When political opponents tried to diminish Julia Gillard’s popular, passionate speech last week by suggesting her definition of “misogyny” was wrong, the Australian prime minister found an unusual ally: the dictionary.
More specifically, the Macquarie Dictionary, which announced today that it is updating its definition of the word to bring it more in line with modern usage, the BBC reported.
The dictionary expanded its definition from “hatred of women” to include “entrenched prejudice against women.”
“We decided that we had the basic definition, hatred of women, but that’s not how misogyny has been used for about the last 20, 30 years, particularly in feminist language,” the dictionary’s editor, Sue Butler, said.
That would include usage like that employed by Gillard, who unleashed a tirade against Opposition Leader Tony Abbott last week during a session of Australian Parliament.
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Abbott tried to have House Speaker Peter Slipper fired for his alleged use of a sexist term in a text message. After barely surviving the parliamentary vote on whether he should be removed, Slipper resigned last Thursday.
Gillard, who is a Slipper ally, jumped to his defense by attacking Abbott, who once said men are better leaders, called abortion “the easy way out” and referred to Gillard as a “witch,” according to the Associated Press.
He also suggested the PM should “make an honest woman of herself,” a derogatory phrase Down Under.
“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,” Gillard said, the AP reported.
“Misogyny, sexism — every day from this leader of this opposition.”
Gillard’s speech made headlines around the world, but she had little reaction to the dictionary’s decision when asked about it during a tour of India Wednesday.
“I have been left in no doubt that a lot of people have clicked on and watched that speech here in India,” she said, Reuters reported.
“I will leave editing dictionaries to those whose special expertise is language.”
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