4 October 2022

'Misogyny Opus' marks a decade of the speech that rocked the world

| Chris Johnson
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Woman on stage

Karen Jacobsen has turned Julia Gillard’s ‘misogyny speech’ into an opus. Photo: Tanya D’Herville Photography.

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.

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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.”

Julia Gillard

Julia Gillard in full flight delivering her famous ‘misogyny speech’ in 2012. Image: Screenshot.

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.

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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.

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HiddenDragon8:14 pm 06 Oct 22

3.7 million views would put that speech at about the same level as a lower/mid-range cute furry animal clip – which, in terms of broader significance, would be about right because it was not an “I have a dream” speech or a Gettysburg Address or even, to be more parochial, a Redfern Speech of feminism.

Instead, it was a histrionic and clearly pre-meditated performance, meticulously researched and replete with a litany of political hits against the speaker’s opponent. In essence, it was preaching to the converted and much more about weaponising feminism for partisan purposes to defend and distract attention from shabby dealings by Labor than it was about advancing the broader cause.

So, did it bother you that there was a well publicised call to assassinate a sitting prime minister? And where does “histrionic” come from? Also you appear to have miscalculated the number of views. The 3.7 million was on one Australian station alone. It was a huge reaction and became a global phenomenon. Also, how was it “clearly pre-meditated”.

Astro,
No, the 3.7 million views are on the ABC News YouTube channel which is available worldwide. It is the main platform that the speech has been viewed.

Global phenomenon? LOL.

In comparison, Disney’s song “Let it Go” from 8 years ago has had more than 800 million views on the same platform. Perhaps you should watch that instead?

I think you’re somewhat inflating the global importance of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. It isn’t the only news channel globally. The speech was disseminated globally, not just from the ABC. Perhaps you need to extend your reading a little further?

Astro,
So we agree that you were wrong in your claims, as the ABC YouTube channel is literally the main platform that the speech was viewed globally. If your claims were correct, you could link to other sources with significantly higher viewer interactions.

But we both know you can’t do that. Because they don’t exist.

Although you are right in one regard, I could extend my reading to various low popularity left wing feminism sites. But they rarely have anything of worth to read so why bother?

To be honest mate, I think the only person you’re in furious agreement with is yourself. If you don’t understand that there are more distribution platforms worldwide than just the national broadcaster then probably the Disney channel is the best go-to that you can seek out. Perhaps try re-reading the article which was about how the speech became a global phenomenon. For a speech made in the House Of Reps Question time in Canberra that’s quite a feat. Once you’ve established the facts you can then move on to asking why. Best of luck.

Astro,
No as I said, I fully understand there are other platforms. As usual you are having trouble with your comprehension skills.

I know you are claiming the speech was a “global phenomenon”, the problem being that the actual data has the speech as more of a tiny, inconsequential blip.

As above, if you want to back up your position, you could link these other sources showing the high level of global interaction and viewing of the speech. But you can’t because they don’t exist.

It’s also funny that you tell me to reread the article, when that’s exactly where the figure of a tiny 3.7million global views came from. You know, the actual facts you want me to establish.

LOL, best of luck with ignoring reality Champ.

It was actually the article that explored the speech as a global phenomenon, which was backed up by the number of news outlets, globally, that reported it. As it is the 10-year anniversary of the speech it’s been interesting to see media articles recently reporting on this. Better shut your eyes and block your ears so it doesn’t upset your delicate sensibilities. It’s curious as to why it should upset you so much.

Astro,
No it’s an article about a piece of art, which “claims” the speech had some sort of global impact. And it uses the very figures I’ve quoted to do so. Figures that in reality show the speech had a fleeting and inconsequential global impact.

You’re the one claiming it was a “global phenomenon” yet once again you can’t provide any evidence to substantiate it, despite being asked to repeatedly.

And I’m not the one upset here, I just value accuracy and objectivity.

It’s far more curious why people like yourself want to give this event of base politics far more currency than it deserved at the time and most definitely deserves now. Seems strange that you’re so unhappy to see it questioned.

Tony Abbott had a wife and three daughters. I’m sure they would have knocked the mysogyny out of him. It was a perception of the media that was promoted. I don’t recall any misogynistic statements he made.

if you don’t recall any misogynstic comments then try: Tony Abbott on who does the ironing; Abbott on virginity; on same-sex marriage, on sex work, on how he feels threatened by LGBTQI people, on women being ‘focused on the household budget’. That should help provide the information for you and assist recalling the statements.

Astro,
At least you freely admit that you want to change the meaning of “misogyny” if you believe any of those statements convey a hatred of women, which is the definition of the word.

Outlines the attempted “bait and switch” use of the word by people like Gillard and yourself perfectly. You want to convey all of the very serious negative connotations of the word as it’s definition exists in the dictionary, yet then want it to apply to far less serious and benign statements.

No, try reading the post rather than making up what you think it should say. And you don’t win any points in a discussion by saying people said things they didn’t.

Astro,
So are you saying that you truly believe Tony Abbott saying in a speech that women were particularly focused on the household budget is evidence he hates women?

Along with the other trivial statements you mention.

Really?

Either you don’t understand the meaning of the word or you are deliberately trying to apply it to far less serious actions amd statements. Either one doesn’t look good for your position.

The way that this country treated Julia Gillard was appalling. It was not just the Opposition, it was also her own party, the media and ultimately – ALL OF US – for standing by and letting it happen as a kind of spectacle in a Colosseum.

I’ve heard better speeches, but this one was powerful, off the cuff and heartfelt, delivered by someone who I believe was one of our finest ministers and spoke out against a problem that affects many millions of Australians who are much less powerful than she was and still is.

I am sorry to say that I really disliked the “opus” – Sorry, it just grated.

This Julia Gillard admirer will continue to download and watch the original speech.

Capital Retro5:22 pm 05 Oct 22

Do you know where I can watch or read the alleged sexist lectures that Tony Abbott gave to her?

Riotact, why repeat this from 10 years ago, but completely miss the large protest held near the fountain in Civic on Saturday by the Iranian community in support the widespread protests across Iran against that extremely sexist regime?

SigmaOctantis5:51 pm 08 Oct 22

Because only white men are sexist.

The speech certainly resonated around the world. Some people seem to resent that fact so let’s just take one simple example of what this is about. At the time of an interview with PM Gillard at her residence, there happened to be a fruit bowl sitting on a kitchen bench. The fruit bowl, it was noticed, didn’t have any fruit in it. Quelle Horror! Cue the hate media and their chanting minions. “Oh why wasn’t there fruit in the bowl. She is a woman after all and should have made sure there was fruit in the bowl.” Now have a think about that example and transfer the situation to a male PM. Could anyone in their wildest dreams imagine that a male PM would be criticised in such a way for not having fruit in a fruit bowl whilst they were being interviewed about matters of state. Have a good long think about it.

Capital Retro8:18 pm 05 Oct 22

But wasn’t Tony Abbott ridiculed mercilessly for eating a raw onion?

You mean unlike how Abbott was banned from wearing speedo’s or judged for eating raw onions?

The fruit bowl being empty is part of an assessment as the mental state of a PM. Man or woman, no fruit will have some impact on their ability to make policy.

No he wasn’t “ridiculed mercilessly” for eating a raw onion. There was a joke around it, which lasted a couple of days in the media cycle. Nothing like the venom and hate dished out at Julia Gillard. No comparison.

No, Tony Abbott wasn’t “banned from wearing Speedos” nor judged for eating raw onions. Whatever your political colours may be, there is no comparison for the type of really dreadful behaviour directed towards Julia Gillard as a female PM, and Australia’s only PM – in over a hundred years….why do you think that is gooterz? Gives you pause for thought doesn’t it.

I didn’t like Tony Abbot, but I for one (and I imagine many (most?) people) didn’t judge him for eating raw onions or wearing speedos. Maybe some made a joke about it, but that doesn’t mean they held that against him. Plenty of other (real) reasons not to like him.

Abbott was ridiculed for the speedos so much that he was forced to burn then, then agreed to only wear them when competing.
The onion thing lasted years.

Please provide evidence that he was “forced to burn them.” Also of how “the onion thing lasted for years.”

Capital Retro3:15 pm 08 Oct 22

Give me two of those reasons.

If there was ever an example of a politician attempting to paper over their political failures and hypocrisy with emotional manipulation of the electorate for personal political gain, Gillard’s speech was it.

It’s very strange that people still revere it as some sort of cultural or social touchstone of import.

Just as we see today with the Greens excusing of poor behaviour by Lidia Thorpe, neither the left leaning or right leaning sides of our parliament are very good at holding themselves to the same standards they expect of others.

Shero Canberra10:04 pm 04 Oct 22

Associating these issues is misogyny at its’ best.

You’ve retired. Retire the keyboard too, or take a deeper, critical look at the issues.

Gillard was doomed from the start. Thousands of years of patriarchy on top of misogyny and white male privilege?

Shero,
Would you like to try again? Perhaps somewhat coherently next time?

Although funnily enough you have seemingly struck on a good point. Those who think this speech had anything to do with combating “misogyny” or the “patriarchy”, definitely need to take a deeper, critical look at the issue. Along with the events that led to the speech involved.

If politicians didn’t have double standards, they wouldn’t have any at all.

Shero, taking a deeper look yourself, were you for or against the comments by Slipper that sparked the speech and was Abbott wrong to ask for him to be sacked?

Julia achieved nothing as PM and used the gender card when things got tough, her own party turfed her out.

However I disagree with chewy, I believe Hillary giving her acceptance speech and not letting go after she lost in 2016 was worse. “LOOK AT ME! LISTEN TO ME!”

Capital Retro3:20 pm 04 Oct 22

Good grief.

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