By Molly Eliza
Personally, I was a huge fan of Julia Gillard, and I thought the media and the general public were unfair and at times sexist towards her. Prominent shock-jocks such as Alan Jones would dedicate all their airspace to attacking her and misogyny was rife. One afternoon, as things were really bubbling to the surface, Jones infamously claimed that female leaders are “destroying the joint”. Jane Caro then started the twitter hashtag #destroythejoint which went viral within a matter of hours. From this was born a large online collective action movement, and eventually a collection of essays curated by Jane Caro was published.
Destroy the Joint is well worth reading, especially as a fledgling feminist. Although most of it is very Australia-specific there are some great essays that represent a variety of viewpoints. In the age of the web, tumblr and blogging it is good to have a breath of fresh, local air. Lily Edelstein’s discussion of her experiences as a teenage girl is especially poignant; Rookie magazine gets a name-check along with prolific teen girl blogger Sarah Grrrlfever, whose manifesto has thousands of notes on Tumblr.
Yvette Vingnando tweets her essay. In 140 characters or less she tells us what exactly the problem is and gives suggestions on how to fix it. The format is interesting, and allows for a clear message to be heard. It also speaks to young people in their own voice without coming across as preachy or lame. In a similar vein, Danielle Miller talks about the intricacies of teenage girls, stating, “girlworld is multitude of identities, personalities, talents, skills and ideas”. She discusses the way in which people judge her for working with teenage girls, and the overall way our culture broadly scorns them. Nina Funnell pokes fun at menstruation, and all the oddities that come with being a ‘Leaky Lady’.
Many other prominent women share their Feminist coming of age stories, Jenna Price discusses the role the media and journalists have to play. She, as a successful female journalist, looks at the gender bias in the mainstream media, and points out the hard truths such as ‘Never read the comments’. Price gives credit to Julia Gillard for saying “if you interact on the internet as a woman, you are putting yourself out there to be scorned, humiliated, belittled, and harassed”.
This too rings true for many of us young feminists who cut our teeth on Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter. In narrative form Krissy Keen discusses her experiences as a PhD candidate looking at sex and pornography in literature. It provides a fascinating insight into the world of academic feminism. She says, “When boys write about sex it is literature. When girls write about sex it is erotica.” This tells of the frustrating experiences women in academia face, a story we know all too well at UQ, having faced the discontinuation of Gender Studies as a major.
Corinne Grant and Clementine Ford both discuss feminism and comedy. Catherine Deveny gives us 12 lessons to “Destroying the Joint” which include “Listen to the Gospel according to Gloria [Steinem]” and reminds us that “Clothes don’t turn girls into sluts. We do”. Stella Young lends her expertise on ability issues. Catherine Fox looks at women in leadership positions in the workplace and the psychology of Affirmative Action. She quotes research that similarity between job applicant and their interviewer often plays a key part in whether the applicant is successful or not.
Overall, Destroy the Joint provides many voices in our public debate of what feminism is, should be and is turning into. There are essays that I haven’t looked at closely but still
provide a good perspective, essays from Penny Wong, Emily Macguire, and Christine Milne as well as others. This book is literally jam-packed with voices that need to be heard, and stories that need to be told. I would definitely recommend it, especially for young women in the University sphere who one day will be the ones #destroyingthejoint.
Caro, Jane. (ed). (2013). Destroying the Joint: Why Women Have to Change The World. University of Queensland Press: St Lucia.