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06/13/2013

Who knows what Friday will bring Down Under?

Gillard

Australian PM Julia Gillard has been outspoken on the issue of sexism in her country's politics. This week has proven her point.  (Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

So this has been Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard's week:

On Tuesday in Sydney, speak to colleagues and supporters about the importance of the participation of women in politics; On Wednesday, discover that your body has been objectified and denigrated for someone's amusement; On Thursday in Perth, get asked if your longtime partner is gay because he's a hairdresser.

Can't wait to see how her Friday goes.

Gillard appears to have handled the onslaught of crap deftly, but we should remember that she is used to this. She has long been outspoken on the issue of sexism in Australia and made headlines around the world when she -- quite frankly -- flattened opposition leader Tony Abbot during a debate in 2012.

"If he wants to know what misogyny looks like in modern Australia, he doesn't need a motion in the House of Representatives," Gillard said, "he needs a mirror. That's what he needs."

Ouch. It goes on for about 15 minutes. (Video is here, and it's a real pick-me-up on a grey day.)

And it was at a fundraiser for the opposition where "Julia Gillard quail" with "small breasts, huge thighs and a big red box" was on the menu. (The restaurant owner now says it was a private joke -- hilarious, right? -- and was never meant for public consumption. Whoops.)

Before asking about her partner's sexuality, the talk interviewer said to Gillard "myth, rumour, snide jokes and innuendos -- you've been the butt of them many times."

"Oh, I think that's right," Gillard said. "We've certainly seen that this week."

(Also Wednesday: a guest on a radio show uses a slur to describe provincial NDP leader Andrea Horwath.)

So it seems the penultimate line in Gillard's speech on women in politics was particularly prescient: "Women's equality has always been hard-fought for, and we're entering a hard fight again."

Jennifer Quinn is a foreign affairs and investigative reporter at the Star. Follow her on Twitter @JQStar

 

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