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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

witch hunting in Australia « Previous | |Next »
March 4, 2013

The anti-feminist Bill Leak has accurately represented how many on the centre right of Australian politics--including News Ltd--- see our first female prime minister. The witch flying to her sabbath is a classic Christian image of those women who reject the subservience of women to men. Witches are seen to be malevolent and capable of "maleficium," causing harm to men.

LeakGillardwitch.jpg Bill Leak

As Anne Summers observes since she became Prime Minister Gillard:

has been subjected to vile sexual and at times pornographic vilification of a kind that is new to our political vocabulary (and which still continues). But now there is a new element. The pundits are scoffing and mocking her every action, from her new glasses to every policy or political step she takes, as if to say: why bother, lady, it’s all over anyway...She’s such a loser, this woman, they say. Ergo, everything, every single little thing she does, is wrong, stupid, ill-judged, and thus both the reason she will lose the election and why she deserves to.

Sitting behind this mockery of Gillard as shallow, unpopular and dishonest is Gillard the wicked witch who is feared and hated and so can be persecuted. She is hunted because she rejects the patriarchal male view of how women ought to conduct themselves.

This vilification of Gillard--the witchcraft discourse---goes hand-in-hand with the defence of vague “traditional family values,” particularly those which “put women in their place”, reinforce male dominance in the home, assume traditional patriarchal attitudes and promote the hierarchical nature of conservatism.

Gillard is seen as being counter to the conservative social order-- the stereotypical opposite of the good wife--- and so she must be hunted and persecuted. She is feared as a source of disorder in patriarchal society because she challenges male authority.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 10:35 AM | | Comments (13)


Sadly, in this instance I think the 'conservative social order' does not correspond to habitual 'conservative voter'. Some of the most egregiously sexist people in the country (of both genders) are to be found amongst traditional Labor voters. Thus the hard core of unconditional support for the ALP continues to erode.

This is not a new kind of problem for Labor of course; Whitlam (academic smartarse who liked wogs) and Keating (smartarse who liked Mahler) were disliked by some hard-core Labor voters because they were perceived as out of step with traditional blue collar values.

The ALP seems to me to have the same kind of problem as the Republicans in the USA. There is set of core values that identify each party (not the same ones of course) and the party cannot abandon those core values without losing its core vote. However those values are increasingly out of step with the attitudes of swinging voters who determine election outcomes. The result is that they have to base their electoral campaigns on attacking the other side, which is only an effective strategy as long as the other side provides enough of a target to give the attacks impact.

Is it just my perception, or is the portrayal more reminiscent of Mary Poppins than of a witch?

The "nanny" and "condescending" imageries would seem to match up better.

Literate Goat
there is a reference to Mary Poppins --but the face is that of a hag.


I wasn't aware Mr Leak had switched to photorealism.

"Gillard is seen as being counter to the conservative social order..."

Well, yes. In the case of equality in the workplace. But on a bunch of other issues, she's still stubbornly, frighteningly conservative.

It's bad enough that she's a woman in the "top job". No need to spook the beleaguered voters by being progressive in other areas. After all, we don't want to totally emasculate those timid white lads in the western suburbs, do we?

Yes, unfortunately it is a too-accurate analysis and the cartoon is by no means the worse of the rubbish proliferated against the PM.
The worst thing is, this virtual industry is likely peopled by down trodden fitfully flitting shadows forced to cook up absurd guff in case Gina or Rupert get them the sack.

Literate Goat,
I'm sure you will have your "Gillard" dancing with the cats in a dark lane next.

Literate goat, my impression is of someone more frightened than frightening.
The manic Abbott this evening freaked this poster far more than Gillard ever could.

We live in a capitalist patriarchy.
As such PM Gillard, as the leader of a mildly and occasionally progressive party and a woman to boot, is a prime target for the mouthpiece propagandists of the powerful and Leak is willing to play footsy with his masters.

Bill Leak is of course closely associated with the Quadrant/IPA nexus and therefore their attempts to glorify and revive the intrinsically anti-feminist patriarchal "culture" of Western "Civilization".

This reference from their website is typical of the myopic hysteria which mis-informs their world view.

The March edition features a long essay by George Pell on the "New" Evangelisation which is really code for restoring father-knows-best "family values".

The Quadrant website features an add for a new book titled (sic) Really Dangerous Ideas published by Connor Court which as far as I can make is an Opus Dei propaganda outfit. Opus Dei is of course a very anti-feminist ultra-patriarchal outfit.

This may sound unkind, but I don't think Bill Leak has ever really recovered from falling head-first out of a tree. He hasn't been nearly as witty since, and he seems to have lurched to the right.

It's rather sad.

wow. The sins of the fathers by Christopher Akehurst in Quadrant that you linked to is deeply anti-feminist. It's tone is one of hysteria.

Just read it and laughed out loud.
What is this stuff about Quadrant being an intellectual mag,a Green Lantern comic could have more substance.