FRESH from the controversy surrounding her gay-pedophile analogy on live TV last week, Mia Freedman has just been announced as the latest panellist to be part of this week’s Women Say Something forum in Sydney.
Freedman, who is an author and the publisher and founder of the Mamamia Digital Network, will join fellow panellists Candy Royalle, a poet and performance artist; deaf and gender queer activist and artist Gemma Galea; Natural State Living founder Kelly Lynch; and Diane McGrath, who was shortlisted to be one of the first to take a trip to Mars for colonisation.
Freedman told the Star Observer that she hoped to use her WSS appearance as an opportunity to further clarify what she said was a ‘clumsy’ analogy made on Channel 10’s The Project while discussing and supporting the idea of a national pedaophile register.
“We accept that gay people can’t change who they love and who they’re sexually attracted to, so why do we think that people who are sexually attracted to children can be rehabilitated?” she said as guest a panellist on the show last Thursday.
Freedman told the Star Observer that even after she apologised for her comment numerous times on Twitter and posted a statement on her website, the ensuing controversy was a “harrowing” experience for her.
“I’m kind of used to the haters so that didn’t bother me as much as I was distressed by the idea that people in the LGBTI community might somehow read a twisted summary of my words and think I wasn’t a fierce and passionate ally,” she said.
“On the weekend I was in Howard’s Storage trying to cheer myself up — it’s my happy place — and the guy at the cash register said, ‘I know what you were trying to say. The issue was a problem of proximity’. And I didn’t know whether to burst into tears or hug him. I thought that just nailed it better than I’d managed to.
“I’ve been doing live TV for so many years, I should have known my words and sentiment could be misrepresented and used against a community I love and respect so much. I’m mortified that something I said so clumsily could be like handing a loaded gun to the enemies of the LGBTI community. It’s just a nightmare. So, you know, there will be a lot of mea culpa.”
Although WSS was founded during the 2011 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras festival and often attracts a predominantly-lesbian crowd, each forum since then has focused on different issues and that it appealed to women of all identities.
Freedman said she understood all too well the importance of having a forum organised and led by women, for women.
“I think it’s the same reason I started Mamamia — the idea that women are the best people to know what other women are interested in talking, debating and learning about. It’s a safe space,” she said.
“I’m looking forward to finding out more about my fellow speakers Kelly and Gemma and listening more than I speak.
“I’m stoked and chuffed to have been invited because WSS have a reputation for being really important, interesting and dynamic forums for discussion about the kinds of issues.”