Yeah,yeah, I know I’ve been neglecting the blog. I just got back to uni after a 2 week long mid-semester break and have absolutely no excuses.
So anyways, moving on. There’s this show that just finished on the ABC called At Home With Julia. It was pretty controversial because it’s the first time anyone’s ever made a show like this about a sitting prime minister, and there’s been a lot of discussion over whether or not it’s sexist, or if the show would have even been made had Julia been a man. The fact that the title contains the word ‘home’ kind of implies that, like we can’t have a female PM without having to link her back to her ‘rightful’ place-the home.
Really, I watched the first episode and it wasn’t massively offensive. Julia’s not portrayed as stupid, and Amanda Bishop totally nails it. I’m not sure about all the stupid pet names for Tim, but you could sort of imagine her being like that at home. I don’t think this show would do much harm to her image. Not like it’s that great now anyway, but in public her personality doesn’t come across so much and this will probably help, if anything.
I don’t like how they characterise Tim, though. The show’s sort of set up like it’s meant to be a fish out of water sort of comedy ‘ha ha, the woman’s running the country and the man’s digging around in the garbage for expired mincemeat and getting laughed at by local kids because he’s sooooo emasculated’. It’s sort of normalising the idea that being the stay-at-home partner of a powerful woman is something to be ashamed of. If Julia was the one staying at home, there’d be nothing funny about that because it would just seem normal. But with Tim it’s like he”s being degraded because he’s in a position traditionally held by women. It’s actually not that far from how he’s portrayed in the press, though. He’s always referred to in the press as a hairdresser, but he actually gave that up years ago and now he’s a real estate agent.
But look at what it’s like being the First Lady. It’s all charity work and insipid Women’s Weekly interviews and pearl necklaces.
I actually really like that about Australia, how we have absolutely no respect for people in power at all. It’s so rare that anyone has anything good to say about whoever the current PM is, even if we liked them as opposition leaders or ministers or whatever they were before. We send them up in just about every form possible- the usual newspaper cartoons, Rove had that segment Kevin Rudd,PM, the Chasers following John Howard around on his morning jog, and there were a lot of pretty inappropriate/mentally scarring cartoons going around involving him and George Bush around the time we were getting involved in the war (I guess the difference is maybe they’re just too outrageous to be taken seriously, but this sort of makes you think ‘Hmmm, I wonder if it’s really like that at the Lodge?’) It’s definitely better than countries where you get killed or put in jail for criticising the government. I wonder if we don’t take it a bit far sometimes,even if I don’t always agree with the PM.
Having said that though, if anybody ever made ‘At Home With Tony’ and completely sent him up and made him look like the ‘lame,gay,churchy loser’ he is, I would find it funny and wouldn’t really consider it disrespectful at all.
I actually got the idea today from a discussion in my tute for Gender,Culture,Power- One of our readings was about how Obama was supposedly America’s first ‘unisex’ president, because his campaign was interesting in terms of how he had to emphasise his female traits more than previous presidents to sort of counteract the idea that black men are naturally overly aggressive, as opposed to Hillary Clinton presenting herself as extremely masculine to counteract her perceived ‘weakness’ as a woman. This doesn’t really have much to do with Julia Gillard, but it did lead to a discussion about her and Tim and how they’re portrayed in the media.
I don’t think it’s wrong that the show exists, but I do question some of the attitudes it reveals. I’m not saying that everything bad that’s ever been written about the PM has been because she’s a woman. I think sometimes it’s justified sometimes it’s not. But it is worth noting that her femininity does get brought up a lot unnecessarily- Tony Abbott calling her barren, magazines constantly discussing her fashion choices and lack of fruit in her fruit bowl (I thought I’d include a link there, just to prove I’m not exaggerating the stupid things people get hung up on).