James Burke writes: Re. “Essential: fired-up Gillard gets a poll bounce — from men” (yesterday). Julia Gillard’s rousing speech represented something new because she finally rejected the dubious advice of the shills, spin doctors and bribe harvesters of the NSW Right, who have had such a crippling influence on Labor over the past two decades. The main reason that she, and other female Labor politicians, have held back in confronting s-xism in and out of Parliament, is surely the dogma they have absorbed from these corrupt morons: that any woman who gets angry in public is regarded as a shrew and written off by the voters. The existence of Margaret Thatcher, Indira Gandhi and other forthright female politicians has been ignored by these faux-canny halfwits, most of whom have thankfully moved on from their mentoring roles to more suitable employment in lobbying for casinos or property developers.

Labor has a penchant for promoting women to leadership positions and then telling them not to be themselves, to avoid being passionate or “hectoring”. Why? For fear it will recall anxious memories of nasty schoolteachers among an audience of Alan Jones listeners, who wouldn’t vote Labor in a pink fit.

Gillard began her ministerial career by trying to cultivate Jones. She now says she won’t be talking to him again. That, friends, is progress. Not the level of progress the times demand, really, but we suck what we can from the shrivelled grain of contemporary politics, eh voters?

Ailie Bruins writes: The media really needs to take some responsibility for dumbing-down the public debate in Australia.

Richard Farmer confessed (“Richard Farmer’s chunky bits“, Friday): “While well beyond the middle-aged description I plead guilty to being in the camp of those pundits who didn’t think the Prime Minister’s stirring misogyny speech would actually do her any good electorally.” Is there anything at all, in this world, that our Prime Minister could do to satisfy the Richard Farmer’s of this world, or the Canberra press gallery. Even an intelligent, spirited, articulate, and feisty Prime Ministerial speech, which impressed major news outlets around the world and cyberspace, is misconstrued in order to discredit her. Dare I call it a witch hunt, because that is what it looks like.

Peter Dowding writes: The Liberal leader may have a problem with his peripheral vision and be unable to see the abusive and s-xist signs abusing Gillard when he mounted his podium in Canberra not so long ago, and likewise he has again demonstrated this, and the mainstream media seems to have suffered a similar disability by ignoring the appalling s-xist and despicable political campaign waged by Liberal supporters against the Prime Minister on the social network per courtesy in part of the gross art work of Larry Pickering.

Like many people I have received these cartoons from Liberal supporters, not in the ones and twos but in the tens and twenties ; a constant barrage of abuse and denigration which should normally be expected to embarrass and shame the senders and the Liberal Party.

It is time that the Opposition distanced itself from that reprehensible campaign. We can’t expect Abbott to do it but perhaps Malcolm Turnbull should mention it in his speeches; he, like Mal Washer, seems to be one of the few decent Opposition members left