As of Wednesday afternoon, 24 companies have pulled their advertising from The Alan Jones Breakfast Show on 2GB.
Encouraging major brands to pull their marketing spend from a major media platform like Jones’ radio program is no small feat and there are 55,000 witches around Australia to thank for it.
The page’s name was inspired by the famous text message federal MP Peter Dutton accidentally sent to political editor Samantha Maiden in which he described her as a ‘mad fucking witch’.
Within a few days 20,000 ‘witches’ had signed up. The group, which continually highlights government and societal misogyny: from the lack of women in government positions, to asylum seeker issues, Indigenous issues, cuts to women’s family violence services and cuts to women’s medical services, now has 55,000 followers. A number of volunteers work alongside Hill to manage the page.
Since last week when Alan Jones made the comment on air about shoving a sock down Jacinda Ardern’s throat many of these ‘witches’ have been working hard to get advertisers to pull their support from his program.
Sleeping Giants Australia is another community group that has been doing the same – seeking to make racism, misogyny and bigotry less profitable – and their work this week has been widely acknowledged in the media.
Sleeping Giants Australia have openly credited the work of the ‘Mad Witches’ to help lead the boycott of Alan Jones’ program but the witches haven’t been named consistently in the media.
Hill says one major television program and one major publication explicitly said they couldn’t have a representative on nor credit the page’s work because of the group’s name.
Given the campaign to boycott Alan Jones’ program stemmed from his desire to ‘silence’ a women, Hill says the group effectively being silenced is difficult to accept.
“Women are being silenced for talking about a man calling for a woman to be silenced. Isn’t it ironic, don’t you think?,” Hill says. “Alan Jones still has a job despite the vile comments he’s made over the years but ‘Mad Fucking Witches’ can’t be printed?”
The irony of the page’s name is that Hill herself is not a swearer.
“I don’t swear much at all in my daily life,” she says. “I’m an ordinary 56 year old woman. The ‘Mad Fucking Witches’ name is a persona on the page and it gives women an outlet for being justifiably angry.”
Hill believes the extraordinary response to Alan Jones reflects the anger many women and men (who comprise a quarter of the witches) who care about progressive politics are feeling.
“We’ve been using the #StatusBro hashtag and the reason for that is most of the world is controlled by old white men and they’re not doing a very good job of it. That’s the bottom line. The conversation for the witches is much broader than just Alan Jones. It’s the whole culture of media and politics and business right now. That’s why they’re so angry.”
Hill ventures that she’s not an angry and vindictive person.
“The page reflects back how a lot of women and men feel – it’s not me as an individual,” she says. “I don’t want to be seen as a sweary nasty woman, but maybe I just should? Maybe I should wear that badge with pride.”
There’s plenty to be angry about.
This is the list, according to Mad Fucking Witches, of the brands that have so far agreed to stop advertising on Alan Jones’ program.
RSL Art Unions
Yourtown Home Prizes
Original Mattress Factory