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Morrison’s undermining of sexual violence

We know the men of Australia are sick of hearing about sexual violence, but quite frankly that’s too bad for them. Women are sick of experiencing these crimes and it is high time Aussie males faced these ugly truths.

Within my circles I have not yet met a woman who can say she has not been assaulted, harassed, or targeted in one manner or another. Yes, that’s right guys, not a single one who has not experienced some form of sexual violence at the hands of Aussie men. Lately the cries of #EnoughIsEnough have been a resounding roar, and I couldn’t be happier with that news.

Sadly, little action has truly be seen on this front. Yes, Scott Morrison has decided to finally act on the Respect@Work report. But then he made what has become his typical move when dealing with sensitive topics. At almost the same time as he tabled the details of the changes, he held a press conference. Leaving no time for anyone to read the reference material prior to presenting. Just like he did when he announced the report from the Inquiry into Aged Care. This time he and Michaelia Cash said we will do this, and we will do that, and all will be fixed with regards to sexual violence in our society. I don’t call him Half-Job-Morrison without reason. Every policy released by his Government seems to, in my opinion, leak like a sift.

Discussing the recommendations accepted by the government Laura Tingle is not backwards in coming forward. She writes in her article titled The government’s credentials for dealing with COVID are turning to dust amid vaccine confusion “It took some time to get clarification that the act would be tweaked to make clear that politicians and judges aren’t exempt from the act, but that in itself would not create a sackable offence, even though it might open them up to civil proceedings by victims.”

Personally, I do not think it is right for someone guilty of – or allegedly guilty of – perpetrating sexual violence to work within Parliament nor the justice system. Considering 51% of the population are women, I dare say the Government would receive a resounding “yes” if they asked Australian’s whether they wanted a Minister to be sacked for sexual violence towards staff within Parliament House. The fact we have to wait four years before we can vote someone out for committing crimes like these is absurd. I would prefer to have the authority to sack anyone found guilty of sexual harassment the moment they are found guilty. Especially when they do so within what should be the pillars of Australian society. Instead, the Parliament of Australia has become something straight out of a tabloid news column. Except Aussie women have made it more than obvious they have the proof in numbers that sexual violence is a heavy part of our society.

Time the men of this country come to terms with the hard truths and finally judge themselves with the same standards they place upon the women the stand alongside. Time they all practised what they preached. Men who witness sexual harassment in the workplace and say nothing, their silence is a mechanism that enables this behaviour to continue. This silence makes them complicit in the crime. Women are harassed for their outfits and looks, diminished by their co-workers based upon their gender. We have for decades suffered the injustices of being raped within the workplace at a rate of 1 in 3. Is this worthy of the society we wish to be? Are these facts synonymous with what should be “the Lucky Country” as we call ourselves? I say all the time, Australia is only lucky for some.

How can the men of this country say they are ready to face these crimes, when our own Prime Minister uses political gaslighting tactics towards victims of sexual violence? And does so on the international stage provided to that position. When we have had a man win the position of Prime Minister after using the words “Ditch the Witch” and “Julia is Bob Brown’s Bitch”. How can men suggest they are ready to accept these crimes against the women of our society as wrong?

One in five women in Australia “have experienced sexual violence since the age of 15.” Given that we women make up 51% of the population, consequently if we are speaking mathematically, 5% of 49 means that 2.45% of the Australian males are perpetrators of sexual violence. These statistics do not take into account the various other forms of violence, but this data is not as easily accessible in our current system. But when people like me cannot find a single woman who has not been sexually violated, odds are the statistics showing the percentage of males who commit these crimes are much higher than 2.45%.

Consent has been discussed over and over again of late, it’s clear that many men do not understand the concept of what consent entails. But this confuses me. As a mother I teach my eight- and nine-year-olds the basis of gaining consent. They must ask each other if they want to play a game, or if they want what the other is holding. The fact that grown adults cannot understand what my young children can understand is completely and utterly mind boggling. Did Oz grow up without a moral compass? It seems so.

Well guys, the basis is that you must know with absolute certainty the other person is happy with your behaviour and actions. Body language is a key indicator. Is she pulling her upper body away from you (i.e. leaning in the opposite direction) then she’s not keen on how close you are to her? Is she looking away from you more than she is at you? Then she is more than likely looking for an escape. Has she used short one worded answers to your uninvited questions? She more than likely doesn’t want to continue the conversation.

Until the Australian male stops toxic masculinity in its tracks, Australia will fail the test of upholding equal human rights. The Lucky Country will remain lucky merely to some, and we will be condemned by our international neighbours. Australia’s shortcomings are many, before we can truly claim to be a “first world country” we must behave like one.

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15 comments

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  1. Phil Pryor

    With the Morrison, Joyce, Porter, Mc Waggawanker, Hanson, coalition conservative government political pervert types in office, it’s dung for dinner, bullshit for brekky and lies for lunch. Eat my shit, says Morrison, the P M, a Pathetic Moron, a Pustular Misfit…We have no hope of improving and getting the savagery, mediaval merdemunching, dark ages dungbeetle digestion, behind us. Sad.

  2. Josephus

    Not especially Australians as most women anywhere except the nordic states would have been eg exposed to, fondled in the breasts or groin, used as toilets to relieve lust, invited to enter cars etc . The list is long and it is humiliating. Nothing that specific to Australia . But the government here is especially boorish and moronic , that is all.

  3. Kerri

    Morrison’s behaviour cannot be written off as the simple misogyny it clearly appears to be.
    Morrison has to be THE LAZIEST POLITICIAN on the face of the earth!
    He has handballed the “women’s problems” to the “women” in his cabinet!
    “There you go girls! Go for your life! I’ll turn up to the meetings
    (just like I do with National Cabinet)
    and let you do all the work while I make the announceables and garner all the praise!
    (Just like I do with National Cabinet)”
    Be wary of getting caught up in his PR nonsense.
    He has zero intention of doing anything realistic about sexual harassment. I mean for F’s sake he spoke of women “carrying their keys like a knife” (actually threading each key between fingers as was the inspiration for wolverine) as though he had just discovered it and was educating us? I am 62 and I knew to do that when I was in my late teens. Like Tracey Grimshaw said “where have you been?” Scott!
    Women, and especially our treasured women in the media (not Albrechtsen or Devine or Markson er al)
    need to keep holding Morrison’s feet to the fire!
    All women need to approach this time with the belief that things
    WILL NOT CHANGE FOR THE BETTER!
    We need to accept no half measures and no platitudinous BS from the Bullsh**ter in chief.
    Like Trump Morrison leads with mistruths, smoke and mirrors. His words are carefully crafted.
    Like an ad campaign. Designed to suck you in to his fantasy.
    What has begun MUST be finished for the opportunity may never rise again.

  4. John Hanna

    I understand that women have a legitimate gripe when it comes to SOME men, however I draw the line at the tone of this article where it seeks to conflate the argument about an admitted 2.45% to the rest of us. The 97.55% do NOT harass or objectify women and largely treat them with respect.I n my circle of acquaintances and my work environment I have never witnessed or heard of sexual misconduct or harassment in 45 years of employment alongside women, and I don’t believe myself to be blind to the issue. I accept that SOME men are arseholes, but they are usually arseholes to everyone, I never resiled from calling out their arseholery.
    BTW I am not a supporter of Morrison or any of that crew and condemn out of hand the behaviors we have witnessed in the parliamentary precinct, we are entitled to better from the people we pay to do the job

  5. PeterF

    The attitude of men towards other men is fundamental to this issue. Most men do not have the guts to speak up on the topic under discussion, simply because their peers would attack THEM for questioning the male prerogative to be sexually aggressive. I see this as a wide social problem which requires education which can only be achieved with a quality of leadership sadly lacking in this country. Sadly, I do not hold out much hope.

  6. New England Cocky

    @Kerri: “‘Morrison has to be THE LAZIEST POLITICIAN on the face of the earth!”….. AND a contender for ”leading” the most corrupt alleged political party in the World.

  7. leefe

    There’s always at least one bloke towing the #notallmen wagon in response to articles like this.

    To begin with, John Hanna, one in five women is 20%, not 5%. If each woman experiences only one act and each act is perpetrated by a different bloke, that’s more than 20% of men. For the record, all women I know or with whom I have discussed this have endured far more than a single unwelcome physical interaction; many would run out of fingers with which to enumerate them. There are serial, chronic offenders, this is true (particularly within intimate relationships), but there is also an insidiously wide range of perpetrators.

    And there are far too few men who are prepared to call out other men for their behaviour. The bro-code prevails even amongst strangers.

    You say you have never witnessed any such behaviour, or even heard of it within your own workplaces. Right. Because you would have seen it if it had happened, wouldn’t you? You’d identify easily what a victim considered to be harassment, wouldn’t you? All your workplaces would have had proper procedures for dealing with such matters, wouldn’t they? And the workers there would all have felt comfortable reporting problems, wouldn’t they? Because victims never get blamed, do they? They never get marginalised because of it, do they?
    You’ve never seen or heard of it because you don’t want to know and victims don’t trust you enough to talk about it. That’s a big part of why the problem persists.

  8. Jon Chesterson

    The length is tiresome but as a man it is more than my job’s worth to go past this without a serious comment, a line in the sand.

    Men’s attitudes to women have always horrified me ever since I was a kid. I went to boarding school in Wales and we were taught to show the same respect to others regardless of gender, the age of the gentleman had not passed just as its pretenders and patriarchy hadn’t either, so the subsets in society were there waiting to be triggered. Those of us who were christian at the time or humanist at least, empathically as much they could followed the path ‘treat others as you would like to be treated’. For me that was empathic and authentic and I believed one of the ‘natural’ childhood states, unless of course or until you learned and expected to be treated differently, abused by a male peer, which ironically I did come to expect, because that compulsive, competitive testosterone and thuggery was particularly prevalent in the rugby, rowing and male sport establishment of school life and some teachers. Not all, even in these macho male communities, joined in their reveries, some distanced themselves, a few spoke out usually if they felt safe – enter the equation of safety versus discomfort; pleasure, humour and forced ‘camaraderie’ versus empathic and cognitive incongruence and disgust. So yes the seeds were sown for the whole continuum, from perpetrator to objector even amongst men, with silence and distance awkwardly positioned ‘in the middle’, though certainly not in neutral? Some of us chose early, you could not sit on the fence, turn a blind eye and claim to be neutral, as simple and common though it seemed. In my school I was not aware of anyone getting beaten up for objecting to this dominant sub-culture where it existed, but we knew all too well it could have been so and did in many other school communities, including my previous one (prep. school). And it still troubled me knowing some of these testosterone driven, pleasure seeking, competitive, egocentric, male sports enthusiasts, players, followers and sycophants would probably do very well in society, unless they fathered children and came to face their next opportunity to use the empathic, moral, social and emotional segment of their brain, if not engage that cognitive dissonance head on. It troubled me they’d hide behind their intellectual prize and find jobs in higher society without these skills and motivators.

    Coming to Australia was like going back to school, in almost every way I found myself in a minority, culturally, linguistically (might sound strange coming from an English speaking country), career, family and gender values where you were either man or gay, judged on any of these facets of identity. Given the sports, political, social and economic culture males were socialised in, they were polarised too, not all sat square and silent in what I perceived as the dominant culture. The dominant culture was loud, uncomfortable, sometimes offensive, abusive and disgusting. I say sometimes, because I largely dissociated not just from my polar opposite male but men in general with a few and select exceptions, and some men even gay thought this was my problem – What a discount! But nothing compared to what women had to put up with and go through. What I experienced was the rarer end, other than the people we treated.

    At the time I had four daughters growing up, school culture once again became an important matter, which I had only partial measure over, but my resolve would be unshaken. At work I would confront poor judgment and behaviour not just abuse, but I was in a position of responsibility where I could do so when I became aware of it, but I would see this more evident in the histories and circumstances of people we treated than staff. There was an older male staff sub-culture here and where I came from and that was a stereotype few of us could shake off. And of course there was the mud that is thrown at you because you are male anyway, but this mostly came from specific women who had either been through the wars themselves or who were on a mission to make other men suffer, and that became a problem when this kind of pathology got into senior executive positions and the tables were turned. Most women do not do this because it is the same value we nurture as parents ourselves – natural empathy, not just empathy in kind or of convenience, and not just gentlemanly behaviour, but the gentleness I consider manly. I’d like to see more courage and conviction in this than competition and aggression. There are good men out there, they must be encouraged. Society fails if women cannot be and feel safe.

    I am still horrified by all forms of sexual abuse – abuse period, it’s offensive. It grieves me no end to see a whole generation later, now well into the third, we just seem to be back where we started, probably worse allowing for a few cultural and national differences, and subjective perception with age. Many of those privileged males have grown up and found there way into politics, big business, law and even medicine, sports and entertainment, local radio stations and political leadership; in every pub (Hmmm.. yes pubs not male havens!), trade and profession, on every street, anywhere where a crowd of males gather – where privilege and society reinforce it or turns the blind and powerful eye. It is not acceptable, never will be acceptable, and until men own it and confront their peers, call it out and go one stage further – encourage boys and men to value natural empathy and respect, to recognise being a man is about valuing and teaching these things, there is no easy way out of here. It is after all a sociological problem not just pathological, and it is not a women’s problem, it is everyone’s.

    I have 4 granddaughters and now I have a grandson, and they have a host of mothers and aunties, fathers and uncles, how good is that!

    Frankly, in my opinion, Christian Porter should be totally removed from office and his right to sue Louise Milligan and the ABC, in my opinion, is a rort of social justice, civil law and decency, and all part of the sociological problem bled to a flawed legal, legislative, parliamentary, entitled male, socioeconomically dominated system – power inequality. Yes Porter is entitled to the Rule of Law, but so are others in this story not to be denied. Given what we already know about his ‘social’ behaviour in Parliament and after hours, contemporary and historically, and his abuse of parliamentary power and privilege, the status quo is untenable, he is not entitled to his job – Not at the top as Attorney General, not as a Minster of any portfolio, not as a Member of Parliament, this is a serious civil matter of the utmost importance, not just a criminal investigative matter where the law walks off the job. If the Liberals want to keep him on as member of the Party until proven guilty or innocent let them do so – But of course that will never happen, because our legal system too is flawed, it turns its back when it gets too difficult, it gives up on its moral duty. But it will find a way for the rich and powerful to counter, quash and crush the voice of reason, the voice of empathy, the voice of ethic and morality – ‘treat others as you would like to be treated’, not as you might expect. Other politicians and men, take note, you fail to be a man when you fail women, and you fail in your job, don’t expect to keep it.

  9. Jon Chesterson

    Couple of technical matters, Jennifer, ‘Personally, I do think it is right for someone guilty of perpetrating sexual violence to work within Parliament nor the justice system’ – Did you mean, ‘I do NOT think…’. ‘Guilty’ yes of course but this is not proven in Porter’s case, but I do not believe the bar here should be ‘guilt’ or if it’s ‘proven or not’. I believe it is a matter of civil duty, responsibility and respect, common decency, conflict of interest, subjective compromise, political leadership, public expectation – all of these, but not by measure of ‘guilt’, as this permits the defence which Morrison has mounted.

    ‘One in five women in Australia “have experienced sexual violence since the age of 15.” Given that we women make up 51% of the population, consequently if we are speaking mathematically, 5% of 49 means that 2.45% of the Australian males are perpetrators of sexual violence’. This statistical arithmetic made no sense to me – It is the 5% and concluding 2.45% calculation that throws me out.

  10. Henry Rodrigues

    Thanks Jon for voicing in such elegant and persuasive manner what many men feel and hope they can live up to. My mother was a school teacher for many many years, and the one message she taught us 4 boys and one girl ,was respect and compassion and tolerance for everyone, no matter who, or where or what the background. Thanks once again.

  11. Michael Taylor

    Jon, thanks for picking up the typo, which I have corrected.

  12. Jon Chesterson

    Michael, I make them myself all so frequently, but I still can’t see them even after several proof reads. What goes on in my head my eyes can only imagine. But I don’t see inside other’s heads other than what is written, lol. Plain truth, so easy to see another’s error than your own, even harder to stay quiet. Thankfully we fail sometimes.

  13. TuffGuy

    Within parliament in particular I see a bigger problem in that the LNP women seem to be complicit in the disgusting behaviour of the men. The likes of Bishop, Stoker, Reynolds, Payne, Cash, etc seem to do more to aid their male colleagues than providing any form of empathy, compassion, sympathy, or any other feelings or support for those women who have been violated. They either sit quietly and ignore what goes on, gaslight victims, provide zero support, accept promotions to assist the coverup, etc. I would say they are worse than the men.

  14. Henry Rodrigues

    TuffGuy….. Actually I think they are desperately trying and hoping that somehow they could have been men, with the dangly bits and all. They hardly seem to exhibit any of the usual reactions one would associate more with normal women, like empathy, tenderness, compassion. Maybe acting like having dangly bits is one of the pre-requisites for preselection. Exhibit A,B,C D………Bronwyn, Julie Bishop, Cash, Vanstone, Mirabella, Stoker, Belinda Taylor….. No wonder the Liberal men do their damndest to keep them down. Berejiklian knows the feeling of being down and under.

  15. Jon Chesterson

    Look at the photo – See how he mocks others and their views in public instead of dealing with the issue. Everything about this man, is about not being a man at all, but a malicious sociopath. This is as close to empathy, understanding and humanity as Morrison ever gets – to mock it, to use the gesture to insult others. And those others here, given he is seen doing this in Parliament, on parliament time, on the job, paid by the Australian people (public purse), knowingly, willingly, in full view of camera and public broadcast, those he mocks are ordinary Australians, the Australian people.

    This is exactly the kind of mocking gesture you might have caught him and his mates doing on the school bus back from an AFL away match. In the changing rooms after someone calling out a sex joke on women. In the classroom when another boy was unable to complete his assignment due to looking after his sick mother. It’s the body language and behaviour of bullies, who think empathy, understanding and humanity are a commodity for ridicule and killing.

    This is exactly what Morrison is, the symptom of a sociological and institutional disease that is killing our culture, other peoples’ culture and our country.

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