Deveny! Deveny! Deveny!

According to the angriest keyboard pounders in the Twitterverse, Catherine Deveny rudely interrupted & talked loudly over the top of everybody else on Q&A on Monday night, and was especially disrespectful to the Anglican Archbishop of Sydney, Peter Jensen.

What a frightfully boorish display that would be if it were true.  However, according to a forensic examination by Chrys Stevenson at Gladly, The Cross-Eyed Bear (focussing on word counts, interruption & interjection counts, sound levels) it appears that some people’s perceptions of Deveny’s contributions are wildly askew:

  • She is accused of rudely dominating Q&A on Monday night, yet she spoke only half as much as Jensen.
  • She was invited to speak fewer times than all the guests except Evans, and only half as many times as Jensen.
  • In addition, she interrupted no more than Jensen did and interrupted the host considerably less.

So, did Deveny yell, shout or raise her voice on Q&A? Certainly not so as any armchair critic could notice. If they thought she was ‘shouting’ it was because of their own biases, not because the volume increased when Deveny spoke.

Stevenson also demonstrates that despite this edition of Q&A being a rare example of more women on the panel than men, the men still got to speak much more than the women did.

Here’s the word count score card:
Peter Jensen: 2,592 words
Tony Jones (host): 1877 words
Chris Evans: 1,397 words
Catherine Deveny: 1,259 words
Concetta Fierravanti-Wells: 1,242 words
Anna Krien: 775 words

Peter Jensen, in his soft and genteel way, spoke far more often and for longer than anybody else on the program, and used his soft and genteel (a fan described his manner as winsome) speech to propagate falsehoods about homosexuality and advocate sexist marital roles where the wife submits to the husband. Towards the end of the program he launched into what was essentially a sermon, yet did anybody complain?

Deveny spoke about social justice for asylum seekers and her support for marriage equality (while supporting Jensen’s right to discriminate within his religion). She responded to Jensen’s views on wifely submission with the obvious observation that this stance was unlikely to do anything to halt the accelerating decline in church attendance, and rebutted his claims about homosexuality by pointing out that it is homophobia that kills. She also laid out, in response to a question from the audience, her views on the Bible as “… basically social engineering embedded in fairytales and horror stories which is just chock full of homophobia, misogyny, discrimination and division.”

According to the keyboard-pounders, this was the point where, just because she was sitting next to an Archbishop, Deveny apparently should have “known better” than to honestly state her opinion.

Any way you approach it, the outrageous criticism of Deveny only make sense if we understand that her performance was viewed through the filters of cultural, gender and religious bias.

Deveny’s sin is to be an outspoken woman, fearlessly breaking the taboo that says the religious beliefs of others are sacred and should not be publicly attacked. This is a taboo which has kept the religious perpetuation of domestic violence, child rape, child stealing, third-world poverty and the evasion of taxes under the radar for centuries. I think it’s a taboo that has done way more harm than good.

Catherine Deveny did nothing wrong.

She did nothing more than stand up to a passive-aggressive religious bully who consistently abuses his elevated position in society to impose his religious views on others, argue against equal rights for his fellow Australians, support the status quo and disseminate shameful propaganda which does real harm to real people.

Read the whole Defending Deveny post.

SotBO: I’m not a fan of everything Deveny says e.g. she tweeted some fat-shaming snark recently which I didn’t find time to blog about, so I don’t view her as an ally unreservedly. However, on Q&A on Monday, Catherine Deveny did nothing at all wrong.

Categories: ethics & philosophy, gender & feminism, media, religion, social justice

Tags: , , , , ,

11 replies

  1. Interesting stuff from Dale Spender (quoted here)

    Dale Spender observed in 1982 that teachers find it very hard to ensure a balance between boys’ and girls’ contributions, but when specifically trying to achieve equal participation, female teachers were better at it than male ones. One male teacher who did manage to get girls to talk as much as boys said afterwards that he’d felt like he was giving almost all his attention to the girls. Since boys, girls and teachers are all complicit in boys’ dominance, it makes sense that one of these parties would find it tough to change the group dynamics all on their own.

    What that bit doesn’t mention is that the boys in the class thought the girls got all the talking time too. So it starts young.

  2. A bit of a tangent here, but my first reaction to the whole “honour, obey and submit” thing was “I had no idea Anglican marriage was supposed to be a Dom/Sub relationship. Gee, talk about BDSM in the mainstream. Do they discuss safewords in the pre-counselling period?”.

  3. My jaw just dropped when I read that the first time TT. I couldn’t believe how easily we had all been sucked into it, but it is so true.

  4. When I first started reading your post about Monday nights Q&A, and a supposedly outspoken guest being on the panel, I thought I must have watched a different program to the one being written about.
    The 2 main impressions I was left with at the end of the program are.
    1. That Peter Jenson was so far out of touch with the reality of facts about self esteem and psychology that he is unable to see that the Church’s attitude is legitimizing discrimation and negative attitudes towards Gay people. This is going to cause a decrease in self esteem of anyone who is Gay, and provide legitimacy for anyone who feels like acting or even thinking in a negative way towards Gay people.
    2. That Tony Jones stepped over the line at the end of the show by inviting Peter Jenson to give what was basically a sermon.

  5. Deveny’s description of the Bible (“the only religious text I’m familiar with”) also included a statement that it is a book of 44 chapters written by 60 people (“I think”) in 3 different languages over thousands of years.
    This rather vague and inaccurate description left me doubting the extent of her familiarity with the text. I would have expected someone declaring it to be “basically social engineering embedded in fairytales and horror stories which is just chock full of homophobia, misogyny, discrimination and division” to be sufficiently familiar with it that they could be clearer about such things as authorship and canon.

    • Here’s the relevant quote in full from the transcript (I did a ctrl-F for “44”):

      But when you actually look at the Bible, which is – that’s the only text that I’m – like, religious text that I’m really familiar with, it is basically social engineering embedded in fairytales and horror stories which is just chock full of homophobia, misogyny, discrimination and division and most people haven’t even read it. It has been written by 44 – you know, 60 people, I think, 44 chapters, you know, three different languages over thousands of years, thousands of different interpretations and despite all of those different interpretations, the only thing they can all agree on is homophobia, misogyny, discrimination and division. So, I’m sorry, the way that I see it, it’s just been a very, very handy way to keep people in their place, particularly women, homosexuals and people who don’t believe what they believe.

      So she used “chapters” when the traditional word is “books” and she got the number wrong. Maybe Deveny didn’t actually think it was important to remember those numbers or that the preferred term is “books”, since what she wanted to convey is that it is a collection of works written separately by many many authors over many many generations and collated/culled several times over the millennia after separate major cultural and linguistic upheavals, and what Deveny said conveyed that overview succinctly for TV.

  6. An interesting follow-on to that post here.
    Peter Jensen’s ‘I just want to have a calm reasoned debate’ makes him sound like a concern troll.

  7. I rarely watch Q&A – I live in Western Australia and find the continual invitations to join the conversation on a program that stopped taking interactions hours ago infuriating – but I did see it last Monday. I found Peter Jensen’s demeanour and his attitudes profoundly irritating and cheered for Catherine Deveney but why do people persist in looking at the whole Christian faith as if these bigots are the majority when they are clearly not. Peter Jensen does not speak for the Anglican church. He and his followers are only a small part of a huge community. Pretty much everywhere except in Jensen’s flock these ideas are out-dated and unaccepted. For example the rest of the Anglican church has had women clergy for years.
    For what it’s worth I was brought up as a Christian but have not been part of any Church for around twenty years. I just try to stay informed about community issues and to see both sides.

    • Nell, thanks for reminding us how regressive the Jensenites in the Sydney Diocese are compared to more liberal Anglicans. I know quite a few Sydney ex-Anglicans who’ve moved on to the Uniting Church or away from formal religious activity altogether due to their dismay over the many changes to their local churches under the umbrella of the conservative evangelical wave overseen by Sydney’s Moore College seminary (although that wave definitely does have its fans too).
      Mind you, beyond Australia there’s a huge rift in the Anglican communion worldwide over the issues of homosexuality and women clergy – the regressives are a substantial minority, not just a small group.

  8. Megpie, that is gold!

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