Julia Gillard has some timely words for women in politics, based on her own experience as former prime minister of Australia. Timely and sobering.
The politician, whose friendship with Hillary Clinton during her time in power was diplomacy #goals, told a London audience on Tuesday that for women involved in public life, daily threats of violence were the norm.
Gillard was a keynote speaker at a memorial for UK MP Jo Cox, who died after being shot in June. “Threats of violence have become more prevalent for women in public life,” she said. “Once upon a time, to criticise a public figure, you generally had to put your name to that criticism.”
“They can take the form of detailed death threats, or threats of violence against family, friends and staff And of course, as a woman in public life, the violent threats take on another sickening dimension. Threats of violent abuse, of rape, are far too common. A woman in public view may expect to receive them almost daily.”
She also commented on the double standards faced by female politicians whether they’re married with children, or neither. “If you are a woman politician, it is impossible to win on the question of family. If you do not have children then you are characterised as out of touch with ‘mainstream lives’. If you do have children then, heavens, who is looking after them?” she said.
“I had already been chided by a senior conservative senator for being ‘deliberately barren.'”
Gillard was seen to be the target of a huge amount of misogyny during her short time in office. Opposition leader Tony Abbott famously stood in front of placards reading “witch” and “b*tch” in reference to Gillard during a rally, echoing the behaviour of a Republican rally attendee who shouted “hang the b*tch” in reference to Clinton this July.
When the levy finally burst and Gillard responded epically to Abbott’s criticism, it was an almost cathartic display at the frustration of gendered personal attacks.
It was legendary. If you haven’t seen it, do yourself a favour.
Even Hillary Clinton was into it, saying “sexism should have no place in politics” in response, and condemning the “outrageous sexism” faced by Gillard.
Nice one, Gillard. Tell it like it is. Also, any friend of Rihanna’s is a friend of ours, Gillard.