On Friday afternoon I decided that 1 Million Women should say something about the appalling treatment that Australia’s Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, had been subjected to at the hands of a Perth talkback radio shock jock, Howard Sattler.

Australia's Prime Minister, Julia Gillard.

Australia’s Prime Minister, Julia Gillard.

As prominent Australian journalist Lenore Taylor, now with the online Guardian Australia, wrote on the same day, ‘the standard you walk past is the standard you accept’, and this was something I could not walk past.

When I started to draft a Facebook post, news came through that Sattler had been sacked by his employers, Fairfax Radio, having already been stood down earlier amid a public opinion firestorm over his interviewing of the PM on Wednesday. I’m not going to repeat what was said, it’s been all over the news for days.

1 Million Women is apolitical as an organisation, so I took care with my wording, saying this:

‘We can’t let the day go without saying – Our Prime Minister, The Hon Julia Gillard, should not have to endure such despicable behaviour. Shame on you, (sacked) shock jock, Howard Sattler. Your rude arrogance was breathtaking & your line of questioning, appalling. Such disrespect is shameful.’

The intention was not to support Ms. Gillard politically in an election year. It was to abhor the disrespect shown to an important democratic institution, the prime ministership of our country, and the casual cruelty inflicted on Ms. Gillard as a person. Note, not even just as a woman, but as a human being.

What came next, after I clicked to make the post live, is a reflection of both the best and the worst of the online world of social networks. Within 48 hours that single post gathered nearly 7000 likes and over 800 comments, with over 800 shares.

The overwhelming majority of the comments the post received ‘got’ what we were saying, that the denigration of Julia Gillard and the disrespect for the institution were shameful!

However a small minority of comments, say about five percent, were in themselves variously hateful, aggressively partisan and simply crude and abusive – the nasty troll set on social media, and not all of them from men. Some were ugly enough to delete, a small few bad enough to ban.

For the record, 1 Million Women is a movement of women taking action on climate change through the way that we live. We take practical action in our own homes, workplaces and communities, and build our collective power as women to drive change .

So why enter into the Julia Gillard-Howard Sattler imbroglio at all? As a movement of women, we will always stand up for the rights of women. We will always stand up for kindness and respect.

When 1 Million Women stood up to deplore the treatment meted out to Julia Gillard, it had nothing to do with politics. It has to do with people in positions of influence, like Howard Sattler, who appear to be consumed by their own hatreds and intolerances. In an era where common decency and respect for our community institutions, our public officials and our professional people is being stripped away by destructive nastiness we desperately need to tap into the best of humanity – our better angels – and repudiate the dark side.

Lenore Taylor in her article concluded that ‘… everyone who finds a comment offensive, below a reasonable standard of debate or questioning, and continues to walk past, helps acceptance of the unacceptable.’

Passive acceptance of behaviour like that of Howard Sattler and his ilk is not what I stand for, nor ever will, and I believe the past 48 hours have shown it is not what 1 Million Women followers will accept either.

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Thank you to everyone who liked and understood what we were saying, and the many hundreds who posted your own powerful comments. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this post too.

Natalie Isaacs, Founder, 1 Million Women

We are daughters, mothers, sisters and grandmothers getting on with practical climate action to live better for us and the planet. Join the movement at www.1millionwomen.com.au

20 responses to “WE NEED TO STAY CLOSE TO OUR BETTER ANGELS- A message from Natalie

  1. Yes, appalling behaviour from Howard Sattler met with strength, grace, humour and dignity by Ms. Gillard. Also spare a thought for her partner, he didn’t sign up for this rubbish and has virtually no opportunity to speak for himself.

  2. Well said. Whether or not anyone agrees with her views is irrelevant. Given the total lack of respect she’s shown and the ridiculous way she’s repeatedly treated, it’s surprising she even wants the job! What message does this send to young girls about considering going into politics and leadership roles? I highly recommend watching the documentary “Miss Representation” for those of you who have not seen it. This sort of behaviour is the tip of the iceberg unfortunately. Manners cost nothing.

  3. Very well said! I especially like the part where you said that if we walk past some despicable behaviour and do nothing, we are, in fact, condoning it. Food for thought!

  4. It is becoming more obvious that a certain sector of males are more and more threatened by women due to their lack of insight or ability to reform their ways or change their behaviour,women do workshops seek out help, take advice, and nuture all those around them. Collectively that stubborn energy will not pay off and the male energy that tries to shoot her (us) down only shoots themself in the foot, so they are actually are voting her back in without even realizing it.

  5. Congratulations on an amazing insight on respect and what itshould mean to all

  6. Well said
    our disrespect for our elected leaders is appalling
    But why start A movement to Support Ms Gillard as a person and call it one million Women ? Where does that leave me ( a man) to be included?

  7. Very well stated. Thank you for your thoughtful foray into this debate. As an Australian male I was appalled and ashamed at the menu incident and the Sattler attack. Decent women and men must stand up and be counted in this debate.

  8. Well written, I agree whole heatedly. Thank you for this opportunity to register my disgust with the offensive Mr Sattler in a positive forum.

  9. For me, it wasn’t so much the question, it was the way he smarmily (?) pursued Ms Gillard after receiving a good natured reply….great restraint on her part….I heard later that he was going to sue his employers….great article, thanks for saying this for me….you are the voice of the ‘little’ person. Good on you Love & Light….

  10. Totally in agreement with you well expressed message. the disrespect shown to the office of the prime minister of this great country disturbed me, along with the appalling attitude of a male media operator towards a woman, who does he think his is? Males have got away with this sort of personal attack far too long, must be highlighted.Thank you for doing so.

  11. How sad that our first female Prime Minister, regardless of political ilk, has had to endure the comments Julia Gillard has had made to her and about her. A less strong person (male or female) may not have faced these slurs with the grace and dignity she has. How disappointing that it has come to this!

  12. One million woman isn’t a movement started to support Ms Gillard it is an environmental movement promoting change in the way we live our lives. It also supports and pursues kindness and respect to all in our society and that is why the founder spoke out. You can join in through living your life by treading gently in the physical, mental and emotional realms, promoting respect and care for all creatures who share our lives and maintaining the integrity of our environment.

  13. I am overseas at present and did not hear the details but I fully support any move to end character assassination of any person. We need to develop a culture of mutual respect. Gender, creed, colour or political views are totally irrelevant.

  14. Pingback: YOUR PRODUCE WITHOUT BEES | 1 Million Women·

  15. Pingback: YOUR EXTRAORDINARY RESPONSE PROMPTS ME TO REFLECT- A message from Nat | 1 Million Women·

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