— Claire Phipps (@Claire_Phipps) September 19, 2019
I don’t know why the apology was only recently made public but I do know that as one of the founders of the Mad Fucking Witches (MFW) Facebook page, that has been campaigning for the withdrawal of ad dollars from his show, that lots of Jones’ supporters believe his apology is reason to call a truce.
A recurring theme on the MFW page is that we’re nasty women because Jones issued an apology to Jacinda Ardern, and we should accept that and leave him alone.
We have been inundated with messages saying “he’s apologised”, “he can’t do any more, he’s apologised”, and “why are you profane women so vindictive you won’t accept his apology”.
For those who don’t seem to understand how apologies work allow me to elaborate.
First, I don’t believe MFW are nastily chasing a contrite man. If that were so, we’d fully deserve the censure of those who disagree with our stance. I don’t believe there’s a single witch who’d want to continue to hound a person clearly sorry for how their repeated actions had hurt women.
But what Jones doesn’t appear to understand is that he hasn’t issued an apology that makes sense to me or any of the 65,000 witches following us.
These men seem unaware they’re talking to aware women (and men) who understand gaslighting, control, the science of proper contrition, and the cycle of abuse. And all of us see clearly in Jones’ behaviour the actions of a man who doesn’t seem to get any of this, based on the following.
- A real apology never talks about those who’ve been hurt using phrases such as “if people are offended”. These phrases (which Jones repeated at least five times) shift responsibility for offence onto those who’ve been hurt, which is overt victim-blaming. Macquarie Media Chairman Russell Tate used the same language (calling us “offended groups”) in his press release to advertisers, which was issued last week.
- A real apology clearly states an understanding of harm done. In Jones’ case, this would require him to show an understanding of how men’s verbal violence (particularly when issued to a large audience) is known to contribute in concrete ways to physical and psychological violence against women, and that he’s committed to never doing that again.
- A real apology demonstrates what the perpetrator has done or will do to compensate. In Jones’ case, this might include him speaking publicly about the repeated harm he’s caused; making a large donation to a women’s violence group; and taking immediate, concrete action to permanently change 2GB’s inclusion and diversity culture. He’d do this for his fellow presenters and 2GB staff – even if not for himself or for women – if he took responsibility for his actions.
- A real apology wouldn’t suggest that those who heard Jones’ words really misheard them. Jones says he meant to say “put a sock in it”, yet what everyone heard was “shove a sock down her throat”. This is gaslighting. I don’t accept a broadcaster of Jones’ experience doesn’t say exactly what he means. Especially when he has (on so many other occasions) claimed his intent didn’t match his words, yet few others make such errors once, let alone multiple times. Nor has he ever attempted to address the “backhander” comments, which he didn’t even mention in his apology.
- A person who’s sorry would accept that he doesn’t deserve immediate forgiveness, because of the overwhelming number of previous transgressions against women and others. He’d reference those transgressions, and agree he deserves whatever actions we are taking until there’s clear evidence of permanently changed behaviour.
- A person who’s sorry wouldn’t vilify their victims. Yet not only did Jones continue to publicly denounce those of us objecting, he publicly sulked, then claimed witches were wrong rather than seeking to understand our views. He also permitted Gerry Harvey to openly make veiled threats against witches on TV, without disagreeing with Harvey’s words, and even said “perhaps I should?” when Harvey asked him if he’d threatened us. Does this seem the behaviour of a contrite man?
- In Tate’s letter to advertisers, the onus for damage to his company appeared to belong to witches, rather than where it belongs, which is with Jones. We’re called “active disrupters” rather than rightfully upset consumers, and painted as people who’ve deliberately hurt 2GB and its advertisers and staff rather than those with a duty to protest harmful misogyny. Does this seem the behaviour of a contrite company?
The bottom line is that apologies without change are manipulative, and mean nothing without changed behaviour. In the weeks since Jones attacked Ardern he’s claimed child climate strikers are brainwashed like Hitler Youth, and has allowed other men including Gerry Harvey to criticise women.
Another 2GB presenter, Karl Stefanovic also criticised Greta Thunberg on air for her recent speech at the UN. This isn’t a good start from a company saying they want to do better.
We can’t be conned out of the truth to the chagrin of men who seem stuck in 1950. They’re bewildered as to why what used to work to confuse and control uppity women no longer does. They don’t “get” our collective anger, and most don’t even appear to want to learn what they’re doing wrong.
I certainly do understand that being in Jones’ current position is hard. Very hard. Being caught using violent speech is uncomfortable, and being called to account must be unpleasant.
Many of us have been required to learn hard lessons from those we’ve hurt, and it’s a painful process. However, an evolved person listens, reflects and even changes. There’s barely a single person involved in our boycott who wouldn’t recognise contrition and a commitment to do better.
It’s not in our collective witchy imaginations that we haven’t yet heard it, and we can’t be guilted or sneered at or threatened into accepting what we haven’t witnessed.
Perhaps there is a way back for Alan Jones from his violent words, but (so far) we’ve no evidence of most of the above actions taking place.
We have no choice but to continue. Because as we keep repeating over and over, our days of accepting the misogyny Jones pedals is done. Our sisters are dying. Others are being violently harmed in their homes by those known to them, and by violent strangers. Jones is almost certainly not a physically violent man, but he can’t seem to see his words have immense power for other men who want their violence validated.
What else can we do?