My political handicap is bigger than yours
Hopefully at some point in the near future Julia Gillard will get to hang out with the newly-elected member of the Myanmar parliament Aung San Suu Kyi and they can trade jokes about what it’s like being a woman in politics.
Of course Suu Kyi has been the beneficiary of those two killer political weapons, a husband and children, so she might have some trouble relating to the hardships our own Prime Minister faces on a daily basis.
After all, Suu Kyi might have spent 15 of the last 21 years under house arrest, but no one has ever called her “deliberately barren”. Her father might have been assassinated by her political rivals the year she was born, but I bet Germaine Greer thinks her stylish backside is just fine.
A throwaway line at a party is a throwaway line at a party, but Julia Gillard has shown the first sign of starting to feel a bit sorry for herself.
According to the SMH this morning, at a party last week she said she and Barack Obama were good mates and: “I tell him, ‘you think it’s tough being African-American? Try being me. Try being an atheist, childless, single woman as prime minister’.”
If that is what she said, it was a stupid thing to say.
There’s no doubt Barack Obama and Julia Gillard have racked up a few “firsts” between them. But one first Obama can claim is that during the primaries to gain the Democratic nomination for the 2008 Presidential Election, he was the first ever nominee to be cloaked in Secret Service protection. No prizes for guessing the trigger for that decision.
The biggest genuine threat our Prime Minister has faced so far was the threat to her dignity after her own office sparked a ruckus that ended in her losing a shoe.
I am in the camp that maintains the PM does cop it more than her male counterparts because she is a woman. Years of moderating the comments on an opinion website makes you acutely aware of the level of gender-based scrutiny she comes under.
But the attacks on her atheism and her childlessness have come only from certain quarters of society. I think most voters couldn’t care less.
The embarrassing stuff about her earlobes, and the size of her backside (Greer’s words) are no worse than the attacks on Tony Abbott’s ears, or John Howard’s eyebrows or height.
And none of it is going to get her shot or locked up.
Gillard’s polling is dire, but as she keeps telling voters, she’s made of tough stuff and she doesn’t give up. It’s one of the biggest pros she’s got in her bag. Even people who don’t like her give her credit for being tough.
If she starts blaming her gender, non-parental status and lack of faith in God, she’ll just end up sounding like a whinger, and no one votes for one of those.
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