17 Oct 2012

Fiery Gillard speech prompts redefinition of misogyny

9:45 pm on 17 October 2012

A fiery speech by Australian prime minister Julia Gillard has prompted Australia's leading dictionary to update its definition of the word "misogyny".

Footage of Ms Gillard lambasting opposition leader Tony Abbott as a misogynist in parliament last week drew global attention, the BBC reports.

The Macquarie Dictionary currently describes misogyny as ''hatred of women'' but editor Sue Barker says the definition will be expanded to ''entrenched prejudice against women'' in the next edition.

"We had the basic definition, hatred of women," Ms Barker told the ABC, "but that's not how misogyny has been used for about the last 20, 30 years, particularly in feminist language."

A second definition was needed, she said, that was ''slightly stronger than sexist but heading in that direction towards entrenched prejudice rather than a visceral hatred".

The updated definition will be added in the online version of the dictionary this year, and in the next printed edition next year.

Abbott told to look in the mirror

The Gillard-Abbott exchange, which went viral on YouTube, followed the resignation of Speaker Peter Slipper, who was accused of sexual harassment by a former staff member.

The opposition accused Ms Gillard's government of hypocrisy for standing by the Speaker after it was revealed that he used "offensive" language to describe female genitalia in text messages.

Ms Gillard then fired back at Mr Abbott: "If he wants to know what misogyny looks like in modern Australia, he doesn't need a motion in the House of Representatives; he needs a mirror."

Her comments were applauded in some quarters - mainly outside Australia - for their strong stand on sexism. Domestically, the reaction was mixed, with many upset over her support of Mr Slipper.