Dear Ms Gillard,
When I first heard that you had been stood down as Australia’s prime minister, I was sitting on a 747 bound for Abu Dhabi, just about to depart Melbourne. I can remember that instant very clearly, the subsequent feeling that at that moment I was all too glad to be departing the country I love so much… and that I surprised myself by letting out a gasp.
Looking back, I don’t think that it was shock that made me gasp, although I was certainly shocked that Rudd was successful in challenging your leadership. Looking back, I believe that I gasped in sadness. I wasn’t always fond of your policies, and very often completely disagreed with your position of many issues. I very openly favour the Greens over the Labor party, and honestly gave up following Australian politics some years ago. I believe what saddened me in that moment was the empathy and admiration I came to feel for you on a human level, rather than a political one.
I’ll always be pleased to say that during my twenties, I witnessed the election of both America’s first black president and Australia’s first female prime minister. These are achievements I had once believed would never eventuate during my lifetime. I can’t describe the overwhelming sense of hope I experienced at these times… But unfortunately many other things I witnessed during my twenties thwarted this hope.
I was nothing short of ashamed to observe the blatant lack of human decency present in the way you were treated by both the Australian public and your peers. In the years 2010, 2012 and 2013 I watched a brave women be systematically abused, and an entire country contribute to and tolerate this abuse. In your time as prime minister, you were chastised, ridiculed and slandered. They used your body as a means of character assassination, as they always do with women, who’s bodies are seen to be public property anyway. (When was the last time anyone looked at Kevin Rudd’s thighs, let alone criticised them?) Further than this even, you were pornographised against your will, and attacked and demeaned on the basis of your sexuality by the media and the public. But still, in the face of adversity you never stopped trying to overcome the doubts you were continuously confronted with. Day after day, you held your head high and carried on. Blow after blow, you maintained your dignity and refused to fall apart the way they hoped you would. For this you have my genuine admiration.
I’m not sure what the future holds for women in politics in this country. But I’m compelled to fear that any other women to be in a future position of power will be subject to the same shameful treatment that you were. And so I call on you to continue to speak loudly and without shame. I call on you to continue to demonstrate the same dignity and self-respect you always have.
Ms Gillard, I wish to offer you a sincere and heartfelt thank-you. Woman to woman, I thank you for your bravery. I thank you for doing your best. But most of all, I thank you for inspiring myself and other women to do the same.
P.s: I think you look positively gorgeous in your Twitter profile pic. So I’ve added it to this post.
Inspired by the Daily prompt: Make it count