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“Don’t tell me her name…”

On Friday, a second woman alleged she had been raped by the same assailant who allegedly raped media advisor Brittany Higgins in then defence industry minister Linda Reynolds’ office in March 2019, shortly before the May election.

Ms Reynolds was promoted to defence minister in the returned LNP government.

The second victim/survivor was attacked in 2020 and understandably feels that had the first alleged crime been better handled, the man would not have been free to rape her, and any other women who might not have come forward.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s reaction to news of this second alleged rape was to declare himself “sickened.” He also said this:

“I’m very upset about those circumstances and particularly for the young woman who I don’t know who that is, and nor do I need to know who that is, that is a very distressing event.”


Journalist: A second woman has been raped. Prime Minister: I don’t need to know who that is.

Imagine for one moment the tremendous privilege Mr Morrison enjoys that allows him to choose not to know.

By any measure this is a bizarre reaction to such news, and one wonders why the Prime Minister felt compelled to let everyone know that he doesn’t know the name of the second victim, and, even more oddly, that he does not need to know.

Our names are a signifier of our humanity. This is why oppressors use numbers, not names, a practice Morrison is more than familiar with after his term as immigration minister. A refusal to know someone’s name is an act of hostility. It says: you are irrelevant to me. It says: you aren’t fully human to me.

When someone is not seen as fully human, anything can be done to them.

Anyone who refuses to know our name should be treated with the utmost caution.

Perhaps Morrison is broadcasting a warning. Don’t tell me, I don’t want to know. Keep it as far away from me as possible. Give me plausible deniability in case I need it. What I don’t know can’t hurt me.

The Prime Minister wants to efface the second survivor, to make her appear insignificant, the crime against her inconsequential. He wants to delegitimise her suffering. He wants to entrench the power imbalance that gifts him the privilege to decide he doesn’t want to know.

Victims are the problem for Mr Morrison. They’re the ones causing him trouble, in his world-view.

Refusing to use someone’s name is a classic dehumanising tactic. Raping a woman is also dehumanizing her. You can’t dehumanise someone just a little bit. Morrison’s dehumanisation of the second woman is no different from the rapist’s. It is expressed in a different way. Dehumanising is an all or nothing process. There’s no such thing as a sliding scale.

Refusing to use someone’s name is also an expression of profound contempt, and a signifier of the disgust in which the deliberately un-named is held. It’s also a decision to deny publicity and notoriety. The decision not to name terrorists is an example of this.

There are no good reasons for deciding, “I don’t need to know their name.”

What has become sickeningly obvious since Ms Higgins went public just a few short days ago is that politics trumps everything, and politics especially trumps rape. It hasn’t been the crime that is the focus, not for politicians and their advisors and with a very few exceptions, not for the media. It’s been the politics. Morrison, in his declaration, did not hesitate to very publicly put his needs before those of the victim. He needs to keep his distance, it’s politics. He’s willing to dehumanise her in order to achieve his goal.

Rape is a crime. Rape is a serious crime. It isn’t a sex scandal. It isn’t consensual bonking in Parliament House. It isn’t a “serious incident.” It is a crime.

Scott Morrison doesn’t want to know the name of the latest victim of this crime. Don’t ask, don’t tell. It’s the vibe.

This article was originally published on No Place For Sheep.

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  1. Henry Rodrigues

    Today is Sunday and Scummo and his nice family will be attending hallelujah services thanking ‘God’ that he and his family are safe from sexual assault while those Lib staffers only have themselves to blame. Scummo wishes to disassociate himself from the tawdry details and he does that simply by not knowing who the victims are. Scummo is such a credit to his party and his backers and his church and his family.

    ( I’m reading Scummo’s mind)

  2. Kerri

    Morrison’s presser where he spoke about his bizarre need to have his wife tell him to be compassionate (says it all really) was all about him! He mentioned Brittany Higgins and her situation and went immediately to how he felt about it and how it had effected him! He has continued in this vein. If he were to know the name of the other victim that his government through it’s inaction failed to protect it might take the spotlight away whilst humanizing his attempts to dismiss it.
    His pathetic efforts at showing sympathy, empathy is beyond him, show he doesn’t hold an Oscar mate!
    This man disgusts me more and more every day.
    He has shown more action over needles in strawberries than he has over institutional rape!

  3. Kronomex

    So far, at least, he hasn’t trooped out that old favourite of religious nutters: “Dog is testing me but my faith will see me through and make me a better person at the end this travail.” He’s more likely checking the heavenly tourist brochures to see if they do package holidays that include beaches and cocktails and d.i.y. chicken coop and cubby houses for when he needs to do yet another runner.


    You do realise that you even dry cleaning your brain after reading the cesspit that is Saint Scotty of the Marketing’s mind isn’t going to work. If you find yourself being drawn to making putrid excuses for curries and giving thumbs up signals with a moronic grin then you are heading in dangerous realms.

  4. Mr Shevill Mathers

    The sooner heads start rolling the better. I hope the next federal election is sooner rather than later and voters think who they vote for more carefully. What we have as an LNP government is a shambles and a disgrace at every level. The senior ministers govern for themselves and waste taxpayers dollars like confetti as they ride the gravy train. Morrison as our PM is by far the worst Australia has ever had-as are his ministers. I really hope that the latest victims of alleged rape can stay the course and see these perpetrators and those who have tried to cove it up, sacked at the very least and serving jail time where appropriate. LNP= Lying Nasty People.

  5. Kronomex

    Heads will roll but you can bet that Scummo’s won’t be one of them. He’ll be the one pulling the lever on those he will choose to get the guillotine blade.

  6. Pete Petrass

    Just when we all thought they could not go any lower they just go out and find a way…..

  7. Ken

    From the Guardian: ‘When asked about those comments on Sunday, Morrison said the culture needed to change “but I’ve got to say, if any workplace thinks that this is just confined to the parliament, they’re kidding themselves – seriously, they’re kidding themselves” ‘
    Is he saying that he is aware that workplace rapes and subsequent cover-ups is commonplace!!! Why haven’t they done something about that, if it is nationwide then out Fe’ral gov should do something….maybe they could make it illegal. Nah that wouldn’t work, would it?

  8. wam

    He is struggling with when he knew of Brittany by name and is not ready for another.
    Has scummo forgotten the warning to porter in 2017 then 4 corners in nov 2020? Was it not then to call for his boy’s club to change their attitude to women???

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