Julia Gillard vs. Tony Abbott: Candid Feminist Smack Down

By: Hannah Walker

Julia Gillard, Australia’s first female Prime Minister, took down the Leader of the Opposition, Tony Abbott, in the House of Parliament last Tuesday, over his hypocritical stance on the Peter Slipper scandal. Slipper served as Speaker to the House of Representatives, but resigned after an array of degrading, sexually antagonistic text messages between himself and former employee James Ashby were publicly released. This was not before Tony Abbott set a motion that asked Parliament to sack Slipper, reason being that his actions “no longer uphold the dignity of this Parliament.”

Tony Abbott putting forth a motion to fire Slipper, addresses Gillard in his attempt to bring down the Speaker.

Abbott passionately spoke out against Slipper’s sexist and misogynistic remarks, in addition to accusing the Prime Minister of supporting Slipper and a government that “should already have died of shame.” Gillard’s response to his hypocrisy that has been antagonizing her and other women in Parliament for years is nothing short of revolutionary. In Gillard’s response we bear witness to a strong female leader openly, eloquently, and mercilessly call a man out on his bullshit.

Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, being a general badass

As Gillard approaches Tony Abbott it is evident that this fiery red head means to take no prisoners. She begins, “I will not be lectured about sexism and misogyny by this man. I will not.” She acknowledges Abbott’s statement that people who display sexist views are not welcome or appropriate candidates for high office, and she continues by suggesting that if Abbott “wants to know what misogyny looks like in modern Australia… he needs a mirror”. Gillard does the unthinkable, something that is very rarely talked about among politicians, and even more rarely caught on tape: She speaks fiercely and candidly about the double standard that exists in government. Abbott has articulated sexist remarks many times, causing his attempt to seek political justice, to become a moment of pure hypocrisy; below are a few examples of his blatant sexism:

In an interview, when asked about the under representation of women in power said: “If it’s true, Stavros, that men have more power generally speaking than women, is that a bad thing?”

Outside of Parliament, stood next to signs describing the Prime Minister as a man’s bitch and ‘ditch the witch’.

Rejected the use of the abortion pill and used his title as Health Minister to skew and denounce the safety and validity of RU486 (abortion pill). And in March 2004 stated “Abortion is the easy way out”.

During a carbon pricing campaign stated, “What the housewives of Australia need to understand as they do the ironing…”

In her rebuke of Abbot, Gillard continues to provide concrete, verifiable evidence that exhibits Abbott’s continuous disregard and disrespect for the women of Australia. She states, “I will not ever see the Leader of the Opposition seek to impose his double standard on this Parliament. Sexism should always be unacceptable. We should conduct ourselves as it should always be unacceptable.”

Slowly Abbott’s facial expression turns from a smug dismissive smile into that of embarrassment as he glances at his watch.  The Prime Minister closes her fifteen minute long impassioned attack by stating, “Good sense, common sense, proper process is what should rule this Parliament. That’s what I believe is the path forward for this Parliament, not the kind of double standards and political game-playing imposed by the Leader of the Opposition now looking at his watch because apparently a woman’s spoken too long.” Oh dear Mr. Abbott, I do believe that you have been ripped a new one.

Finally, a strong female voice has spoken out against the exact thing that perpetuates sexism in politics—the DOUBLE STANDARD. Those people who use anti-sexist beliefs as a means of political gain, but do nothing in their everyday life to promote those same views, are guilty of perpetuating misogyny and the double standard. It is refreshing to see an articulate, fierce, passionate woman take such an objective, affecting stance against the hypocrisy of her opponent. Women everywhere should feel proud and empowered to take a stance, like Gillard, to ensure that sexism is not just publicly condemned, but universally and justly eradicated from intimate day-to-day life.

For further exploration check out the full 15 min video of Gillard’s response to Abbott:

By Wetlands Magazine

Wetlands Magazine is the University of Puget Sound campus publication dedicated to the critical interrogation of gender, sexuality, ability, age, class, race, embodiment, intersectional identities and social justice as well as the celebration of related art, poetry, literature and performance.