Australia’s First Female Prime Minister and Gender Politics

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Conference Proceeding
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FirstfemalePM_joseph_conpaper.docxAccepted Manuscript version45.33 kB
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Book length or long form is where much of Australia’s literary journalism is sited. As such, this paper will examine three long form contributions to the recent Australian gender discourse garnered by the prime ministership of Julia Gillard. Julia Gillard was Australia’s 27th – and first female – prime minister. She came to office determined that gender had not – and would not – play a part in her tenure. She left office embroiled in a gender struggle of acts and words and images unimaginable before they occurred. The media, the Opposition, members of her own party and ordinary Australians took part in a collective denigration of her reputation professionally, politically and personally. It went on unabated for three years, growing in intensity, and only towards the end of her leadership, was it truly comprehensively contested in the public sphere; and then, mainly by women writers, writing in the long form. Between April and July, 2013, six texts appeared, all either written or edited by women, constellating the notions of gender during and in the wake of Prime Minister Gillard’s leadership. This paper will examine three of them, long form counterpoints to the popular and electronic media vilification of former Prime Minister Julia Gillard. In so doing, it will examine the usage of the words ‘sexism’ and ‘misogyny’ as they were applied in Australia throughout this time.
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