Two days ago, sitting at my desk somewhere in Auckland, I decided to check my tweets. Scrolling through my entertaining, heavily trafficked, Twitter timeline there were a few tweets that caught my eye, hilarious comments about life, informative tweets about current affairs, the odd retweeted misogynistic joke which made me furrow my brow, and then there was a tweet or two about a columnist named Bob Jones.
At the time I did not give any thought to the correlation between the last two things. In fact, I thought nothing of it. I had to sign out as I was a guest speaker in the lunchroom about the importance of having reading material or a friend to talk to during your break, afterwards I regaled a colleague about my tweets, leaving out my Twitter-handle for obvious reasons.
At the time I was voicing my dislike for the stupidity of misogynistic parody accounts and the lack of originality prevalent in ‘a woman’s place is in the kitchen’ jokes. My colleague called over another colleague, a male, to join in the debate but he interrupted and told me my topic of conversation was actually blowing up on the New Zealand Twitter scene as a column posted by a Mr Bob Jones was currently being criticised for its rather mind-numbing misogyny. “Excellent! Let’s pull up your timeline, then,” I urged, and, unsurprisingly, both colleagues concurred.
Accordingly we read the Bob Jones hashtag and many tweets from irate users, both male and female, in regards to Mr Jones’ NZH column made me exceedingly curious.
I read the post in question, the title itself was enough to set off alarm bells, and it wasn’t until he really got into the ‘unintended consequences’ of replacing traffic lights with roundabouts that things became and remained chaotic. His misogynistic tirade describing the unanticipated ‘women problem’ caused what could only be likened to a brain embolism.
The problem, with Bob Jones and his crippling misogyny, isn’t new. In fact, about one hundred per cent of his columns are filled to the brim with gender, and sometimes racial, stereotyping, sexist jokes and self-appreciation all written with the conviction of a privileged white-male, causing multiple embolisms in the brains of intelligent people who happen across his columns.
This isn’t an attack on the man, rather his narrow-minded, antiquated, views on women, life and the world. It’s an attack on the fact that he thought it okay to state that while he ‘normally doesn’t condone police violence’ he’d make an exception for women drivers and that the police would be doing ‘God’s work’ by going to the homes of the women complaining about the speed with which he drove (in order to surpass the incompetent women drivers driving slowly in his overpriced vehicle) and ‘beating the crap out of them and burning their houses down’. It is a condemnation of his constant perpetuation of misogynistic ideals.
If we were to complete a two-question ‘tick the box’ form, after reading a Bob Jones opinion piece, what would the two questions be? The first would no-doubt be a question of whether or not the piece offended you and why, with options ranging from ‘yes, because this is the most ridiculous piece of trash I’ve ever read’ to ‘yes, please tell this man that the year is 2013 and not 1913’ with everyone ticking each box, even the one that says ‘yes, but who is Bob Jones?’ The second question would be related to age, and there will be one answer, ‘you’re not too old to learn new tricks’ namely how to not be sexist.
To overcome the pain in my brain from reading too many Bob Jones articles I read more tweets about Bob Jones (#BobJones) and the following pieces by what I am assured (only by the sheer fact that they are not Bob Jones) are decent human beings.