Julia Gillard

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?

A Few Good Men

“As usual, there is a great woman behind every idiot.”

— John Lennon

I read John Birmingham's Blunt Instrument column this morning as I always do, and I have to say I was yelling 'yay', not just in my head but out loud. Sometimes Mr Birmingham and I do not necessarily agree (and I am sure Mr Birmingham would not care less, nor should he) but this week we are definitely in tandem.  

There are some total, for want of a better word (or to put it more honestly, a word which I will not use in semi-polite company), cretins out there at the moment in the public eye masquerading as men. You and I know who they are. Radio journalists. British multi-millionaires with a penchant for 'lovers tiffs'. Commentators on Sunday ABC programs which I love(d) to watch. Complete worms who seem to think that insulting or bullying women is not only acceptable, it is something to be admired. 

I cheerfully admit that in my heart I would like to use Mr Birmingham's blunt instrument on these 'gents' and see how they feel about things then, but violence isn't the answer (unfortunately), so I will stick with using my words instead.

Belittling women is the act of cowards. It's the act of those who need to make themselves feel better about their own inadequacies. They are the ones who stood on the corner of the playground as kids, never quite fitting in, who made fun of others so that they weren't beaten up themselves. 

I'd feel sorry for them if they weren't so bloody horrible.  


This is not an anti-men rant. Far from it. Much as certain people of my acquaintance (you know who you are) may accuse me of occasionally going on a Germaine-Greerian rant, this ain't it. I absolutely consider myself a feminist. I think that women should be paid the same as men and should have the same opportunities at work and in life based on merit. Equal opportunity should be just that - EQUAL opportunity.  

What I want to say is what the last week or so has shown quite clearly is the difference between the twits and the truly good men out there. And it isn't just men in the public eye, although obviously General David Morrison is a shining beacon of hope for the Australian Defence Force and for change within the workplace in general. He speaks from the heart and with passion and truth, and I applaud him. But it's everyday guys too.

Men are speaking out. They are saying 'this isn't acceptable'. Whatever their opinions of the Prime Minister personally for example, they are prepared to say that the way she has been lambasted recently is not on for the leader of our country - or for any woman. They are putting their opinions on paper, online and on the record.

I feel very, very lucky in my male friendships. The men that I know and love are the type of guys who are willing to be vocal about this. They respect women and they treat them well. So I just wanted to say two things. 

Firstly, to those who think belittling women is OK - your days are numbered. 

And to all those men in my life who say 'this is bullshit' to the above idiots - 

Thank you.  

Don't go changing.  

That includes you, John Birmingham. 

And your blunt instrument.