To Hell In A Hand Basket : A Week In The Politics Of Being A Woman

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Image: morguefile.com
Let's just agree now that political commentary is not my thing. It's not something that I usually have strong opinions about (despite the fact that I do quite enjoy ‘Q and A' on the ABC and feel VERY grown up when I watch it). So while I won't be making a habit of sharing my views pre-2013 federal election, I do want to acknowledge this particularly grotesque chapter in our political history which has seen one portion of the population celebrating the fact that we have our first female Prime Minister while the other portion works tirelessly to embarrass and humiliate her at every opportunity, usually using her gender as their vehicle.

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I don't write this to attract anyone's views on Julia Gillard as a Prime Minister – if that's your response then either I haven't been concise or perhaps you've missed the point entirely. I simply wish to state that this week in particular, Australia has taken a turn for the worst and although I feel proud of the country I live in, I feel a huge sense of disappointment and faithlessness in the people who are meant to call themselves prospective leaders, or objective media messengers. Whether you like Julia Gillard or not, two things about her were hugely disrespected this week, and more than once. Firstly, the Office Of Prime Minister was walked upon by shameless (and I hate to be specific here) men who prefer to play dirty to get their votes or listeners. Secondly, and more importantly, there was the disrespect of her womanhood. Not only was it degraded, but it was publicly humiliated and trodden upon by a variety of egotistical men, vying for the approval of others. It's the blatant misuse of her gender that gets me the most. It doesn't take a bra – burning feminist to get worked up about the degrading joke menu that was put together by a cheeky restaurateur for the Liberal Party function this week, then publicised for all to see.

The menu offered the choice of “Julia Gillard Kentucky Fried Quail – small breasts, huge thighs and a big red box” to its Liberal guests. There's not much you can really say about that, is there? Regardless of whether or not it was commissioned by the Liberal Party (and to be fair by all accounts it wasn't but I believe a fair bit of their enjoyment was gleaned from it) is anyone one else picturing a roomful of fat cat businessmen-type politicians sitting around laughing their little piggy heads off? Yuck.

So there's the first one.

The other issue that was served up to our Prime Minister this week (merely a day later) was the interview with radio ‘shock jock' Howard Sattler who decided to go ‘balls out' and press the PM hard about her partners' sexual preference. I listened to the interview then metaphorically curled up in a little tight ball and rocked back and forth in embarrassment on behalf of our leader. What a grotesque individual to make it his business to humiliate her (and her partner for that matter) for the sake of his ratings? In a million years, would a male Prime Minister have ever been so heavily pressed about the sexual persuasion of his wife or partner??! Can you imagine someone being bold enough to question (let alone relentlessly hound) ex – PM John Howard about Janette's “rumoured” penchant for the ladies behind closed doors!? Mr. Sattler, you are an embarrassment to your profession good sir, and in my opinion you deserved the boning you so rightly received.

So whether I do or don't decide to vote for Julia Gillard (and you will never know!) I still stand up for respect for others, respect for the Office Of Prime Minister and most importantly, the respect for women. Just let it be said that our gender has worked pretty hard to get to where it is today and I thank those who came before me for making my opportunities so readily available. Sadly it seems, there's still a long way to go but playing this unfortunate game of snakes and ladders where we suddenly watch the rights of women slide right back to the 1950s, needs to end.