Federal Politics

Destroying the joint on the way to the post-patriarchy

Got my knickers in a complete - complete - knot about Alan Jones and Grahame Morris.

I've spent the last couple of weeks bemoaning the way men talk about women.

Morris, a senior (and I'm one, too), insulted ABC journalist Leigh Sales because of her tough interviewing style by calling her a cow. Last Friday, senior radio presenter Jones (and I'm a senior, too) said women - and he mentioned Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore and former chief commissioner of Victoria Police Christine Nixon - were destroying the joint. The Anglican Archbishop of Sydney, Peter Jensen, says it is vital to change the marriage vows so women can submit to their husbands.

At Sunday dinner, I'm talking to my daughters about my obsession and they roll their collective womanly eyes (honestly). They say, in unison, ''Why would you focus on them, mother? This is no country for old men. They will be gone soon. And misogyny is everywhere. That's what you need to focus on, mum. Don't worry about them. They will be dead soon.''

What have I done?

Let me just say I read these women Sleeping Beauty. I bought them pink. I even paid for Barbies. I told them to shut up and pay attention in class and not to make trouble. And then watched while they first cut the Barbie hair and then cut off the Barbie head. That should have been the tipoff.

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But are these women of mine right? Should I ignore what these men say? Here's my problem. Morris clearly has a big reach. This is how he is described on the website of Barton Deakin, which specialises in government relations. ''[He's] one of Australia's most respected political commentators and government relations professionals and is the head of Barton Deakin's Canberra office. He has more than 20 years' association with the Liberal and National parties around the country and served as Deputy Federal Director of the Liberal Party and State Director of the SA Liberal Party.''

And Jones? Even bigger. On the 2GB website: ''Australia's most popular talkback presenter, Alan Jones is a phenomenon. He's described by many as the nation's greatest orator and motivational speaker. Alan has the mind and capacity to make complex issues understandable to the largest breakfast audience in Australia.''

Peter Jensen? Well, Catholics may have the numbers but the runner-up in the Australian religious beliefs list is Anglicans. People may tell you they are lapsed but as far as I can tell, Once were Anglicans, always Anglicans.

I just wouldn't feel honest to myself as a woman, or to my daughters, friends and colleagues who are women, if I didn't speak up. So I am. And I'm doing it with the help of women and men from all over Australia. Last Friday, regular Canberra Times reader Anne Lambert heard Jones's rant and shared it via social media. Within an hour, a national movement was born, spearheaded by social commentator Jane Caro. It's called Destroy the Joint.

And it's very funny. There were thousands of tweets and Facebook posts as women detailed the many ways they were derailing the Australian success story. They were picking their kids up from soccer; making Father's Day lunches; operating on broken hands; delivering babies; working on legislation for improved school funding. Or to legalise same-sex adoption, same-sex marriage. All the while, destroying the joint. Caro says humour works. She also says that the left continues to lose the battle because it imagines that arguments can be won on the basis of social justice, good evidence and common sense.

''Humour takes the power away from the powerful,'' she says.

Power is hard to give up - and even harder to share. You can see that from what happens in our own Federal parliament as our politicians struggle to make the compromises to make a minority government work. As Caro puts it, it's a game of thrones and someone will always be trying to knock you off (Go Team Stark).

In this case, it's women just wanting to share some of the power in a society which is still deeply embedded in old ways. Men in charge, women in waiting.

Some of us thought this was over. Jane Gilmore, one of my favourite opinionators, declared at the weekend that while she wrote a column in 2008 saying that feminism had done what it had set out to do, she now knew she was wrong. ''In my world at the time, that was true … that was all I saw in my professional world and my personal world … so I am taking up the angry feminist mantle and I'm proud to do so.''

And here's what Caro says. She says that social media has given us the opportunity to band together in a way we've never had before. The collective expression is stronger than the individual complaint and it's all out there.

So, my daughters are right in a way - document the facts, tell people what you know about equal pay and equality of access, let people know. Make sure when you bring up sons that they learn to value women as equals.

And let's hope that in another few years, Gilmore can write another column and tell us she was right the first time.

In the meantime, we can all be post-feminist. So long as we get to the post-patriarchy. So, join Destroy the Joint on Facebook.

■ Also, you can follow me to the post-patriarchy on Twitter @jennaprice or email jenna_p@bigpond.net.au

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