Prime Minister Julia Gillard has described the comments that feminist Germaine Greer made about her "fat arse" as both catty, and stupid.
In an interview with The Weekly, Ms Gillard said she could "roll with the punches" when it came to personal abuse, but thought Dr Greer had demeaned herself, by stooping to make nasty remarks about the Prime Minister's body shape.
It happened last March, when Dr Greer was a guest on the ABC's Q and A program. Panellists were talking about Ms Gillard's image. Dr Greer, who has devoted her life to feminist principles, including the idea that women should not be judged by appearance, derided the PM's wardrobe, and said: "You've got a big arse, Julia, just get on with it."
In an interview at Kirribilli House in June, Ms Gillard told The Weekly that she thought Greer's "demeaned her more than it demeaned me".
"It was just kind of dumb is the best reaction," she said. "I do take a lot of pride in being someone who not only fought for equal opportunities for women.
"I hope, in the future, there will be girls who watch me do this who will say to themselves and say to each other, 'I could do that too' whereas when I was their age the only role models were male role models.
"You said to anyone, 'Close your eyes and imagine a Prime Minister' and people would imagine a man in a suit. I would hope that in the years to come when people say 'Close your eyes and imagine a PM' and people would be equally likely to think of it being a woman because I've done this."
Asked whether the comments were personally hurtful, Ms Gillard said: "Do I like people cracking jokes about my body shape … well, you know I can roll with the punches, I don't get worked up about that kind of stuff.
"But for her, given everything she stands for, everything she would have inspired, I just thought it was stupid."
Ms Gillard said people who "want to be stereotypical about women will look at that and say, 'It just goes to show, it doesn't matter if it's a female prime minister and a feminist icon … they're just as catty as the two women down the local coffee shop.'
"It frustrated me that she, of all people, would catapult into that kind of conduct. I don't want that to be the image of women."
Read more of this story in the July issue of The Australian Women's Weekly.