Shut Up About “Gender Politics” And Misogyny, Julia

HERE WE GO AGAIN…Julia Gillard has used a sympathetic interview to level new accusations of misogyny and sexism at her opponents, and Tony Abbott particularly. Put bluntly, it’s time for her to shut up: the slur and the smear are tools of the incompetent and the contemptible, not the craftsman.

I think it’s time we called a spade a spade; Gillard obviously isn’t going to stop her ridiculous campaign of playing the victim and screaming “Sexism! Misogyny!” as she slithers toward attempted re-election, and I’m not going to pull any punches.

Readers might like to check out the article before I really get stuck in — a kid-glove, feelgood, off-the-hook exercise in soft-soaping, to be sure. It can be accessed here.

I don’t think anyone feels threatened or compromised or intimidated by idea of a female Prime Minister; I actually don’t think Gillard’s gender has anything to do with it.

Not for Abbott, men on the conservative parties’ benches, the male shock jocks she has a whinge about, and not for most of the men across Australia.

Simply stated, the problem is not Julia Gillard’s gender. The problem is her.

And what has become abundantly clear during her ill-gotten stint as Prime Minister is that she is a nasty piece of work, and a downright contemptible specimen to boot.

There is a lot to criticise about Julia Gillard: things that have nothing to do with her gender at all, but rather her incompetence, ineptitude, and her abysmal lack of judgement.

These criticisms extend to dishonesty, deception, an absence of tangible political acumen, and — let’s be honest — her unsuitability to be, and her utter uselessness as, Prime Minister of Australia.

I have in the past compared her — unfavourably — to former Liberal Prime Minister Sir William McMahon, who was rightly regarded as a national joke.

My exact words were:

“Julia Gillard is certainly unpopular; with the possible exception of Billy McMahon, she is probably the least suitable and most dishonest holder of the Prime Ministership in the country’s history. I say “possible exception” because lying, scheming, treacherous Sir William was nonetheless a very effective minister for many years before becoming Prime Minister — and Julia Gillard, objectively, wasn’t even that.”

In my view — and to be literary for a moment — ne’er was a truer word spake.

Part of the problem with Julia Gillard — in terms of daily retail politics, at least — is that everything she doesn’t like, or disadvantages her, or shows the failings of her government, her advisers and herself, is presented as being Tony Abbott’s fault.

In turn, Abbott is painted as driven by misogynistic forces that embody everything wrong with the Liberal Party and — conveniently — is why nobody should vote for him.

It’s a crass, but self-serving, construct. It is also absolute crap, and Gillard knows it.

 In the article I have linked to, Gillard is quoted referencing a “dishonest opposition using gender rhetoric” and that Abbott has “deepened unease…among voters unfamiliar with being led by a woman.”

No proof. No corroboration. Not an ounce of truth, either.

She goes on to mount a hypocritical and semantic argument — ostensibly about “lack of respect and lack of acknowledgment of my legitimacy as Prime Minister” — which is aimed at “shock jock” radio hosts who “call the Prime Minister by her first name, rather than using her title or surname.”

In other words, conservative radio personalities whose audiences comprise millions of voters; she still fronts up to be interviewed on their shows, because the allure of the audience outweighs her distaste for the presenter.

Yet she then asserts that “most of the time, people using the term ‘Julia’ is a reflection of Australian informality,” identifying Abbott in the same breath as “among the minority that uses gender rhetoric.”

Well, you can’t have it both ways.

And on those points: one, “just call me Tony” Abbott is about the most personable and knockabout bloke you’re ever likely to meet; he’s no more or less informal than anyone else among the masses of the great unwashed to whom Gillard obviously alludes.

And two, if Gillard wants respect, she needs to know respect is earned, not an entitlement: people respect the office. If Gillard thinks she is entitled to respect as Prime Minister, then I think she deserves to be deeply disappointed.

This Prime Minister has wilfully and repeatedly broken election pledges, not least those arguably responsible for saving enough votes to allow Labor to remain in government.

This Prime Minister makes little attempt to conceal the fact that hers is a manipulative and fundamentally dishonest government, where truth is relative only to the political imperative of the day, and in which accountability is a subject best avoided.

This a Prime Minister whose adviser deliberately started a race-related riot on Australia Day last year: an event designed to paint Abbott as a bigot and an incendiary lunatic.

And whilst the adviser was sacked, Gillard was nonetheless happy to revel in attention and sympathy for being stuck in the middle of it, until the truth of the matter — that a senior staffer in her own office was directly responsible — emerged.

This is a Prime Minister who is disliked, distrusted and widely reviled by the people — the Australian public — who she is duty-bound to represent.

But nobody can admit to such sentiments, of course: should they do so, they’re either stupid, or delusional, or — if their name is Tony Abbott — a misogynist.

And she wants to talk about respect?

It brings me back to the point I started with; that it is time for Gillard to shut up with the gender politics, “misogyny,” and accusations of sabotage because she’s female.

Gillard said nothing when Steve Gibbons — the soon-to-retire Labor member for Bendigo — took to Twitter, describing deputy Liberal leader Julie Bishop as a “narcissistic bimbo.”

Her silence — ten years ago — when her then-leader, Mark Latham, described journalist Janet Albrechtsen as a “skanky ho” was deafening.

She had no qualms (again, remember the size of the radio audience) sharing a stage with Kyle Sandilands, whose outbursts include describing a journalist as “a fat slag” with “not enough titty” and a raft of other insults that would make a redneck blush.

She saw no problem — ironically, whilst lashing Abbott over “misogyny” — defending former Speaker Peter Slipper, whose now-infamous text messages told us that female genitalia were akin to mussels; “salty c—s in brine” indeed, according to Slippery Pete.

And Gillard sees nothing wrong in throwing around her cheap, graceless “misogyny” charges like confetti; the day of Labor’s non-coup last month, she told the House of Representatives — without any provocation — that “misogynist Tony (Abbott) is back.”

(She withdrew, but the damage was done; the line made the evening news, as it was intended to).

Gillard is a hypocrite, pure and simple.

The last thing her track record entitles her to is respect.

The thing that makes her hypocrisy worse is the fact she’s happy to tolerate “misogyny” if the results or circumstances are favourable to her politically.

She’s in no position to lecture anybody.

She’ll laugh and jape with Kyle Sandilands, but bridle with outrage at Alan Jones.

And the irony of the Alan Jones incident is that I defended Gillard in this column; subjected to a baseless and highly personal attack, I felt Jones had been well out of line, and said so.

A few weeks later, she had the nerve to stand up in the House of Representatives — under parliamentary privilege, of course, like any coward on a liar’s mission — and baselessly attack Abbott personally whilst defending Peter Slipper’s right to remain as Speaker.

At the very least, she forfeited any right to be affronted by baseless attacks on her at that point; she proved she is no better than the allegations she throws at others with impunity.

I am actually sick of talking about Gillard and “misogyny;” and I am heartily sick of Gillard.

I don’t think Australians, and Australian men specifically, are a bad bunch when it comes to  women in politics; after all, we’ve been electing them longer than anyone else in the world.

Every state and territory has experienced a major party being led by a woman; all except South Australia have experienced a government led by a woman; and three — Queensland, the ACT and the NT — have put female-led parties into government at elections.

The performance of those governments has been varied, but that’s what you’d expect, irrespective of whether they were run by a woman or by a man.

For just as men lead good governments and bad governments, so it is with women: some are good and some are bad.

Or, in Gillard’s case, truly woeful.

But good, bad or terrible, of which female-led government is Abbott responsible for “deepen(ing) unease…among voters unfamiliar with being led by a woman?”

The point is that Gillard has belted this particular can — that conservative men hate her and should be publicly excoriated for real, alleged, or fabricated sins — for long enough.

Her blatant hypocrisy on the subject would be amusing if it weren’t actually serious.

My message is very simple: shut the hell up, Julia! We’re sick of this crap.

Come 14 September when Labor is hurled from office in a landslide, the likes of which Australia will rarely — if ever — have seen, millions of the votes against Gillard and her government will be cast by women.

Gillard will be responsible for the loss and — largely — will have been the cause of it.

Her masters, the voting public, will have shown her all the respect she deserves.