Thursday, June 24, 2010

A good day to be a Julia!

Okay, I know it’s predictable but I just had to write a post on this most monumentous day – the day Australia has its first female Prime Minister. As a direct employee of J-Gil herself (though I work for the Victorian State Government, my specific project is Gillard’s and Ellis’ baby and my salary funding comes straight from DEEWR) and a crazy feminist, I am of course a bit biased about this turn of events. But I’m not here to rant and rave about Julia Gillard herself today – rather, I’m really intrigued by the response her PM-ship has drawn from some of my friends - mostly Liberals or those who aren’t usually that interested in politics.

While many facebook statuses this morning lauded Jules’ promotion, a large number of them either resorted to insulting her and Rudd, rather unproductively. For example:
• “She’s a bogan!”
• “Ranga wh*re
• “Rudd just ruined what would normally be one of the most historic moment's in the countries history by just giving the job away” (I guess this one functions as a sort backhanded tribute to having a female PM)
• “Stay away, don’t come back, save yourself” (to an overseas friend in the context of Gillard’s appointment)
• “onya kevin, you big girl” (slightly ironic since it was a girl who took his place).

To me, it seems these people are missing the point. Shouldn’t we be celebrating the first female Prime Minister of Australia, whatever our political bent? Even my Liberal friends who despise Gillard couldn’t be too distressed about this fact in itself (the Liberal party instigated the Liberal Women’s Council, for example, which holds evenings entitled “Why we need more women in parliament” and so forth). Or, at least, couldn’t some level of discernment and finessed critique be employed in discussing Rudd stepping down, or Gillard’s opening press speech as PM, where she announced she is reopening negotiations with the mining industry and taking down the current advertisements, acknowledged she hadn’t been elected by the public (but that the public would have a chance to choose their own Prime Minister in the forthcoming federal election) and spoke far more articulately than Kevin did in his farewell (but give the guy a break, it’s the most public form of job-loss anyone could go through, how would you feel!).

I don’t understand why these people can’t see the positives in the situation (I admit this conclusion sounds primitive and somewhat naïve, even to myself). Maybe using facebook as my source stimulus for this discussion was my own mistake! That said, most of my friend’s statuses were somewhat positive about Gillard, or at least mildly interested in the idea of a female PM. I’m most excited about a female Governor-General swearing in a female Prime Minister, a great step towards the value of female leadership becoming embedded in standard practice. And doesn’t that final sentence make me sound like such a public servant!

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