Julia Gillard has taken some heat for not having children by choice, and now it's her sex life that is being satirized. In a recent segment on the Australian comedy show At Home With Julia, there is a controversial scene in which the Gillard character and her partner appear in her office, "post-coital, naked under an Australian flag." This kind of scene got me thinking.
When Gillard was campaigning for Prime Minister, she got serious flack for being "deliberately barren." In this show, her sex life has been "fair game for satire", as she is seen as having a "nooner" or the like, in her office during the work day.
I can't help but think--would we see an episode like this if the Prime Minister (real and character) was a man? Maybe. But what if Gillard was a mother and her character on the show was then a mother--would we see a segment like this? I would wager the answer is no.
I bet Larissa Behrendt, writer and professor of law at the University of Technology, Sydney, would agree. In her piece in the Sydney Morning Herald, she writes that the portrayal of Gillard's sex life "joins a list of cheap shots with a misogynistic overtone in political debate or satire."
She refers to real life examples in addition to Senator Bill Heffernan describing her as "deliberately barren," such as "the disgraceful slogans at the anti-carbon tax rally that referred to Gillard as a witch and 'Bob Brown's bitch' " (would a mother be called either of these things? ugh-no) and Senator George Brandis calling her "one dimensional,'' not so indirectly implying that because she does not have children she must not understand the problems of teenage girls and their parents.
Behrendt makes a great point that, "Of all the assumptions heaped on women in public life, none seems more intrusive or arrogant than these-"These" meaning her sex life and her reproductive life.
Now if Gillard was a mom, on this kind of a show there would still be satire, but would it go after motherhood and or her sex life in this way? I don't think so. In real life Gillard continues to take heat for not being a mother, and the array of less than positive connotations seem to be bleeding through to supposed satirical comedy on television.
The good news: Viewers don't seem to be amused. The show has been a fall in ratings and rise in complaints. The bad news: more people seem to be upset by the "misuse" of the Australian flag than disrespect shown to Prime Minister Gillard. To that--a heavy sigh.
Do you think we would have seen a segment like this if Gillard was a mother? Why or why not?
Childfree author of Families of Two
blogging at La Vie Childfree http://lauracarroll.com
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