I missed it on Sunday night but everyone was talking about the 60 Minutes interview with Julia Gillard and her partner Tim Mathieson. If you missed it too, here it is:
So I watched it this morning. With my hands over my face for much of it. It wasn’t the PM’s fault. Nor her partner who does seem like a genuinely good bloke. I’m happy that she has a partner who seems grounded and who supports her because I believe the emotional health of politicians (like regular people) is crucial if they’re expected to be making balanced, rational decisions.
The more emotional support she has the better as far as I’m concerned.
I think Annabel Crabb nailed my discomfort (as she so often does as Australia’s best political colour writer) when she wrote over at The Drum that the parts where the PM and Tim were grilled about their LURVE were difficult to watch:
Wooley: You’re in love with this woman?
Mathieson: Yes, absolutely.
Wooley: See people don’t say that on TV anymore, do they? (Turning to the Prime Minister) And you’re in love with this man?
PM: Yes, Charles.
Wooley (rakishly): Absolutely?
PM (doggedly): Absolutely.
It wasn’t that Wooley was out to get the happy couple. Not at all. He couldn’t have been nicer. But somehow that made the whole thing worse; like an exchange between a 30-something professional single woman at a family wedding and a ghastly, twinkly uncle.
“Tick, tick, tick!” one almost expected to hear Wooley gaily remind the pair.
“You’re not getting any younger, my dears!”
Julia Gillard is the Prime Minister. She earns more than $300,000 a year, and she runs the country. She is nearly 50 years old. She can’t cook, sure. But she can scramble a jet, and get Glenn Stevens out of bed in the middle of the night.
Surely she has earned the right not to endure infantilising questions about whether she really loves her boyfriend. And as for the awful matter of the First Nuptials (a grim sequence concluded the interview, with much chummy speculation from Wooley on who would be the “popper” and “poppee” of the marriage question, and more nervous giggling from the PM) – well, it’s fairly rude to ask, even without a national audience watching.
Why do people feel they can take such liberties with this prime minister?
There are two possible answers to this question, and neither of them is very good news for the PM.
The first possibility is that she continues to be subjected to condescension – on the grounds of her appearance, her manner and her private relationships – because she is a woman.
The second is that the Prime Minister is treated this way because she has somehow failed to assume the solemnity and respect that her office deserves.
You can read Annabel’s full column at The Drum, here…..
So what do you think? I’ve written before about how excruciating it is when people feel they can ask a single woman (and it’s almost always a woman, rarely a single man) why she hasn’t got a boyfriend/husband/baby.
Has this happened to you? Do you feel for the PM and her partner? What did you think of the interview?