I love it when liberals eat their own. In this case, it’s Jim Jefferies they’re eating:
I felt lucky to buy the last two remaining seats to the first show of comedian Jim Jefferies’ national tour. After watching his stand-up routine on gun control, I was intrigued by this Aussie bloke who was waging a satirical war on two elements of American culture that drive its psyche and discourse: guns and freedom.
When my husband told me he would be working on the day of the show, I was thrown. Not to be deterred, I attended the event alone. I walked through the crowd, which comprised mostly men, took my seat, and eagerly awaited a good belly laugh. But instead of laughter, I experienced something close to shock. As I inhaled the aftershave-scented air, my jaw dropped. Rape jokes?
I had no idea that Jefferies, whose show is listed as one of the top 10 acts to see in this year’s Melbourne International Comedy Festival, was such a misogynist.
In his opening sequence he claimed that when a man put his fingers inside the vagina of an unconscious woman it was not really rape. He said women should be flattered to have their drinks spiked and be sexually violated. He criticised the women who challenge his misogyny, calling them “uptight (insert expletive word for female genitalia here) who can’t take a joke”.
Jefferies then joked about fat women, lying women, ugly women, beautiful but boring women, dumb women, and made plenty of references to the different types of women he had had sex with. He also admitted that he’d like to have sex with a 16-year-old.
During his misogynistic sermon, he asked the audience if anyone knew the opposite of misandry, and took delight that only one person responded. This lone voice supported his argument that misandry is generally unknown because men have no qualms with being sexually objectified by women. According to Jefferies, men are totally open to the idea of being drugged and sexually violated, and if only women could mirror this relaxed attitude and regard the prospect of being raped as a form of flattery.
Violence against women exists on a spectrum: at one end there are misogynist attitudes, which Jefferies champions. His jokes against women were delivered with passion and conviction, and sections of the crowd consumed them like hungry wolves. These jokes made me feel uncomfortable and angry because they are being told against the backdrop of a society that systematically denigrates women.
Misogynistic attitudes are the building blocks for more extreme forms of violence against women that are endemic in Australia, including: forced sex, emotional, psychological and financial abuse, revenge porn, physical violence, stalking, rape, and murder.
Tragically, one woman a week is murdered by a partner or former partner. Just recently, a 17-year-old girl, Masa Vukotic, was callously murdered by a stranger in a suburb of Melbourne while enjoying an evening walk.
As women, we are asked to bear the responsibility of preventing our own assaults, rapes and murders, and navigate our safety through a set of conscious or unconscious protective behaviour.
Jefferies may not be familiar with the habitual acts that women undertake on a daily basis to protect themselves because he was born into the lucky portion of society that generally don’t have to check the back seat of the car before driving, for instance. But that’s the thing about people who enjoy certain privileges, they often don’t realise they have them.
Women have made many advances in certain respects, but we’re still not regarded as true equals in society. Australia isn’t even ranked within the top 20 countries for gender equality.
At one point in the show, as Jefferies was describing his 75-year-old mother’s fat and disgusting body, I calmly picked up my bag and left the theatre.
Had I been attacked on the way to the car, sectors of the public would have, I’m sure, highlighted my choice to walk through the dark chill of a St Kilda car park alone. Scrutinising the choices of the victim, rather than those of the perpetrator, is rife in Australia and it’s called victim-blaming.
Judging my decision through this narrow prism would have overlooked important premeditating factors. That is, I carefully considered the perceived risks of walking alone against the perceived risks of walking within a male-dominated crowd intoxicated with alcohol and a fresh sense of misogyny.
But that’s the thing about being a woman, there’s an ever-present possibility of being attacked within a public space. Women are constantly having to roll the dice and it’s exhausting – something Jefferies, and many other men, simply don’t understand.
Sandi Scaunich is a sexual health research and project officer at Women’s Health in the South East.
Somebody needs to invite Sandi Scaunich to the gun range, I’d like her to experience that guns and the people who love them are just fine. It’s also interesting to know that gun-hating countries like Australia are not that great when it comes to women’s equality.
It’s important to remember that joking about rape doesn’t make one a rapist. On the other hand, maybe Jim Jefferies hates guns because it’s harder to rape a woman that can shoot your c*ck off.