Saturday, October 13, 2012

What if it's the citizens that are right?

Wake up, Australia! You don’t understand the real story about that Julia Gillard speech in parliament this week.

First the turn of events: Julia Gillard spiflicates Tony Abbott in parliament; public applauds; international journalists applaud; local commentators complain that we’re both mistaken; bloggers respond; local commentators repeat their complaint.

For example, there’s this, from Fairfax’s Lenore Taylor, in which ordinary punters cheering for Gillard are accused of neglecting the context (that context, we’re reliably informed by everybody, is that Gillard made the speech in the context of defending the indefensible Peter Slipper).

It’s a patronising attitude, because it oversimplifies the audience, pretending that I (for example) cannot cheer the speech while being uncomfortable with its context – or that I should not.

How can I hold this apparent contradiction without bursting?

Easy: because the other piece of context that matters is Tony Abbott’s use of the phrase “died of shame”. It was tasteless, provocative, deliberate and inexcusable. Ms Gillard may have had her material prepared – but Tony Abbott provided the moment.

I can’t be the only person who’s sick to death of the double-standard under which journalists make excuses for Tony Abbott’s behavior – which incidentally creates the double-bind that Ms Gillard finally broke out of this week.

Abbott says whatever enters his brain, regardless of context; why, then, is it either fair or reasonable to criticize Ms Gillard’s response to him on the basis of the context? Mr Abbott has debased both the political and factual debate in this country; but his critics are apparently bound by courtesy and propriety, the rules of which are known only to the commentariat. 

The "it's just Tony" thing - "Boys will be boys, but the PM must hold herself to a higher standard" - is part of the problem - part of the misogyny.

The people are right. The commentators are wrong.


Marian Rumens said...

The media seems unable to grasp that Julia Gillard was not defending Peter Slipper. She was defending parliament against it becoming a Kangaroo Court and she was defending herself and her family against the snide, vicious, sexist attacks from Tony Abbott. Not one media outlet even mentioned the speech made by Mark Dreyfus QC who outlined the reasons the SSO should fail

Bill said...

Laura Tingle wrote the best article I've come across from a member of the press gallery on the "context" of the Gillard speech:

I think most of the media missed the fact that Slipper's text messages were not actually sexist. Describing female genitals as looking like unshelled mussels is not sexist. Describing male genitals as looking like a sausage (or a wiener) is not sexist. Suggesting that someone isn't suitable for a leadership role because of their gender is sexist. There's a difference that I think most of the media (especially the middle aged white men who seem to dominate that environment) don't understand. I suggest they spend more time reading and listening to Jane Caro.