Catherine Deveny Is Not Our Ally

A lot of Australian feminists, atheists and social justice people seem to think that Catherine Deveney is our ally. Somehow she has convinced them that she cares about social justice, and is in some way passionate about changing sexist cultural narratives around women and minorities. Well, she’s not. Frankly I have no idea what her motivations are or how she really feels about anything. But anyone who really cared about altering cultural narratives around women would never post this tweet:

I think I’m going to vomit. I see the quotation marks, so perhaps Catherine didn’t say this herself, but rather overheard it…and thought it so witty, so relevant, so erudite, that it just had to be shared with the people of twitter. That’s right, the whole “woman as semen receptacle” trope is apparently something Catherine Deveny finds worth repeating. If one were especially charitable one might hope that she was tweeting this comment to “call it out”…alas that she didn’t, you know, call it out. She appears to endorse it or think it’s funny or who knows what.

But, just in case you still thought Catherine Deveny might be your ally, check this out:

Nobody – let alone someone who appears to believe themselves a feminist – makes a goddamn rape joke on my watch without getting called the fuck out. Oh did you think this rape joke was okay because it references a MAN getting raped? Well it’s not fucking okay. The rape of men in prison is a serious issue, not the punchline in a joke.

Let me say this again, since it bears repeating: It’s never okay to make a rape joke. I don’t care who you think you are. I don’t care if you’re Gloria goddamn Steinem, anyone who makes a rape joke and appears unbothered by subsequent complaints about it is not our ally. In the social justice community, we do not take other people’s horrific experiences and turn them into one-liners for our own amusement. That’s what the other guys do. We stand against those who co-opt of the pain of marginalised groups, such as the victims of sexual assault and rape, for cheap laughs. Remember? Remember that, everyone?

Did I mention that Catherine Deveny is extremely sizeist and perpetuates negative, inaccurate and harmful stereotypes about fat people? Well she is and she does! Here’s an old tweet from April:

Shall we play fat hatred bingo with this? I think so. Let’s see now: Ignorant and incorrect assumptions about a person’s eating habits based on their body size? Check! Dismissing a person’s opinion because of their body size? Check! Treating fat people as the butt of a joke rather than actual human beings? Check! Pure, unprovoked, needless mean-spiritedness against a socioculturally marginalised group? BINGO.

This is bullying. Oh yes, pseudo-intellectual lefty atheists, I know you hate to think of yourselves as bullies. But if you pull shit like this, you’re a fucking bully and you know it. If this is your idea of a funny joke, you don’t have your sense of humor correctly installed. “Jokes” like this hurt real people – I’m one of the people this tweet hurt (in fact I am in recovery for an ED and when I saw this tweet I freaked out) and there are likely countless others. Jokes that ridicule marginalised groups and reinforce stigma-laden stereotypes and assumptions are tools of oppression. Furthermore, if you don’t understand the intersectionality between misogyny and fat hatred, you have some homework to do.

Catherine Deveny is actively dragging the social justice community down.  Heck, she could be the poster girl for how to pay lip service to feminism while actually undermining the damn movement. She needs to be called out for her behaviour. It’s already starting to happen on twitter, and not a moment too soon. We can’t let her get away with pretending to speak for us any longer.

Catherine Deveny is not our ally.

Author: Rachael

Rachael is a queer, nerdy, aneurotypical, white cisfemale with a bachelor's degree in economics and a give 'em hell attitude. She has a culturally unacceptable amount of body fat but sometimes "passes", and she accesses some forms of thin privilege but not others. She believes in leveraging the privilege one has in order to smash the kyriarchy. She is a big geek, an atheist, a skeptic, and a fan of science. In her spare time she enjoys meditation, going to therapy, and shouting.

9 thoughts on “Catherine Deveny Is Not Our Ally”

  1. Definitely one of those cases where calling yourself feminist doesn’t actually make you a feminist. (Well, progressive third wave at least.)

    See also: “I’m not racist but…”

  2. I agree with all the above. Catherine deveny is actually just not a very nice person. She has made many malicious comments, some of them seemingly humorous and trivial but still fundamentally nasty. Intersting that you wonder her motives. I have wondered the same and believe that she is anlittle narcissistic and her apparent feminist beliefs exist only because she is a woman. If she were a man, she would be misogynist. That is to say that her opinions drive from her ego rather than ethical/spiritual/moral/intellectual motives

  3. I follow her and re-tweeted many things she posts regularly. I’ve never seen her make posts like that before.

    I wonder, if anyone has pointed out those things to her and why they are problematic?

    1. These tweets go back to April of this year! Although of course you can sometimes miss the things people post on twitter due to having a life etc. 🙂

      I don’t know if she got called out for the fat joke, but I do know she got quite a few replies to her very recent rape joke tweet calling her out. But she never acknowledged them or responded.

      1. The fat joke was what made me, for one, unfollow her on Twitter (and @reply “When people make fat jokes on twitter I unfollow them. Because clearly they aren’t funny”). And I saw a fair bit of discussion of it on Twitter but afaik no acknowledgement or response from Deveny.

  4. Also brilliant!

    I am quite fed up of people saying “well I’m a woman/gay/black/have female friends/know fat people/care about disabled people/spoke to a black man once (ahem) and I don’t care if people treat those people appallingly…”


  5. …this is the same thing.

    “I’m a femninist…. but… *slags off loads of women to make men laugh*.” I once saw a “feminist” (introduced as such!!) female comedian doing stand up, making jokes about girls being hard up for a shag and running down an alleyway slowly in heels, wanting to be raped. FFS?

    1. So sorry about the delay in approving this – it got lost in the comment moderation queue. 🙁

      I also lament the phenomenon you’re discussing. It just shows how deeply we can internalise these harmful messages about women.

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