Tag Archives: Julia Gillard

Getting rid of dysfunctional Prime Ministers

30 Nov

 

Tony Abbott Announces Leadership Team

 

Former Liberal Premier of Victoria, Jeff Kennett this morning dumped big time on the federal LNP, claiming that dislike for Prime Minister Tony Abbott is a major factor in the Victorian election result that yesterday brought a resounding victory to the ALP, ousting the Liberal government in its first term.

Kennett claims the Abbott government is a “shambles,” and Ministers in the Napthine Government said there was “no question’’ that the unpopularity of Tony Abbott in Victoria was a factor in their defeat.

The government is in a bind about Tony. If they get rid of him in his first term they risk being seen as unstable and disloyal, allegations they levelled unrelentingly while in opposition at the ALP for its ongoing leadership woes with Kevin Rudd.

An aside on that matter. Now we have a good deal more information about that debacle, wouldn’t it have been so much better if Gillard had informed the electorate about the difficulties the government was having with Rudd, rather than leaving us to wake up one morning and discover we no longer had the extremely popular Prime Minister who’d led the Labor party to victory? Pole-axing an electorate in such a fashion and then going on to be excessively secretive as to the reasons for such drastic action would seem to be a most unwise strategy, and indeed, that’s what it proved to be.

The situation with Abbott is very different: while Rudd was still popular but behind the scenes, dysfunctional, Abbott is openly dysfunctional and unpopular to boot, so the electorate won’t go into nearly as much shock and awe if he’s chucked out of the top job in his first term.

Personally, I’d like to see Abbott stay on as leader as he’s the ALP’s best asset.

The federal government is like a dysfunctional family with a rogue father at its head. Everyone closes ranks and publicly supports the patriarch even though he’s bringing ruination down on their collective heads, because that’s what families do. They stick together in the face of adversity, and in so doing, enable the maintenance of the dysfunction. This eventually damages every family member, and the price for such misguided unity is death, of one kind or another.

There’s little more difficult than dealing with a dysfunctional leader, be it in politics or the family, and we saw how the ALP crumbled under the pressure of their Rudd woes.

The precedent for getting rid of first term Prime Ministers has been set, and there are few among us who would find it shocking the second time around. However, the LNP are likely far too spooked by the Rudd saga to risk ousting their dysfunctional leader in his first term. This could well be their downfall.

 

Why Julia Gillard is my sister

3 Jul

I’m not the type of essentialist gender feminist who believes every woman is my sister simply because we share biological characteristics, unlike leading public figure Anne Summers, who in this article  expresses outrage against certain female MPs who did not resign “in solidarity” with Ms Gillard when she lost the ALP leadership to Kevin Rudd last week.

I don’t usually follow the line that a high achieving woman is making things better for all of those who share her sex. That to me is a romantic idea that has little basis in reality, indeed there are women among us considerably worse off after Ms Gillard’s prime ministership, for example the sole parents shifted to Newstart, and women seeking asylum.

Summers’ test of faith I find entirely self-defeating. What would it serve Australian society if every time a woman in public office was badly treated, her female colleagues resigned? In a nano second, there would be none of us left anywhere. It’s the sort of demand a comfortable middle class feminist can make from her armchair without pausing to consider the ramifications, for individuals and the greater good of our society.

That being said, these last few days I’ve noticed a sense of relief in myself and people around me. What is this about? The cessation of sexist abuse against Ms Gillard, that’s what it’s about.

It’s only since Ms Gillard left the leadership that it’s become painfully clear just how bad and how constant the gender-based abuse was. It’s like the relief you feel when you stop hitting yourself on the head with a hammer, if you are given to that form of self-abuse.  We no longer have to witness the daily public denigration of a woman, because she is a woman. We no longer have to witness the gender war in all its frightening darkness, as fought between Ms Gillard and the sexists from all walks of life, whose first complaint against the Prime Minister was that she is female, and who viewed every other dissatisfaction through that gender prism.

We have never seen such a terrifying display of anti woman feeling in our politics, because we have never had a female leader. We couldn’t see how bad it was until it stopped. We couldn’t see how the sexist abuse distracted from the most important  task of keeping our society functioning, which Ms Gillard’s government achieved better than almost any other Western government.

There is a great deal on which I vehemently disagreed with Ms Gillard. I did not personally take to her, though as Deputy PM I thought she would one day be an excellent leader. That day came too soon, and under fraught circumstances that could not have been worse for our first female PM. That the ALP chose to depose then leader Kevin Rudd in his first term was a questionable decision. That they should seize the opportunity to install the country’s first female leader, who as well as everything else was forced to become the blood-soaked symbol of the fallen man’s “knifing” beggars belief. One can only assume that as usual, the blokes brought a woman in to clean up their mess.

Though I am wary of joining anything, let alone a sisterhood (you will not find a woman less interested in or less capable of belonging than me) every time Ms Gillard was abused because of her sex, I was also abused. The unrelenting sexist and misogynist commentary directed towards her was directed at all women, though the perpetrators would no doubt strenuously deny that. It cannot be any other way, anymore than racism can only be aimed at one individual, leaving everyone else untouched.

We should be outraged at the contempt and insult daily enacted towards Ms Gillard. At any moment it can be and is turned against any woman who falls foul of those men and  women who are so conflicted in their attitudes towards us they can only fear and hate, solely because of our sex. One of Ms Gillard’s achievements, though it is not one any sane person could have anticipated or desired, is that she has shown us, through her personal endurance, the degree to which hatred of women still flourishes in Australian society and the awful toll it takes on that society.

In sexism and misogyny, Ms Gillard is my sister.

Knitted fruit makes more sense than politics

27 Jun

The only political event in the last twenty-four hours to provoke in me a smidgen of fleeting sadness, was the resignation of the two most admirable federal politicians in recent memory, Independents Rob Oakeshott and Tony Windsor.

While many around them succumbed (with little or no thought for the well-being of the country they were elected to serve) to bitterness, envy, misogyny,narcissistic rage  and rampant idiocy, Windsor and Oakeshott stood firm, emanating decency, integrity, and, yes, that rarest of all virtues in our 21st century parliament, common sense,  while all around them busied themselves with their daily obsequious capitulation to the demands of their lower, reptilian-brained selves.

On a personal level, I dislike Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard almost equally. But this should not matter. Ms Gillard undoubtedly achieved much while simultaneously behaving despicably towards asylum seekers and single parents. We have no idea what Mr Rudd might have achieved, since he was dumped without warning in his first term. We have now come full circle, a political ouroboros, its head devouring its body in obsessive self-absorption.

When Ms Gillard took over from Kevin Rudd after the coup, she drank from a poisoned chalice, as women in politics frequently do, brought in, as we are, to clear up the messes made by blokes. As well, we are a distraction from said messes, and make the party involved look progressive.  Oh look! We’ll make a woman PM, for the first time evah, and that will take everyone’s mind off our chaos!

The repercussions of the coup were bound to be many, and like uranium rods, they have a lengthy half-life. How much better to install a woman to suffer the fall-out than to put a man at risk!

Now patriarchal order has been restored, the woman has gone, the blokes can get back to their business, fighting an election. Mr Rudd proved himself to be exceptionally adept in 2007, let’s hope none of his gloss has faded in the intervening and humiliating years. That he can lead the ALP to victory seems as likely as me learning how to sew, but if he can save a few seats, that will be better than nothing.

I am now returning to my blog break. I’m knitting fruit, in an attempt to dissuade the  creatures that visit my kitchen every night from chewing on the real fruit in my full fruit bowl. Yes. A real woman keeps a full fruit bowl. When considering our political options, we should never forget that fact.

UPDATE ON CONVOY OF CLEAVAGE: WE ARE NOW IN THE NEW STATESMAN

Knitted fruit

So our Convoy wasn’t feminist? Bite me, baby.

20 Jun

See here, Convoy critics. I will do whatever I like with my breasts. If I want them in a montage of cleavage, I will put them there. I don’t care if you think this is an ineffective feminist action, or that I am not a feminist if I make it. Who are you to tell me what to do with my body?  Who are you to decide if I’m a feminist or not?

I don’t care if you think our convoy of cleavage was an ineffective protest. I never framed it as a protest. I said it was a frivolity that would achieve nothing. You imposed your own values on it, and then complained because it didn’t meet them.

We had no obligation to fulfil your expectations. Get off your arse and do it the way you want, instead of bitching and moaning that we didn’t do it for you.

I don’t care if you are angry because looking at our breasts will give guys a hard on. If you are angry about guys getting hard ons, take it up with them. Don’t tell me I can’t do what I like with my breasts because it will disturb “men.” Don’t tell me I can’t do what I like with my breasts because I’m playing into the hands of the patriarchy. Don’t tell me I don’t know what I’m doing cos brainwashed by the menz.

Actually, I think it’s the other way round. You are buying into patriarchy’s fear of women, and the myth of the power of our bodies to make men uncontrollably wild.

Personally, I have no problem with heterosexual men enjoying images of the female body. It seems pretty damn natural to me.

Years of patriarchy telling me what to do with my body, now Grace Collier and the feminists as well?

You find it sad that I can’t make a political point without using the “money [ie cum] shot?” It was my cleavage. I didn’t post an image of a man ejaculating on my face. Check this blog. See how many political points I can make. Wanna read my doctoral thesis and see how many political points I made in that? How about I send you any one of the many international conference papers I’ve presented, all of which make political points? Book chapters? Lectures? Articles? How very patriarchal of you to judge me by one shot of my cleavage, not my body of work.

I don’t know why you want to put me and all the other women involved down, for an innocuous display of our cleavage. I don’t care really, though I am an analyst  & I could give you a few theories. Suffice to say that your need to do this is your problem, not ours, and we’re not carrying it for you.

The Convoy of Cleavage was initiated and executed with an enormous amount of good will, joy, friendship, co-operation and laughter. A bunch of women, many of whom have never met, had a damn good time together, and made a point about sexism. It was a moment. It was never intended to be anything else.

UPDATE: WE ARE NOW IN THE HUFFINGTON POST WORLD SECTION.

Also in the UK Telegraph.

The Convoy featured in the UK Daily Mail, a Dutch paper and the Indian Deccan Chronicle.  Yes, we went global, and we find that very satisfying. Because of us, the sexist attacks on PM Gillard, and all women, got international coverage as part of our story. That was the icing on the cake for us.

We didn’t do it in a manner that met with your feminist approval?

Tough titty.

Convoy of Cleavage

This montage of images sent in by Twitter women who formed the Convoy of Cleavage was created and distributed by Destroy the Joint

The Convoy of Cleavage. In which the breast strikes back.

17 Jun

After a week of astounding personal attacks on Prime Minister Julia Gillard, some of us Twitter women have decided we’re done with this shit, and we’re not taking it anymore.

The last straw (at least up to this morning) came yesterday, when AFR columnist and industrial relations consultant Grace Collier complained on ABC Radio National’s Sunday Extra that Ms Gillard had, offensively, according to Collier, revealed cleavage in the House of Representatives.

The PM had displayed too much flesh, Ms Collier declared, and in her professional opinion cleavage is inappropriate in the work place.

Bind your breasts, sisters, lest they cause any man or woman to be distracted from their tasks by that enemy of capitalism, desire.

It seems to me that if we are to stamp out this irrational horror of the female breast, (see DSM-V: Horror of and Repulsion Towards the Female Breast, A Disorder in Both Genders) we have little choice but to use immersion therapy, in which we expose Ms Collier and fellow sufferers to images of that which they so fear, in the informed hope that they may become desensitised, and return to their normal, hinged lives.

With this in mind I tweeted that obviously we must all post images of our cleavage on Twitter. This suggestion was enthusiastically received by one @MsBaileyWoof, herself a deceptively ditzy blonde with attitude who likes to sleep on picnic tables. In an astonishingly short time Ms Bailey Woof created the hash tag #convoyofcleavage which in turn was taken up by racy Twitter women who believe it’s time everyone accepted that women have breasts and got over it, to the best of their ability.

As MPs return to Canberra today, we hope women all over Australia will join us in our Convoy of Cleavage by posting images of yours, remembering of course to use the hash tag. The Convoy will be led by myself and women who have pledged to join me. (Don’t leave me hanging out there on my own, sisters. You won’t, will you?)

They didn’t!

Update: As I have now unveiled my breasts on Twitter, it seems cowardly not to do the same here. In solidarity with Ms Gillard, this is No Place for Sheep’s contribution to #ConvoyofCleavage

DSCN1988

But wait! There’s more! Understandably there will be women who do not feel comfortable making intimate images public. However, it appears that almost every one of Ms Gillard’s physical characteristics have been fair game for the loons. Please feel free to tweet images of your fingernails,your ear lobes, your hair, your glasses, your jackets, or, if you feel like it, your arse. Do use the same hash tag, in the interests of order.

Yes, this exercise is entirely frivolous and will achieve nothing. Yes, I expect we will be gored by Helen Razer (after Baudrillard) for our mindless capitulation to empty symbolism. Though as that lady recently posted an image of her own cleavage, struggling to escape an appallingly tasteless pink brassiere as she held aloft the dripping carcass of a Peking duck, maybe not.

For any of you who are uncertain about cleavage etiquette, here’s an excerpt from Seinfeld, in which Jerry instructs George on how to behave when two breasts loom.

Enjoy your day.

Men who hate women are everybody’s problem.

13 Jun

It’s no surprise that there dwell among us packs of males, whose feelings about women are so conflicted that while outwardly conducting apparently reasonable relationships with females close to them, they display the most base hostility to women they perceive as different, and in some way dangerous.

It also comes as no surprise that this hostility is expressed in sexual terms. Our breasts and our genitals serve as a focus for the fear and hatred felt towards us by some men, all of whom have mothers, some of whom have wives and female lovers, many of whom have daughters and sisters. Our body shapes and our faces are also the focus for this hatred, and our physical characteristics are almost always the first object of complaint when such a man feels himself provoked by something we have or have not done.

What ought to really terrify us, apart from the frequently repressed fear of going about our daily lives amongst these marauding packs, fear we must repress or we’ll never get out of our front doors, is that some of them will likely soon form the government of this country.

The Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, has served as a lightening rod for woman hatred , but anyone who thinks it’s only about her needs to think again. Any one of us who crosses any one of those men will be treated in exactly the same way, because that is what they do. They have no idea how to do anything else, and they don’t care to find out.

These men, and the women who support them, will have control over an array of legislation that directly affects women in terms of our reproductive health, and child care, for example. If the ALP defeat is as catastrophic as is forecast, there will be little in place to curb their enthusiasm for controlling our lives. We must not have men who hate us and the women who support them, wielding such power over us. Read this piece, by Lenore Taylor, on the possibilities.

This is Tony Abbott’s statement on abortion

If the last few days of ugliness have shown us anything, it’s that there are men who hate women and women who will make excuses for them, fast heading into a situation where they will have an alarming degree of control over our bodies and our lives.

I know there are men who are disgusted and repulsed by the attitudes and actions of some of their fellows. You have to speak up. This is not just a problem for women. Anything you can do and say. Whenever you can do and say it.

It is a bizarre and isolating feeling, to live in a body that can be so vilified simply because it is female. The slurs may be directed against Ms Gillard in these latest instances, but they threaten every woman. Everyone needs to take a stand against those men who need to belittle women, in order to feel good about themselves. It isn’t fun. It isn’t just a joke. It’s a sick and perverted masculinity.

Come September,vote with your reason not your emotions

11 Jun

Of all the scurrilous campaigns conducted by the Federal Opposition, and maniacally propagated by almost all the mainstream media, the erroneous suggestion that we vote for a leader when we elect a government in this country has to be one of the most dangerous.

Dangerous because it deliberately disguises the manner in which our Westminster political system actually works. We do not elect our leaders. We elect a party that is entirely responsible for electing its own leader. As we know all too well, a party can sack their leader, without consulting us, at any time.  Had any of us been in any doubt about this, it was made graphically obvious when the ALP defenestrated Kevin Rudd in  his first term as leader, and after he’d led them to an extraordinary victory.

Be that as it may.

I’ve heard and read of many people vowing that if the ALP now defenestrates Prime Minister Julia Gillard, they will never vote Labor again. While I can fully sympathise with this enraged despair, an expression of powerlessness if ever there was one, at the same time it is alarmingly nihilistic, and the country can ill-afford dramatic gestures at this point in our politics.

The ALP needs to get its house in order and earn back the trust it squandered with heart-stopping recklessness since 2007. It may well be doing this from the Opposition benches. Things may well have got so bad there really is no hope of them retaining government, no matter who leads them. But disillusioned as many of us are, we have to do our bit and use our heads, not our hearts. If there is any chance at all of minimising a Labor defeat, we have to take it. The alternative, a coalition government led by Tony Abbott, likely in place for decades, is simply too appalling to contemplate.

The notion that we vote for our leader is part of the Opposition campaign, which relies almost entirely on disseminating false information through the use of simplistic   narratives. The degree to which it has taken hold in the electorate is shocking. That we behave and vote as if we live in a presidential electoral system reveals a vast and profound ignorance of our reality, an ignorance the Opposition and certain sections of the media manipulates and exploits to its own advantage.

No matter how pissed off you are with those in the ALP who have brought us to this, look first to who is standing in your electorate, not to who will or will not be, temporarily, the leader. I know they don’t deserve our trust. But nobody deserves decades of a Coalition government, while the ALP languishes in greatly reduced numbers, as ineffective in opposition as they have been in dealing with their internal strife.

Come September, vote with you reason, not your emotion. And that way, perhaps the damage can be minimised.

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