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.
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.