The PM's speech that went viral

October 12, 2012
Sexism and misogyny are alive and kicking on both sides of parliament.

I constantly scan the internet for breaking news, but I first found out that Prime Minister Julia Gillard's speech mercilessly lambasting opposition leader Tony Abbott for being a misogynist was going viral from my 16-year-old daughter.

She temporarily disconnected from the multiple social media she inhabits to call out to me: “Dad, have you seen that AWESOME Julia Gillard speech? EVERYBODY is talking about it!”

An hour later it was in the news headlines: PM's speech goes viral.

It was a speech that moved many people — in some cases to their great astonishment because their usual response to yet another pollie speech is anger or cynicism, and with justification.

This time the PM hit the mark and millions of women around the world — and millions of men who respect women — cheered as her words made Abbott and his crew squirm and shrivel in their plush front-bench seats.

As one Facebook friend spelled out the reason for this speech going viral:

“There is no woman alive who hasn't wanted to call out some contemptuous fuck like that, at some time. Abbott's smarmy contempt reminds us of some bloke or five for whom our only value was how good we could make him feel about himself, and when the answer was not at all, directed a bucket load of anger and hate disguised as condescension and so-called humour. Gillard calling Abbott out ... was a reclaiming of ground, and a refusal to be branded a shrew for having enough.”

There was that. But there was also hypocrisy, gross hypocrisy. Not just in the politicians hypocritical carry on about sexist language in the private text messages of the speaker of the House of Representatives who was forced to resign after they were made public (what would we find if every politicians SMS history was made public?), but in the words of the PM herself.

Even as Gillard blasted the real sexism and misogyny in the opposition ranks, her government was pushing through legislation to brutally slash the income of single parents. This was a real blow against women, who comprise the great majority of single parents.

The new welfare laws cut single parent payments by between $56 and $140 a week. When it went to the vote in the Senate, only the Greens and two independent Senators voted against it.

Clearly sexism and misogyny are alive and kicking on both sides of parliament.

Green Left Weekly has been exposing the attacks on women that have been carried out by Liberal-National and Labor governments alike as they implement their shared neoliberal corporate-first agenda, which has widened the pay gap between men and women in Australia over the last 18 years.

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