been a kind of death.

This week saw the downfall of Australia's first female prime minister. And before people start rolling their eyes and thinking this is going to be a rant about Labour v Liberal, let me stress that it isn't. It also isn't even about Julia Gillard in some respects.

It's more about us as Australians.

I don't pretend to think that politics are a clean game. Anything that involves a balance of power is going to bring out the worst in humans. I am also not so naive or blinkered as to think that just because the PM was a woman, she should be afforded any kind of privileges in terms of being treated better than anybody else in the business. We say of our leader 'primus inter pares' and as such she was first among equals, not better than anyone else - but that's my sticking point.

She also is no worse than anyone else, and as such deserved, and deserves, the same measure of respect as any other leader who came before. And this - this she didn't get. Which is a god-awful reflection on Australia as a whole.

Yes, we have a tradition of cutting down tall poppies. Yes, we make fun of pretty much anyone we feel like making fun of, and I'm as guilty as the next sarcastic bugger. But the constant bitter attacks on Julia were beyond anything I've ever seen in politics. They had nothing to do with her policies and everything to do with her personally. Which makes me incredibly fearful for where Australia is heading.

She may be abrasive. She may have given as good as she got in terms of dishing it out to opponents on a political level. But this was a PM who had to deal with constant jibes about her weight, her looks, her wardrobe, her choice of partner, her choice not to have children, her voice, her family.

Would it have happened if she had been a man?

This is not an 'Ode to Saint Julia'. I'm not saying she was a great Prime Minister, because honestly? I don't think she was. What I am attempting to say, possibly quite clumsily, is nobody deserves the treatment she received at the hands of the media, the public and a large percentage of Federal Parliament.

I don't think anyone should be in a position of power, whether it be government or business just because they are a woman. It should be based on merit not an absence of male genes. Otherwise it's a game of pretence and mess, and yes, inequality - not in the way we traditionally think of it, but in the long term it hurts women because where's the need to strive?

But to be hounded in the way that she was...

I vote no. No more.

Please bring some respect back Australia.

Because giving someone a fair go is supposed to be what we're all about.

Isn't it?