Women in Australia, and all throughout the world have been chortling with glee today, delighting in every word of Julia Gillard’s truly wonderful speech calling Tony Abbott out on his appalling misogyny.
For nearly three years now, Abbott has used the most sexist epithets against Gillard, and against women. He has tolerated the use of words such as bitch, witch, “that woman”, allowed his supporters to use vile language against her, told Australian women that they ought to get back to doing the ironing, that they just don’t have what it takes to be a leader.
Gillard has simply taken it all. She has had to. We know what happens to women who dare to fight back. They are simply subjected to a further round of abuse, derided as shrill harridans who can’t take a joke. Abuse, followed by dismissal. She simply could not afford to fight back. She had to (pretend to) ignore it all.
How demoralising that has been all of us. When Gillard took power, my daughter and her friends raced around the oval (playground) at their school, thrilled that a woman had become prime minister. It was a tremendous moment of liberation for them. They could aspire to anything!
And then they watched. And I watched and other women watched, as Julia Gillard was attacked for the sin of being a woman. Each time my daughters watched, and each time I watched, and each time women in Australia watched, we learned the lesson that to be a woman in a public role is to invite abuse, for the crime of being a woman in public.
Finally, Gillard hit back. Hard. In a forum where her chief tormentor was forced to sit and listen. Just for once, a woman could tell a man exactly what she thought of his despicable beahviour, and he couldn’t simply walk away. At last, he was being held to account for his misogyny.
Didn’t he hate it?
It gets so wearying, day in day out, watching and listening to women in power being derided simply for being. So often we just shut the rhetoric out, try to let it not get to us. But it is so very, very tiring.
And this is why women everywhere are cheering for Gillard. Just for once, a woman has had a chance to tell it like it really is, and the bloke has had to sit and listen. And be held responsible for the hate he has been spewing.
Today has been a good day.
Should you not have watched the speech yet, make yourself a cup of coffee, or pour yourself a glass of wine, and take 15 minutes to enjoy it.
Or you can read a transcript: transcript of Julia Gillard’s speech on the Sydney Morning Herald site. But seriously, if you have time, watch it.
Mum, you will *love* this. And so will you, my beautiful daughter, who was so pleased when Gillard became Prime Minister.