Gillard ‘cool anger’ drove misogyny speech
It was a cool anger that drove Julia Gillard's unscripted and stinging anti-misogyny speech to parliament, the former prime minister has recalled. Photo: AAP
Former prime minister Julia Gillard has recounted how she challenged a senior adviser to deliver her famous anti-misogyny speech.
Nearly a decade since Ms Gillard declared in Australian parliament she would not be lectured by then-opposition leader Tony Abbott on sexism and misogyny, she has reflected on the speech that attracted global attention.
The famous speech was delivered on October 9, 2012.
The former Labor leader said her chief-of-staff Ben Hubbard asked if she was sure she wanted to respond to an opposition bid to remove then-lower house speaker Peter Slipper, who had sent sexist text messages about women’s genitalia.
“I wandered over to the adviser’s box and I said to the advisers there, ‘I’m going to take this, I’m going to do the reply’,” Ms Gillard told a 5000-strong crowd in Sydney on Wednesday night.
“And Ben said to me ‘are you sure?’. Because normally I used to hold myself above the tactics of the opposition on any given day.
“Yes I am sure because I am sick of this s—.”
Ms Gillard said for many years she felt the speech was her constant companion.
“Wherever I went, it was walking with me alongside me,” she said.
“But I’ve come to realise that it’s not my companion, it’s yours because it’s become your anthem of defiance when you are subjected to a sexist slur.”
Watch Ms Gillard’s speech in full
The former prime minister was joined on Wednesday night by an eclectic bunch of women who shared their impressions of the speech.
Others beamed in via video message, including New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, former US secretary of state Hillary Clinton and Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.
The latter said the response to misogynistic attacks on Australia’s first female prime minister had reverberated around the chamber, parliament, the nation and the world.
“With such an economy of words, Julia captured and channelled the indignities and obstacles so many women had faced their whole lives,” Mr Albanese said.
“Julia spoke to every woman and for every woman who had been excluded and bullied and harassed or worse.
“Australian women recognised themselves in the speech. That’s what made it so powerful and that is why it will endure.”
Ms Gillard said the unplanned speech was fuelled by a cool anger.
“I felt analytical. I knew precisely what I wanted to say,” she said.
“And I felt empowered, not embattled, not cowed.
“And that is the spirit of the misogyny speech.”
Ms Gillard believes that almost exactly a decade after the speech, sexist and misogynist behaviour is not tolerated as much as it was during her prime ministership.
The former PM, who chairs leading mental health awareness body, beyondblue, appeared on stage in Melbourne and Sydney over two nights.
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