Censorship no excuse for misogyny

Never let it be said I don’t know my place. By my sheer misfortune of being born with a vagina, I know I should just shut the hell up and not post this hysterical, bitchy rant about Jim Jefferies and the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. I should just take Jefferies misogynist jokes on the chin – like a nice submissive Eve.

But fuck you, Jim Jefferies and MICF. I’m not Eve, and you just started a fight you won’t win.

For those of you who don’t know who the hell Jim Jefferies is (and why would you, he’s a great big nobody really) – he’s supposed to be a comedian. But he’s not that funny. Poor career choice, Jim. Perhaps you should have stuck with accountancy? Or rubbish collection?

From the get go I’ll be honest, I haven’t seen Jim Jeffries recent show and after reading Sandi Scaunich’s review (The Age, 2 April 2015) I don’t intend to. However that didn’t stop me from writing a letter of complaint to the Melbourne International Comedy Festival about his show. Because stupidly I expected an International Festival with huge cred would probably care about their ethical standpoint on the shows they host. But not so. Let’s say the response I received back from Executive Director, Damien Hodgkinson (feel free to write him an email, he loves corresponding with bitching whiners like me), was less than inspiring. In fact, I detected a whiff of defiant defense in it. But why don’t you decide for yourself. Here it is…

Dear Kate
 
Melbourne International Comedy Festival in no way endorses violence against women. We have well established proactive programs in place to support women in comedy and have worked closely with Oxfam over a number of years to improve the quality of life of women in developing countries.
 
The Festival does not censor artists' work and the annual event represents the individual views, observations and humour of the artists involved. Across the hundreds of shows presented under the Melbourne International Comedy Festival umbrella each year there will be many views expressed and sometimes offence caused.
 
Melbourne audiences have the intelligence to make calls about the work of various comedians and either support them or hold them to account for their views.
 
Regards
Damien 

 

Damien Hodgkinson

Executive Director

 

Melbourne International Comedy Festival

25 March – 19 April 2015

_____________________

So, is it just me, or do his words stink of the worst kind of hypocrisy? Mr Hodgkinson comes out strongly by stating that the good people of Melbourne International Comedy Festival ‘don’t endorse violence against women’ (and oh my gosh will you look at those halos they are wearing?). Then he finishes with this powerful and patronising statement:

‘Melbourne audiences have the intelligence to make calls about the work of various comedians and either support them or hold them to account for their views.’

How convenient. On one hand he takes a strong stand (and let’s call it a politically correct one) against violence, backing it up with all the wonderful things he’s been doing for women, including working with Oxfam no less, then back-slaps it as he devolves all responsibility for taking action on that stand to the ‘intelligent Melbourne audience’. Wow! Those guys at MICF are all care, no responsibility.

But really, Mr Hodgkinson is right, isn’t he? The smart Melbourne audience who don’t want to listen to Jefferies dumb rant, won’t. They’ll vote with their feet, won’t they?

I can see how MICF has taken one for the team here. How very clever. By giving Jefferies and his hateful diatribe airtime, MICF will prove how incredibly out of step he is with the rest of us. Jefferies will watch as his audiences dwindle away, and on his last night he’ll be delivering his hate-speak-masked-as-comedy to an all but empty room. And apparently MICF are willing to cop that epic investment loss, just so Jefferies will understand how ‘intelligent’ the Melbourne audience is.

Ahem.

Pull the other one, it plays Jingle Bells.

So, if all those who ‘don’t endorse violence against women’ - which we can assume is the majority of the population, right? – aren’t dropping by to enjoy Jefferies screwed up idea of humour, then who is? Well, it only leaves the people who do endorse violence against women, doesn’t it? Because logically the only people left are the ‘unintelligent’ ones who will actually find his material funny.

And why would they find it funny?

Because in their world women are shit. They think we deserve to be violated and criticized and abused. Because our pain is amusing. Because humiliating women and their bodies is just knee slapping fucking hilarious – right?

It seems to me that Mr Hodgkinson and the halo wearing crew at Melbourne International Comedy Festival missed this finer point of logic.

But did you see what came next? Did you see how Mr Hodgkinson self righteously whipped out that good old chestnut censorship, faster than a rapist can whip out his dick?

‘I’ll take your moral outrage and I’ll trump it with a higher order piece of ethical bullshit we can conveniently hide behind. Censorship – take that.’

Good on you, Damian Hodgkinson.

It really makes you shake your head doesn’t it? Censorship – like that’s an acceptable excuse. Like not censoring people makes it okay for dickheads like Jefferies to spread hatred and advocate violence against women? By that logic next year we will all be laughing our socks off at shows making fun of the Holocaust, of victims of child abuse and inevitably, greyhound racing.

Mr Hodgkinson, the ‘intelligent’ Melbourne audience you so reverently refer to can see that the censorship argument is just a red herring, diverting attention away from what is really at issue here. Censorship isn’t the baddie. The fundamental principle with censorship is DO NO HARM. And it’s pretty clear Jim Jefferies is doing harm.

This isn’t about censorship. Or freedom of speech, or even audience choice. This is about entitlement.

By the mere fact Jefferies was born a white Australian male, he thinks he’s entitled to make pathetic jokes about rape. And Damien Hodgkinson thinks he’s entitled to allow him to do that. He also feels entitled to abdicate responsibility for that decision.

Why do they feel entitled? It’s simple. Because they both have penises, not vagina’s. Entitlement is the birthright of their gender. They can sit back comfortably and read this with a smug smirk on their faces because I’m just one of many hysterical, hairy-legged, fat, ugly, crazy, worthless females (I could use Jefferies favoured expletive to describe us, but that might be overkill) who are irritating them with the sound of our whining. If only we’d just shut up and get a sense of humour. Why can’t we see it’s all a bit of harmless fun?

With rates of violence against women increasing daily, this isn’t ‘harmless’ and it’s nowhere near ‘fun’. When Jefferies has been pushed up against a wall by a partner threatening to kill him if he doesn’t agree to have sex, then he will be entitled. When he knows the fear of walking home in the dark and being followed by a menacing stranger, then he will be entitled. When he has had his power and confidence and rights stripped from him, when he’s been physically and emotionally violated, then he will be entitled. When he’s seen his own daughter raped and murdered by some nutcase, then he will be entitled.

But until then, he’s just another guy, perpetrating violence against women, aided and abetted by willing accomplices like Mr Hodgkinson.

But there is some comfort in this story. At the end of the day, the joke’s on Jim. Bbecause after this show has done the rounds, he will never get laid again. 

Comments

Good on you for speaking up. I agree with everything you've said. Shame on Mr Hodgkinson for letting that idiot perform. Let's hope the women in his life are letting him know they're not happy either.

KateBelle.X's picture

Actually I was hoping a few men might stand up and be counted on this one, because that's what it will take. Thanks for your support.

Never keep quiet when it comes to things like this. Keeping quiet allows the idiots and misinformed to prosper.

KateBelle.X's picture

Exactly Roz. Bad things happen when good people do nothing. Mr. Hodgkinson would do well to remember that.

I totally agree with you Kate. My confidence and admiration for the comedy festival has taken a real battering over this as I also wonder what the other comedians think about his content & why they haven't protested as well?? Makes one wonder about them as well & some of them have been favourites of mine for years but now??? Surely they could have checked him out after stuff starting appearing about his show? The response I got when I posted my complaint was 'well if you don't his humour & show, then don't go!' and 'obviously you are not part of the audience he is targetting???!!!' which peomptem my response "just who is the audience he is targetting?" No response to this and then A WOMAN responded by saying 'it is the comedy festival, get over it, it's funny'???? Didn't bother to respond to that - just blocked her. Sorry but MCF has lost me as have the comedians unless they come out call this moron on his show.

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