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On Hanson’s claims that women lie about sexual assault

My default attitude to Pauline Hanson is that my life is too short to spend much time contemplating her, however, an interview on Sunrise (no, I’m not linking) in which she gloated about the Trump victory and sputteringly claimed that women who accuse him of sexual assault are liars and women in general should toughen up when a man, uninvited, strokes our breasts and grabs our pudendas enraged me to the extent that I have to address it.

Aside: Sunrise enrages me as well, as does all breakfast television: who the hell wants to start the day with overly-cosmeticised women in tube frocks, and self-congratulatory men in nifty suits cackling & exclaiming, not me, I’d rather listen to the parrots & wattle birds brawling outside my window, they make more sense. Somebody thoughtfully sent me a clip of the Hanson debacle. It’s the only thing that’s consistently distracted me from Leonard Cohen up and dying.

Hanson articulates (?) a distressingly common attitude by some women towards claims of sexual assault, an attitude I confess confounds me. Their sympathies default to the accused man, innocent until found guilty as of course he is, but here’s the thing: so is his accuser. It’s quite something to accuse a woman of lying about sexual assault when you weren’t present, have limited knowledge of the circumstances, and are basing your judgment entirely on your feelings for/impressions of the accused, and/or dislike of the woman.

In the event that you are wrong, you’ve further harmed an already seriously harmed woman and added to the entrenched narrative that women lie about being sexually assaulted. That narrative is challenged in the link, and it’s well worth a read.

I recently watched the BBC Channel Four series National Treasure, inspired by the ghastly revelations that celebrities such as Rolf Harris and Jimmy Saville sexually assaulted and molested women and children during their highly successful careers. Paul Finchley, played by Robbie Coltrane, is a celebrity comedian charged with the historical rape of a minor, and sexual assault of another woman. Marie, played by Julie Walters, is his blindly devoted (and controlling) wife, who has long since come to terms with his many infidelities on the condition that he tells her about them.

Finchley’s two accusers are torn to shreds by the defence counsel, demonstrating why so many women do not pursue action against their attackers. However, what for me is most riveting in a series whose every moment is absolutely riveting, is the gradual admission by Marie to herself that her husband has “many layers,” his most obvious being that in which he plays the role of a harmless, loving husband and father, as well as a much-loved public figure.

With great and admirable courage, Marie slowly allows herself to see what has always been present in Paul, but brilliantly disguised: the sexually predatory, self-obsessed, emotionally immature man who believes, if he even bothers to think about it, in his entitlement to gratify his needs and desires whenever and however he sees fit.

(This acting in this series is beyond superb, btw. I haven’t recounted much of the story, in case you haven’t seen it. If you have any doubts about the complexities of sexual assault, this series will go a long way towards unpacking the life-shattering effects those complexities have on everyone involved.)

The point is that even wives and girlfriends of sexual predators can live in ignorance and denial of their partners’ “hidden layers,” so how does Pauline Hanson or anyone else know if a woman is lying about a man sexually assaulting her? Of course she doesn’t, and what’s so deeply troubling is the need by some women to deny the experiences of other women, when it comes to the actions of men.

Hanson is the current poster girl for this attitude, in her ludicrous defence of Trump, and her vicious attacks on women who’ve made claims against him. Hanson is a member of the Australian parliament. She has a platform and she is inspired by Trump’s victory. So, much as I resent spending even part of my morning writing about her, I can’t ignore her poisonous views. They have to be challenged. She has to be called.

It is never, ever acceptable to accuse a woman of lying about sexual assault until one knows, beyond a reasonable doubt, if she is. It is never, ever acceptable to base one’s judgement on dislike of her, or affection for the man she’s accused. Until we as a society get past defaulting to the assumption of false claims there will be no justice for women, and perpetrators will remain free and unaccountable.

This article was originally published on No Place For Sheep.



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  1. Keitha Granville

    Excellent article, and we loved National Treasure too. It is exactly this attitude that famous men have some sort of right to anybody and anyone at any time that has fuelled the total ignore by a vast swathe of the Amercian voting public to elect Trump.

    They must be lying, they threw themselves at him, and even if he did it doesn’t matter because he is famous and rich.

    Really ?? Seriously ?? (personally why one would throw themself at DT is totally beyond me, you can’t ignore the hair )
    Any woman who has the intestinal fortitude to take him on in court fills me with admiration. It’s hard enough to fight when the perpetrators are unknowns, can you imagine the world of pain with someone like DT.
    Power to them.

  2. david1

    Good read Jennifer, you confirm my opinion Hanson is a mad woman and Ch7 do nothing to make me change my thinking, it is just another mirror image of the nonsense and inflammatory work of the Murdoch media. Tarred with the same brush. The L-NP will rue the day they climbed into bed with One Nation.

  3. Athena

    Pauline Hanson has obviously never been sexually assaulted, which is good for her. But her lack of consideration and empathy for others leaves a lot to be desired. Was she dragged up or just naturally rotten to the core?

  4. Terry2

    I wonder how a woman groped by Trump would get on if it had gone a stage further to rape ; would she be game enough to take on the POTUS.

    As with all rape cases it comes down to that crucial element of consent and he said/she said.

    It would take a very brave woman to take him on.

    Agreed, Jennifer National Treasure was powerful television.

  5. Steve Laing

    Hanson is just a professional troll. That really is all there is to her. It is the only way that she can get the attention that she clearly craves.

  6. bobrafto

    Perhaps, Pauline is giving a signal that she is up for a good uninvited grope.

  7. etnorb

    Another “beautiful” (NOT) series of comments from this Hansonite! Maybe we could start a movement to send her to help to the USA & the Trumpet, as she is obviously well-qualified (?) & of a similar mind-set to him? At least then we here in Australia could then forget about her stupid bloody Australia First” party! Another though provoking article Jennifer, thank you! Your comments about “National Treasure” were also great, but, I wonder why any woman would want to be with this obese, smug so-called “personality”? I realise that some of these accusations about this character in the series would have stemmed from when he was younger & thinner! Bloody good acting from Robbie Coltrane (he always seem to play great roles) & Julie Walters.

  8. Harquebus

    Jennifer Wilson has obviously not been at the receiving end of vengeance seeking woman. Fortunately for me, the magistrate saw through the false allegations made against me and dismissed the charges. Nevertheless, the experience is one that I do not want repeated.

    One does not have to be guilty to have one’s life ruined. To be accused only is enough.

    Thank you Jennifer for teaching me a new word but, after checking the meaning, it is “pudenda” that is the plural of “pudendum”.


  9. diannaart


    I can’t speak for Jennifer, however I can speak for myself. I have been bullied more often (at school, the workplace) by women than by men.

    I have been sexually accosted in public more frequently by men than women.

    Although, for the entire control freak bullying and physical abuse it took my ex-husband to really cause damage – for life.

    My point is we know people – men and women do bad things. We also know that people tell lies.

    Critiquing people such as Hanson is not negating your experiences Harq.

    However, Hanson IS negating the experiences of far too many women who have been abused.

  10. brickbob

    ‘Good article Jennifer,yes Hanson is a worry and breakfast television certaintly sucks and i hope that i never have to engage with either of them till the day i die.””””””””

  11. Nato

    You might be overlooking the fact that they were, in fact, false allegations.
    They are as real as the TV series.
    But it’s a good idea to not link to the interview, our opinions might be swayed by evidence. We might get a glimpse at what the leader of a major political force believes. If only the American political types had ignored what drove Trump supporters, we could have had a Clinton president-elect.

  12. Harquebus

    I can empathize with you. Of course there is a lot more to my story than I am letting on here. It does sound like we have both made mistakes.
    The point I am making in response to this statement; “innocent until found guilty as of course he is”, is that, innocence does exempt the accused from being punished. One can not automatically assume that the accuser is always telling the truth and because it was assumed, it cost me dearly.
    I was innocent and disbelieved by all except my family, friends and solicitor right up until my day in court when, even the prosecutor admitted that he had got it wrong.

  13. Zathras

    Considering that they will have a whole lifetime to get over it, does she extend that sentiment for “toughening up” to molested children too?

    I suspect it’s not the uninvited assault that matters to her, it’s just hearing about its existence in her idealised white supremacist world that bothers her.

  14. helvityni

    Asylum seeker women were sexually abused on hell hole places like Nauru and Manus, not too many tears were shed for them, wrong colour, wrong religion…out of sight, out of mind.

  15. diannaart


    I do know what it is like to have been falsely accused – although, in my case it was nothing to do with abuse, bullying or anything like the issue we are discussing and no-one’s business but my own.

    Having survived abuse and never feeling I had the wherewithal to survive making formal complaints, I have no patience with the likes of Hanson.

    If a car is stolen and trashed we don’t have a chorus of people telling the victim that people lie about their car being stolen, or their home burgled, or other crime. However, whenever we try to discuss the victimisation of women at the hands of sexual predators – out they come, the “she tells lies” chorus. Every frickin’ time.

    It is also quite possible that Hanson herself has been sexually abused – she might blame herself and this is why she sees other women as culpable. Who knows? Hanson strikes me as an opportunist who sees her chance at power remaining with the traditional holders of power. She is just another Thatcherite.

  16. Harquebus

    I hear you and don’t disagree with your basic argument. I just want to make the point that, disbelieving the accused for no other reason than they are male can have serious consequences for those that are genuinely innocent. I know, I’ve been there.

  17. david1

    diannaart…Hanson minus the intelligence of Thatcher? certainly some of the scheming cunning

  18. Athena

    “If a car is stolen and trashed we don’t have a chorus of people telling the victim that people lie about their car being stolen, or their home burgled, or other crime. However, whenever we try to discuss the victimisation of women at the hands of sexual predators – out they come, the “she tells lies” chorus. Every frickin’ time.”

    This! Thank you, diannaart.

  19. wam

    All of us remember xenophobia and we laughed. Pudenda is the part women should feel ashamed about. Wow how ‘male’ is that?? Trump admits to pudenda grabbing and tit fondling, as a celebrity, in the manner of the savilles and harris. If someone like Diannaart could get on 9 and challenge hanson ability to understands what she says we could all have a ‘please explain’ laugh again.
    I have found women to be the best bullies and have met many men who have no problem with the concept of women gagging for a grope.
    The sad note is the lack of respect for the breakfast shows. These autocue journalists provide all the information seen by the voters.
    9 has the grinning karl baby who has no problems proving right is right and gets the top government announcements straight from the horses mouth on the rare occasion lisa, despite being on the boy’s side, gets a gig she has been quite incisive. The opposite is the twitty sunrise giggling women perched on the traditional configuration. The similarity is their support of the government and there awful treatment of gillard and since 2013 labor.
    No government will lose unless the opposition is seen on these shows. Littlebilly will only be seen on these shows by using the rabbott’s tactics.
    Has labor or shorten the fortitude or just hope we will research for ourselves the ‘pudenda’ or the liberal bullshit on border control?
    Will she be first in line for opinion for the next 6 years? Has little billy retired, hoping for 2022?
    Doesn’t anyone in labor care about the attacks on medicare? Doesn’t anyone in labor care about the brandis back down?
    The morning shows, that are too hard for jennifer, seem even more difficult for little billy or torpid tanya?
    Million watch the advert media and the few that watch the ABC get uhlmann(how did the two boys get a junket to the election? Did any hear anything sensible from the pair of grinning twits???
    Have shorten and plibersek shut Albo up leaving labor’s representation to latham?

  20. Ricardo29

    Nato, in the series he was acquitted yes, but that doesnt mean the accusations were false. In fact there are many hints, even an admission, that they were true his lawyers did what they do to so many women in such situations, they further humiliate them and sow seeds of doubt. My take from that series was that the accusers were right but the lawyers did them in. The implication at the end… Sorry, almost a spoiler for those who might go ti iView. Great acting all round.

  21. David

    Our society is sick. We have allowed it to fester and grow, because that was the plan. If you take the time to read the Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion, you might recognize how much has come to pass. Sickening, predatory and completely unacceptable behaviour in human society.

  22. jimhaz

    In the scale of sexual predators Trump is pretty light on. It is not a big issue for most people (unless there is any actual evidence for the underage stuff with Epstein). Sort of expected for someone like him ie someone who ran Miss Universe.

    Of course everyone should expect much better, much more restraint and self-discipline for the position of US president, but I can quite understand why most swinging voters did not weigh it much.

  23. diannaart


    In the scale of sexual predators Trump is pretty light on.

    Yeah, when I used to go out night-clubbing, I was always grateful that I only got groped around the arse, instead of beaten up and raped….

    …oh, wait, my ex-husband did the beating up…

  24. Terry2

    Lisa Wilkinson has been criticised for the probing nature of her interview with the PM this morning.

    All she had tried to do was flesh out the vagueness of the Nauru/Manus announcement that was so full of holes and completely lacking in any real detail. The PM seemed to be more interested on being filmed in front of a battle ship demonstrating how tough he was on border security: Abbott had a look-alike George W leather jacket when he did these things, Malcolm should have worn that.

    Lisa was quite right and quite entitled to probe for details on this very vague and wishy-washy announcement.

    See here:

  25. Michael

    Speaking from personal experience, obviously.

  26. king1394

    I know that many women suffer dreadfully at the hands of men, some of whom are their supposedly loving partners. As a feminist from the 70s, I was involved in actions that led to better attitudes towards women and children who reported sexual and other abuse. I can well remember the attitude of police officers who seemed to believe that a woman deserved a beating because the washing up wasn’t done.

    However (how difficult it is to report) there are nowadays some women who will use the gains we made to issue groundless accusations; I am personally aware of two cases where a man has been smeared so that a woman could get some advantage: victim’s compensation in one case and rehousing assistance in both cases. One case involved a daughter of mine as a witness so that she was dragged into court – her testimony actually helped the man to be found innocent as she had not actually seen the alleged assault, but was able to give other details that showed it was made up – as a ten-year-old it was not good for her to be put into a position where she was asked to lie to help a ‘friend’.

    I don’t appreciate women who exploit the improvements that women (and many men) fought to achieve. This accusation that some women lie has been made against women since the biblical story of Potiphar’s wife, and it continues to hurt all those women who have truly been abused. It is therefore unfortunate but women’s accusations must be treated with some scepticism, and require proof, the same as with any other criminal matter

  27. david1

    If Hanson wished to speak on the subject and be taken seriously it would have, for normal folk with even a semblance of intelligence to have read up on it, examined court cases of which there are many many and stored the information in her brain, as a politician and party leader and human being, for future use.
    Of course that is not how she operates and her followers don’t expect her to, shooting from the mouth is good enough, regardless how stupid and misinformed her words. is
    Tragedy of this persons ignorance, there will be many more such occasions before she and her brain dead fellow Senators meet their ultimate rejection.

  28. Annie B

    An excellent article by Jennifer Wilson …

    And many probing and great responses to this continuing argument which ultimately degrades to ‘he said / she said’ in so many cases.

    There have indeed been many incidences of women who are opportunists, blaming well known men for sexual harrassment at least – in order to gain $$$ … that is a given I would think.

    On the other hand, there are many many MORE women who have been victimised by brutes ( ** not all men are brutes but certainly some are ) … who have :

    a) reported it and then feel they have been ‘raped’ again, by clever / cunning barristers in a court of law, defending the accused and querying the entire painful scenario in order to score points for the defendant – to the extreme distress and chagrin of the woman bringing the accusation, …. or

    b) have not reported it because they feel they will get absolutely no-where, especially if the man concerned is of some alleged character, integrity (?) and standing in the community. ….. And for the most part they would be correct in that feeling / assumption, partly because of point a).

    Then there are men who have been mentally, physically and emotionally brutalised by women … but the % is small by comparison.

    I happen to fall into the b) category above. … I have no wish to go into the details, but I do NOT lie. It was a shocking, disgusting & humiliating physical domination by the male because of who he was ( or thought he was ) – I would not wish to see that visited on any other person – ever. ..

    This however, is not about me. It is to do with the many thousands of women who feel powerless to defend themselves, either at the time of the abuse, or later in a court of law. Except for the few, who DO win their cases, and for those who are after the $$$ value of blame and claim ( but those cases often die a natural, and don’t get anywhere in the long run anyway – which is about all they deserve ).

    So we come back to the Pauline Hanson debacle. … And that’s for sure what she is – a debacle / a fiasco. A publicity junkie, much like her male counterpart ( ?? ) in the U.S. – Trump, as she sees him to be her equal, her idol, her role model for making waves and garnering the attention of the inane and inept MSM. … It’s the MSM that fall for her skewed ideologies and deliberate attempts to upset everyone she can. … The MSM just adore controversy. They thrive on it. … Unfortunately, there are a few Australians who also follow her illogical and quite evil, reasonings.

    Cannot see Hanson as ultra-dangerous at this point ( even though she managed 4 seats in the Senate – two by default !! ) … as she will fall on her own sword in the long run. … She has no sense or intelligence. And one day ( maybe ) she will wake up to being cynically used by the LNP – and then thrown to the scrap heap, because that’s what rabid, lying, weak politicians do ….

  29. Mark Needham

    There are too many women, involved in the political voice.

    This is where our “political Correctness” has come from.

    Enough is enough. Men and women are poles apart in thinking. It is not that women think differently to men, it is that, they know, that they are right.
    We are all, right, correct in our views and understanding. It is that to-day, with the avarice, greed and bull shite, that is spun and dealt, that the problem becomes too much for the female gender.

    My head should be bitten of by now. But, just for a second, please ask yourself, as to whether there is a difference in the thought structure and decision making of the 2 parties, ie, boys and girls. Given certain facts, we do come up with different reactions and possible anger/agreement to the fact.

    The gentler, mothering, “bite the head of anyone who attacks my children” of the female species, is not designed to play in the field of the crap and garbage, that is to-days modern world, mind you, great for a blog on a website, when some idiot pops his head up…….!

    Maybe our Muslim friends, are correct in the subjugation of women. The excess of womens’ sexuality, half, if not all of their mothering capabilities, pushed up, and separated, are shoved in our face.
    Yet a bloke wears a pair of budgie smugglers, about the only piece of male clothing, that is close to sexual attire, and god forbid, he is a lifesaver, and the lady lifesavers wear what……? Those tight fitting caps, 2 colours, are just too much for a man to bear.

    C’mon, girls, stay home, cook us some Tea, but leave the worldly games to us blokes, Hey!

    Scrub up, put some lippy on, nice little nightie, we’ll look after you, Hey…..

    Pants down,
    Smugglers on,
    Lying back waiting,
    Mark Needham

  30. Matters Not

    Says it all. So sad. But perhaps so widely shared.

    Mark is finally ‘out’.

  31. paulwalter

    I loved Wilson’s nailing of shuddersome morning TV.. wonderful stuff.

    With this article, AIM has done full circle to back to before our own election and the role fringe right wing splinter groups played in that election and many will remember some ill tempered debates here concerning the fraught issues particularly involved with DV and marriage bust ups.

    With Pauline Hanson we seem to have discovered our missing link to Donald Trump and Tea Party social conservatism in the USA. We think also on the likes of Bernardi, Christensen, Cash, ScoMo and a host of other (often religious) control freaks deeply committed to control of women, of indigenous people and the unemployed, refugees and gays to name but some of of the targets. They are anti education and intellect, anti enviro because it gets in the way of the peasant grab for a quick buck and remain deeply hostile to people outside their own narrow set of fellow travellers.

    My belief is that the US has just experienced a more virulent version of what happened here between Gillard and Turnbull and if you consider Wilson’s point from what has gone on here in Australia alone, to me also there is little doubt that Trumpism will be hard, very hard, on women, the poor, blacks and others who had hoped for a fairer and more rational result to the US elections.

    If the result defines anything, it shows the paranoia and psychosis now deeply entrenched in the US mindset derived of the neglect of social policy in favour of greedish neoliberalism.

  32. Jennifer Wilson

    Thank you for the feedback, everyone.
    I didn’t want to talk about the ending of National Treasure because spoilers, however someone has, so for mine, the ending was a spectacularly good representation of what so often happens in such situations.
    It was pretty obvious from the flashback scenes what had actually happened.
    The ending also demonstrated another form of justice and retribution not offered by the legal system.

    I don’t think I want anything much to do with your head, Mark Needham, it sounds full of….

    Jimhaz, your description of Trump’s sexual predation normalises male sexual entitlement to our bodies. Men have no entitlement to our bodies. It isn’t *normal* to think they do, and it isn’t to be expected.

    Harquebus, I’m not suggesting we should assume guilt because of gender, quite the opposite, as men should not be assumed guilty, neither should women be assumed guilty of lying about them.

    Nato ,you can find the interview. I assume you have a google finger. I’m not obliged to link to things that sicken me.

    Cheers, everyone. Jennifer.

  33. Winston

    Agree Terry 2. We really have gone backwards intellectually. When I was a boy I thought Politicians had wisdom. Personally I have seen many a good one in the Labor Party though not many in the Liberal Party. Maybe John Hewson.

    Turnball like Trump are so thin skinned and egotistical. The right wingers have lost their soul like an ISIS fundament’s. They will do and say anything for their blinded cause. That’s why they attack journalist’s who ask hard question. For me; we are living in very sad and bad times. Nobody told me there would b days likes these.

  34. david1

    Wont waste my time with the ignorance of M Neeham whose supposed surname says it all

  35. Kaye Lee

    I would suggest that any man who thinks budgie smugglers are “sexual attire” will be “lying back waiting” for a long time to be ‘served’. 🙂

  36. Terry2

    The worrying thing to me is that, in recent days, various commentators talking about Trump’s promises have dismissed them as being ‘campaign rhetoric’ as though it is quite acceptable to lie during an election campaign but everything changes when you achieve office.

    Abbott was the first exponent of this in Australia that I am aware of, but we can expect much more of it as it becomes the norm.

    We will need to rely far more on an informed and probing media and people like Leigh sales cannot allow themselves to be fobbed off as occurred on 7.30 last night.

  37. Winston

    I’m afraid I agree with u again Terry 2.The Dumbing Down by the media in the past 15 years is pathetic. I still shake my head at some of Abbotts past comments. Da! are we really supposed to except this garbage. So it seems now a politician can say “I am going to Bomb North Korea on Monday” and then shake it off on Thursday as being “ locker room talk”. Good Greif!f

  38. paulwalter

    Shit, did I type Gillard and Turnbull? I meant Gillard and Abbott.

    But that will look little more than a headcold compared to the political pneumonia America is set to suffer.

  39. Mark Needham

    Ah Ha.

    Bit hard to pick a fight.
    Mark Needham
    PS. Proves the pint, that you should not always believe what you read.

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