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The same people

This is one of comments Clementine Ford put on her blog to display the type of cyberviolence she endures.

This is one of comments Clementine Ford put on her blog to display the type of cyberviolence she endures.

Just in the past week, I’ve been upset about the behaviour of three groups of people. After watching Sarah Ferguson’s harrowing investigation into Australia’s domestic violence epidemic, Hitting Home, I am upset at the hundreds of thousands of Australian men who are abusing their partners and families. As I wrote last week, I am also upset with the racist and bigoted people who preach hatred in the streets under the anti-Islamic banner of Reclaim Australia. And over the last two days, my outrage has been directed at the perpetrators of ‘cyberviolence’, as called out by Clementine Ford and Van Badham. While thinking about these groups, and wondering to myself ‘who on earth are these people?’, it suddenly struck me. Surely there is an overlap? Surely there are people who belong to all three groups?

Violence Venn Diagram

The more I thought about it, the more real this Venn diagram became. Perhaps the overlap is bigger than I imagine.

All these groups share common characteristics. None of them are ‘decent’ people. The problem with concepts like ‘decent’ is that they are defined by the shared cultural values of a society, and if society’s expectations of decency aren’t very high, it’s unsurprising that there is little value placed on the expectation of people acting decently. For instance, if we have a Prime Minister who doesn’t do the decent thing of calling out groups like Reclaim Australia, we, as a society, are tolerating this type of indecent behaviour. If we have a government who doesn’t bat an eyelid at children being raped in government detention centres, decency is something from a bygone era. Another example is the Navy’s decision to give Elliot Coulson, a perpetrator of domestic violence who stalked and killed his girlfriend before killing himself, a military funeral (which they’ve belatedly apologised for). And then we have the mainstream media, which is peppered with PhotoShopping Daily Telegraphs and angry shock jocks and columnists who, through their own indecency, give society a free-pass to their shared indecency. So our society isn’t decent, and in turn the members of that society aren’t decent. This is not rocket science.

Another shared feature of these groups is that they all blame their victims for their anti-social and violent behaviour; it’s their wife’s fault for making them angry, or their girlfriend has lied about being hit, or they blame Islamic people for making them hateful towards them, and they blame the Clems and Vans of the world for daring to call them out and to have opinions they disagree with. Nothing is ever their fault. They take no responsibility for anything. And why would they take responsibility when they’re not decent people and there’s never been any consequences in the past? No one has ever expected them to be decent, nor called them out when they aren’t. They even have a government who fights to defend their right to be bigots, their right to be discriminatory, and then joins in with them when they take up this right. But rights have responsibilities. Or so I was brought up to believe. Yet when you scroll the Facebook accounts of the men who are cyber-violent, such as those abusing Clementine Ford, or Twitter accounts of members of Reclaim Australia, it’s incredible to realise these people have absolutely no shame in saying the most vile, hateful, nasty and even criminal things (yes, death threats are a criminal offence), with their real names on their profiles, for all their friends and family (and employers!) to see. So not only are these people indecent, they are shouting their indecency from the rooftops as a proud part of their identities.

If I am right (and I suspect I am) that there is an overlap, and therefore a slippery slope between public indecency and physical violence, shouldn’t we, as a society, be treating any evidence of hate, bigotry, racism, misogyny, sexism as a red-flag that this person is dangerous? I remember being told once that children who are violent towards animals often grow up to be violent towards humans. So if a teenage boy is abusing women on his Facebook page at age 16, might he, without any intervention, be the very same person who will control or bash his girlfriend, his wife, his children, and join in violent hate rallies against peace-loving Australians, just because he thinks this is his right? As suggested by the eloquent Ken Lay, Former Victorian Police chief commissioner, it’s time for us, as a society, to stop justifying bad behaviour as ‘boys will be boys’. And perhaps it is also time to reassess what counts as ‘decent’ in our society and hold everyone up to this expectation before our civilisation becomes completely uncivil. Perhaps it’s time to take seriously the warning signs that we have a problem, and intervene before more people get hurt, or indeed, killed.

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32 comments

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  1. Tracie Aylmer

    As someone who was nearly murdered 13 years ago by a domestic violence situation, I’m a little surprised you have come to this now. There is an overlap. There always has been.

    I don’t receive many trolls, but when I do they neatly fit into mostly all of your Venn diagram.

  2. Chris

    Victoria….Although what you say can be true, it is a simplification and falls into the trap of believing ‘these people are not like me’. They can be like anybody and everybody. Especially when you include self inflicted violence and ‘corporal punishment’……
    Even Marxist gay women can be domestically violent (It happened in a sharehouse I lived in – they were visitors.)
    American ‘libertarian’ and ‘truther’ type ideas and movements are playing into the scenario that you portray. They have become so disillusioned that ‘everything’ has become a conspiracy for them and anything ‘Left’ of Donald Trump or Hitler wants to enslave them.
    Desperation is a big contributor to violence and hate. As our society has become more Americanised, we have built in the unfairness and resistant to negotiation and change that our society needs and destroyed the safety nets and options that our society had.
    Australian society has, however, been very unequal and unfair for most of its history. This history of the poor in Australia is generally written out of our ‘official view’ of ourselves. Suicide of the poor and elderly (and others) was always a fact of Australian life. Most of those historic house fires that killed elderly people were probably a form of euthanasia. Bush rangers were pushed into their occupation.
    Our society needs to stop closing off options for people. Desperate people are not good for our communities.

  3. Sen Nearly Ile

    spot on, what is acceptable by men and the media – is typified by:
    the signs behind the opposition leader abbott
    pickerings cartoons
    shockjocks and their callers
    religious faith
    and the facebook pages of everyone.
    white, green and purple????

  4. kerri

    Good article Victoria! However it is clear this government wants nothing to do with prevention. In their opinion….
    Radicalised Muslim youth are the problem of the Muftis.
    Women who wont leave abusive relationships? Well you can’t make them? (But you can provide them with refuge)
    Homeless people? A lifestyle choice!
    But let’s keep on making lots of PR so that the sheeple think we are doing a good job!
    Their priorities are completely self indulgent.

  5. gonemango

    At last someone else is thinking what I’ve been thinking! If you can be cruel to lesser beings, you can be cruel! Animal, child, wife, woman, refugee, other – the target depends on the level of dis-empowerment.
    Violence, cruelty and abuse at any level is not acceptable. But how do we teach the military to fight, or don’t we?

  6. Miriam English

    Excellent post Victoria. There is definitely overlap, but I’d guess it is not a simple one. It almost certainly shifts through time. Some males, on finding there are no consequences and on feeling more powerful as a result of their bullying sink toward the center of the Venn diagram. Others probably mature and become ashamed of acting like a child stuck in the terrible-twos.

    Thank you for posting the link to Clementine Ford’s page. I had no idea there were so many appallingly ignorant and hopelessly angry men who have no trace of decency. I shudder at what horrors their partners and children must have to endure… the few that manage to have partners and actually procreate, anyway. (At least I hope their numbers are few.)

    The leaders and role models of our culture need to pull their fingers out and condemn this bullying and indecent behavior or we risk great damage to our society. We need more courteous, intelligent, respectful male role models who are vocal that physically or verbally abusing a woman is the equivalent of proclaiming a limp dick. It needs to be seen as a complete embarrassment to any man that they’d pick on a woman. All bullying needs to be seen as admission of failure.

    I fear for the future of our species. We need to grow up in a hurry. We have the power of gods in our hands, yet so often act like tantrum-throwing toddlers. Very scary.

  7. Kaye Lee

    “Most Aussie men often try to crack onto good-looking women and neglect the not-so-good looking (read fat) ones

    Perhaps it’s the intelligence of women or, rather, the lack of it?

    My thoughts: the truth is women are stupid and that’s that. So on behalf of you, me and the guy that’s shrugging his shoulders in bewilderment after reading his sister’s copy of Dolly, let me just say: Will Smith, you’re lucky God gave women no bloody brains.”

    – George Christensen

  8. Zathras

    Prevention has never been favored by the Tories.

    It’s far cheaper and easier to park an ambulance at the bottom of a cliff than it is to build a fence at the top.

    That’s why many of their harmful policies come with “safety nets” or “compensation”, some of which even work for a while but eventually they become meaningless.

    It’s amazing they should be congratulated for contributing $100million toward domestic violence after having taken so much more than that away in the first place.

    Even School Chaplains get $250 million so it’s easy to see where their priorities lie.

    Have we become so numb toward violence in all its forms or just more selective about which types matter most?

  9. Deidre Zanker

    Victoria, you are right. It is a dreadful indictment on our society, particularly at the political level. Where is the leadership when it comes to fairness and compassion. Where is the genuine care and assistance for those who desperately need it. Where is the action which would protect our vulnerable citizens. Where are the elected (by us) politicians taking a stand and condemning violence, racism and bigotry in all their forms. Where is the funding and postive action to make the changes necessary for a fair and equitable Australia for ALL ITS CITIZENS?

  10. Miriam English

    Deirdre, I wondered that too, and then I suddenly realised where it is for the wealthy white men doing this. It is encapsulated in the single sentence: “I’m alright, Jack.”

  11. paul walter

    White middle class feminism and columnists are no substitute for cuts in broadsheet news reportage. It is just demographics massage like with everything else… say a few nasty things about blokes, women readers turn up in droves and circulation and advertising are topped up. There are never any solutions to social problems offered by people like Ford and Badham, just tantrums about “men”.

    For god’s sake, see it for what it is.

  12. miriamenglish

    Paul Walter, you obviously didn’t even look at the links, especially the one to all the putrid comments by tantrum-throwing men or you might see that Clementine Ford and Van Badham are actually islands of calm surrounded by shrilly screaming men throwing complete tizzies about a man being accountable for his racism and misogyny.

    You might actually find out a little about what you’re commenting upon before you show your ignorance and declare to the world what little respect you have for women.

  13. paul walter

    I have lots of respect for women, and none for the capitalist press and media- nor for you, for your wilful misreading of my comment.

  14. Miriam English

    Alan J, yes, some male partners are abused, some even violently, which should be condemned, but such abuse from women almost never turns murderous, unlike the very regular nature of abuse from men, so there are degrees that should be born in mind here.

    You posting this here is pretty obvious trolling. It is like an article about the rainforests being burned and bulldozed at an alarming rate, getting a response by someone posting a link to a legitimate historical site that preserves antique tractors. It has some validity, but its relationship the point at hand is tangential at best, deliberate trolling at worst.

    If you’re trying to bait for the kind of vicious threats and slurs that regularly get posted by men at women, I think you’re going to be disappointed.

  15. Miriam English

    paul walter, “wilful misreading” of your comment? Let’s see, shall we?

    First you dismiss what was said about the regularity of insults and threats by men directed at women

    White middle class feminism and columnists are no substitute for cuts in broadsheet news reportage. It is just demographics massage like with everything else…

    Then you completely reverse the manner of the people involved, characterising the women as being the culprits

    say a few nasty things about blokes,

    then dismiss once again women’s reactions while turning the response completely upside down and utterly ignoring the giant flaming elephant in the room: the jaw-dropping stream of petulant abuse and threats from men directed at these women

    women readers turn up in droves and circulation and advertising are topped up.

    Amazingly you then miss the whole point about this discussion, of attempting solutions to this very pressing social problem, which undoubtedly is at the heart of the very high rate of murders of women by men. The solution posed by the women is to try to make men take responsibility for their actions and words. But you either never read it, or chose to ignore it.

    There are never any solutions to social problems offered by people like Ford and Badham,

    And then another swipe at the women involved, as just throwing tantrums, when in fact if you read the actual pages you’d see that the women involved are astonishingly calm, considering the torrent of invective and all the threats of physical violence aimed at them (I would be shaking with emotion). It is in fact the men who have been having screaming, mouth-frothing fits

    just tantrums about “men”.

    If you do have any respect for women (perhaps you do, or perhaps you only think you do), well, it certainly wasn’t in evidence in that post.

  16. paul walter

    I agree with your criticism of Alan Jay and find your continued misrepresentations of my comments unforgiveable.

  17. Lee

    “My thoughts: the truth is women are stupid and that’s that. So on behalf of you, me and the guy that’s shrugging his shoulders in bewilderment after reading his sister’s copy of Dolly, let me just say: Will Smith, you’re lucky God gave women no bloody brains.”

    – George Christensen”

    If Christensen is referring to the woman who raised him to be the vile creature he is today and the women who voted for him, then he would be correct.

  18. jimhaz

    @ Miriam (or @ myself, as writing for my own enjoyment really)

    I’ve looked at Ford’s Facebook site. She does make a good argument when she puts her mind to it.

    Ford only speaks for a certain type of women. I’d say she does represent an evolutionary trend – the increasing masculinisation of women.

    This masculinisation comes with a more demanding ego and much of it must be equalised out with a loss of masculinity in males, as it has done to date. Where it doesn’t come from a loss of male power, then it is likely to come from separation of activities between the sexes (as in women doing their thing and men doing theirs).

    Any change comes with costs. My guess would be that the increased masculinity of females will lead to less respect between the sexes. There will be less working as a unit and more individualism with its resulting ego conflicts.

    The comments to Ford are like males often talk to each other – bluntly and harshly, which is the way she mostly talks about men. We males play power and status games against each other, just as females do in other ways. To them she is not seen as a female but as another thing to compete against.

    As well as making quite valid points on intersexual relationships, she also does engage in belittling men – it promotes her intrasex status game. You’d have to be pretty naïve to think that she wouldn’t attract intense negativity from some men.

    We pretty much only respect what we can get something out of – we want emotional feelings that will sate our ego’s desires, whether they be self-centred or altruistic.

    A loss of femininity in females, made up by more masculinity, will mean men overall will experience less feelings of masculinity and their egos will not be sated. The non-sating of desires is where the seeds of aggression, and many forms of mental illness, arise from.

    The difficulty for males is testosterone as it drives the desire to actively experience being masculine. “On average, in adult males, levels of testosterone are about 7–8 times as great as in adult females” “As the metabolic consumption of testosterone in males is greater, the daily production is about 20 times greater in men” . We don’t really want to feminise as it is less natural to us, and modern civilisation requires a high degree of feminisation already.

    There is a further problem in that to obtain the feeling of being masculine, it generally involves being competitive with other males, often in a physical way. If physical and competitive then that will just mean the males produce more testosterone. This group seems to have the most violent domestic abusers.

    Another problem with testosterone is that it doesn’t make men emotionally smart. It leads them to act more instinctively, to take more risks and to do more stupid things including the violence.

    Testosterone is the cause of civilisation, precisely because of the above problems. It’s the catalyst for individualism and competition rather than cooperation. It is a catalyst for male maturity as they learn to utilise it rather than to just react to it.

    Nothing wrong with testosterone is it is used productively. The majority of men learn how to deal with it, where the circumstances are right. Where circumstances are wrong, such as in much of the Middle East or in bad family situations, it becomes misdirected.

    It would appear in this non-masculine western world, that men need to find a way to “experience being masculine” in ways that allow them to mature emotionally. They will reject being forced into it.

    Part of the problem would be alcohol. The pub cycle would need to be broken. Not going to happen without a less destructive alternative.

    Part of the problem would be the entertainment world – all produced by others, not ourselves. It also increases the threshold for excitement based joy and it lures us all away from productive habits, and for men productive habits often are creating something physical or useful that would please the ego. Again, change here is not going to happen without a less destructive alternative.

    If men don’t do physical competitive things that just end up making them produce more testosterone, then what is left for them to do?

    Men’s Shed programs? – fine for some only. Could be greatly expanded and competition between Sheds introduced.

    I’m really struggling to think of things. The problem is that most things don’t offer enough excitement for the young restless or low IQ/EQ male and there are too many easy pickings via alcohol, drugs, gangs, fighting, dumb religions and internet debauchery. As there is no strategic control over capitalism regulation just fiddles aimlessly – nor would we let them dictate what we entertain ourselves with.

    Lol, maybe we need to introduce 6-12 months (in total) of Compulsory Conscription for both sexes. Conscription not to defence forces, but to Unisex Community Building and Support Programs involving the active construction of positive things – housing, quality street art like mosaics and sculptures, toys, landscaping, activity and recreational areas, aged assistance, common areas cleaning, graffiti removal, renewable energy installation, tree planting, storm damage prevention, counselling, free tutoring, arts and craft etc.

    All things govs don’t do enough of as they can’t afford to. The required experts could be partly paid for by dumping the Job Network, Work for the Dole and Chaplains programs – as well as requiring support and governance from existing gov agencies. TAFE would be a big player.

    No doubt this sort of idea is overly idealistic. I just prefer it to penalty and ostracisation based systems as they can make an outcast, more outcast and thus more dangerous. Many of the males throwing textual darts at Ford would have just been immature and would grow out of it. Some like me, after just having a shallow peak, would have been reacting to the feminazi stereotype she is. Some of the threateners would have the anger management mental illness – they have misaligned ego and EQ problems requiring forced rehabilitation.

  19. Kyran

    There was an old sentiment along the lines of ‘a society is judged on the basis of how it treats it’s weakest members’. As a concept, it’s centuries old and has been used by many great orators.
    Sarah Ferguson, in several of the ‘pre-show’ interviews, stated that, at the concept stage, she wanted to ask the victims “Why didn’t you leave?”. During the making of the doco, she learnt the offensive nature of the question. To her credit, she used that question in all of the ‘pre-show’ interviews (that I heard), to demonstrate it is an ignorant question. When a victim is vulnerable, their options are limited, if existent at all.
    My knowledge of Ms Ford’s work is very limited and usually informed by articles such as this. The comments against her, as you point out, exceed any notion of ‘decency’ and are predominantly criminal threats. For what it’s worth, an article on ABC along similar lines has received comments that display little more than the ignorance she wished to address.
    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-12-02/dimitriadis-why-clementine-ford-is-so-important/6994792
    Perhaps we have now come to a sentiment of ‘victim’s are weak, and nobody likes a weakling’. Thatcher’s declaration,
    “They are casting their problems at society. And, you know, there’s no such thing as society. There are individual men and women and there are families. And no government can do anything except through people, and people must look after themselves first. It is our duty to look after ourselves and then, also, to look after our neighbours.”
    I really hope I’m wrong. I see decency everywhere on a personal daily basis. I have yet to see much coming from ‘leaders’. Thank you, Ms Rollison. Take care

  20. Chris

    paul walter But it’s a pretty crap society we’ve got if you can’t have your Andrea Dworkins, Germaine Greers and Clementine Fords. I reckon she is a good and necessary thing/not thing at all he quickly corrected himself 😀 . People need challenging ideas and people as well. I think she is making worthwhile contributions and you can’t exactly ban her anyway. Go Clementine ! 🙂

  21. paul walter

    Nope, she is the voice for middle class under grad feminism in this country, but I’ve yet to read a column where the concern seems to extend from privileged white women to a general concern for women in third world countries, say.

    Have you ever read any column from her on enviro, for example.

    A very narrowed, “blamy” psychotic sort of approach based on a general ad hominem indiscriminately directed at all men, not just miscreants, rather than any attempt to get people to think and act in concert for a better world for all.

    You DID read the NM piece, didn’t you??

  22. Chris

    Yeah and i’m not sure why you’d doubt it seeing as I bothered to answer. The author liked Emma Watson better…. Which seems a ridiculous and insulting comparison and a bit of a joke to call himself a feminist but prefers feminist movie stars. What a dick. Who was it ?
    Jack Kilbride ? Kill bride…..is that a bad joke name in the circumstance. I’ve never heard of him. Hmmm possibly has a twitter account but hardly uses it except for self promotion. Whatever really. I think he is just jumping on a bandwagon in the hope someone notices him.

  23. paul walter

    You have got to be joking. Another one with paranoia issues, wtf.

  24. Chris

    paul walter You’re the one who thought i wouldn’t have read it. It was a crap article and he is obviously a fool.

  25. paul walter

    Obviously. Would he have been a fool if he had agreed with your slant? Why aren’ t you writing for NM, you genius?

  26. Chris

    It is laughable that someone would claim to be a feminist only to identify with a Hollywood movie stars portrayal of feminism instead of a woman in their own country who has been copping a fairly extreme amount of harassment. I know a lot of people who would think that was a bad joke.
    Sorry if I came across a bit grumpy last night….but I was.

  27. Lee

    “Nope, she is the voice for middle class under grad feminism in this country, but I’ve yet to read a column where the concern seems to extend from privileged white women to a general concern for women in third world countries, say.

    Have you ever read any column from her on enviro, for example.”

    Because everybody knows that privileged white women don’t experience misogyny and violence at the hands of men.

    Why does Clementine have to write about a topic that suits you? If you don’t want to read it then put your big boy pants on and don’t read it. It’s common to write from a place of personal experience. Plus most of us are aware that women in third world countries are often treated badly by men. Not so many of us are aware that with our gender equality laws here, females are still disadvantaged in many ways and treated badly by males. There’s a very pervasive unconscious bias in our society and some people who are aware of it dont’ even recognise that they are doing it. We’re so used to it that we don’t see it. Or some of us think that since it doesn’t happen in our house then it must be rare.

    Here’s an example of experiences of a privileged white woman in first world Canada. The only people who could object to this are people who persist in objectifying and disrespecting women.

    Being A Girl: A Brief Personal History of Violence

    Being a woman with Asperger’s, unable to read body language very well and having spent some of my early working life in a male-dominated field, I’ve shared some the blogger’s experiences. Having Asperger’s makes me a magnet for those types of men. They’re so common that books have been written for parents to keep their Aspie daughters safe from predators. How often do you get unwanted sexual advances from some sleazy guy? How often do you have to fear someone who is physically much stronger than you?

  28. Miriam English

    Ignore paul walter. He’s just trying to excuse his misogyny by disguising it as disapproval of a woman who doesn’t speak out on enough topics to suit him. In reality he simply disapproves of a woman who speaks out. Period. Notice how he disapproves of Clementine, but not the vicious slander and threats from all the men attacking her? That’s gotta be a pretty clear indicator of what he thinks. He probably doesn’t even realise how prejudiced he really is. Just ignore him. He might wake up one day. Until then, he is so protected by his shield of self-justification I doubt anything will affect him.

  29. paul walter

    Typical. If you don’t agree you must be misogynist. More pathetic by the comment. Did you ignore the NM link as well?
    Might not have agreed with your view, so obviously it would be have been wrong, rather
    than you.

  30. Lee

    “Notice how he disapproves of Clementine, but not the vicious slander and threats from all the men attacking her?”

    Yes I had noticed that. I could have asked him how often he has received threats of rape or murder or both whenever someone disagrees with something he writes online.

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