An Open Letter to My Homeland

Posted in Uncategorized at 12:44 am

Oh Australia,

I love you, and I’ve lived in you all my life, but sometimes I think I don’t understand you very well.  There’s a lot of aspects of your culture that confuse and enrage me, like Luhr from the planet Omicron Persei 8 and the concept of “wuv”.

So, Age columnist Catherine Deveny has lost her job, over Logies-related tweets that were considered offensive.  Particularly, from what I gather, those about Bindi Irwin.  I wasn’t following Deveny’s live tweets at the time, so I’ve only read what’s been reproduced in the media.  I didn’t think the comments were out of character and, while they may have been a little off-colour, I can see the point that Deveny was trying to make, because it’s a point I’ve often made myself, and I’ve done so in similar ways; apparently, however, dark humour and irony aren’t allowed in discussing the sexualisation of children in the media.

There’s a lot of commentary flying back and forth from all sides.  Some of it is well-reasoned and thoughtful and some…not so much.

I think Deveny’s general fearlessness when it comes to tackling controversial issues in her writing is admirable and much-needed.  Yes, she sometimes deliberately courts controversy, but this doesn’t make her arguments ingenuous.  Criticisms of her work are often far more ingenuous than anything she might do to draw attention to said work anyway; the problem is actually that often they’re not criticisms of her work, but her, personally, as a woman and occasionally as a mother.

Part of the angst about Deveny seems to be that she is apparently part of the “elite”; she makes no bones about her dislike of many aspects of Australian culture, and this sort of thing rarely makes one popular.  If you want to be a woman and popular in the Australian media, it helps to be perky and inoffensive, rather than a smart, mouthy, atheist feminist.

But, Australia, what worries me about you is that, as you’re baying for Catherine Deveny’s blood (as you’ve bayed for Germaine Greer’s before her – at least she’s in good company), and writing mean-spirited blog posts, tweets, and comments on mainstream media websites, you’re revealing your own blind spot.  You’re revealing your vicious streak, the anger you harbour against women (especially of the feminist stripe), the resentment that they won’t stay in their place and do what you want them to.

Because while Catherine Deveny loses her job, Matthew Johns gets a TV show, Sam Newman continues his stronghold in the mainstream media, and Kyle Sandilands is somehow still employed doing anything at all but commercial radio more specifically.

One of these people wrote some things on Twitter.  One of these people was accused of taking part in a pack rape, which the media gleefully referred to as a “group sex scandal”, and has apologised in the media for, essentially, the fact that he was caught out.  One of these people used a segment of his popular sports-related TV show to dress up a mannequin to recognisably resemble a female sports reporter, and then beat the mannequin to pieces.  One of these people brought a fourteen-year-old girl on his show to grill her about her sex life, and when she broke down and revealed she’d been raped at twelve, asked her if that was her only sexual experience.

One of these things is not like the others.

One of these things is out of a job, and the others aren’t.

Catherine Deveny doesn’t need me to defend her; she is quite capable of that herself.  But while she gets roasted over an open fire (mmm, delicious scapegoat), your culture, Australia, gets to pretend that it’s fighting the big fights, and that nothing is wrong.  She’ll be right, mate.

Except she won’t, because she isn’t.

I love you, Australia, but I think you’re going about this all wrong-headed, and frankly you’re coming off like a bit of a git in front of the other countries.