Gillard’s anti-misogyny speech 

John Wallace writes: Re. “Crikey says: why Gillard both won and lost yesterday” (editorial, yesterday). You write that Julia Gillard “offered this speech in the context of defending a man for gross s-xism” (Slipper), but there is nothing in her speech to support this conclusion. She indicated clearly her repugnance over Slipper’s texts and that the decision to oppose the opposition motion to sack the speaker was based on process. This is not “defending a man for gross s-xism”!

John Taylor writes: It seems to me that life is full of “if onlys”. And in the world of Julia Gillard I’ll bet that she has said “if only” more than once since assuming the Prime Ministership.

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Can I give you just one? On her first interview with Alan Jones after negotiating herself into the Prime Ministership after the last election, he attacked her for being 10 minutes late. She apologised. If only she had said: “Alan I’m the Prime Minister of this country. You are either an entertainer or a disc jockey. My time is probably more important than yours and I’m prepared to give you 15 minutes of it. If you wish to proceed we will. If not I’ll go. Your choice.”

I think this would have stopped the slagging from 2GB at source and added immensely to the way in which she was treated by all media. By going on the back foot on this occasion she opened herself to continued denigration by the three attack dogs Jones, Hadley and Smith, ever since.

I have no axe to grind in support of either Julia Gillard or the Labor party but I hate the manner in which the position of Prime Minister has been trashed in this Parliament.

Hannah Bell writes: Re. “So Peter Slipper slides out — was it all worth it?” (yesterday). Like most other Australian media commentators including Michelle Grattan, Emma Alberici, and all the Australian columnists, Crikey‘s Bernard Keane has missed the point and impact of the Prime Minister’s parliamentary speech. Close to half a million viewings, and over 800 articles internationally so far, surely attest to a worldwide gender/power issue that transcends the parochial Australian media focus of party political manoeuvrings and sleaze.

The media should have learned from the Alan Jones experience, but apparently didn’t. Women and many men are, in huge numbers, shouting their protestations about the ubiquity of s-xism in political and media discourse and operations. Little wonder that Tony Abbott wants to “move on”. He cannot counteract the outcry expressed through social and mainstream media that his behaviour has generated. Don’t avoid the issue. Gillard has become an international heroine for her guts and her courage to take on the endemic s-xism that infuses power worldwide.

Clarification on Solid Rock festival

Julia Winterflood writes: Re. “Solid Rock: white man’s song, white man’s gig” (yesterday). When I wrote this article I was still reeling with sadness and heartache and when I’m upset I write, so that’s what I did. On Wednesday I received a call from one of the production team. He was deeply upset and offended by my article, said the rest of the production team were hurt and offended too, and that members of the Mutitjulu community would feel the same. It was a mistake publishing the piece on my blog and sending it to Crikey. It was a mistake because it was filled with assumptions. I should have spoken to more people first. I only asked Anangu “Where is everybody?” I didn’t ask “Are you having a good time?”

I believe the worst thing you can do to a person is make them feel like a stranger in their own land. I thought the massive influx of whitefellas would have made Anangu feel like strangers in their own community. That was an assumption I made, and it was wrong to make this assumption without speaking to anybody first. The biggest lesson I’ve learned from this is never make assumptions about how people feel, and never assume all Aboriginal people will feel the same way. Of course they won’t. Perhaps there were Anangu who did feel strange on Saturday, and perhaps there were Anangu who had a ball.

I wrote my piece from the perspective of a whitefella who was deeply distressed by the sea of white faces when she expected to be in the minority. But I failed to consider that perhaps Anangu were not distressed at all. For this assumption I am deeply, deeply sorry. I offer a bottom-of-my-heart-and-soul apology to Shane Howard and the entire crew, but most of all to the community of Mutitjulu.

However, I still believe my blog post offered a valuable perspective because it is a different perspective. It made people think. This apology should also make people think.

I did not and do not claim to speak on behalf of Anangu, but I did fail to get anyone’s opinion on the concert before I wrote my piece, and for this I am sorry.

Is it better to write something, make a mistake and rethink your methods, than never say anything contentious at all? I could have written just another gig review, but I chose to write from the gut. I felt sick, sad and strange, so that’s what I wrote about. But I did not ask the Anangu sitting next to me, “do you feel sick, sad and strange?” This was my mistake, and for this I am sorry, but I am not sorry for provoking thought.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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