Dear Ms Gillard, This is not a letter about my political stance or a letter based upon political motive. I’m not going to pretend that I agree with all the decisions you made while you were Prime Minister and I’m certainly not going to change my stance in the next election however I want to acknowledge how you have affected my view of women in our society, and my appreciation for your strength. I can imagine if I had undergone the criticisms and the emotional traumas that you have I’d be in some form of asylum. I’d have broken down and lashed out right around the time that the school age student threw a sandwich at me.
Everyone has an opinion on politics; this can be strewed as both good and bad, without constant attention to what is happening within our government how are we supposed to know what is happening to our country? The problem is not that everyone has an opinion; the problem is that a lot of people don’t think about the politics before their opinion is consolidated and verbalised. We are blessed here considerably in Australia; we have natural resources and do not fear for our lives from our leaders or our military, so why do we torment our leaders? No, I do not like a lot of your political stances however this doesn’t mean that it’s OK for me to throw a sandwich at you, talk about your ‘huge arse’ or try to bully you into discussing pointless ‘myths’ about your private life. Surely it’s more important to the people of Australia that you tell us that about the hopes and dreams you are putting into legislation to better the lives of your fellows rather than discussing inappropriate myths surrounding your partner. Come to think of it I don’t member Tony Abbott’s wife being asked whether she is a lesbian or John Howards for that matter. Yes sometimes people make fun of Tony Abbott’s budgie smugglers but it’s not vehement, poisonous or hurtful. I was astounded when the menu from the liberal dinner function surfaced. Yes there were mentions of other labor politicians but they weren’t sexualised or degrading in the manner which yours was. They weren’t personal attacks, and they weren’t gender based. Anyone that can see that not recognise the wrong in it is naive to the world around them and the affect that certain actions can cause.
I understand that in order for people to open their minds politicians tend to speak confidently and portray the extremes over the normal. I am of course talking about the Misogyny speech from 2012; at the time I thought it was a little far-fetched. I remember thinking oh surely it’s not that bad. Surely we don’t have this Australian culture which sexualises women? I went to an independent girl’s catholic school I was raised to believe that women and men are equal, so the norms of our culture astound me at times. It’s clear that our culture still has a long way to go. I never considered myself a feminist because feminist generally come from a stance that women are in some way subjugated to men in the work force, media and in the general culture. Feminists have a bad reputation for being man-haters and extremists. I am neither of those things, but I don’t like being judged or abused based on my gender within any aspect of our society. Maybe a little bit of your strength is just what we need to improve our cultural norms, again I’m not talking about politics, but definitely just a little bit of your strength to see what is right in front of us and tackle it head on. Thank you for opening my eyes in a way that other leaders never have.
From a UNE student, Ashleigh Baker.