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saying what jackie o won’t: shut up kyle

Having never met Kyle Sandilands, obviously there’s only so much I can gauge about him. What seems rather apparent, however, is that he is a bully.

If you’ve had access to any form of social media over the past day, you will know that Vile Kyle made derogatory comments and threats on air towards news.com.au’s Alison Stephenson yesterday morning, after she wrote an article about the debut of Kyle and Jackie O’s new television program, A Night with the Stars. It was a somewhat negative appraisal but one that was obviously shared by viewers, given that the show was only the 20th highest rated on Monday night.

Kyle’s reaction to Stephenson’s article, however: not so fair. He called her a fat slag, troll, fat bitter thing, piece of shit, and bullshit artist. He insulted her hair, stated that her breasts weren’t large enough to be wearing a certain top, that she has a nothing job anyway and should be fired, and to top it off, said he would hunt her down. All in the space of a minute and a half.

Obviously, I think his comments are disgusting and that this man needs to be out of the public eye, but so many people have already spoken and written about their own anger that there’s not all that much I feel I can bring to the discourse. What has had vastly less attention, however, is Jackie O’s role in all of this.

Many people have mentioned that she should’ve spoken up or that she’s an enabler, and though I’m wary of placing responsibility on a woman for what her colleague says, there is some truth in this. Anything that comes out of Sandilands’ mouth is on his shoulders alone, but given that Jackie O is likewise a public figure, her reaction (or non-reaction, as the case may be) nonetheless deserves scrutiny.

So why didn’t she say anything? Why didn’t she condemn Sandilands for making obscene and gendered comments about someone? Jackie O laughingly said that he needed to learn to take criticism, and then this morning said that Kyle’s interactions with women contain “nothing but the most respect”. Obviously no one’s ever told her that actions speak louder than words.

Of course, it is not up to women to control men or to take responsibility for them. But when we say nothing, we send the message that such comments and behaviour are okay, and this is even more significant when it’s a celebrity who says-by-not-saying-anything that it’s acceptable.

But when looked at from a different angle, Jackie O is working in a male-dominated industry (not to mention, living in a male-dominated world). She has to be part of the boys’ club in order to keep her job. What would be the implications for her personally if she spoke up every time Kyle said something out of line? Put simply, she wouldn’t have a job with Austereo. Worse yet, people might call her a feminist.

In thinking about Jackie O’s action/inaction in all of this, it’s apparent that too often, women don’t speak up. But the greater issue really is that we live in a world where they are criticised and punished if they do.

When we’re kids, we’re taught to ignore bullies because they’ll lose interest and go away. And admittedly, the most successful way to put Kyle Sandilands out of a job would be to pay him no attention whatsoever. To not even talk about not talking about him. Without publicity, media attention and ratings, he would truly be out of the public sphere.

But it’s important here to deliver a wider message than just saying that it’s unacceptable for Vile Kyle to say these things. Asking that major companies pull their advertising because of Kyle’s comments may seem trite, but it highlights that misogyny and threats generally are not okay, and they will not be tolerated.

It takes an army of online commenters to say the one simple thing Jackie O ought to have said all along: “Stop.”

3 thoughts on “saying what jackie o won’t: shut up kyle

  1. Great piece, Dunja. I think the idea that we can take a bigger message, that of saying no to bullying and misogyny in all media forums, from this is really constructive. Much more useful than blaming one individual or enabler. Of course, the insistence by some that these comments were made with ‘the most respect’ is quite worrying. This seems to suggest that those within the industry assume that if they refuse to admit there is a problem, audiences will just forget incidents ever happened.

  2. Loved this piece. After reading the rubbish that came out of his mouth a few days ago, I made the effort to sign the petition to get sponsors to back out of deals with Austereo. I think it’s important in a day and age, (when we have the means to do so)to try and make changes. I love the whole concept of the http://www.change.org website. Let’s keep pushing forward till bullying stops on all levels. It’s simply not acceptable, and the public does not want to see it. Time to go Kyle.

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