Gee, a lot of you readers don’t like the thesis that Labor’s Stacks-On-KRudd manouevre has seriously damaged the party. And many of you certainly aren’t copping criticism of Gillard’s record, especially from our own Bernard Keane. But to suggest that his criticism is misogynist?

One reader was not alone in employing the m word when responding to Keane’s coverage:

I am totally astounded by Bernard Keane’s misogynistic rant against Julia Gillard and then, not sufficiently satisfied, his attack on Penny Wong.

By attack, we think they are referring to Keane’s suggestion that Swan and Wong have done a bad job conveying the government’s record on the economy to the public. By misogynistic rant we assume they are referring to Keane’s prediction that Gillard won’t make it to the next election.

We think we might leave the last word on this to none other than Eva Cox, who asks in Crikey today, “How far should feminists be supporting Julia Gillard as PM because she is a woman and the first one in this job?”:

I agree she has had some rough rides with some s-xist judgments and criticisms and unwarranted interest in her private life. However, these experiences have not seriously weakened her position as PM but the general direction of the party is a problem she and her supporters don’t recognise.

Is her steely determination enough to swing voters? Do they see the ALP policies as positively as the parliamentary party does? The politicians promote the idea that their problems with voters and the media were caused by K. Rudd undermining their program by his leadership project. This claim ignores the fact that it is the party vote that is the problem, not just Gillard’s popularity. The Coalition vote is strong despite Abbott not being, or just being, preferred by a minority over Gillard.

Cox goes on to assess and compare Gillard’s and Rudd’s policies. Funny that.

The furthest Gillard has ever gone in terms of addressing whether her job has been harder because she’s a woman was this very classy quote from a recent Sunday interview, the very same interview in which she was asked by Mike Willesee if she cried much. (Yes, the PM’s patience and restraint knows no bounds.):

“I grew up watching the Prime Ministers of this country and if you’d asked me then, “Close your eyes and imagine a prime minister”, I would have imagined a bloke in a suit. Now, I am the first person to not be a bloke in that suit, exactly the same sort of suit as you’re wearing. It’s a different image of leadership. So I’m not surprised that it’s kind of taking a bit of time for that to settle with the Australian public. It is different. But, it also speaks of how great a nation we are that we can have truly equal opportunity and one of the things that is most joyful in my job is I get any number of young girls or, you know, dads in crowds, pushing their young daughter forward to get a photo with me. I don’t know whether they support me. I don’t know whether they’re going to vote for me but me being here has given them the sense that it is possible for a woman to do anything in this country. And that’s a great thing.”

If Crikey ever asks the Prime Minister if she cries much, by all means call us on it, but if we’re sticking to policy and political performance, chances are you can leave sexism out of it. As for the spill, we can say definitively that there is absolutely no story angle, in the plethora of angles that have come out of the past week, in the plain fact that Julia Gillard is female.

The discourse around issues of feminism deserves a better quality of debate.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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