Dominating proceedings was Eltahawy, a feminist firebrand who had Kelly reaching fruitlessly for language warnings before giving it up as a lost cause: “We are trying to keep the language under control. If you’re offended by the profanity, maybe leave now.”
This was a wise move, because Eltawahy was not to be dissuaded.
“You’re asking the person here who travels the world to say ‘f— the patriarchy’,” Eltahawy said as the panel debated police racism.
She wrapped Scott Morrison together with Egypt’s Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and Donald Trump in a package of “patriarchal authoritarians” ruling by violence.
“So we have to dismantle patriarchy. Does that sound like a pipedream? It has to be a reality. It’s the year 2019 … and we’re still talking about people being beaten to death.”
The prompt for this monologue was a question from Belinda Day, the daughter of Tanya Day, who died in police custody at Castlemaine in 2017.
“Where does the responsibility for institutional racism lie?” Belinda Day asked.
Gorrie questioned whether it was possible to reform an institution like the police force.
“I don’t know how far we go in keeping an organisation like the police to account because it is there to be violent, it is patriarchal, it is overwhelmingly white … I think it shouldn’t exist,” Ms Gorrie said.
The panel also tackled Barack Obama’s recent critique of online “woke” and “cancel” culture.
Kelly threw to Eltawahy: “I completely and utterly disagree with Barack Obama. I go online exactly to tell people to f— off.”
Kelly, half-heartedly: “At this point I will utter a language warning on the program…”
Eltawahy: “I also disagree with [Obama’s] wife who says ‘When they go low, we go high’. No I f—ing don’t. If you go low, I’m going to come for you.”
Then came a question from a man in the audience, who asked: “When is aggression and violence a better option than assertiveness, strong arguments and modelling the behaviour you expect of others?”
Eltawahy: “I want patriarchy to fear feminism … how long must we wait for men and boys to stop murdering us, to stop beating us and to stop raping us? How many rapists must we kill until men stop raping us?”
Kelly: “So Mona, them’s fighting words. Spectator Australia is already saying ‘Mona’s promoting violence’. Is that what you’re doing?”
Eltawahy: “What I’m doing is saying that that violence has been owned by the state … exactly how long do I have to wait to be safe?”
Jess Hill: “If anyone’s shocked by what Mona’s suggesting, you just have to look back to history, and a certain faction of the suffragettes … they used violence. They thought what they were fighting was a civil war between the sexes.”
Nayuka Gorrie: “When you say violence begets violence, it’s almost sounding like it’s a level playing field which it’s not. It’s absolutely not … I wonder what our kind of tipping point in Australia’s going to be when people will start burning stuff? I look forward to it.
“We’ve tried for 230-plus years to appeal to the colonisers’ morality, which just doesn’t seem to exist. I think violence is OK because if someone is trying to kill you, there’s no amount of, ‘But I’m really clever. I’m really articulate’. No amount of that is going to save you. Let’s burn stuff.”
And so, a questioner searching for positives wanted to know: “What would positive masculinity look like?”
Eltawahy: “I have no f—ing idea.”
Gorrie, who is pregnant with twins: “Positive masculinity does exist amongst men … I don’t want to live in a world where ‘All men are crap’.”
Kelly: “They might be boys… ”
Gorrie: “Initially I was scared, what if I raised a cis straight man, what am I going to do? I think it’s crap. Masculinity and femininity, for me they’re things to be played with, we can have fun with them. They can be traps for a lot of people.
“I kind of feel sorry for dudes. Scented candles are beautiful. I bought my brother one the other day and I said, ‘You missed out … because men aren’t meant to do it’. I don’t know, I think the softness and the beauty and the positivity is there.”