Julie Bishop slams 'gender deafness' and 'misogyny' in politics


Former foreign minister Julie Bishop says the misogyny she experienced in Canberra will not end until women take 50 per cent of seats in parliament.

Former deputy Liberal leader Julie Bishop says women need to take up 50 per cent of federal parliamentary seats before the toxic misogyny she witnessed during her 20-year political career ends.

Ms Bishop, who retired from politics at the 2019 election, told Andrew Denton on Seven's Interview program on Tuesday night that with more women representatives, bad behaviour and misogyny would be called out.

She described as "grotesque in its brutality" and "pathetic" the sexualisation of Australia's first female prime minister, Julia Gillard, during a 2013 Liberal Nationals party fundraising dinner in Queensland.

The former WA representative blamed her male colleagues for creating a culture that allowed a "Kentucky Fried" quail dish to be likened to the Labor leader as having "small breasts, huge thighs and a big red box", The Daily Telegraph reports on Wednesday.

"We have to remember that in recent times, parliament was all male. And so you had a whole bunch of men in Canberra and they set the rules, they set the customs, the precedence and the environment. It was all men," Ms Bishop said.

"There was very much that culture around politics, even though (Australians) were world-leading as the first to simultaneously grant women the right to vote and the right to stand for parliament ... but that kind of behaviour's just pathetic," she said.

“I just labelled it gender deafness,” she said. “I love men and I think they have a wonderful contribution to make to humanity. But if you’re the only female voice in the room, they just don’t seem to hear you. It’s as if they’re not attuned to it.”

Former Liberal deputy leader Julie Bishop during Question Time in the House of Representatives at Parliament House in Canberra, Thursday, September 13, 2018. (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas) NO ARCHIVING
Former Liberal deputy leader Julie Bishop during Question Time last year (AAP)

Ms Bishop said only with a greater number of female representatives would such misogyny and bad behaviour be called out.

"There must be a critical mass of women, and 50 per cent sounds like a good idea," she said.

"So I would think that the more women that are in politics, the more they would say that behaviour is unacceptable. So I think the numbers really do matter in this instance."

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