While the world watched with hope as leaders converged at the Pacific Islands Forum in Tuvalu this month, Australian radio presenter Alan Jones dominated headlines for all the wrong reasons.
Namely, his abhorrent dialogue regarding women.
Jones subjected listeners to his twisted ideology when he made the following comment about New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in the wake of her criticism of Australia’s climate change policies.
“I just wonder whether Scott Morrison is going to be fully briefed to shove a sock down her throat.”
To make matters worse – if that’s possible – audio uncovered by ABC’s Media Watch revealed Jones also suggested that Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison “gets tough here with a few backhanders.”
Put simply, this is unacceptable.
Morrison has since responded, saying “the comment has been relayed to me; on what’s been reported to me, I find that very disappointing and of course that’s way out of line.
“I have two daughters, so you can expect that’s how I would feel personally about it.”
Jones has apologised to Ardern but a brief look at his past pulls the sincerity of such a sentiment into question.
The 2GB shock jock’s track record reveals a frightening pattern of similar comments, a torrent of attacks against women who don’t adhere to his personal and political beliefs.
In 2017, Jones seemingly referred to Lord Mayor of Sydney Clover Moore when he tweeted this:
$11.3m – can you believe it? You can guess what many people would rather hang 58 metres over George Street…and it’s not a Cloud Arch.
— Alan Jones (@AlanJones) August 30, 2017
That same year, he warned NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian that her head was “in a noose” over her government’s mining policy.
No stranger to appalling treatment by the media, former Prime Minister Julia Gillard was also the subject of Jones’ reprehensible rhetoric when he suggested she should be “shoved” in a “chaff bag” and taken “far out to sea.”
In a societal context where domestic violence and violence against women is rife, those in the public eye must be held to account.
Jones sets a dangerous precedent by calling on such vile sentiments to bolster his arguments against the women he disagrees with. In essence, these comments hold grave potential to normalise violence against women.
Ardern has refused to fuel the fire by publicly commenting on Jones’ remarks.
“I am a politician, I am open for criticism and, of course, we should all be held to account and the idea that any politician could or should be protected, I absolutely rally against that,” she told The AM Show.
While ideas of ‘protecting’ those in power is a slippery slope, subjecting them to explicit comments and inciting violence against them sets an even more dangerous precedence.
Women’s groups across the Tasman have brought attention to the dangers of such threatening comments, highlighting that these micro-aggressions against women have devastating consequences.
Sally Ward, Senior Manager of domestic abuse charity Shine told the Guardian that Jones’ remarks normalise ideas that women should be kept quiet through physical punishment.
“His comments are socially very dangerous and feed into norms that accept that women should be silenced,” she says.
But what about 2GB?
This isn’t a case of allegations where an employer can cry innocent until proven guilty, the statements under scrutiny were made live on air.
Many have called for Jones’ sacking, including former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, who called the remarks “beyond disgusting.”
Beyond disgusting! Alan Jones has got to go! Otherwise his employers are just as complicit as he is. https://t.co/D7qCINkktW
— Kevin Rudd (@MrKRudd) August 20, 2019
Advertisers continue to pull their support from Jones’ show, yet he holds onto his seat in the studio.
Parent network Macquarie Media has a said in statement that they will terminate Jones if he makes similar comments in future.
Meanwhile, a change.org petition calling for Jones to halt his use of violent language has already attracted more than 80,000 signatures.
But, in continuing to provide the self-professed ‘most popular talkback presenter’ in Australia a space to disseminate his aggressive rhetoric, Macquarie are complacent in a dangerous cycle of misogynistic outbursts.
The ‘shock jock’ title Jones carries is a thin veil for dangerous tirades against women and by giving Jones chance after chance, the radio station is firmly planting itself on the wrong side of history.
The media industry is designed to be the fourth estate, serving the public by keeping the powerful accountable.
Hurling vile verbal abuse at those who the ones with the microphone don’t agree with is a gross misuse of this purpose.
If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault, family or domestic violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit www.1800RESPECT.org.au. In an emergency, call 000
To access guides for reporting about violence against women and their children, visit: www.ourwatch.org.au
Image by Morgan Todonai