Gillard Defends Passionate Parliamentary Speech on Sexism

Posted October 10th, 2012 at 6:50 am (UTC-5)
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Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard is defending a passionate speech before parliament in which she slammed an opposition leader for having what she said are sexist and misogynist views.

Ms. Gillard, Australia's first female prime minister, on Tuesday unleashed a blistering, 15-minute attack on Tony Abbott, accusing him of having a “repulsive double standard” on women's issues.

“I will not be lectured about sexism and misogyny by this man, I will not. And the government will not be lectured about sexism and misogyny by this man, not now, not ever … If he wants to know what misogyny looks like in modern Australia, he doesn't need a motion in the House of Representatives. He needs a mirror.”

Abbott, who was seated directly in front of Ms. Gillard during the speech, had called for the dismissal of parliamentary speaker Peter Slipper over a series of crude text messages he sent to a former staff member that referenced female genitalia.

In return, Ms. Gillard accused Abbott of hypocrisy, saying he himself, and not the speaker, should resign. She proceeded to recount years of remarks by Abbott that she said offended her personally.

“I was also offended when the leader of the opposition went outside in the front of Parliament and stood in front of a sign that said 'Ditch the Witch.' I was offended when the leader of the opposition stood next to a sign that described me as a 'man's bitch.' I was offended by those things. Misogyny, sexism, every day from this leader of the opposition.”

At one point in the speech when Ms. Gillard noticed Abbott checking his watch, the prime minister called him out directly, saying “apparently, a woman has spoken too long.”

Ms. Gillard's scathing speech quickly went viral on the Internet and has largely been praised internationally. But at home, some have criticized her for using the issue of sexism to defend a political ally.

For his part, Abbot accused the prime minister of using what he said was the “gender card” to shield her against criticism.

Prime Minister Gillard on Wednesday defended the comments, saying she decided to speak out because “enough is enough” when it comes to sexism in Australian politics.

Slipper, the parliamentary speaker, survived the opposition bid to remove him, but submitted his resignation later on Tuesday. The resignation further weakened Ms. Gillard's Labor Party government's slight hold on power.