October 9 will mark 10 years since Australia’s first (and so far only) female prime minister, Julia Gillard, approached the despatch box of the House of Representatives to deliver a stinging rebuke of Tony Abbott in what would immediately become known as the misogyny speech.
For 15 minutes, the prime minister railed against the opposition leader for what she described as double standards, sexist views and misogynistic behaviour.
In the parliament that day, all ears were on Ms Gillard while all eyes crossed between her and Mr Abbott sitting uncomfortably on the other side of the chamber.
“I will not be lectured about sexism and misogyny by this man. I will not. And the government will not be lectured about sexism and misogyny by this man – not now, not ever,” Ms Gillard said.
“The Leader of the Opposition says that people who hold sexist views and who are misogynists are not appropriate for high office. Well, I hope the Leader of the Opposition has got a piece of paper and he is writing out his resignation because if he wants to know what misogyny looks like in modern Australia, he doesn’t need a motion in the House of Representatives – he needs a mirror. That’s what he needs.”
It was a riveting oration and now it is an opus.
Australian entertainer Karen Jacobsen has turned the speech into a 50-minute pop orchestral work known as the Misogyny Opus.
The first part of the work has just been released – a seven-minute music video where 70 advocates and celebrities lip sync along to words from the speech that Jacobson sings while accompanying herself on piano:
The song is titled ‘Better Standard Than This’ and is a fitting anniversary tribute to the speech that resonated around the world.
Jacobsen recruited advocates from across Australia and internationally for her video, and Parliament House has a prominent cameo appearance.
“It was a bit of detective work to reach out to people I wanted in the video because I insisted on a heavy representation of diversity,” she said.
“I believe gender equality is essential to a world that works for everyone. This creative advocacy project exists to inspire conversation and encourage and inspire women and men who experience bias.
“I was so inspired by the message of equality, I have set this iconic speech to music, word for word, with permission. I know it sounds crazy, but I have really done that.
“Her words carried the power of a long history of women experiencing a lesser standing in our world.”
The release of the whole Misogyny Opus album is scheduled for February next year, along with a live performance with an orchestral ensemble.
Ms Gillard’s original speech went viral; within a week of its delivery, more than one million people had viewed it on YouTube. To date, ABC’s news video of the speech has had more than 3.7 million views.