The Abuse Of Yumi Stynes – Because Women Are Not People Too

I’m editing a podcast episode, which features two women who currently or have worked in television and film (one in technology and online / new media; the other in science communication and documentaries) – naturally, they to discuss the challenges they’ve faced. It seems impossible not to.

Having written about (and personally experienced) circumstances in which there were determined efforts to silence or disparage such work, I noticed some synchronistic events popping up in my RSS newsfeed over the past twelve hours.

On the heels of Greta’s post called “the ugliest of all atheists!”: #mencallmethings - about something as simple as a poster advertising a forthcoming talk she’s doing and how it was defaced:

“Because that’s the important thing, isn’t it? When determining the worth of a writer or speaker or other public figure, the most important issue is whether said figure is nice-looking or ugly. It doesn’t matter if we’re stupid or smart, accurate or off-base, innovative or entrenched, boring or inspiring. What matters is whether random strangers find us sexually attractive.”

Greta mentioned “being off-base or wrong” – and that led me to link to the following on Mia Freedman with Why the Abuse of Yumi Stynes Must Stop:

Don’t be a woman and make a mistake. Don’t be a woman and say something that offends people. Because the abuse that will rain down on your head will be savage and relentless and will make you fear for your physical safety and the safety of your family.

I’ve seen this happen to so many women and Yumi Stynes is the latest one to experience it with revelations today that the torrent of abuse and threats has become so extreme that the police have been brought in.

…She said something stupid. Haven’t we all. She tried to make a joke that backfired and was indeed offensive. And doing it on national television, the consequences were amplified. However. How much does she need to be punished? And to what degree?

Yumi’s public and private apologies – and the public acceptance of them by Corporal Roberts-Smith should have been the end of it but the rage continues and gets uglier by the day. The attacks have been misogynist, racist and deeply, deeply personal. 

…When Kyle Sandilands said revolting things about a female journalist on his radio program, nobody went after his family. The reaction was severe but not personal. The petitions that circulated and the campaigns against him served to hit Kyle in his business life, not his personal one.

I bring that story to people’s attention to further encourage awareness of how serious this is – and I hope the forthcoming podcast episode will add to the dialogue.

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About Kylie Sturgess

Kylie Sturgess is a Philosophy teacher, media and psychology student, blogger at Patheos and podcaster at Token Skeptic. She has conducted over a hundred interviews including artists, scientists, politicians and activists, worldwide.
She’s the author of the ‘Curiouser and Curiouser‘ column at the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry website and travels internationally lecturing on feminism, skepticism, and science.

  • Winterwind

    There is so much wrong with this story. Thanks for helping bring it to attention. Yumi Stynes has been the target of much more severe abuse than George Negus, despite the fact that she only made one of the comments. Much of the abuse aimed at her has been sexist and racist.

    I appreciate that the military has an important role to play in protecting our nation (not that Afghanistan was a defensive operation, because the Taliban hadn’t even heard of Australia before we got involved) but some ultra narrow-minded Australians view our armed forces, along with surf lifesavers and national athletes, as the sacred epitome of everything that is good, pure and noble about Australia.

    If only these people would show similar outrage at the extensive racism and sexism entrenched in our military. I wonder how many of them are calling for the sacking of Andrew Snashall (“I see you have been polluting the world with your genes.”) He made a far more offensive remark than anything Stynes or Negus said to Major Tong Li, a military man, who is supposed to be an Australian hero in their book… oh, but he’s not the right SORT of military man (i.e. white, true blue fair dinkum aussie aussie aussie oi oi oi no more migrants if you don’t like our country piss off back where you came from).

  • Andrew

    This over reaction particularly after apologies were issued and then accepted to me is over the top, I feel others have taken this opportunity to vent against Yumi because she’s a women, to exercise their power and make her pay, it’s horrible. I intend listening to the podcast today.