On the 22nd of September 2012, veteran radio broadcaster Alan Jones stood before the crowd gathered at the Sydney University Liberal Club Presidents dinner and presented an embittered speech in which he indicated that women, and in particular the then Prime Minster Julia Gillard are “Destroying the Joint”. The speech was secretly recorded and published by News Ltd journalist Jonathan Marshal and Mr. Jones’ comments were met by a wave of backlash from the Australian public, including now Prime minster Malcom Turnbull, who described the words of Mr. Jones as “cruel and offensive,”
The harsh nature of Mr. Jones’ controversial comments prompted Melbourne plastic and reconstructive surgeon Dr. Jill Tomlinson to embark upon a social media campaign aimed at empowering the female victims of Mr. Jones’ spiteful tirade. The movement was aptly labelled “Destroy the Joint”. The campaign was ultimately successful in the short term as it resulted in Mr. Jones providing a public apology for this deplorable actions as well as many sponsors withdrawing support for the controversial radio host. The ‘destroy the campaign’ also laid the platform for widespread public condemnation of Mr. jones and his misogynistic treatment of Prime Minster Gillard and women in general. This can only be seen as a positive step-forward for Australia in our fight for equality.
‘Destroy the Joint’ and similar movements were initially successful in condemning the actions of Mr. Jones, is this still the case four years on? The initial backlash created by ‘destroy the joint’ resulted in a change.org petition being created that called for Mr. Jones’ resignation from radio station 2GB. The Change.org petition was the largest online petition in Australia’s history and even though it gathered over 115,00 signatures, Mr. Jones remains the morning voice for Australia’s ‘premier news and talk back station’, 2GB. This brings in to question the credibility of the ‘Sack Alan Jones’ petition, and indeed, online petitions in general.
Shortly after the contents of Mr. Jones’ speech became public, veteran broadcaster John Laws appeared on ABC’s 7:30 report and suggested that Mr. Jones’ is a “very competent broadcaster”. When asked by presenter Leigh Sales if Mr. jones’ sponsors would return given the fall out from his speech, Mr. Laws responded by saying “of course they will come back. I mean, it’s a commercial world”. Ultimately, Mr. Laws was right. Much of the sponsorship boycott surrounding Mr. Jones was fleeting and given that four years on Mr. Jones is still overwhelmingly successful it may be argued that the long term sponsorship impacts of the ‘destroy the joint’ campaign have been negligible.
Although some of the subsequent fallout resulting from the ‘Destroy the Joint’ campaign including the change.org petition and sponsorship withdrawal has been short-lived, this does not negate the positive impacts of social media campaigns. ‘Destroy the Joint’ was successful in condemning the actions of Mr. Jones as well as subsequently creating an online public discourse about the way we treat women in Australia.
Feature image Courtesy of The Herald Sun