Articles, Blog

Nasty Women Panel, All About Women 2017

September 1, 2019


>>[applause] I want to get
straight into the discussion but before that, let’s
look at the labels that these women
have been called. Now try and guess. She’s been called
loud, opinionated, a supporter of terrorists. Who could that be? Please welcome writer and
author, TV and radio presenter, and social advocate
Yassmin Abdel-Magied. [ Applause ] Our next panellist has been
described as hysterical, extreme left of politics
representing 0.001% of Australia, safely
ignored, and she puts it down to her ovaries, social
commentator, playwright, novelist and Guardian
columnist Van Badham. [ Applause and Cheering ] She’s been called fat, shrill,
which by the way is the name of her book, very
clever, and quite possible and I think the most hurtful
anti-comedy, how dare they, writer, author, performer,
body image champion, and troll slayer Lindy West. [ Applause and Cheers ] So Lindy, let’s start with you. Now soon after that
televised debate, women started claiming
they were nasty women. There were badges. There were hashtags. There were T-shirts. There were mugs. There were everything. Has that become the new
feminists’ rallying cry?>>Yeah, it’s become a
feminists’ rallying cry, definitely. Personally, I think I prefer
“nevertheless she persisted,” which was the more
recent version [applause]. There’s a reason why nasty,
I hate the word “nasty.” It’s so like sexual and I’m
kind of a prude [laughter]. I know, I know, it’s dorky. But yeah, you know, there’s
always been tremendous power. Oh, he stole the
word “tremendous.” I can’t even say tremendous. Donald Trump took
tremendous from us.>>And huge.>>And huge.>>He gave us bigly.>>True. There’s always been
bigly power in reclaiming terms that have been used to hurt us. This is something that you see
across social justice movements and it was fun to see nasty
woman immediately snatched and turned back on Donald Trump. So as much as I’m shyand
embarrassed to say it, yes, I am very nasty [laughter].>>Good for you,
honey [applause]. Good for you.>>She’s blushing.>>Then the Oxford English
dictionary defines nasty as unpleasant, repugnant,
spiteful and there was an earlier meaning
included devoid of morals. And that’s something
women want to reclaim.>>That’s definitely me. I mean, clearly. You only have to look
at the work that I do. If any of you read my
column in the garden, in the garden [laughter],
in the Guardian, you know my relentless
commitment to moral causes like fair and equal pay,
like industrial rights in the workplace, and
taxation fairness. I mean, I think as Australians and obviously the same western
family as our American cousins, these are deeply immoral
positions to hold. I mean, getting up in the
morning and going, you know, I think all human
beings are born equal. I mean, that’s kind of
controversial, really. And I realise I only
represent 000.1% of the extreme left community
of safely ignored people, hello [inaudible] house,
the Opera House, hi. [ Applause ] But I’m very committed
to my moral positions. I also have a problem
with the word “nasty” because it’s a word I associate with a yeast infection
[laughter]. But, you know, if we’re all
in this together, ladies, nasty I guess is
going to have to be.>>That happens to
the best of us.>>Yassmin, would you term
yourself a nasty woman? Do you have any quibbles
about being termed “nasty?”>>I mean, it depends on the
tone in which you say it. Right? I’m a nasty
woman, right, definitely. I’ve definitely not
said it in my home. My father, I think, would not
quite know what to do with it. It’s definitely a term that in
the way that it was presented that I definitely
resonate with this. This idea of woman
essentially having opinions or presenting views or just
trying to engage in the world. And rather than being
engaged at that level, it becomes a personal attack
and any number of things he used to try to bring you down
and so whether the term is “nasty woman” or whether it’s
anything else, I think the idea of reclaiming that and being
like, sure, whatever it is that you want to call me, I’m
going to take that and I’m going to continue doing
the awesome thing that I was doing
regardless of this attack that you are levelling
against me. I’m down for that.>>What do you think it
says about the person that uses a term
to denigrate women?>>I think they’re not good
enough to be able to argue back. Right? Like they
clearly [applause], the best that they can do
is level a personal attack because instead of engaging
with the topic at hand, instead of sort of saying, well,
I’m going to rise to your level, it is I’ve got nothing,
so I’m going to bring you down as a human. I actually can’t see you as
equal to me, so I’m going to try to bring you down. And I think it’s, yeah, it’s
also I think an interesting, like how do you engage
with that without sort of going to that level. I think it’s a challenge.>>Van, you were about
to say something?>>Lindy?>>I beg your pardon. I beg your pardon. [ Multiple Speakers ] We’re all nasty.>>We’re all equally nasty. I know. But no, I
was going to say that it’s very telling what
it was that Hillary was doing that qualified her as nasty. She was just being good at her
job, actually doing the job that she was supposed to
be doing, which was talking about policy and running
for president instead of whatever Donald Trump
was doing [laughter]. So yeah, I mean if that’s your
definition of nasty, great. Oh, your definition is
capable and it wasn’t just that she was doing her job, it was that she was
better than him, obviously. I mean, I don’t —
So yeah, I think –>>That was his only
weapon against her.>>Yeah, his only weapon is
this weird left field sort of just contextless insult. So I think it’s really
interesting that the thing that is most threatening,
it’s not even, it’s just her doing her job. It’s just a woman
presuming to be better at something than a man.>>Yeah, and presuming to exist
or like in the same space. It’s the very existence of women
and particularly women of colour and I think of all the different
sort of marginalizations that you can put on it, the very
existence makes you political. The very existence makes you
confronting and controversial. And so the only response
people have to that is to try to bring the individual down
because they can’t engage, they can’t seem to
engage with that.>>I think there’s more to it and I think this particular
political moment we have to recognise that
particularly in Trump’s case, these are very deliberate
tactics. And they’re tactics about who
gets power and who doesn’t. And they’re being wielded by
let’s us the P word patriarchy. They’re being used by a
community of people in societies in which we live who have
had power for a long time and are quite determined
not to give it up. And what Donald Trump was saying
with his nasty woman comment, it wasn’t actually about
Donald Trump the person to Hillary Clinton the
person, because we know that Donald Trump used to
be a registered Democrat, he used to go to
fundraisers for the Clintons and they’ve got an association
which goes back a long time. The nasty woman comment
was to his electorate and it was it was a comment to
get votes and it was a comment to an audience of
specifically white men to say, this woman will only have power
over you if you give it to her. If you give your power to
me, we can hold them off. We can hold off the
inevitable march of women and we can hold off the
inevitable march of people of colour and we can hold off
the threats to our power base. And this is what they’re
doing with the language and particularly with
levelling the insults. It’s not about whether you are
nasty or good or bad or immoral or whatever, it’s about
the fact that we’re trying to build movements to
build democratic majorities to take power and change
the structure of society in which we live to
enfranchise people and these guys are not
going down without a fight. So they are communicating
to one another, we can negate them
denying them votes, by taking their power away,
by disabling the structures by which they can
level influence. That is what is going on.>>Then why do you think — [ Applause ] Why do you think
it’s not the same when a man is called a similar
sort of derogatory term?>>What are they called? What are they called? And why is it not the same? Because they have status. Because they have power. Because they have the
networks of power. I mean, why does Mark
Latham still have a career, you know [laughter]? [ Applause ]>>Who knows?>>Like Mark Latham
doesn’t still have a career because he’s a better writer
or a more talented writer or that he has better or clear
or more articulated opinions or particular insights
or a great analysis, incredible experience
or great education, these are not the reasons
why we still him on TV. We still see him on TV and
in newspapers or whatever because he has a
network of other men and women who facilitate him. That’s how power works. People who have money and resources enfranchising
other people into the institutions by which
they can exercise influence. And this is the issue. This is what we’re fighting against because women
don’t earn as much as men. We don’t control
the media empires. We don’t control the
democratic majorities. Like we are slowly
exercising influence through social movements,
through trade unions and other community
democratic structures. But the reason why we’re
disempowered and locked out of that conversation is because
we don’t wield to the extent that that particular
club of men do. And this is why. You are not doing
feminism properly if you’re not a member
of a trade union. You know, if you want to
change the society you live in, you have to join a community
organisation [applause], like we’re fighting a war
which is our intentions versus their power and
we have to be very clear about what our commitment
has got to be in order to change that dynamic.>>Lindy, do you agree that
there is a need for a community of feminists to fight together?>>Oh, absolutely. I mean of course. There’s no — We have so
little institutional power that the only power we
really have is numbers. And if you even shrink
it down to a micro-level, if you’re the only woman
in the office speaking out about sexual harassment,
you’re fired, you’re out. Whereas, if every single
woman in the office, assuming there’s more than
one woman in your office, which I guess is not –>>Not always the case.>>It’s not always the case. But, you know, that’s where
power comes from and that’s where leverage comes from. So yeah, absolutely. And I mean the thing about
Donald Trump, you know, nasty woman just being
a signal to his base, they’re not even
subtle about it. It’s not even just this sort
of tacit signal, you know, his campaign slogan was
make America great again, which is an explicit call
for a return to a time when the white male patriarchal
family structure ruled America and Donald Trump don’t
even worry about it, he’s going to be the dad. He’s going to be the
strong dad of the country. You guys just go
play in your rooms. And I think there
are a lot of people who have traditionally been
protected under that structure which means other white
people, especially white men, who find a lot of comfort in it. And to me, that was
the underlying message of this entire campaign. It was like don’t worry,
we’re going to go back to this quieter time when
everyone else knew their place and they didn’t try to get you
fired because you, you know, because you grabbed them by
their sexual parts [laughter].>>So Yassmin, where
do we start then? You know, very obviously we’re
preaching the converted here. We’re all on the same
level here, but the people who didn’t come to this
lecture, how do you get them to understand this
point of view?>>Yeah, I mean it’s something
that I think about quite often. So my day job, as it were, for a long time I studied
mechanical engineering and worked as an engineer
on oil and gas rigs and so I usually
was the only woman. And so the question for
me was always broader, is the question you’re talking about then is how do we
create structural change because right now, no matter how
much each one of us as women do in our own spaces, it is an
individual effort by and large. We may be part of a community
and coming from the community but it is an individual effort. And it is that effort as an
individual versus a network and a structure that is very
invested in holding its power. But right now if power
is a dining table and there are ten seats and
white blokes have them all. In order for it to be equal,
five blokes have to leave. Right? They ain’t giving up
their seats without a fight. That’s what like unless and
somebody once said to me, well, why don’t you bring
more seats to the table. I’m like it doesn’t
work that way. The whole piece around
power is the scarcity of it. And only certain people
get it and the people that do get it want to keep it. There’s this fascinating thing
around the wealth paradox. So you think that people that do
make it would be more generous to the people behind them. But in fact, the more that they
get, the more than they gain, the wealthier they are,
the more status they have, the more they want
to hold on to it. They don’t want to go
back to where they were. They don’t want — It’s like
waves of migrants who tend to be the most conservative
when it comes to new migrants because they’re like, well,
we have to work really hard. We don’t want to
give up our position. We don’t want to
let anyone else in. Where do we start? I mean, I’m for smashing all
of the systems because none of the systems seem to be
working out really well for us whether it
is the patriarch and I think the words
are interesting because they signal ways that
systems and structures used to lock people out historically. We’re going back to words
like “hysterical” that used to were used to label
women and to sort of silence women
completely throughout time. We’re using words like
“they’re too loud,” which is something
you will never hear of a bloke, right, like ever. And so I think it’s
about thinking, you know, whether it is joining
traditional like existing communities like
unions or thinking of I mean, at this stage I’m
actually at the point where I encourage women to
run their own businesses, to essentially create new
structures because right now in the system that
we do live in, which is a capitalist structure,
right, if we’re going to exist within that system without
completing changing capitalism, which I think is another
interesting conversation, but, you know, people are
like, what, communists. No. It’s fine. I just like the colour
red [laughter].>>I’m a huge fan.>>There’s a couple of really
awkward faces up front, maybe she does support
terrorism. It’s fine. I don’t. Just a Facebook
comment. No, I’m kidding. I just it’s fun making
people really uncomfortable. So I guess it’s about
if we are going to exist within a structure, that power
is in financial resources, then how do we, who
runs media companies? They’re all blokes. So they get to call the shots. Who owns the companies? They aren’t women, right. Who owns all of the like
essentially everything. Right, we may be able to
get high positions and work in them, but it’s so capped. So unless we start building
or using existing structures to build systems that
are completely going to disempower what already
exists, we’re fighting a battle that is very, very conditional.>>Okay, so let’s
just say we want to use the existing
structure instead of doing the whole
anarchists’ thing and just tearing it all
down, I’m with you, anyway, if we are supposed to use
the existing structure and the structure and
the system is built by men is a patriarchal system,
how do you co-opt those in power that run the system to come
on to the nasty women’s side?>>Well, you exercise
your power. I mean, we’re celebrating
International Women’s Day. International Women’s Day began
as a trade union strike protest in New York after a number
of women had been killed in totally avoidable
factory fires around the garment
district in New York and women walked off the job in 1909 saying we’d rather
starve quick than starve slow. And they exercised
their labour power. They walked off the job. They stopped the company they
worked for from being able to continue to produce
and they had an effect that obviously is still echoing through the generations,
because here we are. That’s a statement they
put out to the community. I mean I think part of the
problem that we’re having in the west is a lot of people
forgot how democracy works and why we have the
structures we do. They’re good structures
like the principles on which the United States
of America are based. You know, they’re about freedom
and liberty and enfranchisement and checks on power,
the miracle in Australia of having universal
enfranchisement through compulsory voting, which means literally every
person is [applause] brought into the democratic conversation
like it’s an obligation of the government to allow
every single one of us to vote and to create that opportunity
and it’s an obligation for us to exercise that vote. But how many people in
this room are members of political parties? How many people in this room
are members of trade unions? How many of these people
have ever directly lobbied a politician? How many of the people in this
room have ever blockaded an office or taken strike
action or participated in any of those mechanisms that
we know are the ones that affect the conversation. The one thing you can
do in a democracy, the fundamental principle is that if you build a
majority argument, well you determine what the
structure is going to look like. I mean, I always think
about there was this period in Australia where we
thought we had won. We thought as feminists
we had won the argument. And coming from an
arts background, look at the 1980s world. There were all of
these women’s projects. There were women’s theatres and
women’s play touring network. I’m just talking
about my own industry. This was across the country. You know, you had all these sort
of feminists printing presses and feminists literary presses and feminists poetry
publications, all of this stuff was
happening and it was resourced and we had made the arguments
and it was all happening. And then five years
ago, we turned around, we had this incident
in Australian theatre where they announced
the [inaudible] season for the next year and 12 plays. There were 12 directors and
11 playwrights who were men. There was only one
woman on that stage. And it was because
we thought we’d won, because we thought we didn’t
need to exercise power anymore or make the arguments or
stack the committee or turn up to the meeting or petition
the person responsible. And that’s what’s
happened in the west. We’ve made a lot of money in
this country like those of you who haven’t travelled,
travel, see how people live in other countries,
see how people live in other western countries. Our standard of living
here is really high. And it creates a false
sense of security that somehow someone is looking
at us and we’ll be all right. Well, no one is looking
after us. It is just us. And if we are not active in
democracy, we get Donald Trump. [ Applause ]>>To build on that, it’s
about actually participating. And I think the fascinating
about progress is that it’s not a place that you
get to and then it, it sticks. It’s a thing that you constantly
like it’s going uphill. You constantly have to
be pushing it uphill because the system isn’t
set up for that progress. And I lied earlier when I said
is only power is financial because the other is in people. The other is in numbers of
people because if you think about any social change that
has occurred globally throughout history, it’s always
been through people. It’s never been the people who
have power and the status quo. They’re like, oh yes, we should
change to make things better for the marginalised
because we’re good. No, it’s always been
masses of people that have said actually we
want better, we deserve better. And so the piece
around participation and then the piece I think
like talking to every person and how they can create
change is thinking about what are you
doing in your circles and what are the
conversations that you’re having in your circles and with
the people around you. And are you asking everyone
else to participate just like you are and will be. And are you asking
people to be better. Like we can’t — The idea of changing the entire world
is overwhelming but the idea of having an impact on
the few people that are around us is very, very
achievable on the men that are in our society, on the women
that are in our circles, because that is how
we all do it. That is how you make
collective change. It’s by each and every
one of using choosing to recognise our agency
and recognise the fact that we do have power in our
choices and perhaps we forgot. We got complacent and we
thought she’ll be right. She’s not right.>>And it’s important
to recognise the power of solidarity as well. Like it’s not just about what
affects me as an individual or about what affects you as an
individual, it’s about why you and I and everybody else
supports what’s going on with other people. I mean, let’s be honest,
what Yassmin has gone through in the past couple of weeks has been the
most extraordinary and flagrant misogyny
and racism ever seen in public life in this country. [ Applause ] And it is deplorable. The power that we have, as
people who have not been in the position that
Yassmin has been in, is to show her our solidarity,
to make the public statements that we are with her,
that we stand by her, that her experience is something
that is enraging and upsetting to us and to stand up for
that, to come out for that. And it’s that power of going,
I have no idea what it’s like to be you but I can
see the circumstances of what you’re going through
is unfair and I’m willing to stake myself to that
cause because it is, it’s absolutely outrageous. [ Applause ]>>Lindy, have we
become too complacent? Have we sat back too
much and said, well, someone else will
fight our fight?>>Yeah, some people have,
a lot of people have. There are other people who have
been fighting really fiercely the whole time. Those tend to be the
most marginalised people, the people with the
most to lose, the people who have
the least power. And what we’ve seen after the
election in the States is a lot of people, you know, sort
of middle class white women like me, I mean not me
personally, I feel like I was at least semi-aware of what was
going on before the election. But a lot of women who
are suddenly like oh, oh, this might impact me and also,
you know, they’re starting to learn maybe imperfectly and
slowly that solidarity is vital and that actually paying
attention to the lives of people who are not like you and people
who’ve already been fighting for their lives for years,
decades, generations, it’s not sort of a hobby
you can pick up and put down whenever you want to. It’s the foundation of equality
and activism and freedom. And so, you know, I — The atmosphere in the
States right now is not that optimistic. There are some people who
constantly are like, well, but all these people are
going and protesting. I’ve never protested before. But mostly the feeling is sort
of despair and terror, you know. But the one thing that we do
have, you know, there is value in that in that surge of
activism and participation. And, you know, there’s a lot
of people who are like, oh, I need to get involved
and are learning that there are already
organisations doing this work that have been doing
it for generations and that what they need is help. They don’t need some white
lady to come reinvent activism. So all of this is
going on [applause] and it’s really encouraging. You know, we take what little
scraps of encouragement we can but I think the only thing
that can really save us at this point is numbers and using those numbers
before the window closes and Donald Trump
dismantles democracy which is really what
it feels like. It feels like the system itself
is in danger when you have, you know, a completely unhinged,
corrupt nightmare president and you have a Republican
congress that’s just willing to roll over because they’ve
sort of weighed their options and decided that
throwing their chips in with this monster is a
safer bet for their career than actually doing their job and representing
their constituents, all you can do is start
on your local level. You know, I’ve been telling my
daughters, they’re teenagers, and I’ve been saying, you
know, don’t think of running for office is something
that other people do. It’s something that you can do. It’s something that
it is for us to do. it’s actually our civic
duty as citizens and — No, no, I was just going to say
the power that we have right now that is really, really
vital that we exercise in the States is letting
these members of congress know that they will be fired
if they don’t their job and represent us and, you know, that requires mobilising
everyone. And I don’t have a lot of hope. There’s a lot of talk like, oh,
how can we reach Trump voters. I don’t care. I don’t think that
they are reachable. Most of them are not reachable. They have severed ties
with reality [laughter]. They have completely invested
themselves in this, you know, this hysterical, sorry,
I don’t know what, this completely unhinged bigotry that they think will keep
them safe, I don’t, I mean, and we’re not reaching them. But luckily, they’re a pretty
small number, relatively. A lot of people didn’t
vote at all and those people are apolitical
and consider themselves sort of not really, you know, like,
oh, there’s a grownup in charge. Someone will take care of it. It’ll be fine. My life won’t change and their
lives are going to change. And so that to me
is the opportunity, like there are people
who were, you know, very aggressively anti-Trump and
voted for Hillary and campaigned for Hillary and did
whatever we could, and then there are the
mobilising all those people and then also reaching all
the people who didn’t vote and then the Trump
voters, whatever.>>I think it’s interesting, like so in Australia the
analogist’s situation, we have a number of different
groups but in my home state of Queensland, literally
people groaned [laughter], so we have a [inaudible]
One Nation which is I would say a
similar kind of vibe. She’s upgraded because
she used to hate Asians and now she’s hate [inaudible].>>I’ve heard about this.>>Yeah. And apparently that makes her a lot more
sophisticated [laughter].>>They’re not the
party they were. They’re not the party they were.>>Yeah. They’re not
the party they were.>>You know, she should
really think bigger. Donald Trump is totally
capable of hating all groups. It’s really inspiring.>>It is inspiring.>>She’s getting
it, let me tell you. Single mothers pay attention.>>It’s too real. So they reckon one in four
people will vote for her in Queensland in
the state election. So like –>>That would be so scary because like you
know four people.>>I know [laughter]. That is so crazy.>>The struggle is real. I’ve completely forgotten –>>I’m sorry.>>Actually while you’re pausing
and recollecting your thoughts, I would like to urge
the audience, if you do have a question, we’d like to throw
the floor open to you. So please make your way
to the microphones there at the edge of the aisles. At the moment, while
you make your way to the edge of the aisles –>>I was just going to
pick up on the point, I remember somebody once saying
to me that you should have like the phone number
for your local member and like your local paper on
speed dial because the people that call up and complain
are all the like, you know, like older retirees, like
that was his characterization. And he was like, the thing
is that you may be fuming but if you don’t actually
let the people, use the tools that you have, then no one
will ever know about it and so I think there is
definitely something empowering and sort of, because
when I thought about it, I was like I don’t think I’ve, at that point I hadn’t actually
ever made a formal complaint about any of the awful things that I read and see
all the time. And so that feeling wasn’t
being translated into sort of a response, I guess. And it is coming
back to that idea of we are we need
to participate. And the system — I do believe
the system is in danger. And the reason I think we
need to be really careful is because every great empire
and every great system in history has failed, right. Every empire thought they
were indestructible, right, the Romans and the Greeks and
the Egyptians, every empire in history, they thought that
they were indestructible. And at that point, when you
think you’re indestructible, that’s when you’re
most vulnerable, right, because it takes a
certain type of opportunist and those are the kind of
people we’re seeing right now. So they’re like, oh, I can
use this system and play with my rules, not the
rules that it’s supposed to be played with, not
the honour system, right. I’m not going to
honour the norms. And everybody in the past
has honoured the norms, that’s why the system
has worked. But when you have people that
are willing to take advantage of it and actually don’t care,
then the system is really in danger of falling apart.>>But I think Australians
should take some hope. I mean, we had our
Donald Trump moment because I had Tony Abbott. And people did kick
off, a broad coalition of people did kick off,
but he didn’t last. He didn’t even make it to a
second election and [inaudible] in our ability to organise and to show solitary
is really important. Some of the news — Because
there’s a state election coming up from Western Australia and the One Nation vote has
been a real issue and especially because the liberals have
done a deal with One Nation to scrub the National
Party which seems like the worst party anybody’s
ever been party to as far as — Can you imagine being
in those negotiations? No, let’s not even
think about it. But the thing is
the One Nation vote, which was doing quite
well a couple weeks ago, has taken a real hit
and it’s taken a hit because of the penalty
rates decision because Pauline Hanson was on
Insiders this morning saying that she supports the cut to
penalty rates and, you know, let’s get rid of all this
stuff and because, you know, trade unions have been so vocal
going this is really going to screw over like
up to 700,000 people. We’re looking at people’s
take-home pay, we are with you, we will fight for you, like
these are important messages of solidarity to some of the lowest paid
people in our community. It’s having an effect. It’s winding back that vote. It’s saying to those people, you
feel lost and disenfranchised and marginalised and
that they’re missing out on their prosperity and
they want someone to blame. And, you know, 20 years
ago [inaudible] it’s like pick a scapegoat and
let’s just take it from there as a focus for all of our
tensions and problems. It’s when people
mobilise around the issues that are actually more important
than the vacuum of hate that the opinions do change
and we’ve got to have hope in that message and our capacity
to organise and our capacity to speak to people about
what’s really important to them because it’s only ever a
tiny percentage of people who really defined by hatred and will vote hatred
more than anything else. Most people are,
you know, complex. It might be their health issues. It might be their wages. It might be their community. It might be elective services. It might be fear
about law and order. And it’s making those arguments
and being in a position to offer an alternative means of participating does actually
make a democratic change. People learn through
the structures that they are engaged with. And more of us who engage
with the structures, the more the people who don’t
understand us, you know, think I’m the feminazi coming
to ruin their lives or whatever, like, I’m a lot smaller
in person than I am on the Internet [laughter]. You know, like and to understand
why people kick off about Lindy or Yassmin or me or [inaudible]
or any of our friends, you know, it’s because there’s a philtre
of dehumanisation that goes on. Well, fronting up and
being a human being, that is the only thing that’s
ever made a difference.>>So the issue is get
involved [applause]. Now I want to see if
we’ve got any questions. We do? Okay, microphone one.>>I’d like to pick up on your
words “solidarity and misogyny.” Give me one minute, the first
all about women event I attended in 2013 was a panel
debate on misogyny. Specifically, Julia
Gillard discussed sexism in Australian politics. The panellists proved their
feminists’ credentials by expressing solidarity
with Gillard. Easy-peasy. Ten days ago, Muslim
leader Keysar Trad on the Andrew Bolt programme
endorsed the repellent view that striking one’s
wife is acceptable, albeit as a last resort. Where were the feminists’ voices
then, very quiet, not so easy. My question is this, how
can you or I or anyone in this room profess concern
for the welfare of women until we’re prepared to call
out every expression of misogyny from whatever source of have
the we relegated the feminist movements to an ineffectual
adjunct of the chattering classes?>>Well, madam, thank
you very much for your question [applause]. But you seem to be under
the impression that women and feminists in particular
haven’t been outspoken on this issue. Literally, every feminist
in Australian is outspoken against domestic
and family violence and it doesn’t matter
who it comes from. I mean, all of us are committed
publically and articulately and with the full
force of the passion which is our united commitment
to stop the [inaudible] of family violence,
I denounce anyone who is an apologist for it. And so would any
woman in this room.>>Damn straight. [ Applause and Cheering ]>>And may I also add that when
people ask me as a Muslim woman, oh, you must support Keysar
Trad because he’s Muslim and the views that he has and
ask me whether or not I support, like I can barely vocalise it. It is so condescending. It is so humiliating for
someone to say, oh, you must, because you haven’t condemned
every single terrible thing done in the name of your faith
in the history of the world, you must condone it, which
is something people have said to my face. Are people insane?>>People are insane.>>By the way, I’m a
Roman catholic and I’d like to apologise for
like 2000 years ago. [ Laughter and Applause ]>>Let’s move on. Let’s see what number
two’s got to say.>>I’m so pleased to be here and I’m a great admirer
of each of you. I followed you on This
American Life and Van on the Internet, on Twitter. And Magied, you were amazing
on Q&A the other night. So inspiring. But what I’d like to hear from
you is that I know that each of you have also
really struggled with as outspoken women,
you’re lightning rods for really hateful attention
and how do you cope with that and how can you help those of
us who see that happen and go, oh my God, you really
should keep your head down?>>Actually that’s a really
good question and it comes back to that moment, isn’t it, that moment when you’re actually
talking, when you’re trying to clarify your point of
view and you get spoken over or you get called a name
and put back in your box.>>Actually, it’s also the
really serious trolling and hideous revolting
things that get said about people that
are so hurtful. I mean, it affected
Julia Gillard.>>Right.>>Lindy, do you want
to take this one?>>Sure. I mean, we were just
talking backstage right before we came out that, you know,
coincidentally all three of us are in the middle
of a, well me not so much, although I did get
some cool attention from the Australian media,
in the middle of, you know, one of these shit storms where
the Internet descends upon you and can you imagine, you
know, semi-random panel of male writers all being like,
oh yeah, there’s a petition to get me fired today, again. It just doesn’t happen. It’s completely gendered. And this idea that oh,
it’s just the Internet. This is just the nature of the
Internet and it’s something that you have to put
up with to do your job. We’re just trying
to do our jobs. We’re just trying
to do our jobs, just like Hillary was
trying to do her job. And it’s you know I
actually find that, you know, that level of incredulity
that I feel very helpful, I’m very angry that we’re
put into that situation and that we’re forced to
deal with emotional abuse, really violent emotional abuse and potentially real-world
violence. I mean, I’m afraid,
I’m afraid a lot. I, you know, people know I
live in a pretty small city. People know where I live
and what I look like. My personal information
has been posted online. I’m very slightly
paranoid when I go out. People have stolen pictures
of my children and posted them on Internet forums
and, you know, that’s something
that I have to do. I mean, I started
as a film critic. You know, it’s not even
like every day I go out and write a column that’s like
all men must die, you know. You know, I [laughter] –>>And the weird thing is men
get to write that about us and nobody thinks
it’s weird, right.>>Men get to say that at the
podium in a presidential debate. Yeah, so but in terms of coping, I find that anger
really valuable. It’s very motivating. And you know, you
just have to keep — What are you going to do? Am I going to quit my job,
am I going to let me drive me out of my job because that’s
what they’re trying to do.>>I think it’s about Van’s
word is “solidarity,” right. The thing that I find most
helpful is finding other women that are in similar situations, that can like feel
the rage similarly or sometimes I just need to put
distance away from it and I need to find like a space
where I can be like those mother
fuckers, right. And it’s like and you can say
that because it’s true, firstly, but also because you need
space and I think the thing that I have found most useful
is to admit that I’m not fine about it, right, and that it is
incredibly hard and that yes, you can have all these people
behind you but when you’re in that moment, on television,
in the front of the paper, whatever it is, being, you
know, having another petition in your name, trying
to get you fired, that it is incredibly isolating but we can’t let
them win, right. The moment you let them like
— The moment we shut up, the moment we stop doing what
we’re doing, we’ve let them win and that anger around
not letting them win, that’s what keeps me going. [ Applause ]>>The line I keep saying
to myself, particularly in the Trump era, is
die on the right side. Like, die on the right side. Do everything that you can
do and if they hate you, get up, keep fighting. And if they want to knock you
down, get up, keep fighting and if they speak over you and
insult you and dehumanise you and attack you in the street,
which has happened to me, and send like packages of
abusive material to your house and drive you from your home,
which has happened to me, and stalk you and swear at
you, keep fighting, keep going, and recognise that
you have the strength of not only all the women
you know but all the women who came before you and the
women who will come after you because women died
for the right to vote. Women died for their right to be
enfranchised equally in society. Sacrifices were made. Relationships were sacrificed. Standard of living
was sacrificed. All of these things have
brought each and every one of us to a position where we are
actually allowed to come into this room unchaperoned
and have our own thoughts and have our own feelings
and go wherever we want to go and that is the tradition
you are part of and that is the tradition that
you must find strength in. [ Applause ]>>We have time for
one very quick one. It’s got to be really quick. Three, very quick.>>I’m Monica. I’m from the United States. My question has to do
with Trump supporters. So the reality is that a
lot of white women voted for Donald Trump
and my question is, is that because they chose their
whiteness and their comfort in that over their
identity as women? And if so or if not, do we particularly white women
have an obligation to try to bring them out of the dark
side or do we forget them or, yeah, how do you
level with that?>>Yeah, definitely white
women have a responsibility to talk to other white women. And absolutely those white
women chose their whiteness over their gender and also their
care for their fellow humans. I mean, it’s just barbaric. And you know, when I said
earlier that there are a lot of people who find great safety in these old traditionalist
systems, that includes white women. You know, there are a lot
of women who have sort of done this calculation or
maybe not even consciously and think, okay, well, you
know, it’s safer for me to hitch my waggon to this
man than to actually stand on my feet and advocate
for other people, advocate for myself even and of course that’s
an illusory safety. It’s not real. And, you know, this
kind of goes back to that last question talking
about dying on the right side, there isn’t any life that you
can live and not be harassed and not be endangered and
assaulted and not, you know, not be the victim of
violence and oppression. So I can’t imagine choosing
that side, choosing to just sort of go along with it and
make the most of it and hope that I’m safe in this by
choosing the structure in which I don’t have autonomy
and I don’t have any power. I can’t imagine choosing that
side, but 53% of white women who voted in America did, which is a great
shame upon white women and it’s tough though
figuring out that line between do I engage with these
people who seem, you know, I have, I know people who
voted for Trump, you know, not no one close to me but
people in my family [laughter]. I just mean like not immediate
family but further out family. And I don’t know — We’re actually having a
family reunion this summer and I just got the invitation
and it has a big thing on it that says, “no political
talk allowed.” I’m like, well good luck
with that [laughter]. We’ll see. But I don’t know, I mean, I
think you can sort of smell when someone is permeable, you
know, when there’s a window. I don’t mean literally, you
know, I mean like you can –>>Whether they smell nasty,
that’s what you’re trying to –>>You can sort of –>>Trump smelt for women.>>You can sort of — I feel
like my instincts are good and if someone seems like
they might be at least open to having a conversation,
I can tell and I take those opportunities. Some people do not
seem permeable. They seem closed. And in those cases, I think one
of the most important things that we can do is express that
kind of solidarity publically and hold that line and stay on
that message and don’t waver and let people see you not
wavering and not being swayed by this really, really
aggressive messaging that we’re getting from outside. But I don’t know, what
does anyone else think?>>Yeah, I think you know so
many of those communities, so many of those communities
for the Trump vote, like in all of those Rust Belt
states, you know, Michigan, and Ohio, like where
was the solidarity when the factory was closing, when people’s homes
were being devalued because the factory had closed
and everybody lost their job, and this population of American
voters who had lost their access to any kind of, you know,
class aspiration or change or the American dream,
that’s where hate festers in desperation and you
know it’s important, people talk about
intersectionality of law, intersectionality is
not just a conversation for university students. It’s actually a way
to live your life and fight injustice
wherever it is, whatever kind of injustice it is, whether
it’s social injustice or economic injustice
or judicial injustice, wherever it happens, you
put yourself on the line because it gives your
own life meaning. And it’s your example,
it’s not your talk, it’s not your conversation,
it’s not your fancy words, but it’s your example
of personal commitment that is the most powerful
political argument you can ever make.>>With that, Yassmin,
quick rap.>>Fighting words. I think it is about
deciding what are values are and then doing everything
we possibly can to live in line with those values. Right? And that can
be difficult. Right? It’s not an easy thing to
do, to decide to live the values that we, not that we
think we should have, but that we actually have,
right, and when I mean in answer to that question as a Muslim
brown woman, the conversations that I have most of the time are
justifying my right to exist, right, and my right
to participate in the world as an equal. So the best thing
is for other people to also be having those
conversations and not me to constantly be having to
justify my right to exist. Right? It is about solidarity. Right? It is about other people
being like, you know what, yes, that injustice does
not affect me directly but I value justice for all. And in this country,
it also means justice for the first nations,
people in Australia because that is a conversation
that we don’t have enough. [ Applause ] It means make — And
it can be difficult. It can be exhausting. It can make people throw
all sorts of names our way. But if we choose to live
for justice, if we choose to live our lives in lines with
the values that we espouse, that we say that we espouse
but we really do that, that is exactly what
gives our life meaning. And that means that we will
have an impact in the world, not matter even if it is
changing one person’s mind, even if it is giving one
person a feeling of worth, then we really have had
an impact in the world and then it is worth it.>>That’s a great way to end. [ Applause ] With that, unfortunately, we’ve
got all these lines I’d love to get to but, unfortunately,
we’re going to have to end the discussion
right there. Please, a round of applause for
these amazing women [applause and cheering]: Yassmin
Abdel-Magied, Lindy West, Van Badham [applause].

10 Comments

  • Reply RequiemFor America March 22, 2017 at 4:20 am

    Stop obsessing about your gender – just be good at what you want to be, and don't think any negativity coming your way is due to that thing between your legs. Perhaps screaming that it's all about what's between your legs all the time is what people are sick and tired of – because nobody like victim mentality and whiners – regardless of gender.

  • Reply RequiemFor America March 22, 2017 at 4:22 am

    FYI hillary lost because she is the most corrupt candidate to ever run for the WH who screamed that she should be elected because of what's between her legs – proving herself to be a total sexist who was supported by other sexists that didn't care about her actual record and her 1billion dollar slush fund and the level of her unprecedented corruption.

  • Reply George Zee March 22, 2017 at 4:38 am

    These things are not WOMEN. I know many proud, confident, successful women none virtue signal their chromosomal make up.

    Rather these things are hypothetical buffoons leaching from western values on one hand, while attacking them on the other through identity politics….

    grown little NAUGHTY girls is what you are.

  • Reply D March 22, 2017 at 7:42 am

    These women are obviously being oppressed by the patriarchy.

  • Reply Cognitive Dissonance March 22, 2017 at 9:59 am

    Never have speakers used so many words to say so little.

  • Reply rictus grin March 22, 2017 at 2:33 pm

    Pathetic fucking bleating . . . . le sigh . . . fatuous, petulant, egotistical, selfish and annoying . . . fuck off.

  • Reply D S April 20, 2017 at 6:24 pm

    Feminists just hate men and want special treatment.

  • Reply Marinko Tomic April 25, 2017 at 10:26 am

    What a bunch of nasty women.

  • Reply Siân June 27, 2017 at 2:43 pm

    This is so offensive. I thought I'd give it a go, to try to understand their views, but, my god, these women a hypocrites.

  • Reply John Alister August 28, 2017 at 7:51 am

    Man-Hating hysterical horde.

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