Australian PM Excoriates Opposition Leader Over Sexism

Jullia Gillard is pretty damn amazing. Hey, Aussies, you guys have one hell of a Prime Minister. (Note, before anybody tells me how much she loves god and hates Muslims, it’s a hoax about every PM since 2005)

For those who haven’t heard, PM Gillard has made an incredible 15 minute speech in which she absolutely excoriates Leader of the Opposition Tony Abbott for trying to leverage the sexist comments made by another person while being ludicrously sexist himself.

For some context, Tony Abbott is an Australian politician and leader of the Liberal Party, which is center-right politically. Abbott moved to dump the Speaker of the House, Peter Slipper, after it was revealed that Slipper had sexually harassed a gay male staffer with text messages saying absolutely vile things about women. So Abbott stepped up and implied that if Gillard didn’t turn on the Speaker, then she was just as bad as he was.

But wait, that’s not the end of it. The thing is, Tony Abbott is a sexist prick on most days that it’s not politically beneficial for him to be disgusted by that sort of behavior. So Gillard, in bad ass fashion, called him out on exactly the kinds of shit he pulls on a regular basis with specific examples. It’s pretty damn brilliant. Some of my favorite pull quotes:

-The leader of the opposition says that people who hold sexist views and who are misogynist are not appropriate for high office. Well I hope the leader of the opposition has got a piece of paper and he is writing out his resignation.

-He has said, ‘If it’s true that men have more power, generally speaking, than women, is that a bad thing?’ [and] ‘What if men, by physiology or temperament, are more adapted to exercise authority or to issue command?’

-Now he is looking at his watch because apparently a woman’s spoken too long.

Here’s the video:

As stirring as this was, it’s important to note that since then, Abbott’s motion was voted down, but Slipper has resigned. And he should have, the things he said were awful and he was sexually harassing a staffer. But the sheer ridiculousness of Tony Abbott trying to pretend that he he gives a damn about such things was too much to handle. Abbott, in pretty typical fashion, has bounced back and is now accusing the Government of playing the “gender card.” Yea, clearly he’s no sexist.

It’s important here to note, also, that this is what politics should more often reflect. I get so irritated when politicians pretend that they’re all there to do a job and respectfully disagree. Like when Harry Reed made a big show of working with Mitch McConnell in 2010 when he could have gotten rid of the filibuster. And McConnell promised him that the Republicans would be more careful not to abuse it, and there was no reason to get rid of it because they worked it out. But, of course, the Republicans have ramped up their abuse of the filibuster in the 112th Congress, and that’s because Mitch McConnell is not an honest actor concerned with good governance. Harry Reed never should have pretended that he was. There is no place, when you control the lives of other people, to pretend that everyone is being genuine when it’s clear that they are not.

Peter Slipper needed to go, but Julia Gillard wasn’t going to let Tony Abbott look like a defender of the rights and dignity of women in the process. He’s not. He’s a political hack that saw an opportunity, and we should recognize that.


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