TW: sexual assault
In this article, Glass Editor-in-Chief Ciaran Greig sits down with Hannah Kinder, QUT alum and author of ‘Will women + 2023 be the iconic duo we need?’ published in Glass: Issue 15 (out soon, make sure to come to our launch on Friday!). We chat destroying the patriarchy, finding joy, and the conversations we should all be having with our friends in 2023.
I saw you were a QUT COVID grad! What was it like graduating in the pandemic, and what have you been up to since then?
It was strange! I had been working full-time for about six months before I graduated, so in a way it felt like a bit of a non-event because, practically speaking, nothing changed. I will say, nothing screams 2020 more than receiving your degree via automated email.
What was your favourite project you worked on while at university?
My majors were Media & Communication and Entertainment Industries, so it was a nice mix of practical (real world haha) projects where you had an actual product at the end, and more critical analysis type stuff.
Because I am a wanker, I really enjoyed the philosophical what-impact-does-twitter-have-on-gendered-interactions kind of essays and debates. I know. Put me in the bin.
Where do you find joy in your every day?
Oh my gosh, this is my favourite question! I am the biggest advocate for joy and at the risk of sounding like an insufferable toad, I find it in a lot of different places. There’s a big reserve at the end of my street which is well-known as a koala habitat and has become an unfiltered source of joy for me over the past six months. I love singing in the car. I love anytime the sky does literally anything. I love (finally) living in a house with a dishwasher. Finding joy is a priority!
Why do you feel like Australia is ‘listening’ to women now? Is it the inevitable consequences of years of advocacy or is it something else at play?
Hmm. I’m not sure. I think to some extent, it’s the fact that we’re at a point where just enough women are in positions of influence that decision-makers are forced to listen. I think that there are slowly becoming tangible consequences for being actively and vocally anti-gender equality – you may lose your position/reputation/support/business/election.
In saying that though, it’s still very much the exception and not the rule. Plenty of people have retained their positions despite displaying hugely problematic behaviours. I’m often reminded that progress always takes longer than we’d like.
How do you think we can advocate for ourselves and others to make 2023 a ‘year’ where we see real change in inequality?
I want to say stomp on anyone who tells you to smile, but that’s not the answer. When tackling something as widespread and personal as gender inequality, I think self-compassion and rest is very important – this work is exhausting and incessant.
I often worry that we exist in finely curated echo chamber, and the people who need to be paying attention have noise cancelling headphones on. I’m a big fan of starting conversations with the men in my life about how gender inequality might be affecting them negatively. Finding common ground is a really important first step. The patriarchy sucks for everyone! Let’s talk about it!
Last year you hosted and produced a podcast about rape culture in Australia, Asking For It, in collaboration with Cheek Media Co. Can you tell us about the germination of that project and what it was like to produce it?
The idea came to me after listening to one of my closest friends talk about the fact that she couldn’t attend a particular event as a result of PTSD that a sexual assault had left her with. We were parked outside my old apartment one night, and although this wasn’t news to me, it was the moment my heart really broke for her.
I remember feeling enraged at the fact that her life had been so irrevocably changed, a clear before and after. That she was the one who had to miss out on things, spend her money on hours of therapy and physio and trying desperately to claw back the story she was promised. Meanwhile, the perpetrator? He had no idea. He got to just go on his jolly way, entirely oblivious to the unimaginable pain he had caused. I remember feeling overwhelmingly helpless and so disgustingly sick of this narrative. And so, Asking For It was born!
In terms of the actual making of it, my god it was fun! Although I had worked previously as a podcast producer for other production companies, I’d never done it on my own from start to finish, so it was an extreme baptism by fire. I came away from each interview with this massive grin on my face, pumped full of exhilaration and hope and this unshakeable sense of disbelief that I got to spend my time talking to these incredible experts. But my favourite part is always putting it together in the edit. It’s like a giant puzzle and when the pieces fit, it’s euphoric.
Listening to Asking for It made me realise how much I avoid consuming content about rape culture. Not necessarily because it’s triggering for me, but more selfishly because I find it uncomfortable and not something I want to think about often. I admire how you look this topic, and others, in the eye so unflinchingly. What other topics do you think it’s important we don’t look away from at the moment?
Where to begin! One that comes to mind – particularly given the context of this time of year in Australia is the fact that we’re still celebrating 26 January. We still don’t have an Indigenous Voice to Parliament. We still have horrifically and disproportionately high incarceration rates for Indigenous Australians. The list goes on and on.
And obviously I’d be silly to neglect the colossal disaster that is our changing climate. Ha. That one really gets me though, because every time I try and look it in the eye, I come away crying. It’s hard.
In the second episode of Asking For It, you interviewed a mutual friend of ours about their experience with sexual assault. As you sat in your car waiting to go in and discuss this with her, I felt my anxiety levels mirroring yours. I almost didn’t want you to walk into Em’s house. It’s confronting to hear about someone you love experiencing sexual assault – how do you support your own mental health while telling important stories like this?
To be honest, the experience of hearing someone you love tell their story of sexual assault is one that happens anyway. To me, hearing stories like these is an integral part of being a woman and existing in the world at the moment. It’s a story that I (we) hear far too often. I was more concerned about the impact on Em – even though telling this story was on her terms, once it goes out into the world you lose control of it.
In terms of looking after my own mental health, I use the failsafe; exercise, therapy, lying on the floor and complaining etc.
I know you said ‘Circles and Roundabouts’, your final/epilogue episode of Asking For It, that you didn’t feel like your perspective had really shifted on the topic by the end of the podcast. Mine certainly did! I found what your grandmother had to say about anger so useful in shifting my perspective about advocacy in general as well as rape culture in Australia.
Three months after the release of the final episode, do you still feel like your perspective on the topic really hasn’t changed at all?
Argh, that’s interesting. I think when you hear the same stories over and over again, it can be easy to lose sight of the progress that has been made. It’s especially difficult when those stories don’t reflect these important systemic changes, like affirmative consent laws and educational reform and changes to the reporting process. And to be clear – of course they don’t. It’s not an overnight fix.
But it is a balance between celebrating those wins and realising still how many people forgot their attitudes in 1940. It’s one I struggle with. Maybe I feel more hopeful now that I’m not in the dregs of the work, but it’s certainly a cautious optimism.
What’s next for you?
I’m working on a few different podcast projects, including one for Cheek again which is very exciting. I’m being very strict with my writing-before-TikTok rule, because I am basically a dog who can only function with the promise of an impending treat. One page, then you get a dopamine hit. I’m meant to be training for a New Zealand hiking trip, but that’s been less do and more sit around and look at pictures of Milford Sound. I’m making more pasta from scratch because it’s so easy and you’re instantly better than everyone. What can I say, it’s busy over here!
Hannah Kinder, a QUT alum, is a Brisbane-based writer and podcast producer. She likes almond croissants, airports and reminding people that she was school captain in primary school.