Sign in or register
for additional privileges

Civic Media Project

Eric Gordon, Author

You appear to be using an older verion of Internet Explorer. For the best experience please upgrade your IE version or switch to a another web browser.

From #destroythejoint to far reaching digital activism: Feminist revitalisation stemming from social media and reaching beyond


Jessica McLean and Sophia Maalsen

Introduction 


Civic engagement in digital activism involves diffuse yet powerful networks of individuals and organizations uniting, at least in some form, under a common interest. This case study of Destroy the Joint, a largely online group of over 52,000 people on Facebook and 14,800 on Twitter, shows how what began as a humorous turnaround of sexist comments on national talkback radio, is now a broad-based and effective unified but not uniform organization that aims to shine a light on sexism and misogyny. In analyzing its origins and accounting for its ongoing relevance nearly two years after the birth of #destroythejoint, we show how feminist activism in social media and elsewhere is growing in Australia, and other parts of the world.  

The origins of Destroy the Joint

 
The #destroythejoint movement began after a conservative Australian radio host, Alan Jones, declared on August 31st 2012 that several leading women in politics were ‘destroying the joint’ by their efforts to support gender equality and other miscellaneous acts. He had said:
"She [the Prime Minister] said that we know societies only reach their full potential if women are politically participating. Women are destroying the joint—Christine Nixon in Melbourne, Clover Moore here. Honestly."

Jill Tomlinson, a surgeon and writer, ignited the campaign in conversation with education activist and writer Jane Caro, with the following tweet exchange: 

 

Tomlinson responded with an invitation for others to contribute and originated the new hashtag:
 
 
Within one day, thousands had tweeted their own versions of acts and intentions to quash sexism and misogyny and a new digital activism moment and movement had begun (McLean and Maalsen, 2013).  


First Destroy the Joint actions


Initially, the Destroy the Joint (DTJ) hashtag was an online meeting point for people reflecting on the absurdity of claims that women in political life were destructive forces because of their gender, but grew to encompass critiques of gender inequality and lampooned sexist and misogynistic acts.   

The popularity of DTJ can in part be linked to the political climate at the time of its creation and a wider discontent with gender inequality. 

Australia’s first female Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, experienced frequent public sexism, from conservative commentators and politicians alike. In early October 2012, during a debate in parliament about the behavior and role of the then Speaker of the House, the leader of the Opposition, Tony Abbott, accused Gillard of sexism.  This accusation prompted the renowned anti-misogyny speech where Gillard declared to Tony Abbott that “I will not be lectured on misogyny and sexism by this man… and the Leader of the Opposition should think seriously about the role of women in public life and in Australian society because we are entitled to a better standard than this.”

Being entitled to a better standard of gender equality is a key objective DTJ's activism. The first substantial intervention Destroy the Joint contributed to was against Alan Jones’ radio station, campaigning for advertisers to withdraw support for his show in response to his ongoing sexist behavior, particularly directed against Gillard. Over 100,000 people signed an online petition within a week and Jones’ radio station lost between AUD 1 and 1.5 million. The feminist campaign action enacted through social media thus affected a corporation in a material sense.        

Micro-campaigns under a unified anti-sexism and anti-misogyny collective


Multiple, micro-campaigns characterize the ongoing productive space that is Destroy the Joint, and extend its reach contributing to a feminist revitalization that operates in social media and beyond.  While DTJ started as a hashtag, now there is also a Twitter and Facebook presence for this digital activist collective.     

Some of the micro-campaigns DTJ organized are shown in Table 1:
 





Digital activism in DTJ: connections to global campaigns 


Currently, feminist moments and movements are proliferating around the world, many emerging in digital spaces, such as #everydaysexism and #yesallwomen and often spring-boarding from these to other activist modes, including book publications, anti-corporate interventions, walks and gatherings.  For the Facebook supporters of DTJ, a prominent campaign to stop violence against women presently focuses DTJ activity (see Figure 3). 
 
 
  Figure 3: Current Facebook home page for Destroy the Joint (March 2015)

Revitalizing feminism?


Similarly to #destroythejoint, #everydaysexism and #yesallwomen provide meeting points for further engagement with feminist issues. The feminist revitalization has global reach and works to reinforce simultaneous campaigns and interventions. For instance, Destroy the Joint social media pages frequently cross-reference #everydaysexism and #yesallwomen and invite followers to contribute to these globally linked discursive feminist spaces. In this way they allow for distributed feminist networks to converge in online spaces to focus support on contemporary gender issues and create a community around this. Furthermore, despite being "online" their campaigns have physical and material effects as demonstrated in Table 1, suggesting that campaigns facilitated through new media are effective and useful ways of producing change. 

References

McLean, Jessica and Sophia Maalsen. 2013. "Destroying the Joint and Dying of Shame? A Geography of Revitalised Feminism in Social Media and Beyond." Geographical Research 51: 243–256. doi: 10.1111/1745-5871.12023

For Destroy the Joint on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DestroyTheJoint 

For Destroy the Joint on Twitter: https://twitter.com/jointdestroyer 

Comment on this page
 

Discussion of "From #destroythejoint to far reaching digital activism: Feminist revitalisation stemming from social media and reaching beyond"

Add your voice to this discussion.

Checking your signed in status ...


Related:  Your Story Goes Here: A Case Study Investigating Digital Storytelling and City BuildingStrike Debt and the Rolling Jubilee: Building a Debt Resistance MovementExploring Net Neutrality with Mozilla WebmakerBinders Full of Election Memes: Participatory Culture invades the 2012 U.S. ElectionDigital Empowerment AcademyGalas: Mobilizing and Managing Volunteer Humanitarian Efforts Online During Euromaidan Protests in UkraineFort Vancouver Mobile ProjectThe 2013 Protests in Brazil Meu RioHacking for GoldPivot: Surreptitious Communications Design for Victims of Human TraffickingKony 2012: Using Technology for Empathy“More Than A Quota”: Youth-Led Creative Arts and Advocacy About the Stop & Frisk PolicyRegulationRoomThe Human Rights Campaign Facebook LogoPop-Up Newsroom: “We Are Where You Are”Twitter Use and Negative Campaigning: A Case Study from the World’s Largest ElectionCityBeat: A Social Media Data Visualization Platform for JournalistsMarriage equality, Facebook profiles pictures, and civic participationCivic Media for Civic Intelligence: Product and Process in a Dynamic, Student-led Research and Action LaboratoryCitizen journalism and Civic Inclusion: Access DorsetNewsActivist: Using globally networked writing to facilitate cross-campus dialogue and engagementThe #WalkMyWorld ProjectBetter Reykjavik: Open Municipal PolicymakingiPads in Education: Civic Lessons38 DegreesBecoming Civic: Fracking, Air Pollution and Environmental Sensing TechnologiesUkranian Crowdmapping of the '12 Elections350.org: A Case of Online-to-Offline ActivismIran, the U.S., and Online DiplomacyPadres y Jovenes Unidos: Student Empowerment through Critical Media LiteracyIdle No More in Canada: Dissent, Resonance, and a Middle GroundPriorities and pathways for civic caucusing: The Michigan Student CaucusSocial Media Use and Political Activism in Turkey: 140journos, the Post of Others, and Vote and BeyondYouth Data Literacy as a Pathway to Civic EngagementHarrasment and Karen Klein: A Case Study#aufschrei – The Role of Twitter for Feminist Activism and as a Platform for Alternative PublicsMissing Intentionality: the Limitations of Social Media Analysis for Participatory Urban DesignHacking Politics: Civic Struggles to Politicize TechnologiesHorizontal Networking and the Music of Idle No MoreAn #EpicFail #FTW: Considering the Discursive Changes And Civic Engagement of #MyNYPDIt Gets Better ProjectCitizenship and Digital Mobilization in BrazilMídiaNINJA and the Rise of Citizen Journalism in BrazilThe Se Non Ora Quando Social Movement in ItalyAnother Promise’s Digital Civic Network and Samsung“Bury Until They Change Their Ways”: The Digg Patriots And/As User-Generated CensorshipInternet Parties: The Internet as Party, Policy, Platform, & Persuasive SymbolismConnecting Across Oceans Over AirRoom to Tell: Designing Affectively Engaging Civic Opportunities with New Media for Adolescents Hospitalized with Cystic FibrosisDesigning PolicyPOPPYN: Presenting Our Perspective on Philly Youth NewsBlogging for Truth: Ai Weiwei’s Citizen Investigation Project on China’s 2008 Sichuan EarthquakeIdle No More by Liz (beta)The #YoSoy132 Movement in MexicoThe 2013 Gezi Park Protest and #resistgeziUnited Colors of DissentImplication of social media on electoral participation in IndiaCuban Blogosphere: an Scenario for Political Debate and DissentGuerrilla Research Tactics: Alternative Research Methods in Urban EnvironmentsTracking Traveling Paper Dolls: New Media, Old Media, and Global Youth Engagement in the Flat Stanley ProjectMashnotes