We’re proud supporters of ‘Feminist Frightbats’ at Sheilas, having published more than a few of the contributors listed in Tim Blair’s “hysterical” blog post on News Limited’s Daily Telegraph website a couple of days ago. Under the post titled ‘Crown Our Crazy Queen’, Blair launched a predictable ideologically driven sexist spray against what he labeled “this nation’s most unhinged hysteric” of “Australia’s left-wing ladies’ auxiliary”.
Included on Blair’s list querying ‘Who is Australia’s craziest left-wing frightbat’ are Jane Caro, Clementine Ford, Margo Kingston, Van Badham, Anne Summers, Catherine Deveny, Elizabeth Farrelly, Marieke Hardy, Clem Bastow, and Jenna Price.
But as a clever rebuke of the offensive post, several on the list have instead adopted the term ‘Frightbat’ and are ‘competing’ for the ‘honours’. As Georgina Dent explains in Women’s Agenda:
“The contenders have to be commended for the enthusiasm with which they have embraced the poll. No doubt fuelled by their uncontrolled emotions, many of them have been campaigning for votes in the fervent hope they will be crowned Australia’s “craziest left-wing frightbat”. Anne Summers doesn’t want to be beaten by any baby “frightbats”, Clementine Ford urged her followers to make it happen, Margo Kingston appealed to her fellow Queenslanders’ allegiance to bring the crown home and cartoons have been created depicting these mythical frightbats. Their collective reaction has been good-humoured. I don’t blame them for making the award their own.
“But it doesn’t mean it’s not astonishingly sexist and intolerable. Of course the convenient, and insidious, component of Blair’s argument is that by saying that I prove his point. I’m merely being hysterical and emotional. Rather than consider that there might be some merit in my argument, or the many legitimate arguments of the frightbats, it’s easier to dismiss them as unhinged and off their medication.
“Are they intelligent, informed, educated professionals? No of course not. They’re the ‘left-wing ladies’ auxiliary’. Could their issues with Tony Abbott be about genuine policy concerns? No of course not. They have a psychosocial behavioural disorder. Nothing they say or do is valid because they are crazy frightbats. Isn’t that a handy way to win an argument?
“It is gas lighting at its most damning; you turn the problem onto the other person in a bid to avoid your own problem. Two nights ago Hillary Clinton made a strong statement about sexism in politics. Play the policy, argue the point, hold the person to account but leave gender out of it. If you can’t, that’s truly frightening.”
Hear, hear. And as said, at Sheilas, we are more than proud to publish or feature the work of the names included on the list and will continue to do so. Like Clementine Ford, who is featured in this edition, we publish these contributors for their engaging, thoughful, bold, clever insights and clear analysis. Which, by coincidence, also happens to be why we publish the marvelously talented Judy Horacek – thank you again Judy.
Sarah Capper, Sheilas Editor & Feminist Frightbat Killjoy