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About that 15-minute speech on misogyny by Australian PM Julia Gillard

New York tabloid blog Jezebel has officially awarded Australian prime minister Julia Gillard the title of ‘badass motherfucker,’ after Gillard spent 15 minutes in Australia’s House of Representatives on Tuesday calling out Coalition leader Tony Abbott for misogyny in the wake of a scandal that saw the House speaker resign after admitting to using inappropriate language about women in text messages. 

It’s really the most amazing video out of Australian politics since someone uploaded that ‘Happy Vegemite’ video of former prime minister Kevin Rudd going ballistic.

It’s playing to rave reviews around the English-speaking world — and that’s rare for anything in Australian politics.  Australia is one of the rare countries to have a parliamentary system, but two-party politics.  Gillard, whose Labor party was elected under Rudd in 2007, became prime minister in 2010 after an internal revolt over Rudd’s temperament led to Rudd’s resignation.  Abbott heads the Coalition, which since 1922, has been a coalition of a number of center-right Australian parties, most notably the Liberal and National parties.  Interestingly, Gillard remains more unpopular than Rudd and Abbott remains much less popular than former Coalition leader Malcolm Turnbull.

What’s most interesting is the distinction between how the speech played in Australia and how it’s playing for a global audience, though.  Much of the U.S. and British media commentary is universally glowing — The New Yorker even said Democratic U.S. president Barack Obama, who is widely seen to have turned in a subdued performance in last week’s U.S. presidential debate against Republican Mitt Romney could take some tips from Gillard.  But back in Australia, where Gillard is treading water after finally putting to rest (only temporarily, I assure you) an internal struggle with Rudd earlier in February, in advance of federal elections expected later in 2013, it played to decidedly mixed reviews:

Julia Gillard confronted a stark choice yesterday – the political defence of her parliamentary numbers, or the defence of the principle of respect for women.

She chose to defend her numbers. She chose power over principle. It was the wrong choice. It was an unprincipled decision and turned out not to be pragmatic either. The Prime Minister gained nothing and lost a great deal.

Some of the choice quotes:

And then of course, I was offended too by the sexism, by the misogyny of the Leader of the Opposition catcalling across this table at me as I sit here as Prime Minister, “If the Prime Minister wants to, politically speaking, make an honest woman of herself…”, something that would never have been said to any man sitting in this chair. I was offended when the Leader of the Opposition went outside in the front of Parliament and stood next to a sign that said “Ditch the witch.” Continue reading About that 15-minute speech on misogyny by Australian PM Julia Gillard