Culture

Prime Minister Takes Hammy Photo Op In Lead-Up To Election; Media Acts Like That’s Never Happened Before

How very dare she.

In case you’ve been avoiding Twitter since #QandA last night, here’s what it won’t shut up about today.

The Australian Women’s Weekly are running a cover story on the Prime Minister in tomorrow’s edition, and at its centrepiece is a styled shoot of Julia Gillard sitting in a pretty chair with her ridiculous cavoodle, and knitting a woollen kangaroo for the new royal baby.

Cue outrage from the Daily Telegraphand yet another obnoxious cover.

The caption to this one reads: “This extraordinary image of the Prime Minister is not digitally altered, but a photo actually arranged by Ms Gillard and her chief spin doctor, John McTernan, for the Australian Women’s Weekly.”

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The Australian, The Guardian, Daily Life, Crikey and Mumbrella have all aired their varied opinions, as — of course — has Twitter. There are three main complaints being leveled at the Prime Minister and her press team. (Spoiler: They’re all pretty dumb.)

COMPLAINT 1: It’s A Disingenuous Stunt

Summary:

Putting a photo of the Prime Minister knitting on the cover of a woman’s magazine is a ham-handed and disingenuous attempt to appeal to women in the lead-up to an extremely gender-focused election.

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Early reports indicate that it was the Prime Minister’s press advisor John McTernan who suggested the shoot, too — not the magazine. [Update: The PM’s press office is denying that now: “Women’s Weekly arranged the photo shoot, including requesting that the Prime Minister knit and that her dog, Reuben, attend,” says the official statement. “Women’s Weekly had complete creative control over the photo shoot.”]

Rebuttal:

Firstly, Gillard loves to knit. Just look at her.

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She knits tiny baby clothes for the new arrivals of caucus members. And sometimes she even knits them for Fifi Box.

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“I knit for babies — in part, because they are smaller projects,” she told Women’s Weekly. “I’ve got not that much time in my life.”

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Knitting is to Gillard what swimming and cycling is to Abbott, and what running was to Howard.

And even if it wasn’t, this is politics. Photo ops are a thing.

"Oh, hello. What are you all doing here? I'm just casually doing all of my ironing!"

“Oh, hello. What are you all doing here, The Press? I’m just casually ironing my clothes, like usual!” (Image via ABC)

COMPLAINT 2: She Should Spend That Time Fixing The Country

Summary:

The shoot itself took five hours and six Prime Ministerial staffers to complete, reports a breathless Daily Tele. And that doesn’t even include the time it would take for the Prime Minister to knit that woollen kangaroo toy for some baby!

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Rebuttal: 

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Further reading: Corinne Grant has written a brilliant piece for The Hoopla today, about the dire state of the Canberra press gallery, “who, on one hand, lectures politicians for focusing on leadership instability, while at the same time reporting on nothing else”.

Nationals senator Fiona Nash suggested this morning that the country would rather Julia Gillard talk about “how she was going to fix the nation’s economy … not whether or not she’s knitting”. But even if she did talk about the economy (she did – just yesterday, in fact), do you think we would have heard about it nearly as much as we’re hearing about this?

COMPLAINT 3: Knitting Is Not A Thing We Feminists Do

Summary:

Like cooking and cleaning, knitting is a past-time traditionally associated with the 1950s housewife, not a female politician in the 2010s.

Gillard has betrayed the sisterhood, and she’s done it while wearing A DRESS.

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Rebuttal:

Feminism is about choice. In her down-time, Gillard chooses to knit. The rest of the time, Gillard chooses to do other things. The people making this complaint do not understand feminism.

While we’re on the topic, I’ll just leave this here.

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Image: AAP/Alan Porritt, via the ABC

We Are Having The Wrong Conversation Again:

Because can we all just please take one second to look at Reuben?

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HE IS SMILING!

 

 

Header image photography by Grant Matthews. Styling by Judith Cook. © The Australian Women’s Weekly.

Comments

Comments

  1. Tess Peni says:

    LOL FUNNY!!! Thank you for highlighting the fact that those of the media who are not in a pre-election spin about everything Gillard is doing (excluding policy making) are still in a pre-election spin about everything she is or is not doing…

  2. Silvana Rechichi says:

    I hate to see time and again Tony Abbott in his revolting “budgie smuglers” and yet the Main Stream Media constantly enjoys regailing us with such an image…I prefer to see a picture of the Prime Minister knitting rather than seeing a photograph of Tony Abbott in his red Speedos…

  3. Phoebe Loomes says:

    He IS smiling!

  4. Bluex says:

    Well, either way we have 2 pretty sorry politician vying for the leadership in a few months time. Predicting Canberra gonna be a circus for the next 4-5 years.

  5. Christina Gerakiteys says:

    It wouldn’t matter what she did- knit, iron, surf, run, swim, cook, read, walk…and it wouldn’t matter if she had a baby, a dog, a possum, a bike, a car…someone would say something derogatory about her. Could we take a moment to remember Ms Gillard is a human being, with human emotions and is doing the best she can in an environment that most of us do not want to enter. Some respect (I know it’s an old fashioned concept) might go some way to ensuring we regain some credibility and a little integrity.

  6. Jodes says:

    The funny thing is, the people complaining how old fashioned knitting is are unaware that the craft movement has been in resurgence for the past ten years due to Gen X & Y. So to those generations, she’s being perfectly modern!

  7. Leonie Smith says:

    haha spot on! I’m a fena mist and I knit!! Knitting is amazing for stress release and stops me from biting my nails! And…I get an amazing glow when I’ve made something myself and its warm and useful!

  8. Chad Parkhill says:

    Love this post and agree with it entirely, Steph, but I do have to comment on one thing: the “feminism is about choice” line. This is a line that a lot of people trot out to present women doing traditional or conservative things as laudable radicals. (“She *chose* to be a homemaker, isn’t that just so feminist when you think about it?”) Yet from the very beginning of second-wave feminism (i.e. Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex) there has been a strong critique of the way in which inequitable social structures shape choice. When you have a social system that rewards certain kinds of behaviour and penalises others is it any wonder when people inside that system spontaneously “choose” the kinds of behaviour that makes life easy for them or rewards them? You don’t have to be as radical as Beauvoir (who suggested that women shouldn’t have the choice to be stay at home mothers because too many of them would make that choice) to realise that choosing to do something you would choose to do if feminism had never existed isn’t a particularly feminist act. Whether knitting falls under that category is another question.

  9. Veronica Sullivan says:

    That photo of Abbott ironing is hilarious. He looks SO uncertain of how to operate it.

  10. breko says:

    I’m with Julia :)

  11. Tambra Galid says:

    That comment about knitting is why textile arts are considered craft. It would be an artform if men do it, if women do it, it’s a craft. I call BS on the feminist who said that. Textile art is a creative, beautiful outlet for creativity for all people who do it.

  12. Tom says:

    Current PM can knit and coming one (most probably) can iron. Neither know how to run a country… and people find is funny. What a shame!

  13. Owen Craven says:

    Reuben is adorable!

  14. shayneo says:

    The feminist complaint is foolish and couldn’t remotely come from actual feminist activists. one of my favorite feminists ever is a Melbourne woman Rayna who runs a site “Radical cross stich”. Yeah, she considers knitting (and croquet) feminist. Especially if boys do it. And women too! The point is its not a sign of submission or patriachy, and women (and men!) have been using it since its inception as a creative outlet, sometimes even to subversive end. And anyone who thinks creativity is not feminist is a teeth grinding right wing degenerate.