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Julia Gillard: 'It's going to be easier for the second female Prime Minister.'

Julia Gillard addressing the Foreign Corespondent’s Association.

One thing we can all agree on, is that Julia Gillard has faced a fairly steady barrage of criticism since she came to power in 2010.

Some of that criticism has stemmed from the way she got the top job; something that many Australians – who were taken aback by the overnight leadership change – are yet to forgive her for.

Some criticism of the Prime Minister and her Government has flowed from her management of major policy decisions: the mining tax, asylum seekers, and most recently, media reform.

Some criticism is a result of the inconsistencies between Julia Gillard’s public position on issues like the carbon tax and gay marriage.

And there is absolutely no doubt that some of the criticism is a result of her gender.

Let’s examine the evidence, shall we?

There were signs at a carbon tax rally that called for Australia to “ditch the witch”. There is the endless  commentary about whether or not Gillard wears the most flattering outfits for her body type. There are ever present references to her relationship status (unmarried – oh my!) and childlessness (she is barren – DELIBERATELY).

There was the incident when David Farley, chief executive of the Australian Agricultural Company, called Julia Gillard an “old cow”. And the time that Alan Jones said that the Prime Minister and other female politicians were ‘destroying the joint’.

Mamamia has asked previously whether Australia is ‘ready’ for a female Prime Minister – and now the PM herself has raised the same question.

While addressing the Foreign Corespondent’s Association last Wednesday, Gillard was asked whether she believed the hostility she had faced as Prime Minister was motivated by misogyny. While she did not go that far, she did concede that she had faced some ”uncomfortable moments” as a female Prime Minister – but that hopefully the path would be easier for women in the future.

Fairfax reported on Gillard’s comments. The transcript from her statement is reproduced below:

”It’s not been ever the norm in our nation before for people to wake up in the morning and look at the news and see a female leader doing this job.

”For all of the years before, you would see a man in a suit; I am not a man in a suit and I think that that has taken the nation some time to get used to – I think it is probably still taking the nation a bit of time to get used to.

”I think it’s the same sort of journey that many nations around the world are on and it speaks really to the changing nature of our times and the forward progress for women in societies like ours.

”But it’s got some uncomfortable moments along the way. There’s no doubt about that and I feel one of the things that will certainly happen, having had the first female prime minister, is it’s going to be easier for the second, and then it’s going to be easier again for the third.

”And then everybody will get over it and forget about it and no one will even bother to comment any more.”

Regardless of whether or not you think Julia Gillard makes a good Prime Minister, it is true that her gender has dominated a lot of the discussion during the years she has been leader of the Labor party.

Maybe, when Australia next elects a female Prime Minister, it won’t be a cause for concern – or any commentary whatsoever.

What do you think of Julia Gillard’s comments? Do you agree that Australia is still getting used to having a female Prime Minister? 

Mamamia publisher Mia Freedman will be appearing on Q&A tonight at 9.35 on ABC 1, for the program’s first ever all-female panel. She will be joined by panelists Brooke Magnanti  (research scientist and author of Belle de Jour),Germaine Greer (feminist icon and provocateur), Deborah Cheetham (Indigenous opera singer) and Janet Albrechtsen (opinion columnist for The Australian). 

To ask a question for the program you can go here.

 

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