When Julia Gillard - a woman who was unmarried, childless, and an atheist - became Australia's first female prime minister after the 2010 election, opposition leader Tony Abbott was left boiling with rage. It was bad enough that he had lost, but to have to lost to a woman was shameful. For a few days he could not bring himself to call her Prime Minister or even look her in the eyes. Beyond these particular events, and behind his boyish grin and easy charm, women sense in Abbott a man who has no respect or tolerance for the social changes that they have fought so hard to achieve. He is affronted by their demands to be equals with men, and to be given the right to control their own bodies and lives. For Abbott, these recent changes to the traditional male order are aberrations, and he sees his role as one of restoring traditional conservative male values. The proper roles for women in Abbott's world are those of mothers, wives, daughters - all of whom, even if they are employed, support and enable men to achieve their rightful place in the world. As nuns are to the Pope, they should not be allowed to take control of powerful positions in the traditional male hierarchy.
It is no mere tactic that has seen Tony Abbott reverting with gusto to to his bomb-throwing style, all his political energy aimed at demolishing Julia Gillard and the government. There is, still time, he believes, to achieve the position which he and his male mentors believe he was destined to have, that of leading his country back to 'the proper order of things'.