A GROUP of Melbourne Law School academics has written an open letter to federal MPs concerned about the "vilification" of Prime Minister Julia Gillard on social media.
They said the "abusive and violent attacks" being directed at Ms Gillard, a graduate of the law school, were "unacceptable and demeaning to all women".
The 25 academics also argued there had been a lack of respect shown not only for Ms Gillard personally, but for the role of prime minister in general.
"The nature of political discourse in this country has sunk to a very low point," they wrote. "We note that large numbers of ordinary Australians are contributing to this vilification with comments on Facebook and by forwarding chain emails that contain derogatory material."
The academics also pointed the finger at "some members" of Parliament, radio shock jocks and certain cartoonists for encouraging this type of behaviour.
"This behaviour undermines the civility necessary for democracy to operate effectively, and risks creating an environment that denies women equal opportunity to contribute to Australia's democratic government," they wrote.
"We call on all members of Parliament to provide leadership and publicly acknowledge that the kind of misogynist behaviour being demonstrated in Parliament, and in the broader community is not a legitimate part of political debate and needs to stop."