In defence of bogans

Chelsea Reed takes issue with the b-word

We’ve all used this word before, and due to the many media portrayals of the “bogan”, it may be considered a harmless enough stereotype. But, who do we consider to be a bogan? When we take on these considerations, it becomes a judgment based on surface values. Using this term allows for a culture of poor-bashing and classist policies.

‘Things Bogans Like’, a blog dedicated to mocking these people out of “sheer spite and an infuriating sense of self-superiority,” attempts to disguise their hateful attitudes behind an ironic disposition. But this only comes across as smug. It seems as though most middle class Australians have been deluding themselves into thinking this isn’t a class issue – we created and defined the bogan stereotype, and now we sit back and poke fun at it.

If we take away the right to use the term ‘bogan’, it forces us to confront our privilege. I experienced this firsthand when I called out ‘Things Bogans Like’ for its classist, smug attitudes on Facebook. The argument that followed proved we are lacking an awareness of classism. By proving that this is a derogatory term, we are taking away the privileged right to use the word to mock, shame or judge other people. And people love using this term. Tradies? Bogan. Cold Chisel? Bogan. Racist? Bogan.

By pointing the finger at the lower class, we tell ourselves that racist attitudes begin and end there. The middle-class tries to maintain an image of being progressive and politically correct, not to mention educated and cultured.  ‘Things Bogans Like’ thinks it is pointing out and shaming racists when all it is doing is ignoring the fact that racist attitudes begin primarily in the major political parties, rooted in the upper class. Lack of education and cultural awareness is an issue. But proper education is something that only the privileged can afford.

We need to take responsibility by not denying our privilege. Being aware of our situation is the first step to realising that other people are not born into money, that some people never have the opportunities we have. We believe that those on welfare or with low-income jobs only have themselves to blame because they “don’t have a good work ethic.” The concept of a “work ethic” is conveniently elusive.

It’s a concept that only works in favour of those who are lucky enough to have miraculously fallen into their dream job straight out of school, or who have the money to take a gap year and go to university. If we choose to believe that people are either successful or unsuccessful in life because of their “work ethic” we are denying the facts of the larger picture of society.

Classism does exist in our country and pages like ‘Things Bogans Like’ should be boycotted, the same way we boycott racist or sexist propaganda. And ask yourself: would it really cause that much inconvenience to drop the word from your vocabulary?


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