Politics: Julia Gillard, Feminism and That Speech

So Tony Abbott has suddenly decided that he is a feminist!  Really!  And he is shocked – shocked! – that the Labor Government can countenance as Speaker a man who sent sexist and unpleasant text messages.

Now, if this was the first time I’d ever heard Tony Abbott open his mouth, I would be mildly pleased to hear this.  And it is certainly both interesting and pleasing to note that the head of our more right-wing major party feels the need to portray himself as a feminist if he’s going to get the votes out.

The trouble is, of course, that our dear Opposition Leader’s own statements have not been without their sexist moments.  Or hours.  Which are all duly recorded in Hansard, incidentally.  And this does make his statements about Peter Slipper – who was, until recently, a member of his own party – just a tad hypocritical.

But that wasn’t enough.  Oh, no.  A mere week after the whole blow-up about Alan Jones claiming that Gillard’s father died of shame because of his daughter’s lies (yep, we have radio personalities with no sense of decency in Australia, too), Abbott commented that the entire Labor Government should already have died of shame because of Slipper’s actions.

Oh, no you don’t… Continue reading

Politics: Why we need feminism

Do you know what really bugs me about politics at the moment?  I mean, apart from the hideous leap to the Right on every possible occasion, and the general existence of Tony Abbott?

It’s Julia Gillard.  I really wanted to like her.  More than that, I really wanted her to succeed, even if I didn’t like her.  Deeply frustrated as I am by Labor’s determination to reach out to the right and abandon those of us on the left, if they had at least managed to do so *competently* I’d be happier than I am now.  (And I acknowledge that the Gillard government has had a particularly difficult, and possibly impossible, task, given the configuration of the Lower House.)

If Rudd or Swan or any of the other men in the Labor Party had been Prime Minister and failed at the task of getting their agenda across, nobody would even pause to consider whether this might be evidence that men should not lead political parties.  But I can pretty much guarantee you that unless Gillard makes a spectacular recovery, she’s going to become ‘proof’ that women can’t lead a country properly.

If a man fails, then it reflects on him.  If a woman fails, it reflects on all women.*

This, incidentally, is why we need feminism.

* Of course, the same rule applies to people of colour, Aboriginals, gay people, Muslims, Jews, and, I’m sure, dozens and dozens and dozens of other groups I haven’t mentioned or thought of.  Which is why we need the various -isms attached to viewing people in these groups as people first and people-who-are-members-of-a-particular-g

roup second.  But since Ms Gillard is female, I’m sticking to feminism for the purposes of this post.