Making Gillard's wardrobe butt of political jokes not really fitting

DENISE IRVINE
Last updated 05:00 07/04/2012
DERRIERE DEBATE: Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, who had the size of her bottom raised by feminist Germaine Greer on a recent talk show.
DERRIERE DEBATE: Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, who had the size of her bottom raised by feminist Germaine Greer on a recent talk show.
A MESS: Germaine Greer, who frequently presents herself with all the class of an unmade bed.
A MESS: Germaine Greer, who frequently presents herself with all the class of an unmade bed.

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Denise Irvine

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I've been cleaning out my wardrobe, and there has been a huge question-mark hovering over my longtime favourite red woollen jacket.

I bought it at least 10 years ago. It was expensive and, to justify this outlay, I vowed I'd wear it every day for the rest of my life and I'd never part with it.

I kept the first part of the bargain right through the initial winter, and maybe the next couple. Then the red jacket was alternated with other garments, and I don't think I wore it at all last winter. But I still like its sharp details, great buttons and colourful trims.

Every now and then I give it an outing.

I never thought I'd biff it. Until the last couple of weeks, when I've been prompted to rethink its status.

It's a fitted jacket, you see, along the lines of those favoured by Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, whose fitted jackets have recently been bagged by feminist author Germaine Greer, with a follow-up sniping from Opposition leader Tony Abbott.

You've probably read about it: Greer opined on an Aussie television show that Gillard had a large bottom, and she should get rid of the fitted jackets that accentuate this.

In an extraordinarily unsisterly remark, Greer added: "Every time she [the PM] turns around, you've got that strange horizontal crease, which means they're cut too narrow in the hips. You've got a big arse, Julia, just get on with it."

Then Abbott stuck his boot in. He told a woman who subsequently questioned him about Gillard's jackets, "I know, I know, I know, Germaine Greer was right on that subject." [He has since apologised for the remark.]

Abbott, it should be noted, is the politician with a penchant for the Australian man's signature budgie-smuggler swimming togs, which display too much information about the wearer. And Greer frequently presents herself with all the class of an unmade bed.

So although one wonders exactly how and when they became fashion experts, the prime minster's derriere got a good airing in the trans-Tasman media after these unflattering comments.

Newspapers and television took the opportunity to run several rear-view film clips and photographs of Gillard climbing onto aeroplanes, exiting buildings and similar. All the time wearing fitted jackets, which are now apparently a fashion crime.

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Gillard hasn't said squeak about it. But there was enough coverage for me to suffer a crisis of confidence and re-examine my old treasure during this current cleanout.

I tried the red jacket on, twirled in the mirror, reluctantly asked myself the age-old female fashion question, Does my bum look big in this?

The answer came back bluntly, Yes.

Next question: Do you care? Um, not sure.

I'd not really considered its rear vision until Greer thought it was acceptable to criticise the proportions of another woman. So odd that one of the best-known faces of the women's liberation movement should resort to a cheap shot about her country's first woman prime minister.

Once upon a time, Greer would have crucified anyone who did this.

But I guess such reversals are what we've come to expect from the author of the hugely influential feminist book The Female Eunuch, who now offers views that are about as muddled as my wardrobe.

I've never quite got the knack of planning and ordering a wardrobe.

The last big cleanout took place when we moved house about eight years ago, and the beauty of the new address was a spacious walk-in job where stuff could be poked and crammed without risk of overflowing.

Lately, though, it's got out of hand, things go missing in there for weeks. Which is why I spent last Saturday afternoon systematically sifting garments.

In deciding their fate, I usually ask myself:

a) When did you last wear it?

b) Do you still love it?

c) Would you really miss it?

Then I leave the reject pile in a corner of the bedroom for a few days just in case I change my mind on something. This rule was instituted after I once packed up some clothes and immediately shoved them into a nearby clothing bin. I had second thoughts as a decent shirt disappeared down the chute but it was too late to grab it back.

Anyway, the pile in the bedroom is still intact, except for the red jacket, which is safely back in the wardrobe. I still love it, I'd really miss it. I don't care.

The rest of the stuff will be off to the hospice shop. Maybe with my tatty copy of The Female Eunuch tucked among the cast-offs. I'm not impressed.

- Waikato

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