This is an amazing speech from Australia’s Prime Minister and if you haven’t watched it put aside ten minutes now and watch it. In fact, watch it with some kids because they need to see it, too.
I have a lot of very big opinions about all this but I found that if you take long enough to finish writing something that a bunch of other people will write what you were thinking, only much better. So…
“Walking and Chewing Gum” from Restless Capital.
All political communication has multiple audiences, and good communicators will be able to address several at once. Gillard made the coalition look pretty sheepish, probably put some fire in the belly of her colleagues, and for a while it looked like she might have contributed to Peter Slipper keeping his job. But this particular speech had qualities that have found a global audience, and one of those qualities was its obviously sincere anger about the constant drip of gendered insults flowing the Prime Minister’s way. Women everywhere, and not just women, could relate to Gillard’s anger.
“Gone is the turned cheek: Gillard as we’ve rarely seen her” from Anne Summers at The Drum.
Here, finally, was a powerful woman speaking out against the sexism and misogyny that so many of us have to deal with. It was something that Julia Gillard has rarely done since she became Prime Minister and certainly not in such personal and impassioned terms. That was what got the response.
That was why the speech was so exhilarating – and that was why it has attracted such a huge and impassioned response, here and around the world.
Only in Canberra, it seems, did her words fall on sceptical and tone-deaf ears. Only in Canberra was Gillard’s assault on the Opposition Leader’s behaviour towards her portrayed – somehow, incredibly – as either a defence of Peter Slipper or a failure to attack him. Only in Canberra was a vote against the motion to dismiss the Speaker of the House seen as supporting sexism rather than upholding the separation of powers as outlined in the Constitution.
The reportage and commentary this morning out of Canberra was so startlingly at odds with the reactions of such vast numbers of people both here and abroad that you have to ask: why and how could this be the case?
“The gatekeepers of news have lost their keys” from Tim Dunlop at The Drum.
When we can watch events live ourselves without having to wait for the six o’clock news to package them for us, or even watch a YouTube replay in a time of our own choosing, we can also be free to interpret the story in the way that we understand it.
When we can log onto our blog, or fire up Twitter or Facebook, and express our views in real time; start or join online conversations; develop, change or reinforce our views via discussions with friends, “friends” and “followers”; and share footage and stories and images and shape that information in a way that suits us, then we have moved into a world unrecognisable from the previous era of journalism.
As anyone who has a Twitter account or a Facebook page has noticed, the media’s interpretation of the Alan Jones’ affair, or more especially, their interpretation of the Prime Minister’s speech in Parliament about Mr Abbott’s sexism, is rejected outright by many people.
Social media has been full of people interpreting these events in ways that are at odds with the media’s view. People are simply tired of any professional view that pretends to be authoritative, let alone definitive.
They can see through the groupthink that dominates so much political coverage and they know something is wrong.
“Gillard’s words changed politics forever” from Susan Mitchell at Crikey.
When Peter Hartcher claimed in his column in The Sydney Morning Herald that Gillard had let down the women of Australia, he could not have got it more wrong. The hundreds of responses to his claim demonstrated that for the first time in our lives, a prime minister was speaking on our behalf. The fact he and most of the male political commentators have totally missed the point of her speech only serves to prove what she is saying is true.
Will her speech just drift off into the ether with all the other political hot air?
Why has her speech spread so quickly around the world? Why are women in many different nations reading it and commenting on how lucky Australian women are to have a prime minister who has the guts and passion to attack the kind of sexism that some of us face on a daily basis?
Few might remember the details of the Slipper saga but her words will ring in our minds and our hearts forever.
The Prime Minister’s message is clear. When confronted by relentless sexist and misogynist language and behaviour, women should: confront it openly, call it for what it is and never consider it to be acceptable behaviour under any circumstances.
“Ladylike: Julia Gillard’s Misogyny Speech” from Amelia Lester at The New Yorker.
So why is this among the most-shared videos by my American friends today? Purely as political theatre, it’s great fun. Americans used to flipping past the droning on in empty chambers that passes for legislative debate in this country are always taken in by the rowdiness of parliamentary skirmish. It could also be that the political dynamic depicted in the clip parallels the situation in the States: a chief executive who is a “first” took power after a long period of control from the right of center, and whose signature policy achievements have at times been overshadowed by personal vitriol. Or perhaps it’s that we are right now in one of the rare periods every four years where the American political process provides actual face-to-face debate between the leaders of the two parties. After his performance last week, supporters of President Obama, watching Gillard cut through the disingenuousness and feigned moral outrage of her opponent to call him out for his own personal prejudice, hypocrisy, and aversion to facts, might be wishing their man would take a lesson from Australia.
There is of course one final aspect of all this that is yet to play out. In demanding Slipper’s departure, the Coalition has just set a new benchmark for political behaviour, one that, courtesy of the government’s defence of Slipper, doesn’t apply to anyone except itself and Wilkie. All male Coalition MPs and Wilkie will now need to reflect: did they ever send a vulgar message or email privately to a staffer, a colleague or a journalist? Did they ever reflect on the appearance of a female colleague? Did they ever call someone a c-nt? Did they ever make a smutty joke that, stripped of its private context and cast into newsprint, will look s-xist?
If they did, they’re all now just one leak, one disgruntled former adviser, one factional enemy, away from a world of pain. One they voted for yesterday.