Tag Archives: Sexism

Were you listening to Julia thinking “I wish I’d said that”?

It seems everyone’s still talking about Julia Gillard’s speech .

I’ve never seen such different responses from the mainstream media and sites on the internet where women like to chat, the so called ‘mummy blogs’.

In the mainstream media, the Prime Minister spoke in defence of the Speaker, Peter Slipper, who has since resigned. According to the Sydney Morning Herald’s Peter Hartcher, We expected more of Gillard.  His general argument was that, as a woman, she had a choice between power and principle and she opted for power.  My view is that expecting women to behave ‘better’ or ‘more nicely’ as politicians is in itself a form of sexism, in presuming that women should be better behaved than men, when really all they want is an equal chance to have their say.

Most of the other newspapers yesterday reported on the political tactics of what was going on with the Speaker and didn’t focus on the main topic covered in the Prime Minister’s speech – the sexism of the Leader of the Opposition, Tony Abbott.

Notwithstanding the fact that what goes on with the Speaker is important, the response on many of my favourite websites couldn’t be more different.  Many women expressed an outpouring of relief that the PM had finally called sexism where she saw it.

Eden Riley is the Australian Blogger of the Year.  Her site Edenland is full of comments about how women across Australia were barracking for her right the way through.  You can check out the discussion here .

Mamamia saw something similar, in response to this piece about, ‘Why Julia Gillard’s Smackdown Speech Was Brilliant .  There were some critics, but overwhelmingly the comments are supportive of the PM’s speech.  Not bad for a Prime Minister who, according to the polls, only has the support of about one in three of us.

Why the difference? My theory is that most of us have a Tony Abbott in their lives, somewhere in our work history.

Someone who’s treated us poorly, unfairly, because we are women.  Most of us don’t call sexism every time we see it, but we really love it when someone else is brave enough to do so, and clever enough to do it well.

When it happens to us, we usually don’t want to make a fuss or have a fight about being a crazy feminist, so we just put up with being called a bitch or having the men in our workplace be more highly valued than those of us who came up with the idea in the first place, or did the hard work behind the scenes to make something happen.

It’s not always as clear cut as some of those quotes Julia Gillard used about Tony Abbott.  Sometimes sexism is harder to pinpoint, and we’re not even sure ourselves that it’s sexism, discrimination, or misogyny or whatever.

But we know it’s wrong, and we wish it hadn’t happened, and many of us see it happening to Julia Gillard too.

Regardless of what you think about politics, I suspect many women loved seeing  our Prime Minister say out loud that she was offended by behaviour and language she thought wasn’t acceptable, and she eloquently put the argument, better than many of us could ourselves.

I heard a story from a one friend about a woman who wanted to thank the PM  because she felt there was growing acceptance in the community of more aggressive and rude interactions. She said a man once called her a stupid bitch because she delivers newspapers to supplement her low income and he hadn’t liked where she’d thrown it that morning.

She said the PM was standing up not just for herself, but for women across the country who have been copping things like that because lately, no-one has been saying that kind of thing is wrong.

Do you think some of us were listening to the PM thinking, “I wish I’d said that”?

What do you think?  Have you experienced sexism at work?  Do you wish you’d given a speech like Julia Gillard?

Interesting sidenote: once the international reaction started to become clear today, our local media started reporting the substance of the speech, for example here and here.  Curious.

You can read the full text of the PM’s speech here but the video is better, here.

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