The Beginning Of The End Of Patriarchy

Authors: Kirsty Mac, Kara Beavis

Historically, feminism has had a numbers problem. The establishment has always figured as an omniscient force, with the number of misogynists outnumbering feminists.

Revolutions have a punk aesthetic. And punk, by its very nature, is about targeting the establishment by the marginalised even when the numbers are small.

Social media has changed the numbers game for women. It’s a decentralising and democratising tool used for connectivity, information exchange, passing a comment on current affairs, and, in the last week, passing a live wire of electricity around the world. Feminists are multiplying, and with every win, growing in confidence and power.

There have been surprising new developments each day since Julien Blanc’s Australian departure. With an already thriving feminist network in Melbourne, it took one woman, Jennifer Li, to ignite a fire by initiating a petition to Como Melbourne and creating the hashtag #takedownjulienblanc.

A petition to stop Blanc from touring Japan came next, as the following destination on his schedule. The petition received over 36,000 signatures in its first 24 hours and was submitted to the Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau. Three days later, the petition started by two women in their twenties had been signed by a million people. Meanwhile, Japanese activists used Twitter to ask the world’s biggest banks to shut down Blanc’s accounts.

The rest of the world responded in haste with petitions started in Japan, Korea, Singapore, Germany, United Kingdom, Denmark, Brazil, Netherlands, Argentina, Ireland, Iceland and Canada.

People in Canada, the destination after Japan, had a swift response from their government. Immigration Minister Chris Alexander took to Twitter to strongly state, “I see your tweets & am aware of #KeepJulienBlancOutofCanada. His content is completely counter to Canadian values and common decency.” Later that same day, the Canadian tour dates were removed from the Real Social Dynamics website.

There has not been a feminist campaign with ripple effects of this magnitude in such a short period.

The power of social media to influence high-ranking government officials is unprecedented and fascinating to watch. The public witnessing afforded by social media is powerful and more actions continue as the sun and moon circle the globe and citizens arise and post of their activity. A marketplace that doesn’t condone what Real Social Dynamic does has conducted its global closing down as a private enterprise. Could there be a more salient reminder of the power of collective enterprise in the feminist movement?

Although the world has responded in an immediate way, Australia’s self-appointed Minister for Women is shying away from a statement. Given that the global response started in Australia, a statement of support would seem fitting. Abbott has found time to make macho threats to ‘shirt-front’ the President of Russia, but not to speak to the active feminism that is achieving extraordinary results locally and globally via social media.

Social media has ‘publicness’, giving feminists a voice and ability to join forces and rise up together. On the down side, it has exposed some women to threats of violence. Even when the violence is thinly veiled, ‘freedom of speech’ or ‘it’s only a parody’ is the predictable refrain from the men’s choir. White men use censorship as a shield to protect a misogynist viewpoint as ‘art’.

“White men,” writes Professor Sara Ahmed on her blog, Feminist Killjoys, “is an institution, a support system… not only what has already been instituted or built but the mechanisms that ensure the persistence of that structure.”

In the United Kingdom recently, a petition directed to ITV to protest the commissioning of a second series of Daniel O’Reilly’s Dapper Laughs, stated, “the show normalises sexist behaviour in apparent contradiction to ITV’s responsibility policy.” One of the ‘jokes’ on the first series was “if she cries, she’s just playing hard to get”. Similar statements are used by Real Social Dynamics.

ITV responded by confirming there would be no second series. To this, O’Reilly stated that online abuse towards him was wrong. This twist to focus on the rights of male perpetrators to be free of ‘online abuse’ rather than the women on the receiving end of sexist violence is common.

In Australia this week, a petition has been formed to request Channel 7 not re-hire Redfoo as a host for the next X Factor season. Redfoo’s new music video is violent towards women. Redfoo responded on Twitter stating, “I made a comical party song to satirize the cliché. Some get it, some don’t.” A repeat of the same old response. Women can’t take a joke.

Furthermore, he states “I love & respect women and feel they are the most powerful people on this planet!” Does this sound familiar? Blanc also claims to ‘love women’.

To top it all off, Redfoo says, “another example of critics victimizing an artist by purposely misinterpreting his/her work to support a pre-existing agenda.” Now Redfoo is the victim and the music video is ‘art’! It’s hard to deny a pattern emerging, as Blanc claimed to be the victim too.

How can RedFoo’s claims of being ‘a victim’ be taken seriously? The image on his twitter page is a camera on his forehead looking up at a girl who is straddled over him in her underpants. The victims, in all of these cases, are women.

One such woman went into Wikipedia and changed the description on RedFoo’s page. Within three hours, Redfoo responded on Facebook, saying, “if I offend anyone, I apologise from the bottom of my heart. In the future I will be more mindful of the way I present my art.” Don’t forget – it’s ‘art’ everyone!

Feminism is continually undermined by privileged ‘white male’ journalists claiming to be allies to feminists, or from self-appointed feminists as the male voices of feminism.

Sam De Brito from the Sydney Morning Herald has come to the defence of the clients of Real Social Dynamics in Australia. Sam De Brito would have us believe that women are to blame. The article states, “imagine you turned up at last week’s event with that mindset and had people screaming “creep”, “loser” or “abuser” at you and they were filming it?”

One of the authors of this article was at that event, Mr De Brito, and would like to point out that you forgot an important point. The men were prepared to meet in secret and hell-bent on learning Blanc’s lessons, even after the venue changed, which they were aware of before boarding the boat. They had seen on YouTube Blanc’s teachings on how to choke a woman.

De Brito goes on. “The flipside of this is your average man can go out every Friday and Saturday night for five years, buy himself a drink and stand at a bar and NEVER have a woman start up a conversation with him.” That’s right – it’s women’s fault again!

In the Daily Telegraph, two days ago, Martin Daubney confided, “as long as feminism is called feminism, a small, dark nugget of my soul will forever resist its message. That’s why I think feminism needs a new name.” That’s right; it is feminisms’ fault that men find feminism “off-putting and negative” and nothing to do with the historical allocation of power to men. Women receive death and rape threats online every day for the simple crime of having an opinion yet it is feminism that needs the rebranding.

Feminism doesn’t need a new name. Feminism needs privileged white men to change their viewpoint. Recent events have opened more eyes to the continual suffering of women. Could this be any more indicative that feminism continues its relevance? Or of the salience of words? Judging by the force of the movement, social media might very well be the beginning of the end of the patriarchy.

Authors:

Kirsty Mac has been performing comedy since the first television she was a host on won the award for ‘Best Live to Air Programme’ on Melbourne’s Channel 31. Mac has been performing stand up comedy throughout Australia, Canada and the UK for the seven years since then. Her show Feminazi sold out at the Melbourne and Sydney Comedy Festivals. She was on the front cover of The Beat and The Conversation has labelled her a ‘Rising Star’. @MacKirstys

Kara Beavis holds post-graduate qualifications in women’s policy and has worked in Brisbane, Sydney, London and Johannesburg in the field of violence against women. She has recently been invited on the board of Domestic Violence New South Wales and is a recipient of national award for outstanding contribution to community. @KarsyBee

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The Beginning Of The End Of Julien Blanc

Kirsty Mac - Smash Rape Culture - DSC_1627 B&W

It was a glorious evening down at the St Kilda pier. I arrived about an hour before the big event, when I noticed a big flashy bus with a lot of dudes around it. They didn’t look like Julien Blanc’s smug looking douche types, but I called the bus company anyway to leave no stone unturned. A kind man with a warm voice answered and assured me that it was in fact a tour bus that was following around the Rolling Stones. As I wandered down toward the pier, another activist messaged me that we’d received some Intel about something to do with a ‘Rolling Stones bus’. Huh? I have already called them and it’s not them. We deduce that one of the RSD people must have spoken to someone on the bus and then put it on their internal social media as a decoy.

This was already insane. Plotting out a decoy for a self-development course that is being held in secret. The level of creepy the RSD were going to was beyond disturbing. This was clearly a big game to them. A little bit of vomit came up.

As I get down to the St Kilda pier it was clear the two groups had formed. I wasn’t sure the RSD would be foolish enough to be there, yet here they were.

I am warmed to see so many of the good kind of people and feel comforted by all of their intelligent faces. However, I can’t shake this feeling of being totally exposed. I had been very vocal on social media and I have never really been to an event like this before. Would the RSD creeps identify me? Seriously, who knows what these psychos are capable of doing. After seeing some familiar faces, I feel reassured that all is ok.

The vibe is high-spirited on our side. There’s maybe 70 or more of us. Everyone is chatting thoughtfully to one another. A bunch of cool looking guys turn up with amps and instruments and started playing some beautiful music. It warmed my heart to feel surrounded by people who just wanted good vibes and peace. Well, on our side of the walkway anyway.

Across from us, a much smaller group had formed of slick, looking men. You know the type. Tom Cruise’s character in Magnolia faces, without a hint of irony or self-awareness and reeking of the latest aftershave brand. These men were clearly going to the ‘seminar’.

Time floated by as we stood around enjoying the sun, while scouts from our side scoped out the area. Some RSD guys were scattered all around the outskirts, on their own and on their phone. It was obvious they were organising. We began to see the RSD guys starting to move off in small groups. Where were they going? They all seemed to be going off in different directions. It became apparent that there was movement.

A man, I would like to call The Dude, started to public speak. Gathering us close and vocalising that there was movement. He asked us all what we decide to do as a collective. “Let’s follow them” a woman declares. So, we all started to follow. The thing is, we were dispersing, yet without knowing where they were going. Our scouts and moles hadn’t yet identified a destination.

We started to break off. A few of us rushed to see a pack of RSD’s getting onto a tram. Word started to spread that they were heading to Southbank. We started to break up, but it was ok, as we could communicate via the Shut Down Julien Blanc Facebook page. Some people moved on, but a lot of us got into cars or onto the tram to make our way into the city. The Facebook page was updated and Berth 5 Southbank was our destination!

I jumped into a car with 2 people I had never met before. As our new friend drove, we got on our phones to chase the RSD trail. I was trying to call Melbourne River Cruises to try and stop the boat. However, they closed hours ago and there was no emergency number. I feel annoyed that I didn’t call them earlier that day. I had a inkling they would go for the water and called all the boats around the pier, however, I never imagined they would all meet at St Kilda and then the distance into the city to catch a ferry. What a long journey for a free seminar. I had clearly underestimated their level of psycho.

Upon arrival at Berth 5, a crowd of 30 or so had re-joined. There was a lot of noise going on and the RSD men were on-board the ferry. I start saying to the ferry driver. “You need to stop this boat and are going to be on the news.” Then start to explain the whole story. He had a kind face and was open to listening. Another Melbourne River Cruise employee bashes in. He was one of those ‘I’ve been working on this boat for years luv’ types and full of territorial stuper. He aggressively says the boat will be leaving. I grab the rope so the ferry can’t move. There is now a tug of war happening with 3 of us and the kind faced ferry guy. Although, the rope wasn’t attached to anything. So if the ferry guy let go – we would just be left with a piece of rope. The adrenalin starts pumping fast and time stood still as I could see a clear jump over onto the boat. From where i was standing, I was the only person that could board it safely. What was I going to do? It was up to me. Either I boarded that ferry – or it travelled down the river. I launch on. I go to the opposite front side of the boat and try to unravel the rope. But I am shaking and I can’t untangle it. I pull it with one arm and reach my other arm out to my new friends on the dock. They hold my hand. One person who was holding my hand starts saying that it is illegal for the ferry guy to touch me. The only option for the boat now – was to be docked. There was no way I was giving in. The ropes are attached again and the boat is docked.

Here we stay for the next 2 hours. A stationary ferry full of RSD men and the dock along side it, full of us.

The ‘seminar’ begins on board the boat with the men all squished up along the insides. We begin to chant ‘no violence to women’, ‘stop the rape class’ and more amazing chants. Some seriously gold chants were created for the next half an hour. Then, the police arrive.

They were all trapped on an unmoving boat without the comforts they would have enjoyed at the Como or the West Beach Pavilion. Trying to concentrate on the seminar over the vocal activists and still trying to convince themselves that this was all worth it must have been a strange feeling. I assume the comfort was the delusion that this ‘seminar’ meant they would never be in the ‘friend zone’ again.

A large crowd had gathered along the top of the dock. We were all chatting away to our new friendly onlookers and transferring information to them. “This guy chokes women, and he is teaching these men how to choke women”. The crowd were gasping with utter disgust. Cameras were buzzing everywhere.

We were becoming restless – this seminar was still going on. The Dude is conversing with the police. Trying to figure out how we could all work together to shut it down. He comes back to us and asked what collectively we wanted to do. If we climb the stairs to the top of the dock and join the onlookers, the all male ‘seminar’ attendees would be asked to leave the boat. We just want Blanc to stop talking. We don’t want any commotion. We agree, and begin to move.

We move up and there is no movement below. We move back down. The Police promise us again that if we move back – they will disembark the men. Again, we agree.

The men start to pile off the boat. Cameras start to flash and the shame of being in front of a big crowd hits their faces. Where will these photos of them end up? Maybe, on the news tomorrow.

Some try to act smug, like the whole thing had not affected them. But their faces told a different story.

No hotel in Melbourne would take them. They had to meet in secret. Their boat never left the Southbank dock and their seminar was cut short and completely distracted by the large and vocal crowd.

They had to meet at St Kilda pier to be greeted by people who had beaten them at their own insane game, and outnumbered 5:1. From there they had to find their way into the city and then aboard a boat with people hurling truth bombs at them. Sit for over 2 hours squished up without any ventilation, as they had to close the windows to try and dull the noise of the chanting. They didn’t get the 5 star hotel they wanted to suit their One Direction ‘fashion’ style. They had no refreshing beverages, no projector and no class.

They got off the boat surrounded by Police and to a large crowd of onlookers all taking photos of them and the media taping them.

However, we left knowing we had won. Not just that, we left knowing that this was the beginning of the end for them. We are growing infinitely and we plan on there being no next time.

Melbourne Says No To Rape Culture

Kirsty Mac - Smash Rape Culture - DSC_1627 We live in a world where everyone has a voice that can be heard via social media. On the down side it has exposed women to threats of violence. On the up side however, it has given feminists the ability to join forces and rise up together!

Melbourne has been though a lot these last few years. We experienced the soul disturbing, violent murder of Jill Meagher. Melbourne responded, as the close community we are, by joining together to march in her honour and to represent a take back of our streets. Then the brutal murder of Tracy Connelly. The reporting by the general media was abhorrent for no other reason besides that she was a sex worker. Continually referring to her as being less than worthy, simply due to her profession. The response by the media was markedly different. However, the message of these events was very clear to all of us. Our streets are not safe for women.

All the while, Australia watched on as the media spoke about our first ‘female Prime Minister’ with disgusting hate filled misogyny and worse still, the utter vile that bubbled to the surface from people in our communities. The message again, was crystal clear. On mass, women are not duly respected. Even the most important woman in our country experienced the treatment of a second-class citizen. Gillard’s wonderful response at one point in that period, was a perfectly executed verbal whiplash delivered in our parliament, and directly to our now Minister for Women, Tony Abbott. As a feminist, it was exhilarating to see it go viral. Except for the whole world watching on part. Just shamefully embarrassing Australia and it’s clear we still have a lot of work to do. Again, a message, that it was not appropriate to have a ‘she’ll be right’ attitude to feminism. Women are not safe on our streets, and as a woman, our Prime Minister was not suitably respected.

In July, a group of feminists got together on the Facebook page of Tago Mago after they booked a band called the Prostitute Killers. The response, Tago Mago pulled the band, and on top of that, apologised for any offence. The young men in the band experienced the full wrath of Melbourne feminists on social media. Words of violence aimed at women would not be tolerated. The band was dissolved. The feminists had won this one.

The history of feminism has always had a numbers problem. The douchebags have always outweighed the feminists. Social media means – not anymore. We are multiplying, and with every win, we grow bigger and stronger. At the beginning of the social media storm, the band claimed ‘look at all this attention’ like it was a good thing. That attitude didn’t last long. The force was too strong. The numbers against them were just too many. Robin Thickes Twitter backlash #askthicke is another great example of social media proving that not ‘all press is good press’.

Just 48 hours ago, a petition was started via Change to The Como Melbourne to pull Julien Blanc’s Real Social Dynamics seminar. If you are unfamiliar with Blanc’s ‘teachings’, they are seminars to teach men how to ‘pick up attractive women’. One of the techniques used is to go up to a woman on the street, who is unknown to you, put your hands around her throat and choke her whilst simultaneously lifting your other hand to your mouth, raising your index finger and shushing her. I don’t know what is worse, that he does this, or that there are a large number of men, on our streets, who would like to learn this method.

Over 20,000 people have signed the petition, and The Como Melbourne responded by cancelling the booking. The community had spoken.

In an attempt to appear undeterred, Blanc posted that he would meet on Thursday the 6th of November at St Kilda pier. The plan is for the RSD attendees to all go together, in what I would describe as ‘a pack rape gang’ to a venue close by, but not disclosed to the public. The reason; it would risk being cancelled again. Wow – a secret meeting by a group of RSD men! Just utterly terrifying. No self-development course I have been on has needed to meet in secret.

After a restless night, I woke up this morning and called every venue in the St Kilda area. Every single person I spoke to who booked the function rooms (of the 20 or so places I called), were in fact, women. The response from each and every one of them reaffirmed to me why I was even doing this. He is what? No way is he welcome here, was the general response. One woman even said, ‘Oh, I already know who this guy is, I seen him on the news last night. He is not coming here’.

After finally locating the venue that was booked, the West Beach Pavilion, the woman on the phone responded with ‘after what you have just told me, he will not be here tomorrow night’. Another cancelled venue.

There is currently a Facebook page called Shut Down Julien Blanc, which formed quickly and grew rapidly as a way to share information. The current plan is to meet down at the St Kilda pier. It’s ‘not a protest’ said someone, ‘it’s just a meeting of likeminded people’. I ponder if Blanc will actually end up there, but I would love to see everyone down there anyway. What a inspiring thing to meet other people in our community who feel the same way. We do not tolerate violence.

During the Melbourne Comedy Festival in April, I had the absolute honour of meeting many Melbourne feminists as a result of creating a show on feminism. The title of the show was Feminazi.

From the experience I can tell you this; not one of the people I met during, or after, would fit any of the lazy stereotypes that Blanc’s cronies attempt to use disparagingly to describe feminists.

They are not all ‘angry’, ‘all lesbians’, ‘hysterical’, or any other attempted catch-all, dog-whistle-phrase-for-MRAs that is still so boringly trotted out in an attempt to dismiss or derail rational points of view expressed by women. These words are almost always dished out by people who don’t want to hear a home truth. One they actually have to address not with feminists, but within themselves.

Are we as feminists angry about Julien Blanc?

Yes. Putting your hands around a woman’s throat and choking them is assault!

Plus what’s wrong with being ‘angry’ or being a ‘lesbian’?

Women have been suffering violence at the hands of men since forever. If you were a woman, you would be angry! You deserve to be angry!

Also, what does our sexual preference have to do with ANYTHING these idiots are espousing?

Again – supporters of idiots like Blanc and his MRA bros regurgitate these phrases in attempts to derail and dismiss. These words are ours to reclaim.

The fact is, the language we have always used, and continue to use, is a major social issue. Words cause thoughts, thoughts cause behaviours and those behaviours include disrespect, assault, murder and rape. Actually, the words I would use to describe the feminists I know are progressive, highly intelligent, from all sexual orientations and genders and inner peace loving. Most importantly, they aim to make the world a better place for everybody.

We have together, as a community of women and men, collectively shut down the Prostitute Killers in July. Today Melbourne, we will shut down Julien Blanc. This community says no to violence against women and it says no to rape culture. More importantly, it says yes to being active members of the rapidly expanding feminist community all over our wonderful country. We are becoming more confident and vocal every time we stand together. If you’re not yet on board – join in! Because let me tell you, it has been one of the best experiences of my life being part of the Australian feminist community.

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We live in a world where everyone has a voice that can be heard via social media. We now hear the voices of those creating art and the voices of the public mass in the same domain. Some people do not like that there is more community-enforced censorship. How dare the community have a say over ‘art’. What would they know about art?

For those that were not part of the whole Prostitute Killer online shit storm, let me attempt to fill in the details. Before we go on, let’s make this super clear. The PK band deliberately created a name with the intent to be subversive. It’s subjective if the band’s name is actually subversive or if it’s just plain offensive. This of course is up to individual opinion. However, what is very clear is that the name was and still does mean a ‘person who kills prostitutes’. This was clearly written in several ways and in numerous places on the Internet. It could be seen on the Cherry Bars page advertising the band and also on the bands facebook page (before they changed it).

Tago Mago booked the band and promoted the event on their FB page. Then a group of people rallied together to protest. It was clear to the protestors what the band was trying to expess via their name. It was made very clear that they had “a thirst for blood and a strong dislike for prostitutes”. They said so themselves.

When the protestors started declaring their dislike for the name, the band responded by antagonizing which escalated the rage at a surprisingly rapid rate. At no point was it declared that the name was a deliberate attempt to provoke for a higher purpose. Which would be a fairly flimsy argument at this stage anyway with the band responding to the debate by continually inferring the ‘feminists had their knickers all up in a twist’ kind of sentiments.

Once the fury ignited, the band changed the explanation on their fb page to say their name meant “prostitutes who kill” as a back-peddling attempt to give a different meaning to their name. This is what the team arguing for ‘no censorship’ used to make fairly weak points. If it was a valid point and not an afterthought, this might have made the debate a little more interesting than the one-way argument that it was.

One example that was thrown about was that Joy Division would never have made it in this ‘PC day and age’. Which I don’t believe is true. ‘Joy Division’ was the name given to prostitutes in concentration camps in the Nazi wing. It is in no way even similar to ‘Prostitute Killer’. Joy Division symbolizes a sad event in history, which is reflected in their sensitive and dark body of work. Prostitute Killer is two words put together which can only be read one way. The way they meant it, which is the way it reads.

Let’s put other things in front of killer and see if they are ok. ‘Child Killer’, ‘Aboriginal Killer’, ‘Dog Killer’ or ‘Homo Killer’. These are all clearly not acceptable. The reasons why these band names are wrong seem clearer – somehow. You could argue that ‘homo’ and ‘prostitute’ have similarities. Both are terms that bring a certain image to mind. Both have a history of venom in them and both are quite gender specific. ‘Homo’ with an image of a male and ‘prostitute’ with an image of a female. I’m quite certain I’m not the only person that thinks ‘prostitute’ is synonymous with ‘women’. This kind of language normalization is ingrained in our cultural history. Having a band name like Prostitute Killers advertised on social media further contributes to normalizing the notion that prostitutes (and subconsciously women) are less than human. No amount of cries of ‘artistic expression’ makes people who are continually on the receiving end see the ‘art’ as more palatable or acceptable. They hear normalized sexist language every day, don’t they – bitches.

Censorship is an interesting thing. It’s used more often than not as a shield or to veil a belief as ‘art’. But none the less – it’s something that as a performer I have thought long and hard about. Would I like to be censored? Would I be upset if I was on the receiving end?

Putting yourself in the public domain and calling a show Feminazi as I did, obviously opens the floodgates for the ‘PC naysayers’. However, surprisingly not one person told me they were offended or opposed to my decision to use ‘Feminazi’ as a show title – well not to my face or on in the public domain anyway. Is it because it is just the right amount of subversive just like Joy Division was the right amount of subversive? So is it possible the issue here isn’t really censorship. The issue here is – was the PK band name good art?

The punk aesthetic is to have a go at the establishment, not the marginalised. So targeting a marginalised group like prostitutes in your ‘art’ at any time, but especially in this age of social media, the masses will always over rule. Social Media means the rule about ‘no press is bad press’ no longer applies. Robin Thicke is a great example of social media backlash.

The reality is that we are all self censored – that’s part of what makes us function as a species. As we start to understand more about ourselves, we realize that old ways of speaking are not always socially inclusive. That’s what progress is. Maybe that’s what will happen to the Band Formerly Known As. We live in world where our media censors what our community knows about its government. Is expressing disapproval to a couple of 20-year-old white Australian boys from using a band name they don’t really understand the full weight of really censorship? Or is it just doing what a community should be doing. Being a place where everyone has a voice.