Sunday, 8 March 2015

Hit Her With Your Best Shot.

Two years ago on International Womens Day I interviewed then-Prime Minister of Australia, Julia Gillard at Kirribilli House. I never thought much of her until she reached out and wanted to meet Australian women using the online space.

I used to watch her on the tv and think "SPEAK NORMALLY" because she was so monotone and boring. And I didn't understand how she became Prime Minister.

So we met a few times. And I discovered she was extraordinary. She was real, she was smart, and I've no doubt she would still be the Australian Prime Minister if she were a man. The more I got to know her and actually tuned in to her policies, the more I realised she could have been one of the best leaders this country has ever had.

One night she tweeted me "It was so nice to catch up, Eden. We must do it again sometime." And I'm sitting there at a school concert surreally tweeting her back. And you know what happened? A pile-on. Of grubby, disgusting tweets all from men turning our twitter exchange into something sexual (what a surprise.) I sat there reading these replies and my FACE went red and god I hoped she wasn't reading them.

"Yeah, knew you were a lesbo."
"Fucken Juliar and her clones I bet you had a great root."

And a lot more, especially about the matching colour of our hair. Down there.

It was the first time I fully realised the filth that the online world can bring out. But don't you dare play that gender card, Julia! (Where does one BUY a set of gender cards?) She copped it the whole time she was in Parliament. Especially from other members in Parliament. The press. Absolutely disgusting. She was just coming into her own on the world stage, before she got dumped.

Anyway so I had half an hour to film an interview with her for a bloggers conference and I could ask her ANYTHING I wanted. By that time I'd already banged on to her about foreign aid, refugees, womens shelters. So I kind of just chatted. I asked her anything. And she answered. There's no big great dramatic reveal in the interview except for the fact that I was so paranoid about the press calling me a Julia clone I put my hair up in the STUPIDEST ponytail quickly in the car, to try and look different from her because by that time I'd been immortalised in a political cartoon. It looks ridiculous  - worst my hair has ever looked, there to see forever.

The more Julia Gillard got bashed and attacked in the press, the more I went in to bat for her. Because hardly anybody else was. Inexcusable. There's name-calling, and then there's systematic sexualised and degrading bullying.

The interview was pretty cool. I was SO NERVOUS, casually asking questions sipping tea out of fine bone china cups with sweaty man hands thinking oh my lord if only she knew the crap I have done in my life. Everybody who has ever watched that interview said wow, she just seems so .... normal/nice/different/smart. Yep. Real. She was real.

Being Australia's first female Prime Minister is a pretty big deal. To reach those ranks? Wow. She pointed to my tattoos once and said "But WHY would you do that to yourself Eden?" And I scrunched my face up and answered "Because it just feels so GOOD, Julia."

She didn't understand my tattoos and I didn't understand how one woman - one PERSON - could be so articulate, focused, accomplished, ambitious. Julia got shit done. And I hope whoever is the next female Australian Prime Minister gets all of the respect that Julia never did, but so desperately deserved.

Oh my god I just read all of the You Tube comments for the first time and deleted about ten. I've left a few up. Luke K are you flirting?

She never wanted to say "that speech." I asked her. It was completely off the cuff and she'd had enough and just got furious. I love it when a woman gets furious because my lord there are SO MANY THINGS for women to get furious about. So many. (And men, too.)

The patriarchy reminds me of those Palmolive ads in the eighties - it affects both genders but we have no idea exactly just how much we're soaking in it.

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Write to be understood, speak to be heard. - Lawrence Powell

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