Has it been a good week for women?

The news regarding one of the UK’s most loved celebrities, Jimmy Savile, has not been good. It is not so much what he did – bad though that seems to have been – more that it was allowed to go on even though many people were aware of it. The fact that a BBC Newsnight report seems to have been ‘supressed’ in favour of a Savile eulogy adds to the sense of cover up. It took ITV to run with it.

The consequences have been monumental. Existing female presenters on the BBC have now come out and told of their own experiences with other male ‘colleagues’; for example, Liz Kershaw, formally of Radio 1 – Savile’s former station, told how she was groped whilst on air in the late 1980s and being accused of lesbianism when she complained. Sandy Toksvig made similar claims live on television. Finally, it seems, it is safe to tell the truth.

Talking of which, Julia Gillard, the Australian Prime Minister, had the House of Representatives utterly dumbfounded by

Julia Gillard (source: MystifyMe Concert Photography (Troy), Wikipedia

her 15 minute ‘home truths’ session in a debate on misogyny. Her speech opened with the following: “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.”

The Savile abuse revelations can never add up to a good week for women; though having it out in the open and engendering some unease amongst the still-living abusers in the BBC and elsewhere is inherently good. Julia Gillard’s contribution, on the other hand, is empowering. It may have been entertaining at one level, but her ability to demonstrate to so-called colleagues that their behaviour towards her is at the very least bullying was striking. She has stood up to them on her terms. I cannot recall any similar events or instances.

I think we should invite her to do the same in the UK – starting with David Cameron and his “calm down, dear” put down to Angela Eagle MP in April 2011. One of the reasons that the Conservative Party is so nasty is because of its inherent mysogyny.

Full transcript of Gillard’s speech can be found here: http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/political-news/transcript-of-julia-gillards-speech-20121010-27c36.html#ixzz29H8MJ4Hl

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