I was recently told I would become an Aunty this year. I’m beside myself with excitement and have spent possibly a few too many hours googling the phrase ‘how to be the best aunty ever’ and I’m taking my role very seriously. I reckon the fact I live in Australia gives me a good head start on the ‘Greatest Aunty’ checklist. It’s a country that has so far (but probably for not much longer) held its own in the face of global financial crisis to become one of the strongest economies in the world. It has an awesome lifestyle which includes stunning beaches, tropical climates and all the benefits of a 1st world country. Yet, Australia does have a reputation of living somewhat in the dark ages. Over the past few weeks I’ve been inclined to agree.
Let me tell you a story…
Once upon a time, there was a person called Bob. Bob worked hard at school and turned out to be quite clever and so went to university. Bob did so well at university he was elected president of the students’ union. After university he did a few years in a top law firm before landing his perfect job at their perfect company Again through graft and hard work he climbed the ranks. working hard for his bosses, always in the background, building a reputation for being reliable and solid. He chose to live a different way to most and looked quite different to others but it people weren’t bothered as he was so good at his job.
It turns out that Bob’s top boss was a bit of an asshole. Top boss showed no respect for his staff and was very difficult to work for, always ranting and raving in things didn’t go his way. Everyone did their best to make it seem all was rosy from the outside but it was only a matter of time before the cracks started to appear. Bob didn’t really get involved, he just wanted to do a good job and continued to work hard leaving the in fighting to the others. Before long some people had enough of top boss and his bullying way and plotted to get him sacked. But he was the boss. How do you sack your boss without ruining the company? They needed someone reliable who could keep the company going in the short-term while they found someone else to do the job. They convinced Bob to go for the job and because of his solid reputation everyone backed him and he succeeded.
Bob knew it wouldn’t be an easy job but went about his duties, making the tough decisions that needed to be made – as it turns out the company wasn’t in as good a shape as the old boss had made out. He had to make some unpopular decisions and again it wasn’t long before staff were whispering behind Bob’s back.
But Bob was good at his job and no-one could dispute that he had made the right decisions for the good of the company. He’d done what anyone would have done in his situation. People couldn’t really criticise him for his work, so they focussed on something else – his differences. They called him names and poked fun at him. Bob was pretty tough and took it on the chin – as is the Australian way.
It wasn’t long before the name calling spilled out to people outside the company. Competitors jumped on the name calling as a way to undermine him, after all he got the job under unusual circumstances – and it’s all in jest as is the Australian way. If he can’t take it, he should just eat some cement and harden the fuck up!
But why should Bob harden the fuck up? Since when did the way Bob look or live affect the way he did his job? It was fine back in the day when old boss was an asshole. But now Bob has more power and competitors are making fun of him, people in the company think maybe it was better to have old boss back. Sure he was an asshole but at least he looked like them and so people couldn’t take the piss.
Does this seem fair? Absolutely not. Bob would probably have grounds for some sort of defamation of character/slander against people wouldn’t he? In the real world, a culture of such bullying wouldn’t exist would it? Of course not.
Well Bob is actually Julia Gillard. the publicly elected Prime Minister of Australia. Bob looks different because she’s a woman. Bob lives differently because she’s not married or has kids. But like Bob, this hasn’t interfered with the way she has done her job. It has affected the way people behave toward her. This isn’t a feminism argument. In the day of supposed equality, it shouldn’t matter whether Bob/Julia is a man or a woman – but it has and does.
Just because some of the slanderous terms have referred to Julia’s gender does it make it wrong? No.
What makes this wrong is the fact it’s socially acceptable criticise someone’s character on the basis of their appearance. Man or woman that’s wrong. Where is the respect?
Is it any wonder, children are throwing sandwiches at a leading figure when society believes it’s ‘fair game’ to ridicule a person in such a way? A person who we are citizens look to, to direct the country and protect our interests. Is it any wonder so-called “shock jocks” try to use this person to make a name for themselves in a bid to grab headlines and ratings – because it’s Fair Game? Just because a person is in a position of leadership does it mean every detail of her appearance and lifestyle is up for public judgement? And who on earth are we do judge as a society?
Are Australians really going to throw away and destroy a politican who has kept this country on track IN SPITE OF the global dramas surrounding it? Are they really going to choose an opposition leader whose main policy is to simply criticise and call people names? How would that stand up at a G8 summit? If Tony Abbot doesn’t like Obama’s policies what will he call him?
Where is the respect?
Australia you’ve let me down. How on earth can I look my future niece/nephew in the eye and tell them Australia is a great country.