Take heart: the tide is turning on sexism and misogyny in Australia

Literally no one can stand Redfoo right now.

Literally no one can stand Redfoo right now. Photo: Reuters

As a professional card carrying misandrist, I understand as much as the next boner killer just how frustrating and slow the feminist slog can seem. The daily grind of oppression - both in personal and political spheres - can be exhausting. There are moments when I look up from my computer screen, fresh from reading about women being tortured by their intimate partners or political prisoners being raped by military officials and then further abused by supposedly democratic governments or boring men thinking their boring arguments are new and game-changing, and think to myself, 'Self - I wonder how much money it would take to buy an island in the middle of nowhere and surround it with sharks and giant signs declaring NO BOYS ALLOWED.'

But there's no need to make such a move just yet. For a start, the island's cybernetic infrastructure hasn't even been built yet. Until there's easy access to cat videos and memes making fun of 'meninists', I don't know that we should be too hasty with any long term moving plans.

The good news is that change IS actually happening. It may feel small and it may seem insignificantly concerned with pop culture and social attitudes rather than real systemic overhaul, but it's happening. And I think that's something that we should all take heart from. The more people who bristle at or actively oppose misogyny - particularly the kind of casual misogyny that gets thrown around so indiscriminately - the better we all are.

The fact is, corporations and entities with power ARE beginning to sit up and take notice of public disapproval, particularly the feminist kind. Consider the following examples.


1. Redfoo's foolish red face

Much was made this week of the backlash to 'Literally, I Can't' a new 'party song' by Play-N-Skillz. Featuring Redfoo in an especially ill-considered role as guest rapper, the song (if one can be so generous as to call this steaming pile of aural horse poo anything remotely resembling 'music') makes light of violence against women and sexual assault. As Mary Elizabeth Williams wrote in Salon, the crew behind the song picked "a particularly acute moment to go ultra tone deaf".

In Australia, the response was damning. A petition calling for Redfoo's immediate termination from Channel 7's 'The X-Factor' began circulating on Change.org, and at the time of writing it had collected over 15,000 signatures. Meanwhile, the Herald Sun's Confidential team reported that Channel 7 were unlikely to renew Redfoo's contract. Redfoo has taken to Twitter to defend himself in the way that only celebrities know how - by arguing that it's been taken out of context to satisfy a pre-existing agenda. Hard to see how screaming at girls to 'SHUT THE F--- UP' because they're not interested in 'partying' with you can be taken out of context, but that's misogyny for you. It ain't smart.

Anyway, the point is that the public's reaction was swift. And that's different to most pop songs that have come before. Even Robin Thicke's 'Blurred Lines' was able to reach high radio rotation before people started going, haaaaaaaaaaaang on - I think this song is a bit rapey!

No such luck for pop artists these days. As the conversation about violence against women becomes even more firmly entrenched in the mainstream, cultural offerings like this will be relegated to exactly where they belong - the basement bin.

2. So long, Julien Blanc

I'm aware that there are greater assaults made on women worldwide than those perpetrated by one-man grease factory, Julien Blanc. But as with Redfoo et sexist al, I can't imagine such a public response galvanising political action even a year ago, let alone five or ten. Massive public disapproval and protests didn't just succeed in condemning Blanc and his particular brand of 'hey, why don't you try choking women as a way of getting their sexual attention' romantic advice - they also managed to get him kicked out of the country.

Now, feminist-led groups all around the world are protesting the activity of his company, Real Social Dynamics. He's been written about scathingly in the Washington Post, the US Guardian and Time Magazine. It's safe to say that his 'brand' has suffered a big hit, and it's all thanks to the fact that more and more women - and their male supporters - are refusing to stay silent in the face of abominable sexism and misogyny. We're not willing to 'laugh it off' anymore, and in the process we're discovering (once again) just how damn powerful women can be.

3. Stephen Milne's BFF Nick Riewoldt

When rape charges against Stephen Milne were dropped, I was as disappointed as the next rationally thinking person who cares about women. Sure, he's pled guilty to 'indecent assault', but the legal system remains impossibly hostile to women who've been the victims of sexual assault.

But I took some small comfort in the reaction to his 'mate' and former St Kilda teammate Nick Riewoldt speaking in support of him in court. Once upon a time, people would have nodded along sympathetically as Riewoldt talked about how his 'good mate' Milne's life had been ruined by the charges. Now, even the team's management are distancing themselves from his comments.

One in five women in this country will be sexually assaulted after the age of 15. And the AFL's former stance on the abhorrent treatment of women by some of its players is no longer able to wash. So...suck it Milne. She may have just been a 'footy slut' in your eyes, but in the eyes of the public she's a goddamn survivor.

Take heart, people. We have power and we are exercising it. It's thanks to the loud voices of everyone that these issues are receiving more public discussion and prominence.

And to the people who like to whine about angry feminists and their lack of a sense of humour. Mates, we're all laughing long and hard at you.