Let Women Speak – The vilification of Angie Jones

Let Women Speak – The vilification of Angie Jones

By Stephanie Bastiaan


We’ve heard a lot about the vilification of Moira Deeming by Victorian Liberal Party Leader John Pesutto and others in the wake of the Let Women Speak rally in Melbourne, and recently, UK women’s rights activist Kellie-Jay Keen has joined Moira in issuing defamation proceedings against the leader – and in her case – his entire leadership team. There are many other women who have been harmed by the vile slurs thrown around by politicians and the media following the rally. One of those women, is women's and children's advocate, Angie Jones.


“The only good Nazi is a dead Nazi”, “follow your leader and kill yourself.” –online trolls

 After days of online abuse and threats against her life and family, Angie Jones pulled over the car, head in her hands, wondering when the torment would end. Were her kids safe? Was her life in danger? How long would she have to live in fear? Jones called her friend, Katherine Deves, who recognised the breaking point of overwhelming darkness that comes from the relentless bullying of faceless strangers, whose goal is to assure their target that the entire world hates them and wishes them dead. 


A lifelong left-wing feminist of Jewish descent and single mother of four, the last thing Jones expected was that she would be defamed in the media as a far-right extremist. 


It all started a couple of weeks earlier, on a warm Saturday morning in March 2023, where several hundred women met on the steps of Parliament House in Melbourne with international women’s rights advocate Kellie-Jay Keen, also known as Posie Parker. They were meeting to talk about their sex-based rights, including the right to female-only spaces free from men who claim they're women. Amongst them was Jones, who was the event co-organiser and safety marshal.  


While members of the Red Flag Victorian Socialists faced off with a group of unidentifiable men in black masks who looked like Antifa, most women were keeping a nervous eye on the growing crowd of trans rights activists who were becoming increasingly aggressive while trying to force their way past the police barriers. 


After the event kicked off, there was a moment of panic and confusion from attendees at the women’s rally, as police allowed the men in black to storm towards the rally and onto the steps of parliament, where they performed the Nazi salute while one used a megaphone to shout over the women speaking. Instead of sending them away, the police escorted them through the rally and past the trans rights activists creating further tension. 


After one male trans rights activist managed to get through and snatched the microphone from one of the women speaking, Jones rallied the other marshals to form a human barrier around the stage to provide extra protection. In the end, despite the heavy police presence and the safety marshals, the trans rights activists broke through, assaulting women and forcing the event to an early close. 


“That rally was organised by people who have known and established links with people who have Nazi sympathies, promote white supremacist views and ethno-fascist views. One of the people with whom Ms Deeming was celebrating (after the rally) was Angie Jones…” –Victorian Liberal Party Leader John Pesutto, 20 March 2023

Less than 48 hours after the rally, Jones’ life was turned upside down when Opposition Leader John Pesutto accused her of neo-Nazi links in a press conference to justify a motion to expel a fellow Liberal colleague, Moira Deeming, from the Liberal Party Parliamentary Team for attending the rally. 

A Twitter troll with a propensity for calling feminists groomers and paedophiles posted on a Twitter thread by Jones that the neo-Nazi’s turned up to support the women’s rights rally. Jones pushed back with a comment saying that the only thing that the Nazis and feminists agreed on was getting rid of paedophilia. That comment was used by Pesutto out of context to further smear Jones as a Nazi sympathiser, despite her condemnation of the neo-Nazis presence on that thread and in various other social media posts.

“My Jewish grandmother Juliana Tillinger, fled Nazi-occupied Austria to England in 1938 and supported the war effort as a nurse.” –Angie Jones

Despite no evidence of Jones having any sympathies or support for Nazis, white supremacists or fascists, journalists fuelling the frenzied media campaign against the Let Women Speak rallies seized Pesutto’s claims and held her up as a right-wing extremist to be ridiculed. An ABC journalist on Insiders went as far as to say that the neo-Nazis were included in the women’s rally. 

It didn’t take long for Jones’ phone and social media inboxes to quickly fill up with vile threats of violence and death wishes, including demands to kill herself. The abuse would go on for weeks and would also be weaponised by people claiming her children’s safety was at risk in her care because she had been labelled a far-right extremist. 

“I never wanted this publicity.” –Angie Jones

Jones is no stranger to political activism, which stems from her challenging childhood. Jones grew up in a housing commission estate in Moe, Victoria, with a mother who struggled to care for her acutely disabled brother whom Jones cares for today. As a young woman, she rallied against what she saw as systemic government failures in the state care system that she felt left children in homes like hers vulnerable. Her dad was a member of the Transport Workers Union and the young feminist found herself aligned to the left of Australian politics, where there was a strong focus on wage equality, action on domestic violence and affordable access to childcare.  

Despite her upbringing, Jones was one of a few students to graduate from Moe High School and go on to university.  

While Jones has never believed that men can become women and vice versa, Jones says she ‘came out of the gender critical feminist closet’ publicly after watching her mother-in-law drink herself to an early grave after her husband of 20 years ran off with their life savings and superannuation to start a new life identifying as a ‘woman’, leaving her financially and emotionally destitute. 

Another a defining moment for Jones was when a biological man with a ponytail and breasts turned up to a therapy session she was supporting at a women’s crisis centre. A female rape victim was unaware he was there as she shared her story, and left in shock after he spoke up and never returned. 

Like many of her friends, Jones was increasingly concerned about the erosion of sex-based rights for women, so she decided to start an online podcast, Terf Talk Down Under, with her friend Stassja Frei, to provide a platform for women to discuss issues and concerns in the new era of gender identity and normalisation of autogynephilia (“a man’s paraphilic tendency to be sexually aroused by the thought or image of himself as a woman”). 

Over the last twelve months, the podcast has grown to have several thousand followers and has brought women together from across the political divide. 

“I have PTSD from the rally and what followed.” –Angie Jones

As a private citizen with no platform, Jones feels she was muzzled from defending herself against the defamatory comments made by a man in a position of power. The incident made her feel unsafe particularly in the city where the rally had taken place. Jones realised just how widespread the impact of being defamed was when her daughter came home from school and said her friend was no longer allowed to come over.

The decision to get involved in specific organisations or join political movements is often motivated by personal experience. Like many women who join women’s rights campaigns, Jones has her own history of family violence and says political leaders minimising the voice of women to favour trans rights activists is a form of gaslighting. 

She believes men like Pesutto, who abuse their powerful positions for political gain, should be held to account and, like Kellie-Jay Keen, is considering following Moira Deeming’s steps in taking legal action. 

If there’s one silver lining to the vilification of women like Jones, it’s that it inspires more women to find the courage to stand up and push back against the forces trying to silence women speaking out and defending their sex-based rights. 

These women are emerging from all walks of life – in business, law, academia, healthcare, and every level of government. 

And they are a force to be reckoned with. 

Stephanie Bastiaan is a Research Fellow with Women’s Forum Australia

Women’s Forum Australia is an independent think tank that undertakes research, education and public policy advocacy on issues affecting women and girls, with a particular focus on addressing behaviours and practices that are harmful and abusive to them. We are a non-partisan, non-religious, tax-deductible charity. We do not receive any government funding and rely solely on donations to make an impact. Support our work today.

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