Hillary Clinton believes Julia Gillard faced outrageous sexism and has applauded the former prime minister for going right at it in her famous misogyny speech.
That was an important political and public statement by a woman leader making clear that sexism should not be tolerated, Mrs Clinton says.
The former US secretary of state, who has just released her political memoir Hard Choices, thought it was regrettable that sexism was injected into Australian political debate.
The ‘outrageous sexism’ that Ms Gillard faced as prime minister should not be tolerated in any country, she wrote.
She also criticised the way Ms Gillard’s political opponents characterised her in and out of parliament.
‘That demeaned, just didn’t seem to fit the Australia that I have come to know,’ she told ABC television on Monday from New York.
Ms Gillard’s misogyny speech in parliament was directed at the then opposition leader Tony Abbott.
But Mrs Clinton wasn’t naming names when asked if she meant Mr Abbott when she was talking about the opponents who demeaned Ms Gillard.
‘That’s really for the Australian people to judge,’ Ms Clinton said.
‘But the overall impact – and I saw online the speech that (former) prime minister Gillard gave about misogyny – was very striking to me because she did go chapter and verse.’
Mrs Clinton said many women subjected to sexism would just swallow it, or try and deflect with humour, and try not to let it bother them.
‘But she just went right at it and I respected that,’ she said.