Julia Gillard: set up for failure and some of the ways that this was accomplished.
In discussion of this issue I will avoid the use of the term “smear campaign” due to the prescribed response from the anti-Gillard dilettantes being either one of confected outrage; an “How Dare You” or denial, “What smear campaign?” or condescension, “If you can’t stand the heat then get out of the kitchen”. The latter description of course being used present day to suggest that women should be back there.
Background: you take a politician of considerable talent with proven resources, in not only being on top of a number of portfolios, a formidable foe in debates but with a certain style and wit which endeared her to many.
In those days Ms. Gillard was often promoted as a future Prime Minister. Then she made a mistake, she became one.
I have absolutely not a moment of doubt when considering that irrespective of the method by which Ms. Gillard came to become Australia’s Prime Minister, that the exact same methods would have been used against her.
Many of these techniques are obvious, some less so.
For me it commenced with Tony Abbott’s statement immediately following Julia Gillard becoming Prime Minister that this would be an “unfair fight”, that he could not use his usual attack dog style against her..because she is a woman.
How ironic is the above. From the moment that Julia Gillard entered the room she was given all the disadvantages of being a female, but with no recognition of her achievements “because of being a woman”. People, and especially other women were actively discouraged from celebrating having a female Prime Minister while the Right were free to denigrate her for this same fact.
The above was the end result, but how was this achieved?
False impressions: set up a false persona based on “expectations”. A false persona will never work unless it conforms with preconceived ideas and generalisations. We see this throughout society, and something which is used to great effect in all forms of media. With Julia Gillard, without one doubt this tactic was based on sexism.
Consider “the empty fruit bowl”. This equates with inadequate as a partner and homemaker. Therefore the impression of inadequacy is created.
The Prime Minister’s Australian accent and the accompanying accusation of “bogan”. Again a false impression of inadequacy, and on this occasion “lack of class”.
However, as often noted these false impressions are at the lowest level such encouraging others to sneer at a person’s physical appearance, background, race, age or gender.
Undermine the person’s credibility: create imaginary motives and ascribe these to the person. Claim that everyone else (the mysterious “everyone”) is in complete agreement that the imaginary traits ascribed to the person are real. These are the tactics utilized by the shock jocks, but often followed through by more regular mainstream media identities. For the most part, these amount to condescension due to the use of sarcasm.
Faux Concern: these are of the *it’s so sad that she’s an alcoholic/it’s such a tragedy that he’s gay* genre. An ego trip for the speaker and done for the sole purpose of undermining the credibility of the other. It’s condescension *with a twist*.
Attempt to exert power over the person: primarily by dictating what the person should or shouldn’t do or in extremes, what the person can and cannot do. The power exists in the person’s own mind, however it is the message that is sent to others is that which concerns.
Tony Abbott’s endless demands for a new election not only comes under this category but has a good deal of condescension thrown in. Is it that the little lady could not make up her own mind about when to hold an election, but that he Abbott the alpha male must make this decision for her?
Persons of lesser calibre would have given up but Ms. Gillard was awarded the ultimate praise, that according to Tony Abbott she refused to “lay down and die”. However it remains that Julia Gillard was…set up for failure.