Just for kicks, I began International Women’s Day by having breakfast with Tony Abbott. This was not unusual because I often begin my mornings by having Vegemite toast with political leaders. It’s how I roll.
It certainly was an interesting meal and one I’d been quietly dreading ever since it was suggested by a mutual colleague, Australian Women’s Weekly editor Helen McCabe who did a fine impersonation of Ban-ki Moon in brokering peace talks between the opposition leader and me.
My biggest fear was this: what if I bloody LIKED him? That would be a complete disaster.
You see, I couldn’t possibly like Tony Abbott because we were fighting. Well, not fighting exactly. More like Tony was busy trying to be an alternative prime minister and keep his feet out of his mouth while I was busy assassinating his character and policies on my website Mamamia.
On the day he was elected opposition leader, I was quick to write a very scathing blog post which declared it a dark day for women, featured the word “Argh???!!!” several times and wondered if the party who elected him were on crack. I wrapped it up by emphasising that I wasn’t anti-Liberal necessarily, just anti-Abbott.
In my spontaneous outrage, I didn’t check all my facts and admittedly, some were incorrect (e.g., that Abbott is opposed to contraception and IVF and that he eats kittens for breakfast). Later, I amended these errors. My bad. But still. Tony Abbott as opposition leader? Really, Libs?
Over the next few hours as the comments from women poured in (most of them equally alarmed), my phone began to ring with journalists wanting commentary on Abbott’s surprise election as Liberal leader from the point of view of Australian women.
No pressure, just speak for an entire gender, will you? I don’t think so.
It was a pattern which would repeat itself every time Abbott said anything about controversial about women, from ironing to virginity. Inadvertently, I’d become the go-to girl for anti-Abbott quotes. So I didn’t give any.
Instead, I read and watched and listened and then I met him.
Our breakfast happened after Helen McCabe referenced my website rant in her infamous Virginity-gate interview with Tony Abbott for the Womens Weekly and she acted as chaperone on our blind date, along with Abbott’s female press secretary and female chief of staff.
That’s how I came to be sitting at a table in a beachside café ridiculously early one morning with Tony Abbott and three very impressive women. It could have been an awkward nightmare. In fact, it wasn’t.