Scary stories from a lovely place
Over the last 24 hours something has happened to the portrait of Australian society that is altogether unprecedented. I, and my fellow countrymen and women are now the subjects of a female prime minister, our first ever. In a backstabbing move supported by the Australian Union movement and the majority of the Labour Party Julia Gillard, the deputy prime minister usurped Kevin Rudd’s leadership.
I’m feeling pretty torn about all of this. Granted, I’m almost completely out of the loop these days when it comes to Australian politics. I used to follow it all very closely and was pretty judgmental of people who didn’t know what was going on. Living in another country has blurred my ability to follow it all. I get that Ruddy has done a bad job, particularly in the last few months. But I still love the guy. I was sold on him after watching from the gallery at Parliament House in Canberra his first Question Time as leader of the opposition in December 2007. I was impressed by his quiet and steady countenance and self-controlled demeanour compared to John Howard. But now he’s gone.
I don’t know much about Julia Gillard. I don’t mind her. I like that she’s into AFL. I don’t love her accent so much. But whatever I think about her as a politician, I’m excited that she’s a woman. I’ve often wondered when Australia would have a female Prime Minister, and if we ever did, what kind of person she would be. Predictably, her gender means that Gillard receives a certain brand of criticism that is only reserved for women. This criticism almost always revolves around appearance and fashion choice which is rarely afforded to men. It’s blatant sexism and I hate it.
I’m also torn for more personal reasons. When I was a little girl my dream wasn’t to be an actress or a doctor or a ballerina. My aspirations were set on Parliament House. I wanted to be the first female Prime Minister of Australia. And I proudly told people that goal whenever I had an opportunity. I didn’t just want to be in politics, I wanted to make feminist history. I wanted to be the first woman in the job. I know a lot less about politics these days than I used to pretend I did. That aside, I am no where near to realising that dream and I’m sure I won’t get any closer any time soon.
So I’m jealous of Julia. But I’m also glad she’s there, even though I don’t know what sort of Prime Minister she will make. I’m glad for the landmark in Australian history even if I didn’t make it.