The PM is a woman, so let’s move on

If the Prime Minister was a man, would the national broadsheet be bothering his father?

Let me re-phrase that: Did journalists at The Australian ask the fathers of the previous 26 (male) prime ministers about their adult child’s popularity?

The Australian
, in their continuing efforts to infantilise the Prime Minister, has published this rubbish: Julia’s dad sees turnaround for his embattled daughter.

The headline – calling her ‘Julia’ and not ‘Gillard’ or ‘PM’ – is about undermining her authority. The familiarity shows a lack of respect for her position. After all, Tony Abbott is always Abbott in headlines.

JOHN Gillard is optimistic his daughter’s political popularity will take a turn for the better soon.

That’s a little like implying he said, “Aww, chin up honey, the other kids will like you soon”. Also, there’s an undercurrent in this story that says women aren’t real adults – that they’re Daddy’s Little Girl until they’re married, then they’re Someone’s Wife. In both cases there’s a man there to guide her. If you believe that women can run a country and that they can make decisions about their personal lives, you wouldn’t be putting these questions to a female prime minister’s father.

He likes Tim Mathieson, the first bloke, but said it was not his right to comment on whether or not the pair should marry.

“It’s a decision that two adult people that have a loving relationship will make,” he said. “I think they can make intelligent decisions without asking their father.”

So, Verity Edwards thought it was important to ask Mr Gillard about whether his adult daughter should get married? Mr Gillard’s response was a polite way of saying “what a stupid question”.

Last week, Annabel Crabb wrote in The Drum:

Julia Gillard is the Prime Minister. She earns more than $300,000 a year, and she runs the country. She is nearly 50 years old. She can’t cook, sure. But she can scramble a jet, and get Glenn Stevens out of bed in the middle of the night.

Surely she has earned the right not to endure infantilising questions about whether she really loves her boyfriend.

Yes, she has earned that right. All women have. And we’ve also earned the right to be able to do our jobs without journalists asking our fathers about our marital status.

48 responses to “The PM is a woman, so let’s move on

  1. Hear! Hear!

  2. I can’t understand what would make a journalist think this was an appropriate story angle. It’s not even as though her father is famous in his own right – which is the only occasion where someone’s opinion of their adult child might otherwise get a running in the news.

  3. I had a really long comment so to cut it short…

    I am not surprised by this story at all. As the parent of a working teen, aunt of many working teens/young adults (early 20’s even) the amount of times myself and my siblings have been called by employers to discuss our children, actually, to be more precise, to discuss our daughters, because none of my nephews have received this kind of treatment, is kind of mind boggling.

    • I can understand asking a parent of a young teen, but asking the parent of a 49-year-old womaan? Fuck off with that shit.

      What sort of questions are you asked?

      • Actually, I do have a problem being asked about my teen. (And In regards to my nieces we’re talking about young women in their 20’s.) Firstly, they are working. Whatever issues their employer has with them has nothing to do with me, the parent. Do they expect me to come into their work place and stand over my child? Part of the responsibility of having a job is dealing with your boss. Part of being a boss is dealing with your employees- regardless of age, gender, whatever..

        My daughter negotiated her own apprenticeship. (I did nothing.) I was called into the salon at the end of her probationary period. I had assumed it was to discuss the signing of the papers, it partly was. The other part (the bigger part of the conversation) was how she was in an adult environment and needed to understand that. (This being said straight after telling me that she was mature beyond her years, had wonderful initiative and was becoming a great asset to the salon.) In a 20 minute conversation she assured me 17 times N’s age was no issue. (At no point did I enquire if it was or wasn’t) I was getting very frustrated and confused by this point since there was nothing I could really contribute…. then the penny dropped. Not only is my daughter not quite 16, but she looks 12. Now, she always dressed for work in business attire. The problem was my daughter didn’t look “Savvy” enough. When her boss told me (ignoring my daughter completely as though she was not capable of making this decision on her own, or that she would have no opinion of it or if she did, it wasn’t worth enough to ask her directly) she would need to change her hair and dress in a certain manner, that was when my daughter politely told her that she didn’t intend to compromise her sense of self and that perhaps she wasn’t the right fit for this particular salon. (I had not said a word at this point.) My daughter worked 35 hours a week. She continued with her school studies (as legally even though in full time employment she is not able to leave school until she is 17) she is more than capable of negotiating and engaging with her boss. Most teens are not so irresponsible or incapable that they couldn’t do the same. We expect them to act like adults in the work force then treat them like little children….

        It’s insulting to anyone to have their parent called into work or to have their parent rung by their boss. Regardless of their age.

        • Yes, you are absolutely right. When I wrote my comment I was thinking about young teens, like 13-year-olds, and the employer thinking they had to call the parent to get their permission. Permission to do what, I don’t know. So an ill-thought-out comment that was wrong. Sorry.

          • Heck no apology needed. I wasn’t aware of this phenomenon myself until I had a teen of working age. (You have to 14 & 9 months. I know kids younger can do some work…do we still have paper boys? But more often than not they need to be 14 at least.)

            I told my mother about it and she said the same kind of thing happened to her when my youngest sister first started working. She had been diagnosed with endometriosis at the time and was still learning how to manage it. She had explained this to her boss as to why she had taken a grand total of three days off work over a four week period (because she couldn’t stand upright which is kind of necessary when you’re a waitress) but she explained it to him and even had a letter from her doctor explaining it but he still rang Mum to complain about it. Like there was even anything Mum could do!

  4. The patronising and infantilising treatment of Julia Gillard in the media has been consistent and relentless since she became PM. Hell, it started way before then, but now it is so blatant it boggles the mind.
    I can’t help but wish her dad had declined to be interviewed on grounds of utter irrelevancy.

  5. “As expected, Mr Gillard and his wife, Moira, have seen less of their daughter than in the past. She cannot visit them at their home in Adelaide unannounced, without security.”

    Well, don’t worry. I’m sure as they get older and more frail she will quit her job and take her rightful place at home, looking after her parents. That’s the lot of the barren daughter, after all.

    That is all.
    I have nothing.

  7. I also feel for the ‘famous in his own field’ Psychology lecturer/researcher Antony Kidman, with some really interesting work on Cognitive Behaviour Therapy. I’ve heard people interview him and want to know about his daughters instead of his own work.

    • Yes, I think the same thing when I see his name. Glenda, welcome to the News with Nipples.

    • Aaahahahaha Glenda, I read your comment about as soon as you posted it on FB and the whole time I have been thinking, ‘And yet, what is interesting about his daughters? Do they do something special? Or is it to do with wanting to know how the children of a CBT researcher turn out?
      The penny only just dropped. Pop-Culture Fail.

  8. And why did they only ask her father? Her mothers opinion wasn’t as worthy?

  9. Kat Caterwaul

    It seems like the attitudes are:

    A male politician without a wife and family is dedicated to his job and country.

    A female politician without a husband and family obviously has something wrong with her (possibly missing some key Lady Gene), and should be viewed with suspicion and questioned on it as much as possible.

    (of course, a female politician with a husband and family should be questioned as much as possible about the amount of time spent away from her Womanly Duties of raising children and domestic duties).

    • I wonder if there are some journos thinking that if they keep asking the marriage question, Gillard or Mathieson may eventually say yes and so THAT JOURNO CAN BREAK THE BIGGEST STORY OF THE YEAR.

      • Kat Caterwaul

        It’s possible. Then they can crow about how marriage was obviously important, so WHY DID THEY TAKE SO LONG TO GET MARRIED? (cue lots of srs bznz investigation into everything from fidelity to fertility)

  10. That calling her Julia instead of Prime Minister, PM, or even Gillard, farking shits me to tears. Even worse is ‘Our Julia”. Which states a feeling of propriety that makes me go all stabby eyes for no apparent reason (or not one i can articulate today anyway).

    • It is so patronising and diminishing. Remember any journos describing Howard as ‘John’?

      • After the NSW election, Sean Nicholls wrote this in the SMH about Barry O’Farrell, but it’s relevant here: Call me Barry. I’d rather not, thanks, Premier:

        A formal relationship, no matter how artificial, between journalists and the politicians they are paid to monitor on behalf of the public is crucial in reinforcing in both parties the need for professional distance…

        The public and the media are far more likely to accept tough decisions of the premier of the state than a career politician from Roseville who insists on being called Barry…

        Sticking with it also allows them to build up invaluable political capital – a unique form of respect – that they can employ with their own colleagues and with the public when times turn tough…

        There’s not a lot of respect in “Julia”.

        • Awfully nice of him to put this double standard in print.

          Any one else wondering if perhaps trust in Gillards ability and popularity would be different if the media had afforded her that kind of respect from the beginning?

      • No but they did patronize (or was it playful humour) him by calling him ‘little jonny’

  11. Good god, wtf is that all about – asking her dad? What did they not ask about her dowry next FFS?

    Everyone else who has commented I agree with – this is wrong on so many levels.

    Good post as ever lovely

    SG x

  12. Does it ever occur to think that if you stopped examining the meaning behind every statement, that you may infact find that society base all their scrutiny on past performance and not what colour creed or sex you are. I know that this is a little diferred from the original point of the topic. I just find analysing everything that is said to be detrimental to the true meaning in the first place. What is said is said and needs to be read as such and not the 15 esoteric derivitives that the mind can conjure.

    Be it that by the sounds of this and I did not take the time to read the article, maybe I should….Naaah I won’t that the underlying assertion made by the journalist was never even there to begin with. Paying attention to any journalistic opinion is fraut with difficulty unless it contains true reference points that can be determined with a little research. You can guarantee that it is all assumed and underpinned by an ill informed speculative view.

    Anyway, that is my speculation on where the insults to intelligence come from, that have driven this journalist to this point, all be it apart from a drive of ambition to climb the corporate journalist’s ladder.

  13. From now on I intend to begin a lot of sentences with “Be it that by the sounds of this.”

  14. What’s with all the haters, I wrote with passion and not ambition. Meritocracy, yes and as such, do individuals not have the right to their own scale of merit?

    I think you all missed the point! For what it’s worth, I was not disagreeing with calling our PM ‘Julia’ disrespectful. I also find the fact that an interview with her father is highly inapproriate, when asking such questions.

    Freedom to your own literary motif is something we all are able to take advantage of, isn’t it?

  15. Pingback: 38th Down Under Feminists’ Carnival

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