Clementine Ford: I'm Glad We're Up In Arms Over Scary Words On 'Q&A'. Never Mind The Women Being Slaughtered.
"How long must we wait for men and boys to stop murdering us, to stop beating us and to stop raping us? How many rapists must we kill?"
So asked the award-winning journalist and activist, Mona Eltahawy, on last week’s episode of Q&A. She was later joined in this supposed ‘call to violence’ (as numerous outlets and individuals are disingenuously framing it) by Nayuka Gorrie, a non-binary Indigenous writer and thinker who observed, “We’ve tried for 230-plus years to appeal to the colonisers’ morality which doesn’t seem to exist. I think violence...is ok because if someone is trying to kill you, there’s no amount of, ‘Oh but I’m really clever’. You know, ‘I’m really articulate.’ No amount of that is going to save you. So, yeah, let’s burn stuff.”
Q&A is a panel show that not only broadcasts after 9.30pm, but also positions itself as a place for challenging ideas to be discussed and debated, and for opposing viewpoints to be given a platform. And it’s worth noting that neither Eltahawy and Gorrie launched into a ‘pro-violence’ spiel apropos of nothing. In fact, they were responding to a question posed by an audience member about the efficacy of using violence to bring about change.
So why in the ever loving fu*k has the ABC pulled the episode from its iView channel and announced that it will launch an investigation into whether or not the show breached editorial standards? Just because a few hundred literal idiots who’ve proven themselves incapable of any critical thought whatsoever are cackling with glee at this new opportunity to publicly fret about the supposedly terrifying vision feminists have for the future of men?
What an absolutely rancid, steaming pile of bull**it.
Better and more qualified writers than me can and no doubt will address the audacity of silencing Gorrie in this debacle (not to mention the irony of positioning their truth-telling words as an ‘incitement of violence’ in the same week yet another young Indigenous person has been killed by police), but I want to specifically address the pearl-clutching response to Eltahawy.
Firstly, she was clearly employing a rhetorical device. And as far as those go, it was extremely effective. Men beat, rape and kill women and children every day. One woman is murdered every week by a partner or ex-partner in Australia, and countless others are living in situations of domestic terrorism (in its truest sense). Police deal with an estimated 657 reports of domestic abuse every day in Australia. A fifth of all women over the age of 15 will be subjected to sexual violence in their lifetime. Only one in six of the rapes reported to police will result in prosecution. That number is even lower for the child victims of sexual abuse and rape. More than 90 percent of perpetrators of sexual violence and domestic abuse are male.
In 2017, more than 30,000 of the world’s women were intentionally killed by their current or former partner. That’s 10 times as many people killed in the September 11 attacks, which also means that in the 16 years since, if the statistics remain consistent, 480,000 of the world’s women have been deliberately murdered by a partner or ex partner.
This is a war on women. But shhh, don’t mention it.
Our culture raises women to be frightened of what could possibly ‘happen’ to us (because correctly calling it ‘what men choose to do to us’ is apparently mean). Don’t walk at night, don’t talk to strange men, what were you wearing, don’t drink too much, what was she thinking, what did she expect, don’t give men the wrong idea, don’t go home with him and on and on and on.
At the same time, the classic bait-and-switch method favoured by the patriarchy also gaslights us into welcoming the attentions of men and ensuring we never hurt their feelings. He was just being nice, he just wanted to talk to you, why are you so mean, you don’t have to be so mean to him, how will the human race survive if men can’t even talk to women on the street anymore, he probably didn’t mean it like that, he just liked you, it was a compliment, why are you being so hysterical, why are you overreacting, he was just trying to talk to you it’s not as if he was trying to rape you, don’t be so paranoid.
Women are never allowed to talk about the fu*king reality of the world for us, because men insist on being the ones with the power to dictate it for us. And this is where I find the backlash to Eltahawy especially obnoxious. Because men have always gleefully and very publicly indulged in their own heroic fantasies of avenging harm done to ‘their’ women, and it is never, ever seen as this ludicrous ‘incitement to violence’ but the natural and orderly instincts of a man and his own moral code.
I’d murder any man who hurt my daughter. I’d rip his balls off and stuff them down his throat. I’d cut his di*k off. I’d kill him, I would.
These sentiments are not treated as frightening declarations of intent, but the noble declarations of men who confuse paternalism for equality.
But women don’t need men to protect us. We need men to stop raping us, beating us, killing us. We need men to stop fu**ing silencing us when we dare to speak about these things.
So. Just how many rapists do we need to kill before men decide that the risk of continuing to treat women as they have for millennia is simply too great? Very luckily for men, there is little danger of this happening. Because as Andrea Dworkin once observed, “I don’t believe rape is inevitable or natural. If I did, I would have no reason to be here. If I did, my political practice would be different than it is. Have you ever wondered why we [women] are not just in armed combat against you? It’s not because there’s a shortage of kitchen knives in this country. It is because we believe in your humanity, against all the evidence.”
In the midst of the Q&A furore, it was reported that Jennifer Schlecht, a 42-year-old woman and reproductive justice advocate in New York, was found murdered in her home. Her husband had beheaded her and murdered their five-year-old daughter. There were 136 other women around the world murdered by an intimate partner or family member on that day alone, according to statistics. In the seven days since Eltahawy committed the grave sin of naming the war being waged against us, 959 more women will have been murdered.
But I sure am glad we’re all up in arms about women and their scary, dangerous words.
I despair. I despair.