An Open Letter to Gary Johnston of Jaycar Electronics

Dear Mr Johnston,

As a Bulldogs supporter, consumer, and…y’know, a human being I am offended by your suggestion that the sexist verbal abuse lobbed at Jayne Azzopardi by Bulldogs players/others associated with the club was somehow her fault for being near these players and their Mad Monday party:

“If a woman walks into some bars in Sydney, she will be ogled, she will be treated as an object, and that’s the way it is…She doesn’t have to walk into those bars”

Your logic is inherently flawed.

Firstly, public spaces are not male owned. They are not the sole domain of men. Nor should they be.

Secondly, women shouldn’t have to fear to go into public or private spaces because of sexism and sexual violence. If women were to stop themselves from doing a certain activity for fear of sexism and misogyny then we’d never do anything.

Women experience sexism and sexual violence at work, at university, on the internet, out at bars, walking down the street, hanging out with friends, and in their own homes.

What then is the solution? According to your logic the solution is for women to avoid these places. Unfortunately for women that would mean we’d have to either live in a female only society or cease to exist.

Personally, I’m not much in favour of either option.

Universities and any kind of business environment used to be an even higher risk situation for women to be in than they are now (in terms of sexism, sexual assault or harassment) but that problem wasn’t solved by women avoiding those places for fear of them. They were solved by changing the nature of the institutions (and society) through increased enrolment and employment of women.

Avoiding sexism doesn’t solve it.

You are suggesting that women should 1) not do their jobs if that job involves a ‘male’ environment and alcohol (so, no female bartenders then?) and 2) that if women suffer from sexism in that environment then it’s partly their fault for…existing?

Your logic is flawed and repercussions of that logic are very damaging. It echoes beyond this singular incident into the way people talk about women in general and particularly about sexual violence. In fact, I read the other week that a woman who was sexually assaulted at a bar was told by the judge that it was her fault for being at that bar because ‘those things happen in bars’. Sounds rather similar to your comments, don’t you think?

Your suggestion that Jayne Azzopardi is at fault for standing outside of a building containing a group of men having a party is ludicrous to me.

The solution isn’t to prevent a woman from doing her job, it’s to instil better values and a healthy respect for women in the people being vile in the first place.

Thirdly, the Bulldogs are not being persecuted for being celebrities as you suggested – “It’s only an outrage because these people have some sort of celebrity status.”

In actual fact it is an outrage because sexism and sexist behaviour are not acceptable in our society and when it is so plainly visible, as it is in this case, it requires immediate and strong condemnation.

If the Bulldogs (or whomever) can’t consume alcohol and “let their hair down” without acting like this then that is their fault, it is not the fault of women. They’re not going to learn that such behaviour is unacceptable if women simply avoid them in a professional setting. If we stop sending female journalists in to report on football, then do you think that would stop players being sexist towards other women they meet?

I’m sorry but ‘boys will be boys’ just doesn’t cut it anymore.

Fourthly, I find it farcical that you suggest that women should not be around football players. Perhaps you didn’t notice how many female fans were in those stands barracking for the Bulldogs and the Storm. Women should feel completely comfortable going to games, meeting players, reporting on teams and so on.

Perhaps you also fail to realise that over half of the world’s population is female. Yet we should be punished for sexist ignorance by not being able to do our jobs or enter certain public spaces?

It’s unfair to punish women because footballers can be sexist idiots. It’s setting the bar low for men and forcing women to suffer the consequences. That is not acceptable. Change doesn’t happen that way.

Finally, I will say this. There is no one more aware of the threat of sexism, sexual abuse, and sexual violence than women. We deal with it every day. It is an ingrained part of our consciousness. It is constantly factored into our thinking and we continually have to negotiate around it in our day to day lives.

I wonder when the last time was that the threat of rape made you fear going jogging at night, going into a bar, attending a house party, going on a date, walking down a dark street, getting a taxi, or being alone with someone of the opposite sex.

I wonder when the last time was that the threat of sexist remarks made you reluctant to look at the comments section on a website, go into work, attend a class, go to a party, or even come out publically as you have about a highly controversial incident involving sexism?

I wonder when you last strategised against the threat of rape or sexual harassment – like avoiding eye contact with the opposite sex when you walk down the street, altering what you wear, having your car keys out ready to use as a weapon, not putting your drink down at parties, not accepting a drink from someone of the opposite sex, crossing the street when you see a group of the opposite sex, not accepting a ride home from someone of the opposite sex, or pretending to call a friend you’re ‘just about to meet up with’ when you feel threatened to let them know where you are.

The list goes on and on. These are common experiences for women.

I can say to you with certainty that I do not know one woman who was not been subject to sexism in one form or another.

It is an inherent part of our lives, we just don’t let it control our lives. We keep going to work, we keep going to university, we keep going to bars, we keep walking down the street by ourselves.

And let me tell you, sometimes it’s bloody hard to do. But we do it, not only for our own sake, but in the hope that ‘the way it is’ won’t be ‘the way it is’ anymore. That things will continue to improve for women and that sexist attitudes, abuse, and violence will in some way diminish. It would be idealistic for me to say it will disappear.

I sincerely hope you reconsider your remarks and your attitude not just about this isolated incident, but about how sexism operates in our society, how women deal with that sexism, and how you can be part of the solution rather than part of the problem.

Sincerely,

Me

(Anyone else wishing to email Gary Johnston about his remarks can do so via this address: techstore@jaycar.com.au)

http://wwos.ninemsn.com.au/article.aspx?id=8542476

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37 Comments on “An Open Letter to Gary Johnston of Jaycar Electronics”

  1. justcint says:

    succinctly and eloquently put!

  2. Freya says:

    Amazing, I’m going to send it to him as well, brilliantly put!

  3. Anonymous says:

    I could not agree more. Well well stated and really brings home some of the challenges women face in their day to day lives. Also brings clarity as to why this sort of behavious is not acceptable!

  4. Sarah says:

    Wow, these are my thoughts exactly! Well put. This attitude toward woman is ludicrous.

    Next they’ll be telling us we should ‘take it as a compliment’ when guys make lurid comments about us when we’re walking down the street or traveling on the train. As though feeling complimented would be our natural response, instead of feeling intimated, uncomfortable and afraid for our safety as we, in reality, are when these comments are made. Whether we have a recording devise to capture them or not.

    I wonder what would happen if he was out somewhere with his daughter and overheard a guy make comments about and ogle her? I hope he would be a real man and defend her against them.

    • Yes, it’s very unfortunate when people speak so ignorantly about women’s issues and how we should deal with sexism.

      You’re so right about the ‘take it as a compliment’ comment. ‘Take it as a compliment’, ‘well, what did you expect’ and ‘she was asking for it’ all exist within the same logic and for the same purpose – to deflect responsibility from the perpetrator of the crime/abuse and place the blame back on women.

      It’s the old temptation of Eve story all over again.

  5. chris p says:

    Oh god another Fembot

  6. Thank you, you have restored my faith in humanity after Gary ripped about my still- beating vagina and threw it against a wall with his ridiculously offensive comments. Vale, Lady, Vale.

  7. “out” I meant “ripped out”. Man I’ve had too much wine.

  8. Moppy says:

    Did you or anybody who has been critical of Mr Johnston actually listen to his interview? At no time did he say he condoned or supported what was said through that window, he made that clear numerous times. All he was doing was defending the rights to the players privacy. Yes it was unfortunate that the Ch 9 reporter was abused in that way, but his point was the media had no right to be intruding on the players privacy to begin with. Whilst I agree that his comments about women being oggled and treated like objects was inappropriate and should not be said on radio, he has a point doesn’t he? What man doesn’t look at members of the opposite sex in pubs? And I am sure that women do it just as much to men.

    I think by and large looking at members of the opposite sex is rather harmless, it’s the verbal or physical abuse that should not be tolerated, and that is something he made clear he did not support.

    I think he has been unfairly criticised these last few days for one sentence he said that was taken out of context.

    • Hi Moppy, thanks for your comment. I understand that Mr Johnston didn’t outrightly condone the sexist abuse that was yelled through the window.

      While not condoning the comments, however, he shifted the responsibility for these comments from the players onto Jayne Azzopardi’s female presence.

      What I find concerning is that he equated the situation with men ‘ogling’ women and treating them like an object when they walk into a bar. Therefore, when he said that women have the choice not to go into those bars, he analogously suggested that Jayne Azzopardi should have somehow predicted the sexist abuse she would receive and therefore not go and do her job.

      As I have pointed out, this not only unfairly places the onus on Jayne Azzopardi but if this rule were to be abstracted and applied more generally (that is, women avoiding places they might be exposed to sexism) then we’d live very restricted lives.

      And yes, of course men look at women in pubs and women do the same back to men. But looking is different to being ‘treated like an object’, and is also vastly different from what happened on Mad Monday. By using the ‘woman in a bar’ analogy, Mr Johnston was implictly suggesting that these two things aren’t that different.

      I am sure that Mr Johnston does not think that sexist abuse of women is ok. I am not suggesting that he is a monster. What I am pointing out is that what he said is quite damaging to women and that there is a logical fallacy underlying it which extends beyond this isolated incident.

      I also agree that the players should have privacy. Unfortunately, in this 24/7 news cycle and in the culture of football where players are now celebrities there are both good and bad consequences. I have no problem with Mr Johnston critiquing the media’s behaviour, I only have a problem with his comment specific to women. And of course, invasion of privacy is no excuse for this kind of sexism, as I’m sure you’d agree.

      Thanks very much for your comment. I certainly do not wish to villainise Gary Johnston. I do, however, think it is important to speak up about these kinds of issues particularly considering the negative impact that this kind of rhetoric continues to have on women in terms of domestic abuse, sexual harassment, and rape.

      I have written this, not to demonise Mr Johnston, but to open up dialogue with him and with others and try to come to a better understand of why what he said is so unacceptable.

      • Moppy says:

        I would not be surprised if how we feel about this whole matter changes dramatically when we hear the official report about what happened from the NRL and the Bulldogs. I have heard that Ch 7 was also at Belmore on Monday and have the same footage as 9 do, however they chose not to run with it as they felt there was no story. This implies that the comments were not directed at the ch 9 journo, rather they were directed to someone else in the room.

        Whilst we can’t condone those sexist comments being said, we have to acknowledge that if they were said in private and only recorded after the individual’s privacy was breached then we find it’s not a reflection of the Bulldogs club as a whole, that they are not at fault and the only person to criticise should be the person who made the comments.

        So I think everyone should just take a deep breath, sit back and wait to hear the findings of the report before we criticise the Bulldogs or Mr Johnston. Whilst Mr Johnston’s comments will still be considered rather sexist, this notion that the female journo should have expected it will no longer apply if it’s proved the comments were not directed at her.

        • There are three issues at hand that we’re dealing with.

          1. The Bulldogs’ right to privacy. (Just so you know, I don’t care if the comments were said privately or publically. They were said full stop. I do not accept sexism either in a private or a public sphere.)

          2. Who said the comments and to whom they were directed.

          3. Mr Johnston’s remarks.

          My letter deals solely with the third, which as far as I am concerned is a separate issue from the first two. My perception of Mr Johnston’s comment will not change with the NRL’s findings. He knew as much or as little as we did at the time of his comments, so the meaning of his comments does not get to change with retrospect.

          Of course the ‘notion that the female journo should have expected it’ will still be relevant point of discussion because some people have unfortunately argued that. You see, the incident itself is no longer the only issue. There is a problem with the way certain people have reacted to the incident and that is worthy of discussion.

  9. Matt says:

    “can’t consume alcohol and “let their hair down” without acting like this then that is their fault, it is not the fault of women.”

    a few harmless comments? trust me sweatheart the average woman on a few drinks letting their hair down does far worse, maybe visit a bar once in a while.

    maybe the next time a bunch of ladies have a hens night, some uninvited male should attempt to stick a camera in their face, wonder what will happen? hmmm

    your artical is junk.

    • 1. A Mad Monday party is not the equivalent of a hen’s night.
      2. These imaginary ‘women at a Hen’s night’ are not public figures that have responsibility that goes along with their celebrity.
      3. If I were at a hen’s night and heard similar derogatory remarks I would be just as critical.
      4. If a man felt objectified and threatened by remarks made by a group of women I would not suggest it was his fault for being there.
      5. Historical context lends a different light to the hypothetical you propose, as comments made by women do not exist within a larger context of violence against and oppression of men by women. I am not saying it’s less wrong, but it is different so please don’t pretend like it’s the same.
      6. I can assure you, as someone who has been to hen’s parties, I’ve never heard someone say “Suck my clit, you dumb dog” or an equivalent. I do, however, thoroughly condemn any woman who talks to or about men that way.
      7. If you heard women talking that way about a man would you think it was ok?
      8. They’re not harmless comments when you consider them within a wider social and historical context.
      9. Thanks for your comment, sweetheart.

  10. LISA says:

    You were very thorough I must say, I’m not going to turn this into a novel, i’d just like to say, I am a mum of two beautiful boys and married to my gorgeous husband of nearly 10 years. Before we got married my Hubby and I would go out, or I’d go out with girlfriends etc to have a good time. If a few idiots would want to fight, and I’ve seen males & females carry on sometimes we would just walk away. The society we live in isn’t perfect! I had a friend who was hit by her boyfriend and thankfully she called the police and got rid of him the first time !! .. Dont take shit out on gary & the bulldogs, Just because the media wanted to turn into a circus! and when you find out the actual facts if it was all it was made out to be you might take your comments somewhere else!!

    • Hi Lisa, thanks for your comment.

      My comments will stay where they are.

      Gary made the comments and he is answerable to them. I am taking nothing out on him, merely asking him to acknowledge his personal responsibility as an individual, and as someone speaking in public.

      I am also taking nothing out on the Bulldogs. The comments were made and it is up to the club and whoever made the comments to be answerable to them. I am a fan of the Bulldogs, have been for a long time, but I condemn sexism regardless of where it comes from.

      The outcome of the investigation will not influence my perception of Gary’s comment. Why would it?

      • Cath says:

        Stick & Stones love! There’s a lesson for ya, learn it! Stop stereotyping women as being sensitive & defenseless to ogling men!

  11. LISA says:

    Ok, I stand by my comments as well! You said you’re taking nothing out on the bulldogs and they’re mentioned in your first sentence!!!…Please worry about the actual offenders in the world that need to be locked up and not some mad Monday or sponsor comment that’s been turned into a media circus & blown way out of proportion, and maybe also check up on the actual facts that gave been released today:)

    • You mean where I said ‘as a fan of the Bulldogs’? Or where I referenced the Mad Monday party that Mr Johnston was responding to? Cause the former is anything but having a go and the latter is context.

      I only saw a statement from the Bulldogs saying they wouldn’t reveal the identity of the person who said the comments. Was something else released?

      Regardless, as I said – it doesn’t affect my view of Mr Johnston’s comments.

      Thanks again for commenting!

  12. Cath says:

    You are such a loser – stop dribbling shit my ears are beginning to bleed. Save the dramatics for issues that are actually worth being upset over i.e women being raped & murdered. Who cares if you get ogled at…grow a bloody back bone & throw a blind eye to it & stop making a mountain out of a mole hill. Get a reality check & put your energy into issues worth being concerned over. Reply, do whatever you like…but your words will fall on deaf ears no matter how much a fuss you make as there are far better things to worry about!

    • Anonymous says:

      Cath, not sure why you make personal and offensive remarks by referring to the author of this piece as a loser. And rape, sexual violence, domestic abuse and murder (those serious things that you advise we should be concerned about) only exist in an atmosphere that tolerates sexism and misogynistic attitudes towards women. Such behaviours do not exist in a vacuum, and such attitudes are the root cause.

  13. Modern woman says:

    Well said and I do not think you are Bulldogs bashing or attacking Gary Johnston at all…I totally agree with what you are saying…i am so sick of hearing that reporters should not of been at the Bulldogs Mad Monday……why….the 15 other Nrl teams and the 18 AFL teams also had reporters at their Mad Mondays with no other incidents and also whether you are a fan or not as footballers they have codes of conduct they have to follow so why out of 16 teams would Channel 9 (who by the way pays money to the NRL which in turn pays the salary cap) decide to make up a story about the bulldogs???? I personally do not think that anything that Todd Greenburg has to say is reliable because in 2 instances in the last week he has lied and said one thing and then denies that and then says the opposite. However I am interested in what the NRL has to say. Sexual comments whether in public or overheard is Not exceptable when it is directed so lewdly at any woman. I was shocked to see on Facebook bulldogs supporters calling Jayne Azzapardi a whore, a slut etc that is so disgusting and as for Gary Johnston would he be making some of his comments If the reporter was his daughter??? He wasn’t there so he should not comment. Period. The bottom line is this it doesn’t matter if it was the bulldogs or some construction worker it should not have been said as for them putting microphones in a window 40 feet away ……seriously tell me how they do that across the road behind a locked gate 40 FEET AWAY…..and this is for Cath…..you need a reality check….if you have nothing good to say don’t waste mine and everybody else’s time with your dribble!!!!

    • Moppy says:

      Modern woman- what are your examples of Todd Greenburg lying? The NRL has chosen to back part of what the Bulldogs claim has happened, meeting with them and Ch 9 this week, who then agreed to disagree. So no one can be 100% sure what happened as mutual consensus cannot be reached.

    • Hi Modern woman, thanks for your comment and support!

      I haven’t heard about Todd Greenburg lying – what did he lie about?

      I can’t believe people were so vile on the Bulldogs’ FB page. I didn’t even look at it. I hope we can all move forward from this and learn something. Fingers crossed!!

  14. Tom says:

    Aside from the vomit-worthy verbal attacks, the role of celebrity has too much to answer for in this instance…

    It’s truly a chicken-egg world (much like a cat-dog one) when the adoring public feed egos that are crazily out of proportion anyway. Then again, famous personalities have strived to be at the top of their chosen fields, so why should their excellence be ignored?

    Our culture idolises those with public profiles and lets them get away with more than they ever should. Yes, they are under a spotlight and their actions are amplified, however they knew what they signed up for. As for aspiring musicians and actors, there is automatically a huge responsibility bestowed upon those sportsmen and women who choose to live in the limelight. Whether every individual wants that or not is not really a part of the equation here, as reality in this day and age has taught us. It’s a trade-off for the personality in question. They trade their anonymity for the chance to do what they are passionate about. With that trade off comes a huge payout and the chance to be heard, so when we hear such foul things, it is grotesquely disappointing to the public to have to face the truth that idols to many are abusing their power in the most disgusting way possible. The fact that intrusive journalists have no right to invade private spaces is indeed true, in my eyes, however this wasn’t private. The boundaries may have been blurred by the media, as always, but they were set alight by the tongues of irresponsible men – men whose lack of respect are tarring the game as well as their own names.

    As Evangeline Lilly (the ‘Lost’ actress) once said “Whenever I watch TV and see those poor starving kids all over the world, I can’t help but cry. I mean I’d love to be skinny like that, but not with all those flies and death and stuff.”

    Wait…that was Mariah Carey

    Lilly said “Hollywood is the Sodom and Gomorrah of today. It’s a world I avoid because it’s destroying our culture.” Although a touch hypocritical, there’s no denying that celebrity has spread beyond mere escapism into something much more worrying, especially when we create monsters out of people and value their intolerance (except Mariah Carey. Jeebus)

    • Very well said. The role of celebrity in all of this is very interesting. And I think you’re right, there are pros and cons to celebrity, not just for the person experiencing it but for those around them.

      I also think that many people would be far less ready to jump to the defence of those involved if they weren’t in some way famous – not because of sheer superficiality but because they connect with these public figures in some way and have adopted them as a part of their identity (their likes and dislikes, their sense of ‘I am like them’) so when they feel they’re attacked they defend as if they’re defending themselves.

      Anyway, like I said – excellently put and it’s well worth thinking about.

  15. George says:

    Gary is a fat short leprachuan who is arrogant and rude i hope he has a heart attack


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