UPDATE! National Alliance of Australian peak organisations against violence against women joins us in our campaign calling on Immigration Minister Morrison to revoke visa
Immigration Minister Scott Morrison has been hearing from us a lot lately. That is because there’s been just too many misogynistic rap artists granted entry into Australia. First we wrote requesting to have Tyler, the Creator‘s visa revoked. Then we brought attention to the woman-hating lyrics and pimping of Snoop Dogg. Now we have joined with a growing body of anti-violence organisations in an appeal to Minister Morrison to act in the interests of women and children and bar rapper Eminem from inciting violence against women. You can read our letter below:
We are writing to you regarding visa applicant Marshall Mathers. Mathers (stage named ‘Eminem’) is due to arrive in Australia for a national music tour on February 19.
Australian Immigration Fact Sheet 78 on Controversial Visa Applicants refers to “people whose presence in Australia may, because of their activities, reputation, known record or the cause they represent and propagate, vilify or incite discord in the Australian community or a segment of that community, or represent a danger to the Australian community or a segment of that community.”
We believe the application by Mathers meets this definition of Controversial Visa Applicant on the basis of the content of his song lyrics. He seeks to enter Australia in order to profit from the broadcasting and selling of these lyrics. While his activities are therefore commercial, the content of the product he sells nonetheless propagates discriminatory ideas about women and other groups, and represent a danger to a segment of the Australian community on the potential basis of incitement to acts of hatred.
Mathers has received widespread media attention over the span of his career for misogynistic hate speech against women, as well as homophobia.
A characterising feature of his songs is retribution against women who he perceives have wronged him. For example, he sings about brutally murdering former female intimates through slitting their throats, chopping their heads off and cutting their faces with hedge trimmers, and then dumping their bodies in ditches, lakes or the ocean. Also, “If she ever tries to fucking leave again, Im’a tie her to the bed and set this house on fire”. This feature of his lyrics poses particular risk to the Australian community in its message that interpersonal conflict might be legitimately resolved through violence. Unfortunately this message still enjoys resonance in some parts of Australian society, and this heightens the risk posed to women and children of Mathers’s entry.
Mathers has specifically named his ex-wife, Kim, in various songs, and the lyrics of these songs describe retributive abuse. The lyrics of the song titled ‘Kim’ are:
“You can’t run from me Kim- it’s just us, nobody else!
You’re only making this harder on yourself
Ha! Ha! Got’cha!
Ha! Go ahead yell!
Here I’ll scream with you! ’AH SOMEBODY HELP!’
Don’t you get it bitch, no one can hear you?
Now shut the fuck up and get what’s comin to you
NOW BLEED! BITCH BLEED!”
Mathers in the popular media has openly admitted to fantasies of killing his ex-wife, and admitted that he wrote lyrics motivated by real feelings held at that time. Mathers has performed the song ‘Kim’ at a concert where his ex-wife was in attendance, while beating up a blow-up that resembled her. It was widely reported that Kim Mathers, distraught, went home and attempted suicide.
Mathers has a violent criminal history, with convictions for weapons and assault. He is a Controversial Visa Applicant because of specific conditions that continue to prevail in Australian society. In Australia today, one woman is still killed each week by an intimate partner. Victoria Police respond to domestic violence calls every ten minutes. In this social context, Mathers’s lyrics pose a particular risk for incitement to violence against women. The manner of the propagation of these lyrics in highly energised, crowded, loud, and technologically staged produced environments makes their threat greater. The fact that concert audiences will be dominated by young men exacerbates the risks.
The Commonwealth Government’s National Plan of Action to Reduce Violence Against Women and their Children 2010-2022 notes that violence against women and their children costs the Australian economy around $13.6 billion a year. If prevailing social conditions continue, “an estimated three-quarters of a million Australian women will experience and report violence in the period of 2021-22, costing the Australian economy an estimated $15.6 billion”. There are therefore economic grounds to examine Mathers’s application on the basis of conditions recognised by the Commonwealth Government to cost more in their aggravation.
The National Plan also states that, “While living safe and free from violence is everyone’s right, reducing violence is everyone’s responsibility”. There is further grounds to consider Mathers’s application on the basis of this assertion. We draw your attention to a previous Collective Shout campaign in June 2013 calling on the former Minister to revoke a visa given to US rap artist, Tyler the Creator. This artist sings about rape and murder fantasies, along with necrophilia. As a result of our actions, Talitha Stone, a young activist who led our campaign, was subjected to multiple rape and death threats from Tyler the Creator’s fans with the artist himself inciting violence against her on twitter and at his Sydney (all-ages) concert. The abuse continues and police have been involved.
We note also that our request to you to act to revoke the visa of another prominent rap artist, Snoop Dogg, who toured here last month, was rejected. You may be aware that he violated Australian law while in the country including smoking and promoting marijuana on stage. These incidents point to a trend among high-profile US artists who trade in misogynistic products toward committing other acts of abuse and criminality. These other acts further threaten the rights of Australian citizens to live safe lives free from violence.
As a society serious about eradicating violence against women, there should be no place for singers who glorify misogyny and degrade women for entertainment. Welcoming artist like Mathers sends a message that our leaders don’t really care about stopping the promotion and glorification of violence against women, and that the National Plan exists in word only. His presence here would contradict the Plan, in that his commercial product undermines the human rights of women and girls and respectful relationships, and impedes attitudinal and behavioural change especially in young people.
On behalf of our supporters, women and girls, and all who care about them, we ask that you place the safety of our female citizens before a recording artist with a criminal history, who wants to exploit women for profit and who will contribute to a harmful cultural environment for them. We request that you act urgently to revoke Eminem’s visa so that he cannot promote his misogynistic attitudes here.
Collective Shout, for a world free of sexploitation
South Eastern Centre Against Sexual Assault
Alison Grundy, Clinical Psychologist, Senior Clinician in the field of sexual assault
Dr Betty McLellan, Chairperson of Queensland Women’s Health Network
Dr Caroline Norma, Lecturer, RMIT
Vicki Johnston Sydney Manager of Domestic Violence specialist service, 2011 Heffrom Woman of the Year and NSW Finalist.
Australian Women Against Violence Alliance (National Alliance representing the following organisations)
Women’s Services Network
Association of Women Educators
National Association of Services Against Sexual Violence
Australasian Council of Women and Policing
Australian Women’s Health Network
Coalition of Women’s Domestic Violence Services of South Australia
Domestic Violence Victoria
National Association of Services Against Sexual Violence Australian Capital Territory
National Association of Services Against Sexual Violence Northern Territory
National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women’s Alliance
Network of Immigrant and Refugee Women Australia
NSW Women’s Refuge Movement
National Union of Students Women’s Officer
Queensland Domestic Violence Refuge Sector
Women’s Council for Domestic and Family Violence Services WA
Women’s Essential Service Providers Tasmania
Women’s Legal Services Australia
Women With Disabilities Australia