Saturday, December 20, 2014

Should Mia Freedman Apologise?

I went to Australia last month as a guest of the Opera House for the
All About Women symposium.  As part of the event, I agreed to do some media appearances on ABC, including the Drum and Q&A.

All About Women was a fantastic day and I feel privileged to have met so many
interesting and talented people there, including people I would put in the category of genuine modern heroes

As for Q&A… this is the Australian equivalent of Question Time, so I went anticipating a
varied panel with a wide variety of opinions jostling to be heard.
I was told Tony Jones was a strong moderator, so I went expecting him
to rein in the conversation if things went off-piste. This was to be Q
& A's first all-woman panel and expectations were high. The
topics they circulated beforehand indicated I was in for a grilling
while everyone else got softball. I went, not to put too fine a point on
loaded for bear.

thought it went pretty well. Opinions differed. Points of view were
exchanged. Margaret Thatcher died. All in all, a good night. The
producers seemed very pleased with the outcome.

imagine my surprise, weeks later, that fellow guest Mia Freedman is
still flogging her commentary about the appearance as content on her
site MamaMia. The topic:
should she apologise for continually insulting sex workers?

the show Mia kept falling back on sloppy, ill-thought, and pat little
lines that were easily countered. I found to my surprise a lot of common
ground with Germaine Greer, hardly known as a fan of sexual
entertainment, on the fact that conditions of labour and not sex per se
are the most pressing issue for sex workers worldwide right now. Then in
comes Mia with her assumptions about the people who do sex work (men
AND women) and the people who hire them (men AND women). With Tony
backing her up. So much for the disinterested moderator, eh? Maybe he
felt bad for her. I don't know.

Here's the thing. I agree with Mia on this: I don't think she should apologise.

not? Because if she did it would be insincere. My first impression when
we met backstage was that she was insincere, and damn it, a successful
lady editor like her should have the guts to be true to herself and
stand by her opinions no matter what they are.

the general public needs to see what kinds of uninformed nonsense that
sex workers who stick their heads above the parapet get every single

Because for every 100 people who visit her site,
there is one who is both a parent AND a sex worker, who knows what she
is saying is nonsense. Yes, that's right Mia: sex workers raise families
too. It's almost as if we're people.

Because she is a magazine editor who cares deeply about hits and attention, and clearly this is delivering on every level.

the sort of people who think sex workers should be topics of discussion
rather than active participants are fighting a losing battle.

digging, Mia. I ain't gonna stop you. Keep writing off other people
simply because they didn't have the privileges you did or didn't make
the same choices you did, and you can't accept that. Get it off your
chest, lock up your children, whatever you think you need to do. Perhaps
you have some issues about sex you want to work out in public, or this
wouldn't be the biggest issue on your agenda weeks after the show went
to air?

Mia, you have my express permission not to apologise. No, don't thank me… I insist.

Khondoker Hafizur Rahman

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