Caution: Meal may emit very hot air.
I am sure I am not the first to say that Australia’s Prime Minister Tony Abbott is a revolting, evil-spirited, cretinous, sentient turd. And after my initial feelings of revulsion when assaulted by images of his hairy, loose-skinned, middle-aged torso wobbling above his equally wobbly tight Speedos, I find myself spellbound by an increasing sense of wonder as to how a legion of backwards, white conservatives could bring themselves to vote for such a ludicrous little man. I mean, besides his constant stream of cringe-worthy gaffes, accidentally referring to the opposition leader as “Prime Minister”, majorly pissing off China, aiming to single-handedly destroy Australia from the ground up, and level of understanding of government policy akin to that of a kindergartener’s, I sit still in a state of disbelief of his ability to look more ridiculous than a political caricature of himself. I am amazed that this man is allowed to brush his teeth without supervision, let alone retain the highest office of an entire nation. But his perverted budgie-smuggler-fetish-slash-exhibitionism triggers more than just my gag reflex. I find myself encumbered by my ongoing bitterness about the treatment of former Prime Minister Julia Gillard, who I still hold to have been the best thing to happen to this country’s government since Whitlam.
No thinking feminist (or Australian citizen for that matter) is a stranger to the fact that Gillard was the victim of a level of publicly-sanctioned misogyny that might as well have arrived in a time machine from a Victorian Asylum. Stopping just short of carting her off to receive a frontal lobotomy, she was labeled by the media as the political equivalent of the archetypal Hysterical Woman, and our beloved Prime Minister (then Opposition Leader) Abbott displayed no shame in peddling such rampant sexism himself. Here are some choice examples
- Tony echoes radio Shock Jock Alan Jones’ insensitive remark that Gillard’s father “died of shame”
- Liberal party luncheon presents revoltingly sexist and objectifying “Kentucky Fried Gillard” menu, defended by party MPs as a “private joke” (the title of this post is, of course, a snarky reference to this incident)
- Tony poses smugly in front of placards bearing misogynistic slurs and slogans aimed at Gillard
- Julia Gillard publicly addresses Abbott’s misogyny and Abbott’s responds by accusing her of “playing the gender card”
For posterity, here is my favourite quote from Gillard’s speech in Parliament: “The leader of the Opposition says that people who hold sexist views and who are misogynists are not appropriate for high office. Well, I hope the leader of the Opposition has got a piece of paper and he is writing out his resignation”. Oh Julia, your incredible snark lives on in all of our hearts.
The point I am trying to make here is that the nations first female Prime Minister was judged (and ridiculed) almost entirely because of her physical appearance and demeanor (besides her having “lied” about not introducing a carbon tax, which she never actually did, as is outlined by Kerry-Ann Walsh in her terrific book). If you ask me, I found Gillard to be very articulate, professional in appearance, and overall quite dignified and elegant. But of course, the nation could not resist attacking her hair colour, accent, facial features, or the size of her posterior. Keeping it classy, Australia, How dare a woman do a decent job of running the country, for lack of any meaningful political debate, let us attack her appearance.
As you’ve surely noticed from this post’s introductory paragraph, I haven’t spared Tony Abbott from such criticism. And just to illustrate my point further, I think that Kevin Rudd is a pasty, almost vampiric creep, Bill Shorten has a stupid forehead, Joe Hockey looks like a cigar-smoking cartoon villain, John Howard’s eyebrows might as well cecede from Australia and install their own parliamentary system, and Christopher Pyne resembles a “mincing poodle“. But are these external features in any way reflective of these politicians’ abilities (or lack thereof) to do their jobs? Well, besides the arguably accurate description of Joe Hockey, I’m going to say that they do not. Not even, really, in the case of Abbott. Sure, he is an embarrassing moron, and half the planet considers him a dangerous joke, but he’s done and said much more idiotic things than prancing around on a beach in a pair of budgie-smugglers. And this is just one little blog post in the vast expanse of the Internet; you will find that the media rarely makes such assertions about our male politicians.
In response to the annoyingly persistent liberal fauxminist ideology of female nudity=empowerment, it has been argued that if this were true then powerful men like Barack Obama would be seen plastered over every newspaper and magazine in a variety of provocative positions. This rhetoric has a number of good points, and I hold that simple male nudity does not have the same visual effect as male nudity in similarly degrading positions in which we often see women. Without rambling on too much about this, I have come to think somewhat contrarily to this, and got to thinking about the topic this morning after musing to my facebook friends that “If Julia Gillard had done endless photo shoots in a string bikini, not only would there have been a literal angry mob to forcibly remove her from office, I expect that Jacqui Lambie would be campaigning to make the burqa mandatory”.
Such is the widespread revulsion towards the female body. Yes, I am of the belief that politicians, in order to keep up their facade of being respectable leaders of their respective nations, ought not to dress in a way that would cause your grandmother to clutch at her pearls. After all, your dear old gran is still a member of the electorate. And so are the misogynist young men who are part of the culture that strips women of their clothes in order to strip them of their power. This is a simple analysis of porn culture: naked woman=male plaything lacking power and personhood. However, I still wonder why Abbott’s rather confronting exhibitionism has caused less of a stir than the width of Julia Gillard’s arse.
My theory is that his irritatingly smug delight in swinging his shriveled testicles in national media is a quiet “fuck you” to not only Gillard, but powerful women in general. Imagine the colourful slurs that would flood public opinion if a female politician did a photo shoot with nothing but three inches of cloth covering her vulva? Imagine if Julia Gillard was photographed jogging around braless in a skin-tight crop top, breasts swinging pendulously in the flashes of photographers’ bulbs? Not only would no one take her seriously, it simply wouldn’t happen. Men constantly remind us that what is designed to villify and degrade women is not only acceptable when a man does it, but often considered part of his cheeky charm. Do we really need to bring up Monica Lewinsky? Bill Clinton may have got off lightly, but if only Abbott would suffer some criticism for his habit of swinging his junk in public. After slandering and dehumanising Gillard, scrambling into office over her proverbial lifeless body, he stands triumphant upon discarded and disgraced female politicians, holding his Australian flag-adorned genitalia aloft, telling us all- Look what I, a man, can do! I can look like an absolute oaf and still be your head of government!
May I smuggle both budgies and budgets past your sexism-clouded vision, and into the most vulnerable corners of society!