Senator Bob Brown accuses Julia Gillard’s critics of “subconscious” sexism

Julia Gillard shakes hands with Bob Brown as the labor party front bench looks on

A ginger shaking hands with a greenie. Image courtesy of The Adelaide Now

Senator Bob Brown, of the Australian Greens party, has hit out at critics of Julia Gillard, labeling them “unrelenting” and “sexist,” The Australian reports:

Amid ongoing rumblings over the Labor leadership, Senator Brown today mounted a comprehensive defence of the Prime Minister, saying she’d shown strength and resilience in the top job.

“Quite a bit of the criticism is sexist and unfair and unrelenting and the Prime Minister needs a bit of a break from that,” he told journalists in Canberra.

“I just think the degree of relentless criticism on this Prime Minister coming from male commentators, it’s probably all subconscious, but is sexist and quite ridiculous at times.”

“I think it’s a question of expectations of leadership and if we look across Australia’s political history when Bob Hawke was there or Paul Keating was there or John Howard was there, I don’t actually recall there being constant demands for them to show more personality,” she told the Seven Network.

“I don’t remember people looking at John Howard and saying gee, I wish he’d be warmer and cuddlier and more humorous and more engaging in his press conferences.

“They looked at him and said, well he’s the bloke running the country, and I think the same standard should apply to me. I’m a woman running the country, I don’t ask people to come to the view that they want to have me round for dinner on Saturday night, that’s not what I’m here to do.”

Former Liberal powerbroker Nick Minchin said the Prime Minister was under siege because of Kevin Rudd, not sexist commentators.

It’s fortunate that the Prime Minister’s detractors are all crypto-sexists, otherwise she might have some serious questions to answer about how she secured the position of prime minister and her track record since she’s been in office. Senator Brown would have you believe that Julia Gillard has been singled out for special treatment in the press, and she is the only political leader to ever be criticised for her personality, even though this is patently untrue. Julia Gillard has been criticised for her lack of warmth and charisma the same way that Tony Abbott has been criticised for his overly aggressive, antagonistic personality. What’s more, criticisms of a political leader’s personality are entirely valid: Julia Gillard’s success as Prime Minister depends not only on her ability to draft good policy, but also on her skills as a leader, someone who can convince her peers in the party room as well as the citizens on the street that her vision for Australia is the right one. A leader that appears “cold” or “aggressive” or “boring” will have serious difficulties doing that, and the Prime Minister’s results in opinion polls reflects this.

Independent politician, and Queensland lunatic, Bob Katter has his own views on criticism of the Prime Minister. The Herald Sun reports:

Bob Katter in a cowboy hat snarling at the camera

Bob Katter in his traditional "Texas oilman costume," seconds before biting a photographer in the face. Image courtesy of The Queensland Times

INDEPENDENT MP Bob Katter has denied that sexism is riding high in Australia and has dismissed claims Prime Minister Julia Gillard is the victim of sexist attacks.

In Queensland, every position of power is held by a woman, Mr Katter said.

“Our governor general is a woman, our governor is a woman, our premier is a woman and our prime minister is a woman,” Mr Katter, the leader of Katter’s Australian Party, said.

Bob Katter is entirely correct. Julia Gillard has risen through the ranks of the Australian political system to become the most powerful woman in the country, despite alleged rampant sexism. Australia has an umarried, female atheist leader yet somehow Australians still aren’t progressive enough.

It’s telling that Bob Brown couldn’t dig up some genuine sexist quotes attacking Julia Gillard, and instead had to hint at “subconscious” motivations for legitimate criticisms of the Prime Minister. This of course is a common tactic  employed by the extreme left when faced with points they cannot argue against: simply accuse your opponents of bigotry. Julia Gillard, to her credit, does not sink to such lows and merely states that being leader is “different” for a woman. Whatever other flaws the Prime Minister may have, she doesn’t seem to be interested in playing the gender card or making excuses.  Whether that’s enough to save her, I don’t know. If she makes it to the next election, something tells me the Greens will be lamenting the rampant sexism of the Australian voting public.

Read More:

Bob Brown defends Julia Gillard after ‘sexist and quite ridiculous’ attacks – The Australian

Australians not sexist towards PM, says Independent MP Bob Katter – The Herald Sun

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Categories: Events, Gender issues, Politics, Law

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4 Comments on “Senator Bob Brown accuses Julia Gillard’s critics of “subconscious” sexism”

  1. Saint Just
    February 7, 2012 at 8:13 pm #

    Good article. Short. Concise. Michelle Gratten would be impressed.
    I’m not sure Brown’s tactic was to be logical or reasonable. I think his intention was to have ‘Like the Prime Minister or you’re a sexist pig,’ as the lead story today. It’s short, concise and much easier than talking her up by drolling on about economics, the environment and business.
    Bob Brown took control of the news cycle today for and to his own benefit. Maybe Labor should pay attention.

    • James Hill
      February 8, 2012 at 10:14 am #

      Thanks for your kind words 🙂
      I think you’re right about Brown trying to control the media cycle. At this stage I think Labor and the Greens are desperate to deflect speculation about a leadership challenge. They’re shooting themselves in the foot though with these sorts of tactics. It’s a bit like the boy who cried wolf. The more times they throw out spurious claims of sexism (or any other ism) the less likely it becomes that people will take anything they have to say seriously.

  2. Anonymous
    February 8, 2012 at 3:24 pm #

    At the same time, how much of a threat can Rudd be if he STILL hasn’t mounted an offensive. There’s going to be no overthrowing of this prime minister, no one is willing to put their jobs on the line for a rocky unstable government. This is pretty much what happens in political news when there’s no big issues to talk about for the week…

    • James Hill
      February 8, 2012 at 6:51 pm #

      Do you put much stock in the rumor that Rudd is waiting until the state Queensland state elections are concluded before making his move? Personally, I think another leadership challenge would be disastrous for the ALP this late in the game, but I have no doubt that Kevin Rudd still has ambition to be prime minister

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