Australian politician Tony Abbott slammed for 'sex appeal' comments - CNN
It's been underway for barely over a week, but Australia's election campaign is already drawing attention worldwide following a string of embarrassing gaffes from candidates. Tony Abbott -- the opposition leader who hopes to unseat Kevin Rudd as prime minister on September 7 -- has been the worst offender, with a series of missteps that have threatened to derail his center-right Liberal Party's momentum.
Opinion polls have Abbott's coalition marginally ahead of Rudd's center-left Labor Party by 52 points to The most serious blunder came on Tuesday when Abbott praised a female candidate's "sex appeal" while campaigning in the Western Sydney seat of Lindsay. The remarks were seized upon by feminists and other critics as evidence that Abbott holds outdated attitudes towards women, an allegation previously made by former Prime Minster Julia Gillard, who once told the Australian parliament: "If Abbott wants to know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.
Abbott's comments triggered a torrent of criticism and ridicule on social media. Rudd waded into the debate Wednesday, describing Abbott's comments as "pretty odd," and saying any employer who made similar remarks could expect to find themselves "in serious strife.
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Abbott said later he had been "a bit exuberant" in his comments, and described the remarks as a consequence of him having "a daggy dad moment" -- using an Australian term for something slightly embarrassing or uncool. In , Australia's first female Prime Minister Julia Gillard galvanized the world when in a speech before Parliament she branded Opposition leader Tony Abbott a "misogynist".
Australian Misogynist: an eBook Profile of Tony Abbott
In response, Australian and US dictionaries updated the meaning of the word. Less than a year later, the "misogynist" was elected Australia's new Prime Minister.
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Just how accurate is the label? Within a few days of his Sept. Australia now has fewer women in positions of political power than Afghanistan. And: the man who fought to prohibit abortion drugs, limit pregnancy counseling to Catholic moral centers and refused to endorse a sexual health campaign for women that led to decreases in cervical cancer made himself head of Women's Policies and Platforms in Australia. He starts by smiling at the charges of being sexist to appearing deeply uncomfortable.
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