By Sarah Capper, Sheilas Editor
18 April 2013
When Germaine Greer penned a piece on the late “crocodile hunter” Steve Irwin for the Guardian shortly after his death from a stingray puncture, it was followed by howls of protest from all parts of the globe. Greer ended her ‘barbed’ take on the much-loved ‘Aussie legend’ with:
“The animal world has finally taken its revenge on Irwin, but probably not before a whole generation of kids in shorts seven sizes too small has learned to shout in the ears of animals with hearing 10 times more acute than theirs, determined to become millionaire animal-loving zoo-owners in their turn.”
As a result, Greer was lambasted as insensitive, cruel and GASP, “unaustralian” for daring to write such a critique. Some called for her to be banned from entering the country again. The National Portrait Gallery replaced a picture of Greer with – you guessed it – Steve Irwin.
In such situations, the assumption is that we should never speak ill of the dead, even if those who have died have been major public figures and divisive ones at that.
Former British Prime Minister Baroness Margaret Thatcher was indeed one such public figure, who at the helm of the United Kingdom during the 1980s presided over policies which had huge impacts on the people she governed. Her passing last week led to a barrage of global tributes from political leaders of various persuasions.
In response, Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard said that “as a woman, I am admiring of her achievements on becoming the first woman to lead the United Kingdom”.
Locally, conservative columnists took the opportunity to elevate the memory of Britain’s first and only female PM as a chance to sink the boot into Australia’s first and current female Prime Minister.
Under the headline ‘JULIA’S NO MAGGIE’, News Limited columnist Andrew Bolt lambasted Gillard’s response to the news as “pathetic and graceless”, as “Thatcher never sold herself as a victim or just a representative of her gender”.
Bolt used his column to have another spray at Emily’s List, a terrible organisation in the eyes of the Bolt’s of this world, which, god forbid, aims to support progressive women in political positions within the Australian Labor Party.
Referring to an Emily’s List function two years ago, Bolt quoted Gillard at the event as saying she “didn’t get here [to be Australia’s first female Prime Minister] alone … I think of all the women who made my journey possible … a century of activism by women of matchless courage and resolve.” Read the rest of this entry »