Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Review: Destroying the Joint, edited by Jane Caro

The catalyst for the collection of essays that is Destroying the Joint: Why Women Have to Change the World was a comment made in 2012 by a male radio shock jock. I'm not going to mention his name - even though some of you may already know it - but I will tell you about the comment since it did set the context for this book. 

The comment was made in relation to the then Prime Minister Julia Gillard's intentions to donate money to women in the Pacific for the development of their leadership skills. This shock jock claimed that women were doing enough damage in the world already - specifically naming ex-Victorian Police Commissioner Christine Nixon and lord mayor of Sydney Clover Moore as examples - so surely we needn't be giving more leadership opportunities to women. In fact, women were doing so much damage in the world that they were 'destroying the joint', thus laying fame to this phrase. 

A cheeky tweet by Jane Caro in response to this shock jock's comment - 'Got time on my hands tonight so thought I'd come up with new ways to destroy the joint, being a woman and all. Ideas welcome.' - led to an unprecedented national response from women who were very much angry/disgusted/exasperated that such comments were (and still are) being made about them publicly in 2012. The women involved decided to unite, and so the Destroy the Joint campaign was born.

Thus the essays in Destroying the Joint are in response to this very notion of women 'destroying the joint'. They provide a variety of angles on this idea, such as whether or not women are actually in 'the joint'; whose joint it is that we are/are not destroying; who has a right to say whether or not we are destroying the joint; and, if we accept that we are destroying the joint - as this doesn't have to be a negative thing - whether or not we should take more pride of destroying it.

Written from political, social, environmental, creative, educational and disability perspectives, Destroying the Joint provides a variety of lenses through which this issue can be viewed through, as well as how it relates to wider feminist issues. The way the essays are written make it very accessible for those curious to learn more about feminism and it's vast scope. For me, they provided a solid introduction into avenues of feminism I'd like to pursue further.

I guess my next question with a book like this is how to keep the conversation going? And how do we start including people that might not normally pick up a book like this so that they can enter and be part of this conversation? Because I believe that's so important if we do want more action to take place to help feminist messages spread and start having more of an impact on everyday life for women and men. Now, I don't quite know the answer to this question I have posed, but I do know that I want to keep engaging in these issues and conversations so that change can become more of a reality.

I'll finish off by including some cracking quotes from the contributors to Destroying the Joint so that you can get a taste of this fantastic collection of essays. 

Michelle Law:
'Being a feminist is not about despising men, or overtaking them...Feminism is about despising an idea. And the idea is that women are unequal to men. It is that they deserve or should expect the kind of sexism, misogyny and mistreatment that they receive. It is that any women who rejects this treatment will be met with aggressive, irrational and sometimes unintelligible scorn. When we are destroying the joint, we are calling out sexism and misogyny.'

Catherine Deveney:
'The truth is, there is not one feminism, but many feminisms. And just because you are pro woman does not mean you are anti men. I think one of the main reasons I am a feminist is because I love boys and men so much and I have hated the way society has expected them to live, love and be. Feminism is not anti men. It's anti arseholes, misogynists, pricks, creeps, thugs and bigots.'

Senator Penny Wong
'We live in the same Australia, we share many values, but our experiences and therefore our perceptions of reality can be so different. If we are to understand across these differences, we have to be capable of more than tolerance. We have to try to imagine another's experience and to do so with imagination, compassion and respect.'

Overall, Destroying the Joint is very much an informative, refreshing and entertaining insight into current Australian feminism and one which I very much recommend.

Want more?

Keep engaged in the conversation by following the Destroy the Joint community on Facebook or Twitter.

I've also recently discovered Cherchez la Femme, a fantastically entertaining and engaging feminist podcast that I also highly recommend you check out.

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