First Gillard came out with an odd speech about blue ties in what was clearly a cheap political ploy to accuse the Liberals of sexism.
By the time the papers had marshalled an array of headlines and disapproving female commentators, a liberal document was exposed that put Julia Gillard’s ‘big red box’ explicitly on the menu.
Needless to say this more or less put Ms Gillard off the hook for comments that might otherwise be considered unprovoked.
And less it end there, soon after, she was pressured to confirm on national radio if her partner was gay, more or less because he’s a hairdresser.
The whole thing reminded me of Adam Goodes response to a teenager calling him a monkey.
A striking aspect of that incident was how a crazily successful Sydney A lister could actually be so affected by a teenage girl’s comments. This in a stadium roaring with the sort colourful language that makes Aussies feel so uncouth overseas.
But that’s the key point. The depth of the injury reveals what’s easily missed by both the bully and the neutral: race issues are real. And no matter how easily those of us who have never been directly exposed to its acidity can say that Australia isn’t a particularly racist place; the continuing alienation and sensitivity felt by a superstar like Adam Goodes at the hands of a 13 year old demonstrates clearly enough that race is a live and relevant issue. And this is one that can be actively dealt with.
Likewise, the aggression expressed by so many against Julia Gillard, for a mixture of legitimate and unspoken reasons, is simply out of line.
I have actually heard people explicitly say they hate the woman, with a lack of respect that for whatever reason is simply not applied to other Australian politicians right now (admittedly my circle is may be slightly over-represented by right wing businessmen and their aspirants..)
The red-box-on-the-menu comment, the shameless questioning of the sexuality of her partner, and the tutting over her cleavage in parliament – apparently all in a week’s work for the Australian polity and commentariat – show that Julia Gillard’s concerns are real. As if her own sensitivity weren’t enough.
ps apparently tutting doesn’t mean what I think it did