I will use my Lady-Card. And you should too ~ The Great Australian Gender Card Debacle

I’m confused. Since when has our (now unfortunately former) Prime Minister Julia Gillard played a type of game where a deck of cards are involved?

Did our PM unfairly present some sort of ‘Pass Go and collect $200’ card when in 2012 she was faced with cartoons of her naked and wearing a dildo that were emailed to all federal parliamentarians? Did she unfairly play her lady-card in this now infamous speech or was she simply saying, “That’s not acceptable”, and at the same time sending a very crucial and over-due message to the women of Australia who needed to hear it.

It seems that as soon as any high profile woman raises questions about comments, judgments or decisions made blatantly to vilify or humiliate either themselves or women more broadly, there is a group of angry people ready to go on the attack with:

“Awwww no-fair! (Stomps ground). You are playing that woman-card-thingy again!” (Crosses arms, drops to the floor, and lies there sobbing while impersonating a sack of potatoes… much like my 3 year old nephew last week when I wouldn’t buy him an ice-cream).

Gender card! Gender card! I spot a Gender Card!

I reckon any kid on a Year 5 debating team could argue a point better than these guys.  And I guess there lies the problem – the old GC Defense is the only defense they have.

That’s what it makes it so pathetic.

If standing up for myself somehow means I am playing some sort of card – then please, pass me a lifetime supply of those cards. I am more than happy to use one any time I am made to feel like I am less of a person because I have a vagina. 

(ooooh, she said vagina!)

It’s been a horrific month to be reminded that as a woman, we somehow still don’t hold the same value as men.

Here’s an ‘off the top of my head’ list of some key events:

  • We hear of more and apparently worse cases of the mistreatment of women within the Australian Defence Force.
  • 50 years since the US Government instated The Equal Pay Act, the issue of pay inequality continues to be a puzzling constant for women all over the world. (I’ve presented “my card” and accompanying disgust on this issue before). The fact that our business community still finds the work of a woman somehow less valuable than the same work completed by a male, remains baffling.
  • Our National Soccer Team’s coach stated: “Women should shut up in public”.  He then said it was just a joke. He then told us he has a wife. That apparently makes it ok.
  • Still on football (not surprising) we had the re-opening of a rape case and consequent charging of AFL footballer Steven Milne. The case was dropped in 2010 due to alleged internal pressure within the police force – the very people we rely on to not only protect women from sexual violence in the first place, but to ensure justice ensues when it does.
  • And then we have our Prime Minister (oh sorry, former Prime Minister), spend the last fortnight dodging bullets wrapped up in a good dose of sexism from all directions. Here are a few corkers the PM’s faced:
  1. She was blatantly sexualised in a Liberal Party function menu.  Any person who still finds this funny should be basted and slow-cooked themselves.
  2. She faced a tirade of filth when radio Presenter Howard Sattler questioned her about her partner’s sexual preferences.
  3. She found herself with her name back in a hat, against the very person who undermined and sabotaged her last election campaign, and from all reports, has done little to support the work of the Labor Party under her leadership since.

Barry Cassidy, well-respected Political Journalist, stated in an interview with ABC’s Leigh Sales on Wednesday night, that as a result “the constant and damaging leaks” during the campaign, the PM won a hung-parliament instead of what should have been a majority government. Meaning, she has worked her arse off for 3 years under the most intense conditions to be able to get anything done, all the while trying to manage a background buzz of gender wars. Thus, what was now happening was nothing short of ridiculously unfair and the result of pure ego.

In her speech Wednesday night following the vote she said:

I have been a little bit bemused by those colleagues in the newspapers who have admitted that I have suffered more pressure as a result of my gender than other prime ministers in the past, but then concluded that it had zero effect on my political position or the political position of the Labor Party.

Gender has absolutely been part of the story of her leadership and when my future children (male or female) ask me about our first female Prime Minister, I won’t be shy in telling them so.

Further in her speech (referring to future female leaders), Ms Gillard said:

It will be easier for the next woman, the woman after that, and the woman after that.  And for that I am proud.

I hope she is right, and I will play any bloody so called card I choose if it means the men in my life will treat me with equal respect that I absolutely deserve. And, that the role models I respect – like the now former PM Julia Gillard – also have a fighting chance to be the best person they can be. Not the best woman.

Anna McGregor with Julia Gillard (March 2013)

Me with Julia Gillard (March 2013)

~ anna

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