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.
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.”
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
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.
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.”]
Firstly, Gillard loves to knit. Just look at her.
She knits tiny baby clothes for the new arrivals of caucus members. And sometimes she even knits them for Fifi Box.
“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.”
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.
COMPLAINT 2: She Should Spend That Time Fixing The Country
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!
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
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.
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.
We Are Having The Wrong Conversation Again:
Because can we all just please take one second to look at Reuben?
HE IS SMILING!
Header image photography by Grant Matthews. Styling by Judith Cook. © The Australian Women’s Weekly.