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    Bad Buzz

    Sexist Press, Fewer Female Leaders

    Media around Gillard, Pelosi, and Clinton discourages women from politics

    One would assume that greater visibility of female political leaders would encourage women to run for office. But given the added—and many times uncalled-for—media scrutiny female political leaders face, women often see them as examples of why not to seek candidacy. A recent survey conducted by the University of Adelaide and YWCA reveals that Australian women are more hesitant to run for office after Prime Minister Julia Gillard's run-ins with bad press. According to the survey, 8 out of 10 women over the age of 31 are less likely to pursue a career in politics while 57 percent of women between 18 and 21 years old felt discouraged by the press surrounding Ms. Gillard. The women surveyed noted most negative reception was not based on the Ms. Gillard's policy decisions or leadership abilities, but on her style and appearance—a marked difference to the media reception afforded to her male peers. The findings echoed former House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi's response to The Shriver Report's statistics on the gap in female political leadership in the U.S. “If you reduce the role of money in politics and increase the level of civility in debate, more women will run for office,” Pelosi said. Just today, TIME Magazine released its latest cover featuring Hillary Clinton. The article chronicles Mrs. Clinton's apparently inevitable, although still unconfirmed, presidential ambitions, with cliche hallmarks of female political leadership: a pantsuit and a seemingly dangerous heeled shoe with a helpless man dangling behind. The social media response has been one of understandable outrage. This viral image of Clinton aboard a C-17 headed to Libya, sunglasses on and Blackberry in hand, better depicts unstoppable leadership, or at least one that women can actually aspire to. 

  • Feng Li/Getty Images

    Iron Ladies

    Sexism and the Prime Minister

    Misogyny didn’t bring about Julia Gillard’s downfall—but it did expedite the process.

    Julia Gillard, booted as the prime minister of Australia last month, had her share of political problems. But unlike male politicians, writes Rachel Hills at Stylist, she was frequently critiqued not on her policy but on her femininity. From the infamous “Julia Gillard Kentucky Fried Quail,” served at a political fundraiser, to comments on her fashion sense, to remarks that she should be “kicked to death,” the politician never got a fair shake. “Gillard’s treatment raises uncomfortable questions,” says Hills. “Not only why we still have so few female leaders, but more pertinently, where they do exist, why do we respond so emotively to them, cutting straight to the personal when the vitriol leveled at their male equivalents … is based on competence and policy.”

  • Cole Bennetts / Getty Images News

    After bitter ouster of P.M. Julia Gillard.

    Don't think we're not still watching you, Australia. Days after Julia Gillard, Australia's first female prime minister, was ousted in a bitter party coup, her replacement, Kevin Rudd, announced a new cabinet that features the largest number of women ever. Eleven out of the 29 positions are now held by women. Rudd has been accused of pandering to female voters after Gillard's abrupt dismissal, but two recent polls show his arrival in office has improved the Australian Labor Party's standing. Rudd described his new cabinet members as "strong, professional, highly experienced and they are there exclusively on their merit." 

  • BUT, BUT

    Australia ‘Not Ready’ for Woman P.M.?

    Julia Gillard was ousted on Wednesday.

    After Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard was ousted on Wednesday for Kevin Rudd, The Guardian notes Australia is a nation “still so defined by its predominately male icons.” Gillard lost in a closed-doors poll that ended her tenure, which many consider to be one of the most tumultuous in Australian prime minister history. Gillard faced public opposition and blatant sexism. For example, just a few weeks ago, a Liberal Party fundraiser had “Julia Gillard Kentucky Fried Quail—Small Breasts, Huge Thighs & a Big Red Box” listed on the menu. She was also ridiculed, by a woman, for showing too much cleavage in Parliament. “Austrailia has shown the world that it is not yet ready for a woman leader,” The Guardian writes.

  • Marty Melville, AFP / Getty Images


    Australian PM Ousted

    Julia Gillard was country's first female prime minister.

    While you were all watching Wendy Davis last night, Australia lost its first female prime minister. Julia Gillard lost in a vote to former prime minister Kevin Rudd on Wednesday in what The New York Times called “one of the most sensational political comebacks in Australian history.” Gillard had replaced Rudd in 2010 in a Labor Party coup. Gillard announced her resignation after losing the vote, ending the “rocky tenure of Ms. Gillard.” She called the vote herself, in an effort to prove herself in a challenge from Rudd’s supporters. But the Times said Gillard was never able to become a true leader and faced opposition relentlessly.

  • Stefan Postles


    Australian P.M. Inspires Cleavage Photos

    After a radio guest said the prime minister from Down Under showed too much skin, supporters showed their cleavage in protest.

    An anti-sexism group’s Facebook page has received more than 700 photos of cleavage. The page, for the group Destroy the Joint, has even created a montage of the breasts. The photos aren’t for some strange sort of art, but for a protest in support of the prime minister, Julia Gillard. Grace Collier, a columnist, said on ABC radio that the prime minister showed too much “flesh in Parliament.” One blogger picked up on the statement and called on other women to tweet photos of their cleavage. A spokeswoman for the group said it’s a “humorous way of telling Grace Collier she’s an idiot.”

  • Stefan Postles/Getty Images


    Australian P.M. on the Menu

    Julia Gillard compared to quail at opposition fundraising dinner.

    What’s for dinner? Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, apparently. A Liberal Party dinner offered “Julia Gillard Kentucky fried quail with small breasts, huge thighs, and a big red box,” at a fundraiser, shocking many—including Gillard. Former prime minister Kevin Rudd (who was also mocked on the menu as “Rudd’s a Goose Foie Gras) described the incident as a “snide, dirty, and sexist trick.” And Liberal Party leader Tonny Abbott was quick to call the menu “tawdry.” At least she is no longer being attacked by sandwiches.

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    Iron Lady Troubles

    Julia Gillard Accosted by Sandwiches

    In a condescending series of pranks, Australian youngsters have begun hurling food at their prime minister.

    For the second time this month, Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard has visited a school only to have a student fling a “salami snack” at her, as the BBC explained it. A variation on the “Make me a sandwich” meme, incidents like these make light of disbelief in women’s leadership capabilities (remember the guy who asked Hilary Clinton to iron his shirts?). Whether or not it was intended as a gender joke, Gillard took the prank in stride: “Must have thought I was hungry,” she told reporters. For those interested in humiliating male politicians, Katy Waldman at XX Factor advises “throwing a paper towel while shouting, ‘Go kill that bug near the drain!’”