In an astonishing admission, Julie Bishop told the Sunday Telegraph in February 2013 that she only agreed to pursue Gillard for her involvement with the AWU after the Prime Minister accused Abbott of misogyny.
“Tony had always given Gillard the benefit of the doubt, he’d always thought there was a line she would never cross,” the now Foreign Minister said.
“She crossed the line that day, and as far as he was concerned, all bets were off. So it ultimately backfired on her, because I would never have raised the AWU matter had she not done that.”
So are we to understand from that, that Ms Bishop, as a lawyer and a politician, did not consider the matter worthy of pursuit until Tony got miffed at being called sexist? That because he got owned, they were prepared to use a 20 year old dirt file, spend weeks of Parliamentary sitting time, have police spend hundreds of hours investigating, and spend tens of millions on a Royal Commission, all of which found Ms Gillard not guilty of any wrong-doing.
This is an unbelievably vindictive abuse of power.
It is worth remembering what prompted Julia’s misogyny speech.
“These remarks of the Member for Fisher that were read into the court transcript, that are uncontested, that are now on the public record, are offensive. Many of them obscenely offensive. What female Labor Members would describe as sexist and misogynist if anyone else had uttered them.
This is a government which is only too ready to detect sexism, to detect misogyny, no less, until they find it in one of their own supporters.
Until they find it in someone upon whom this Prime Minister relies to survive in her job. Then, of course, no fault can possibly be found, no evil dare be spoken.
Well, the Australian public are not mugs. They know what is going on here.
They know that this Government is about to run a protection racket for something which is absolutely contemptible, for attitudes and values which are absolutely and utterly indefensible.
But it is not just the Speaker who has failed the character test. It is, indeed, this Prime Minister who has failed the judgment test.
This Prime Minister hand-picked the current Speaker for the top job of this Parliament.
Every day this Prime Minister stands in this Parliament to defend this Speaker will be another day of shame for this Parliament, another day of shame for a Government which should already have died of shame.”
The blatant hypocrisy and deliberate offensiveness of this speech demanded a response and Abbott got one that was lauded around the world as Gillard eviscerated him.
“The Leader of the Opposition says that people who hold sexist views and who are misogynists 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.”
Predictably, she was condemned by local conservative commentators for playing the gender card.
Paul Sheehan dramatically penned “The mask fell away” and Gillard came out “snarling, accusing Abbott of having a hatred of women, a man who unlike the Prime Minister, has raised three daughters.”
Miranda Devine spat “After rising to the top of her party through affirmative action, our first female prime minister cynically played the victim card. Her unscrupulous complaints about sexism and misogyny just empowered the worst kind of women to excuse their own failings, and justified every sexist stereotype”.
The Minister Assisting the Minister for Women, Michaelia Cash, last year described feminism as “a set of ideologies from many, many decades ago”. Foreign Minister and deputy leader of the Liberal Party, Julie Bishop, told women they should “stop whingeing and just get on with it” and stop casting themselves as victims.
In the meantime, future generations are already internalising misogyny.
The following random selection shows how endemic sexism is in our culture at all levels:
In 2010, a group of university students at St Paul’s College in Sydney set up a pro-rape Facebook page. The college’s “Define Statutory” group defined itself as “pro-rape, anti-consent”. In 2013 Wesley College students distributed stubby holders bearing the words “It’s not rape if it’s my birthday.”
In 2008, mayor of Mt Isa, John Molony, called on “beauty-disadvantaged women” to consider moving to the remote Australian mining town.
In 2009, Strathfield Councillor Danny Lim, suggested local Labor MP Virginia Judge buy a vibrator to “stop screwing with the people of Strathfield and screw herself instead”.
In 2010, Joe Hockey said “[Treasurer] Wayne Swan is to surpluses what Paris Hilton is to celibacy”.
ABC Radio presenter Genevieve Jacobs asked Tanya Plibersek “Do you feel bad that other people are raising your children?”
In 2011, Herald Sun journalist Andrew Bolt said ‘Can the ADF afford this social engineering, in which gender becomes a qualification – and a fault line? What will this do to the tight mateship so critical to a fighting unit? Does a woman turn her male colleagues from warriors to escort?’
Miranda Devine used the news of Australian federal government minister Penny Wong’s decision to parent a child with her female partner as the basis of a column in which she argued that the 2011 riots in England were the result of a “fatherless society”.
In 2012, Basketball Australia sent its women’s Olympic team to London in economy seats while the men flew business class.
2GB radio broadcaster Alan Jones said ‘ She [the Prime Minister] said that we know societies only reach their full potential if women are politically participating. Women are destroying the joint, Christine Nixon in Melbourne, Clover Moore here, honestly there is no chaff bag big enough for these people.’
David Farley, CEO of Australian Agricultural Company, when demonstrating a machine in an abbatoir, stated, ‘it’s designed for non-productive old cows. Julia Gillard’s got to watch out.’
NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell said “I’m not sure which other member could be the hooker, perhaps the Member for Canterbury [Linda Burney].”
Paul Keating left a planning meeting saying that “[Sydney Lord Mayor] Clover Moore couldn’t get a fuck on a troop ship coming home”.
Bob Day’s Family First complained about a television ad for sanitary pads. NSW President of FF, Jason Cornelius, said the word ”vagina” was not one that should be used in general conversation and it could cause embarrassment to parents who have to explain it to young children. ”I understand it can be used in medical discussions but it’s not appropriate in an ad when young ears are listening,” he said.
Liberal MP Kelly O’Dwyer said “There seems to be a campaign, a negative campaign that’s being run on Tony Abbott by female Labor politicians, who I’ve called the handbag hit squad because they get rolled out day in, day out to make these baseless attacks on Tony Abbott.”
In 2013, Mal Brough hosted a Liberal Party dinner whose menu featured ”Julia Gillard Kentucky Fried Quail – Small Breasts, Huge Thighs and a Big Red Box”.
Janet Albrechtsen said “While lack of humour infects both sides of politics, the Labor girls in particular need to loosen their pigtails. In Canberra today, there are far too few Fred Dalys and far too many Tanya Pliberseks.”
In 2014, Piers Akerman said “The ABC has tried to foist its left-wing agenda on the nation. Even the cartoon character Peppa Pig pushes a weird feminist line that would be closer to the hearts of Labor’s Handbag Hit Squad than the pre-school audience it is aimed at”
Radio hosts Kyle and Jackie O asked Sports Journalist, Erin Molan how many sportsmen she has had sex with, whether she has had a boob job, and whether she has ever slept with a cricketer.
Christopher Pyne claimed that increases in uni fees won’t disproportionately affect women because “women are well-represented amongst the teaching and nursing students. They will not be able to earn the high incomes that dentists and lawyers will earn”.
We have heard of sexual abuse in the Australian Defence Forces, and the horrific history of child sex abuse exposed by the Royal Commission. We know that domestic violence is a huge problem in this country, but we seem unwilling to question the inherent culture of sexism.
In summary, it was Tony Abbott that brought up misogyny. Abbott’s actions were entirely politically motivated to try to gain power. Gillard’s speech was from the heart, full of the emotion and the outrage that so many women feel at the subliminal, intangible, and overt sexism that is displayed by so many influential people in our society every day.
If drawing attention to sexism and misogyny is playing the gender card, and feminism is an outdated ideology, how are we to create change?
And if Abbott is prepared to waste the time of parliament, the police, and the Royal Commission to exact revenge for being called sexist, then he is playing the joker rather than leading.