Online vitriol forces festival organiser’s hand

Organisers of a highly controversial international online didgeridoo festival featuring a culturally taboo all-female line-up have backed down - sort of - after a massive Australian backlash.

Dutch musician Elisabeth Beijerinck told the Townsville Bulletin overnight that the first ever online international female festival, The Female Power Didge, would not be broadcast publically but to a closed group of performers.

Originally scheduled for tomorrow and Saturday, the festival features 14 artists from four different continents, excluding Australia.

'Shut down the women's didgeridoo festival', a Change.org petition established in Australia to protest against the "disgusting" festival overnight climbed to more than 10,000 signatures, well above the initial target of 7500.

 

Beijerinck has been warned that woman who play the didgeridoo will become infertile, or worse, for even touching the traditional instrument. Picture: liesundertrees@live.nl
Beijerinck has been warned that woman who play the didgeridoo will become infertile, or worse, for even touching the traditional instrument. Picture: liesundertrees@live.nl

A Townsville Bulletin article posted on Facebook drew hundreds of comments, the vast majority firmly against the festival but also right-wing commentators criticising the left for its cultural outrage yet apparent support for sexism given Indigenous women are not permitted to touch a didgeridoo upon pain of becoming infertile.

Beijerinck, a classically trained musician and skilled proponent of the didgeridoo, said that she was saddened by the "hate messages" she had received but she believed the comments were not an attack on her as a person.

"Because under all this aggression I know lies a lot of hurt," she wrote in an email.

"I understand a little where it comes from."

Beijerinck, who said less than 1 per cent of the Dutch population would know of the Stolen Generations, said she had spent time with a number of First Nations clans in Australia and South Africa.

She said the online vitriol had now made it difficult, if not impossible, to find a person making a respectful comment so they could engage in a civilised discussion to bridge the divide.

She said people's "minds and hearts are coloured with what we believe is right", which led to confrontation when each group attempted to convince the other that they were wrong.

"Or should we respect each other's points of view and find out our common grounds and likes?"

Originally published as Online vitriol forces festival organiser's hand


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