Australia's first woman prime minister, who was dumped by her party ahead of September's election loss, has revealed she was surprised by the level of aggressive sexism directed at her during three years in power.
Julia Gillard made the comments yesterday in her first interview since she was deposed in a ballot of her centre-left Labour Party colleagues in June. She was replaced by Kevin Rudd, a prime minister she had deposed in a similar leadership showdown three years earlier.
Mr Rudd led his party to a crushing election defeat on September 7, causing some observers to ask whether the leadership change had served any purpose.
Ms Gillard told a sold-out audience in the Sydney Opera House in an interview televised nationally that she reacted with "murderous rage" to the sexist attacks on her in social media and elsewhere.
She was called "witch" and "bitch" on protesters' banners, while a popular Sydney radio broadcaster said she should be dumped at sea in a sack.
"I was surprised by it. I had issues related to my gender before I became prime minister," she said, mentioning a senator condemning her as unfit to lead because of her decision not to have children.
"There was this underside of . . . really violent, ugly sexism that came forward, and I think it finds easier expression because of the social media."