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When a panel of women all seem to be in agreement about the necessity of killing men on prime-time TV, you start to wonder what’s happening to our culture. On November 5, Australia’s public service broadcaster ABC hosted a panel of five women, plus its female presenter, on its popular Q & A programme. The programme has hosted many international stars in the past, such as Jordan Peterson, and this time, the star of the show—if that’s the correct term—was Mona Eltahawy, an intersectional feminist who promotes violence in order to “smash the patriarchy,” and dismissed Barack Obama as “part of the system” when he called for civility among activists.
I want patriarchy to fear feminism. White women accept crumbs from patriarchy because they allow their whiteness to trump their gender. But at the end of the day, even those white women have to recognise that nothing protects them from patriarchy. Nothing! For me, as a feminist, the most important thing for me is to destroy the patriarchy. (…) 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 until men stop raping us? … I want women themselves … How many rapists must we kill until men stop raping us?
Eltahawy is an Egyptian-American feminist, whose work has helped put the oppressive, patriarchal Egyptian regime on the map. She’s bravely protested women’s rights in an Islamic country which admittedly does not offer women the same rights or opportunities as societies in the West. In her hatred for oppression, she has forgotten that it’s not “men” or the allusive “patriarchy” that is to blame for all that is bad in the world. In a society which allows an all-female panel to rant about men for half an hour straight, where everything and everyone from capitalism, colonialism, and Trump, to Australia’s prime minister Scott Morrison, received a good bashing, it rather proves the point that it’s become acceptable to be a misandrist and that women aren’t the silent victims.
She’s like a broken record who thinks there’s one, evil cause for everything, which you might expect from a teenage activist, but not from a 52-year-old woman. “I’m talking about the white supremacist, capitalist, imperialist patriarchy,” she added and referred to American feminist bell hooks (yes, it’s spelled like that, hooks didn’t agree with the colonialist, English rules of grammar) for good measure. When asked about what positive masculinity looked like, she shouted: “I have no fucking idea!”
Obama’s words may have hit a nerve, as it touched on Eltahawy’s own, simplistic message. “This idea of purity and you’re never compromised and you’re always politically woke and all that stuff, you should get over that quickly,” he said last Tuesday while speaking at the Obama Foundation Summit in Chicago. “The world is messy. There are ambiguities. People who do really good stuff have flaws.” This nuanced worldview doesn’t suit Eltahawy and the other feminists on the panel’s narrative. Men—or patriarchy, as if that makes it sound better—are the enemy, particularly the white, cisgender, middle-aged kind. Those are of course the worst, for having dared oppress and colonize and plunder all these years, according to the intersectionalists. The fact that it’s not so easy to divide people into “good” and “bad,” as Obama points out, must be annoying for purists like Eltahawy to have to listen to. Her response was total condemnation:
I completely and utterly disagree with Barack Obama. I go online exactly to tell people to fuck off when they attack me. This idea of respectability, this idea of civility, this idea of unity, all of these words….decorum. Who invented those words? Those words were invented by white men, for the benefit of other white men, in systems of institutions that were always designed to be for white men. And they weren’t designed for women like you or me, people of colour, and gender diverse people. They never imagined us in those spaces, and we show up and we just ruin it for them. (…)Barack Obama was part of the system and remains part of the system. I also disagree with his wife when she says “when they go low, we go high.” No, I fucking don’t. If you go low I’m going to come for you. I don’t have the luxury or the privilege to sit there and be civil to people who do not acknowledge my full humanity.
It’s ironic when a feminist fails to acknowledge another woman by name, and instead refers to her as someone’s wife, but I’ll let that pass. Eltahawy again shows that her outlook is so steeped in intersectionality it’s reached levels that are on par with conspiracy theories. To attribute a concept like “civility” to skin colour is also racist and shows her knowledge of different cultures is limited, and she’s inadvertently agreeing with white supremacists who claim other cultures are savage and less developed.
Although no men were invited on the show, Eltahawy was surrounded by a somewhat diverse looking group of women: Jess Hill, author of See What You Made Me Do: Power, Control and Domestic Abuse; Nayuka Gorrie, an essayist and screenwriter who describes herself as Kurnai/Gunai, Gunditjmara, Wiradjuri and Yorta Yorta, for simplicity’s sake; Ashton Applewhite, an American anti-ageism campaigner; and Hana Assafiri, businesswoman and “Social Change Agent”; and the host, Fran Kelly. Kelly lacked the spine to question much, if any, of what was spouted.
The viewpoint diversity was utterly lacking, and naturally, Eltahawy’s glorification of violence wasn’t met with opposition. Another of the panellists justified her call to violence by using the suffragettes as an example, saying they had been “fighting for their lives” and were only stopped by the First World War. The fact that most women would never want to support mass killing of their brothers, fathers and husbands didn’t seem to cross their minds.
Some people were impressed, however. An article on SBS by Saman Shad found the programme “refreshing”: “It’s not often we get to see a prime-time offering of smart, accomplished and angry women on our screens but that’s exactly what we got” Shad said. “Women are angry because things are unfair. Maybe sometimes women have to lose our minds a little to get the message across.”
Or maybe their points are completely lost and people are turned off by swearing, shouting and showing contempt for half the population. Just as not all men are misogynistic, capitalist oppressors, not all women are raging and wallowing in victimhood. Many of us get along just fine with the opposite sex, and appreciate how society has moved towards equality without having to go on killing sprees, but rather by men and women cooperating.
Perhaps ABC finds this sort of programme, which only presents one side of the argument, totally acceptable. Perhaps it thinks that intersectional feminism is something all women subscribe to (they don’t). Perhaps it is happy to spend Australian taxpayers’ money on propaganda. But as a public service broadcaster, this programme didn’t achieve the balance that it should be aiming for in order to be taken seriously.