BY MIA FREEDMAN
Several years ago, I was asked to be on Q&A. Even though I was nervous – I adored the show but had watched people far smarter than me be flayed alive on social media – I agreed and we set a date.
Three days before my scheduled appearance, Julia Gillard rolled Kevin Rudd and as the rumours ignited Twitter, my first thought was for
Kevin Rudd myself. “I’m so going to get dumped from Qanda,” I tweeted. And by the morning I had been.
I never went back. Not because I was having a tanty (I save those for when there’s not enough goat’s cheese in my salad) but because the more time went on, the harsher I saw the treatment dished out to panellists on Twitter.
Why put myself through it, I reasoned. I’m happy watching from the couch.
The next time the producers called and tried to book me for a particular date, I thought about it carefully before saying no. Still too chicken. Several weeks later when that proposed date arrived, it turned out to be the day of the first ALP spill where Kevin Rudd challenged Julia Gillard for leadership of the Labor Party.
A year later, another call from Q&A. This time, the lure of a special women’s panel with Germaine Greer was too much. I said yes straight away. And within 48 hours of me agreeing, there was another ALP leadership spill.
THIS SHIT BE GETTING TOO WEIRD.
Agreeing to go on Q&A is a big deal for me, I won’t lie. Being in the company of Germaine Greer (no matter how hard I disagree with her on many subjects) and the other fiesty, intelligent and accomplished women on the panel is supremely daunting.
So I thought the best way for me to deal with it all, might be to write some of it down to share what goes on behind the scenes. Well, my scenes anyway. And here we go.
3 WEEKS BEFORE THE SHOW
I’m told my fellow panelists are Germaine, former sex worker ‘Belle de Jour’ (Brooke Magnanti), indigenous opera singer Deborah Cheetham and anti-Muslim activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali.
I’ve already read Brooke Magnanti’s book about the 18 months she spent doing sex work. MM editor Jamila lends me Ayaan’s book, Infidel.
I read it concurrently with Sheryl Sandberg’s book Lean In and give myself the best kind of whiplash. Two more different feminist works I could not imagine. Both have me gripped.