See That Woman Up There

When we began our travels all those years ago, there was talk of an Australian female politician. A red head, a strong woman with a nasal Australian accent. G and I were constantly surprised by how many people knew her name.

Pauline Hanson.

It was embarrassing. Conversations would begin at dinners.

“You’re Australian? Oh, what do you think of that Pauline Hanson?”

We were constantly defending Australia. Explaining that no, she wasn’t the head of a party, no, we didn’t all feel that way.

::

Last year we took the little travellers to Canberra. We had an insider in our ranks who was able to take us behind the scenes. The little travellers were understandably in awe. We walked the corridors, learnt a bit of history, waved to Peter Garrett, said hi to Tanya Plibersek and had a coffee next to Bob Brown. And then we went to look at Question Time.

It was embarrassing.

We’d walked into an audition of a new reality show “Politicians behaving badly”.

All the things you tell your kids not to do. Don’t interrupt, don’t talk over the top of each other, change that tone, don’t point, don’t pretend to throw up in your mouth while I’m speaking to you.

Adults, generously paid, publicly elected, adults.

I decided to focus on Annabelle Crabb – my most favourite political journalist.

“See that woman up there, the one with the ipad and the keyboard. She has a brilliant mind, she writes beautifully and she will somehow make some sense of all of this chaos. She’s a Mummy AND she’s from South Australia. You could do that one day girls”.

I chose the journalist – not the Prime Minister.

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My most favourite Uncle as a child was my Uncle Buck. He lived two doors down from us, and his house was the most magical place of my childhood. After my Aunty Ruby died, Uncle Buck would let me pull out the boxes of her long gloves, jewellery and hair pins and play for hours. He told me stories of their travels (some of them were true, most were not). He loved Aunty Ruby, his eyes would often get teary when he spoke of her. I loved how he loved her. I knew I wanted that.

I believed him when he said he flew to Japan on his magic carpet. I sat on that carpet wishing and wishing and just couldn’t work out why I couldn’t get it off the ground. I was understandably devastated when he died, he was quickly placed on a pedestal much higher than others.

Years later my mother and I were talking about an upcoming election. Her and my father have always voted differently, I love this about them. I asked if Uncle Buck and Aunty Ruby voted the same way, “Uncle Buck told Aunty Ruby who to vote for”. For a moment I didn’t understand.

 “He would tell her who to vote for and she did? What about Nanna?”

“No-one’s ever told your Nanna what to do.”

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I remember when Tony Abbott said it was “too easy” to have an abortion. I remember thinking that obviously Tony Abbott had never had an abortion or had to hold the hand of someone who had – then he would know there was nothing easy about it. You know what’s easy? Ejaculating – I’ve heard there are men who can do it in seconds.

Last night, I sat down with the eldest little traveller and we watched what I would have liked to have shown her in person last year. This is the most talked about Australian redhead in the world today. The New Yorker, The Telegraph, The Huffington Post and Salon had all published links and stories by the time I went to bed last night. I watched my Twitter stream as women all over the world tweeted links with “What a woman! Australian prime minister takes down misogynist”.

::

I grew up in a world where women, even though they were adored, were still told how to vote or what to think.

My girls will not.

They know it’s okay to stand up and say yes, I was offended.

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