Tag Archives: Julia Gillard

A Letter to the former Prime Minister

043974-gillard-election

Louise hails from Queensland and Studies at the University of Queensland. She is the NUS Queensland State Environment Officer. She is a collector of tee-shirts and missing memories. However she is yet to learn how to vacate a shopping trolley without falling over. 

Dear Julia

Thank you.

I’m sorry that your prime ministership coincided with the worst of the national discourse. I’m sorry that as you paved the way, Tony Abbott, Alan Jones, and Howard Sattler tried to block the path for women. Even Germaine Greer was part of the blockade. I’m sorry that so many people gave credence to these people. It’s not much, but some of us cried and screamed and ranted. I’m sorry that we couldn’t destroy the joint. I’m sorry that our fight wasn’t limited to arguing with internet trolls. I’m sorry that we had to refute views published in the mainstream media just as often as we had to campaign to have a page removed from Facebook.

The depth of my sadness on Wednesday night was surprising to me. Honestly, I wasn’t your biggest fan in a policy sense. But, I wanted the opportunity to judge you on your policies – an opportunity which was consistently denied to me, and every other Australian. We wasted so much time talking about your shoes. As my housemates will contend, I spend enough time talking about my own. After we’d finished discussing your hair, your glasses, your clothes and your body, there were no column inches left to analyse your legacy. I wanted the Australian public to discuss why your government was wrong to process asylum seekers offshore. I wanted a national celebration when you introduced the legislation for the NDIS. Instead, we got endless speculation about whether or not your tears were authentic.  

Once some blokes decided that you were ‘illegitimate’ as a prime minister, the rest of the bullshit flowed faster than twitter on a Q&A night. We know that 17 of Australia’s prime ministers first ascended to the top job after a party room spill or a vote of no confidence. Though your company in this respect includes Menzies, Curtin and Keating, you were the first to be labelled illegitimate. Menzies and Curtin, the most celebrated prime ministers from either side of politics, led minority governments for a time. Yet, we remember them as Australian icons, free from the indignity of being called illegitimate. Maybe 1940s Australia had a better comprehension of the Westminster system, or maybe 2010 Australia simply couldn’t resist the pervasive lure of misogyny to accept you as PM.

I will never accept the idea that Australia is not ready for a female PM. It gives us an out. It implies that only an advanced society could countenance the idea of a woman in charge. Those who peddle this line use some of my favourite things about Australia, to prosecute an argument which crumbles under the most superficial of scrutiny. We’re larrikins and bogans, blokes and sheilas. We abhor pretention and snobbery. We’d prefer to watch the big men fly at the G than spend the evening at the opera. But accepting a woman in the top job is not a matter of altering our national character. We don’t have to pretend to be something we’re not. We can, simultaneously, embrace female leadership and our own brand of national kulcha. Let us never say “a place like ‘Straya is incapable of keeping our misogyny in check. Sorry ladies.” That’s absolute crap.

It’s important for us to acknowledge the shit you put up with. Equally, though, it is imperative that we recall the progress you made. Thank you for calling out sexism and misogyny in our national parliament. We still refer to it as ‘that speech’. Some of my friends claimed to have given up on politics. They saw that video and changed their minds. Finally, we had a prime minister who told the nation that she wasn’t going to put up with it anymore, and we didn’t have to cop it either. You inspired us to deliver our own version of that speech. We have had far too many opportunities to follow your example, and call out sexism in our own lives  – whether we’re naming and shaming sexist cowards at NUS National Conference, or dancing at a nightclub where we’re forced to assert that no means no.

Now, I recommend that you grab a beer. Avoid reading the Australian and watching Bulldogs games (except on August 30 – they’re playing Melbourne). You’ve earned a bit of break. The rest of us can hold the fort for a while. As you said, it will be easier for the next woman and the one after that. Thanks for being the first.
Love, Louise

 

Louise Scarce

NUS Queensland Environment Officer 

Advertisements

Media for Men?

iStock_000011122254Small-620x446
Hannah Smith is the Women’s Officer at the University of Sydney and the NSW Women’s Officer for NUS.
She studies Government and IR and Gender Studies and as a result is known to use too much Foucault and Connell in everyday conversations.She likes to claim that her lack of cooking skills is in fact a result of her commitment to the feminist cause… but it’s really not.
On May 11th, Julia Gillard spoke about the threat of an Abbott Government for Australian Women at the “Women for Gillard” launch at Trades Hall in Sussex Street, Sydney. What transpired in the media in the days to follow was the most tremendous farce of partiality and journalistic integrity I have seen in my life thus far.Among the articles written about the event, many critcised Julia for playing the “gender card” or the “abortion card”, others criticised her joke about men in blue ties, one telegraph article was outraged that many of the women involved in the event were already labor party members. One of Bolt’s readers accused Gillard of “gender apartheid” and “reverse sexism”. Sunrise- hard-hitting as always- ran a panel segment on the event, featuring David “breastfeeding is gross” Koch and Alan “died of shame” Jones.

First things first, what the hell is a ‘gender card’? Do people really believe Julia Gillard mentioned the threats to abortion rights under an Abbott government to rouse up sympathy from voters? Abortion has never been a vote winner and there is a possibility that Gillard mentioned abortion because it is an important womens issue, and she was at a women’s event. maybe. And can someone please tell me how a complex and vast spectrum of movements, issues, groups and individuals like the women’s movement could be contracted and defined merely as a ‘card’ to be played to win votes?

But really though, Gender Apartheid? A women’s event is Gender apartheid? That these sorts of comments go by unnoticed is a testament to the undeniable right-wing bias of Australian media outlets. Even Fairfax, who are supposed to be at least somewhat more balanced and fair, called the event an ‘act of a desperate prime minister’.

In a case of bittersweet irony, the very next day, a menu from a liberal party fundraiser was released that poked fun at the Prime Minister’s body type. What more justifcation did we need for a ‘women for gillard’ campaign? a lot apparently. Still today, media outlets bemoan the politically motivated and desperate attempts of the “Women for Gillard” campaign.

I am proud of our Prime Minister. I believe she has worked for Australia consistently and competently, despite the disgusting misogyny levelled against her. I don’t believe that the “Women for Gillard” campaign is a desperate political act- I believe it is a natural next step from a woman and her government who have delivered many historical reforms for the women of Australia. I remember seeing Gillard speak at the UN Women International Women’s Day breakfast earlier this year, where she declared that “If the women’s movement has changed only one life- it’s worth it”.

Australia’s media should be ashamed of their central role in unfairly besmirching the work of a Prime Minister and I hope that all those women out there who are for Gillard stand up and make their voices heard before September 14.

Hannah Smith
University of Sydney Women’s Officer

Girl Power: like feminism, but prettier and in a shorter skirt

article-2201053-14F0AE6C000005DC-149_634x362

 

Lorelei is an Arts Student at the University of Queensland, she is actively involved in the Womens Collective and was instrumental in its creation. She is a collector of cardigans and a lover of bunnies. In German mythology, Lorelei is a rock on the Rhine river.

For the average young feminist, being disappointed with the depiction of women in mainstream media is hardly novel. Western pop culture is and always has been a big old jerk where representation of ladies is concerned. In recent times though, it feels like we are slowly but surely catching glimpses of progress; every so often the F-bomb gets some airplay and feminism takes one teensy step forward from its reputation as a cult for girls with no bras and hairy legs (which is called ‘Saturday night’ in my house). Women everywhere are watching with relief as high-profile personalities, from Tina Fey to Julia Gillard to the woman who invented Feminist Ryan Gosling, bring the concept of feminism to the public sphere.

One role model in particular will, I predict, leave a lasting legacy to the feminist movement. She has taught us that being a Single Lady is something to dance about, that Honeys can make the Moneys and that in fact we Run the World. I am of course referring to Beyoncé. Beyoncé is kind of the face of the modern feminist: incredibly talented, incredibly successful, peddling a solid message of female empowerment. The icing on the cake is that she’s been named People’s Most Beautiful Woman 2012, her hair is perfect and her body is a wonderland. And she’s married and a mother so you also know that even though she’s wearing a leather leotard, she’s not, you know, loose. Morally. Or vaginally.

It’s kind of like she’s feminism, but heaps more palatable. She’s…well…she’s Girl Power. I know, I know. Girl Power was something the Spice Girls invented in that unfortunate period we sometimes refer to as “the 90s” if we’re being forced to remember it ever happened. Girl Power was pink and sparkly and adorned with 70s floral motifs and friendship bracelets. Girl Power looked like this:

girl power

 

Fistpump!! Billowing hair!! Skinny girls silhouetted against a cherry-coloured supernova!! Are we feeling empowered yet?

Well, just as we all exited the 90s and blossomed into adulthood, so did Girl Power. And now it looks like this:

GQ

 

That’s Bey-Bey in a recent GQ interview where she really outed her feminist sensibilities with quotes like “Equality is a myth” and “[Men] define what’s sexy. And men define what’s feminine. It’s ridiculous.” See? It’s feminism! Just topless in a men’s magazine doing fistpumps and having great hair! Are we feeling empowered yet?

I should mention here that the point of this piece isn’t ten minutes of gratuitous Beyoncé bashing. I still think she’s fabulous and it’s nowhere close to my place to judge any woman for what she does between the pages of a gentlemen’s magazine. The point of this somewhat tangential collection of thoughts was instead to vent my deep frustration at the tone of mainstream female empowerment in the second decade of the 21st century, which is always sexy and rarely has its clothes on. I know you all know what I’m talking about. I’m sick of the ad industry, the entertainment industry, the media industry and the fashion industry giving us ‘power’ via sexualisation. Beyoncé topped multiple “hottest chick eva” lists last year but no one called her the voice of 2012. No one bought GQ to read her interview. Her growing reputation as the spokesperson for today’s independent young women is supplemented and made acceptable by her other status as a sex symbol. If her GQ piece is a metaphor for the movement, I’m hanging out for the day we can read her quotes without also having to look at her breasts.

Sisters, our power, our talents, our strengths and our achievements bear no correlation to our bodies and what we do or don’t do with them. Our image does not need to be juxtaposed with a bunch of dudes (see below) just to demonstrate our agency. We don’t have to be sexually appealing or fit conventional standards of attractiveness to be an aspirational figure. And now more than ever, with feminism gaining traction in the mainstream, is the time to remember and emphasize these truths.

Girl power was fun when we were all eight but that was a whole other century ago.

2013, show me what ya got.

By

Lorelei Links

University of Queensland 

Wait, What? Women have rights now?

Post by Freya Logan 

I’m sure that the advisors to GOP presidential candidates and other conservative politicians will have to break the news sometime soon as US elections are coming up in November. The news will probably seem quite shocking and they will have to review a lot of policies and things that they have said. They’ll probably be pretty surprised and they’ll probably feel a bit sheepish. But soon the day will come when they will be told this shocking news and I am pretty sure it will go something like this:

Advisor: So I need to tell you something pretty shocking.

Conservative politician: Mmm?

A: So I was reading the constitution…and under the 19th amendment it says that apparently women in the US can vote too and have been able to vote since 1920.

CP: WHAT? I only read up to the 2nd amendment you know the “right to bare arms”.

A: Yeah, so apparently women make up over 50% of the electorate too.

CP: Oh. Oh crap.
A: Yeah. Damn.

Currently in the USA there is in my opinion a definite a war on women and their rights. I have been watching the level of policy promoting women disintegrate to where our sisters in the USA are slowly having their rights stripped away.

Late last year when I heard of some of the submitted acts and laws I thought “surely, this has to stop, I mean this legislation being debated is ultra-conservative extremist views, they won’t get passed.”

But no, I was wrong. I seems that every week I read something going from bad to worse. From women in Virginia being forced to have an ultrasound before an abortion, to Arizona where women have been literally legislated into a permanent state of pregnancy and Wisconsin’s repeal of the Equal Pay Rights act justified for the reason that money more important to men and therefore are more deserving of it.

And all of this in 2012.

What is worrying about this huge backlash against women occurring overseas, especially in a country such as the US that has such a cultural influence on Australia – in which the media it produces saturates our market, there has got to be political consequences that flow on.

This horrifies me. With the entire east coast of Australia governed by the Coalition party and with the chance that Tony Abbott could be the next Prime Minister I am very concerned over the position this would leave my rights and all women’s rights in Australia.

Since the Baillieu government was elected, Victoria has already seen the backtracking of equal opportunity laws and a continued struggle for better working conditions and pay by public sector workers who fill occupations that are predominantly taken on by women, such as nurses and teachers.

I am angry that I have to be worried about my rights as a woman in society today and I really should not have to be.

The situation in the US has gone far from being one-off extremist attack on the rights of minorities to a point of traditional mainstream conservatism which only views women as baby carrying receptacles. Before this goes any further backwards than it already has it needs to stop. Right now.

Women in the US have not been silent on the issue and there is a growing campaign calling for all women to use their vote wisely and to call out their local representative to remind them of that pesky little 19th amendment thing. Check out this video about equal pay in the US:

and the “Unite Against the War on Women” campaign.

And they really need reminding that we, both here and worldwide,  have a right to be treated equally and not as lesser citizens unable to make our own decisions, so they do not continue to make them for us.

This entire situation over the Atlantic reminds me why I am a feminist and why feminism is still so, so important in this day and age.

I am angry and concerned about what might happen to my rights, and I really shouldn’t have to be and that is why I am a feminist and you should be too.

In sisterhood,

This post was written by Freya Logan, Secretary of the Monash Student Association. To get in touch or involved with the MSA please head over to their website http://monashstudentassociation.com/ or ‘like’ them on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/msa.clayton