Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Gillard Bashing

As our new Prime Minister named his first blokey cabinet and instructed them to start implementing his 16 point plan to do... whatever, some parts of the local media took to their mediums to take exception to the way Tony was being treated. More specifically; the terrible, unfair abuse that was being poured on the poor bloke's head.

Typical of this was a ferocious article in The Age on Monday, where Paul Sheehan bridled at the 'closed minded' and 'insidious' people who dared to criticise the PM or label him 'sexist' or a 'homophobe.' Never mind that Abbott himself had said that Australia's women should tend to their ironing and that gay folks make him feel uncomfortable, neither of these statements meant you were allowed to suggest bigotry or bias. To do so was to declare yourself a 'hater' in Sheehan's view and, much worse, a creature of the degenerate left underground. Possibly even a member of 'GetUp!' or ''.

And Sheehan isn't alone in this view.

In the wake of Abbott's victory, newly emboldened right leaning pundits are leaping at the chance to decry any attempt to criticise their newly installed boy at the Lodge. They paint Abbott's critics as aggressive and unbalanced and fume that these left wing nut jobs just won't give poor old Tony a fair hearing. In this telling, the anti Abbott views that have been aired are based on exaggerated caricatures that willfully distort Abbott's personality, statements and policies. It is stated that this scurrilous behaviour is the expected  refuge of the left, when they've been beaten like gongs in an election, and implied that such base tactics would never be tolerated on the conservative side.

So before the winners completely re-write the history books, it may be useful to revisit the way conservative elements in Australia responded to our first female Prime Minister, and Abbott's predecessor, Julia Gillard.

You have been warned. From this point on, this page becomes extremely ugly:

‘Every person in the caucus of the Labor Party knows that Julia Gillard is a liar. The old man (Gillard's father) recently died a few weeks ago of shame.  To think that he had a daughter who told lies every time she stood in the Parliament.’

2GB radio broadcaster Alan Jones, addressing a Young Liberals group at Sydney university, 28 September 2012

'The Australian tax payer even pays for the toilet paper she uses.  Does she go down to the chemist to buy her tampons? Or is the Australian tax payer paying for those as well?’

Tony, talkback caller on Alan Jones' program, 28 February 2011

‘Look I can say this but you can’t. She’s a menopausal monster and she needs  to resign.’

Bonita, talkback caller on Jones' program, 14 July 2011

‘I mean anyone who chooses to remain deliberately barren… they’ve got no idea what life’s about.’

Liberal Senator Bill Heffernan, 'Bulletin' interview, May 2007.

‘She has chosen not to be a parent… she is very much a one-dimensional person.’

Liberal Senator George Brandis, ABC Radio, January 2010. Brandis was appointed Attorney General in Tony Abbott's first cabinet this week.

Tony Abbott addresses an anti carbon tax rally in front of a sign referring to
Julia Gillard as a 'Bitch'. Gillard told Abbott in Parliament that 'I was offended.'

'You've got a big arse Julia, just get one with it.'

Germaine Greer, 'Q and A', March 2012.

'On what should have been one of the proudest days of Gillard’s political career, she bungled it with a less than flattering haircut and a frumpy ’80s tapestry print jacket… Get yourself a stylist your own age.’

Anita Quigley, 'Daily Telegraph,' December 2006.

Menu used at a Liberal fundraiser in the Federal seat of Fisher. The owner of
the restaurant, Joe Richards, took responsibility and said he meant it as a 'joke.'

‘It’s designed for non-productive old cows. Julia Gillard has got to watch out.’

David Farley, Australian Agricultural Company CEO, addressing an industry conference on new animal slaughter techniques, August 2012. Fairley also later said his comments were meant to be a 'joke.'

‘Tim’s gay. That’s not me saying it… but you hear it. He must be gay, he’s a hairdresser.’

6PR radio presenter Howard Sattler airs the rumour that Gillard's partner Tim Matheson is a homosexual, 13 July 2013.

‘She has showcased a bare home and an empty kitchen as badges of honour and commitment to her career. She has never had to make room for the frustrating demands and magnificent responsibilities of caring for little babies, picking up sick children from school, raising teenagers. Not to mention the needs of a husband or partner.’

Janet Albrechtsen, The Australian, July 2010.

Anti Gillard cartoons by Larry Pickering, two from a long series. Pickering generally depicts Gillard
nude and always wearing or carrying a large strap on dildo. Pickering is a free lance cartoonist, but
his anti Gillard drawings have been used by pro Liberal corporations and other conservative groups.

‘Like This If U Hate Julia Gillard and want to help me kill her.’

Title of anti Gillard facebook page, one among a great many.

‘Someone needs to assassinate Julia Gillard NOW before she totally destroys our way of life.’

Mark of Panania, comment published on the 'Herald Sun' website, 10 July 2011.

Other comments used to describe Gillard on the supposedly moderated Herald Sun website:


'shape-changing vampire'






'fungal growth'  

'given up all attributes of what it means to be a human being'

'Australia’s very own Jezebel'

'her milk is sour' 

'pure evil' 

'slimy con-artist' 

'slag of the lowest order' 

'lying slag without one ounce of integrity or decency'

As quoted by 'Crikey.'

Footnote... For a little context:

'What Prime Minister Julia Gillard is dealt is no different and no worse,  say these people, than the flak directed at Tony Abbott or, in the past, at John Howard or Paul Keating.

One person who wrote to me summed up the supposed equivalence: "Just two words. Budgie smugglers".

Yet there is a huge difference between an opposition leader being caricatured by cartoonists wearing an item of clothing he used to regularly don (in front of the media) for swimming, and a prime minister being depicted wearing a huge strap-on dildo, as one cartoonist does routinely, an item we can assume is not in her wardrobe.

There is an entire vocabulary of words that describe, and demean, women - bitch, barren, childless, hag, slut, witch, cow - and have been used recently in reference to Julia Gillard.

The attacks on Gillard all too often have sexual and violent overtones to them. She is drawn grotesquely naked, her head is Photoshopped onto a voluptuous naked female body, she is depicted offering sexual favours in return for votes.

There are constant calls for her to be "shot", to be hanged or otherwise disposed of in violent fashion and while these threats are not as such gender-specific, I would argue that the vehemence with which they are expressed is.

The core difference between the way male and female politicians are treated is that men might be mocked or scorned – "Little Johnny", "Mr Rabbitt", "Kevin747" - but they are not threatened and they are especially not subject to sexual intimidation. Women in politics increasingly are.'

Anne Summers, ABC 'Unleashed' website, September 2012. Anne Summers is a journalist and activist who advised the Keating government on women's issues.

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