As the week is coming to an end, it felt like it was time to acknowledge the sad week we’ve witnessed in Australian politics. In a shock twist, Julia Gillard was forced to let go of the prime ministership on Wednesday night, after Julia herself had called a ballot the same day. Of course we all understand that the pressures internally in the Labor party to conduct such a ballot at this point in time would have been strong. So about as sudden as she had risen to power, she was gone again, and Kevin 07 wasn’t slow to make himself comfortable in the power chair.
While countless articles and opinion pieces have been written on the things Julia did wrong as the prime minister well as the things she did right, I’d like to pay tribute to her for the extraordinary resilience, strength and professionalism she portrayed while she was time and time again subjected to extreme bullying and vicious harassment by her peers, the media as well as the people of this country, primarily because of the fact that she was a woman. Australia might like to look at itself as a progressive, forward thinking and highly developed country, however when faced with a woman as the prime minister the real issues around misogyny and inequality suddenly revealed its ugly head. The sort of descriptions that emerged in the public debate made you wonder if people would ever call their mothers or daughters similar things, and if the answer was no, why on earth the prime minister of the nation should the target of such cruel abuse?! The lowest of the low occurred a few weeks back when radio host Howard Sattler suggested on national radio that Julia’s partner of many years, Tim Mathieson, must be gay. Even when she politely answered that of course he’s not, Mr Sattler kept at it and wouldn’t let it go. It was only due to Julia’s extreme resilience and professionalism that she didn’t just walk out of the studio right there and then. What Mr Sattler was essentially insinuating was that it was hard to believe that any man could be in a sexual relationship with Ms Gillard. Why? Because what kind of man could be attracted to such a strong, independent and unbreakable woman? What kind of man wants to lie down next to a woman who doesn’t cry, who isn’t a mother and who never shows any signs of weakness? Only a gay man, of course.
Julia Gillard, you will be remembered for your courage and guts, and most importantly for your commitment to making life better for all Australians.
Like she said in her final speech, let’s just hope “it will be easier for the next woman and the woman after that and the woman after that….”