Australian politics, normal programming restored

… 6. Call a truce in the class warfare rhetoric. …  8. Shut down the gender warfare front. 9. End the white-anting. Mr Rudd last night and today called for peace. “We all have families we all have emotions, … 10. Take a ‘normal’ family to The Lodge. The residents will be a church-going married couple and the PM’s spouse will have a full-time job, [1] to the satisfaction of voters who objected to Ms Gillard’s domestic arrangements.

– From “10 things Kevin Rudd will do differently to Julia Gillard” [Columnist’s advice, without irony]

There have been a lot of things written since Julia Gillard’s ousting as Australia’s Prime Minister. I think the answer to whether this happened because of misogyny is a definitive ‘yes, that’s indisputable.’

Which is to say: nothing she did badly has not already been done, and often worse, by previous, but male Prime Ministers and politicians. Her gender and sex (and it’s “domestic arrangements”) are the only significant variables here, and anyone who claims otherwise is either incapable of doing basic research or lying. It’s really that simple. And, just as it is possible for most people to walk and chew gum at the same time, I have never voted for the Labor Party and will never do so, but I can still insist on the reality of what happened with Gillard’s term in office without it being claimed that such an argument amounts to a defense of her politics, her variety of feminism or anything else. I think most people are quite capable of thinking at that level of complexity. I also think that means and ends are not as distant as some claim, and that parts of the Left who deny the significance of misogyny in this are, quelle surprise, rather misogynistic themselves.

More to the point, it matters in the shaping of Australia’s political culture that Gillard was brought down by a barely-contained hatred of women and not by any particular opposition to horrible Labor Party policy. That’s what matters, beyond Gillard, Rudd, the ALP, and indeed parliamentary politics. Pretending otherwise is a bit like imagining that it’s okay to line up with people who are ranting about ‘foreign capitalists’ – the consequences of organising political constituencies on xenophobic (or sexist) grounds aren’t usually suffered by those with power, but by those who don’t have much or any. [3]

Toward the end of her term, all opposition was generated and fed into Kevin Rudd’s restoration, with far too many wanting to be sucked in to and by the pretence that it was about something else—such as the argument that Rudd would be better on border controls. Which has turned out so well: it’s great to see the Labor Party’s return to regular programming: “They come here to take our jobs, drain our economic fluids, etc!” The opposition to Gillard herself had nothing to do with these things, which are still Labor Party policy; so their exploitation in this instance strikes me as somewhat repugnant.

Kevin Rudd's recent 'conversion' to (not 'gay marriage' but in reality) civil unions for same-sex couples has been a deliberate attempt to present as progressive directly after the ALP's massive swing to the Right on asylum seeker policy.
Kevin Rudd’s recent ‘conversion’ to (not ‘gay marriage’ but in reality) civil unions for same-sex couples has been a deliberate attempt to present as progressive directly after the ALP’s massive swing to the Right on asylum seeker policy.

Below are some links to recent articles, or at least some of the better ones on the ‘return to normalcy.’ First, here’s a link to the essay written during Gillard’s ascendancy, and a video of the radio interview she did just days before being deposed. This is the moment I would argue, that marks that “unexpected last-minute shift in allegiances.” Unexpected perhaps, but the timing is not inexplicable. I will now lay a bet that the interview and its timing were a set-up, that the interviewer was slated to leave the job in any event. Simply put: it focussed the misogyny around a bit of blatant heteronormativity. If Gillard challenged the politics of sexism, albeit in a limited sense, her adherence to spouting the Working Family derp of the ALP could never contend with the heteronormativity of this interview. And, as I argued in the “Uncanny” essay, the discrepancy between government policy and the lived experience of most people in this country is a serious question for Australian politics, and not just for politicians. A fear or hatred of women with and in power isn’t a fear of women per se, nor should it be enobled as the expression of egalitarian sentiment: it’s a specifically heteronormative fear. [3] Whether Australian politics can deal with having a public conversation about that, however, remains to be seen.

In Australia, Misogyny Lives On

A strange sense of normalcy returns to politics

No stats support adjectival stoning of Gillard


[1] It might be noted that Kevin Rudd’s partner’s “full-time job” is as the owner of a company that has made millions exporting and managing workfare schemes around the world, particularly in the UK.

[2] For a particularly clear example of this, Socialist Alternative Socialist Alliance tried very hard to rationalise their ‘anti-sexual violence campaigns are a middle class plot’ line, but back in the real world “And what it says to people like Bayley is not ‘don’t rape’, but ‘be careful who you rape’.”

[3] Hence, also, Larry Pickering’s obsessions with dildos.

3 thoughts on “Australian politics, normal programming restored”

  1. Thanks for this Ange – but just on footnote 2, it’s the Alternative, not the Alliance. I remember the Alliance’s response as being quite different and historically they have involved themselves in RTN and the like in a pretty big way.

  2. And I seem to recall the Alliance going on the warpath over O’shea’s article. I will try to find the links…


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