Friday, September 25, 2015

Magic Malcolm

Two PM's, one politics
Malcolm Turnbull reveals plan to rid Australia of its "national disgrace" of domestic violence.

'Sixty-three women have been killed in Australia this year from domestic violence incidents, three in NSW alone during the last three days. 

Mr Turnbull said leaders have to make it a national objective for Australia to be more respectful of women. 

"Let's make it a resolution that Australia will be known as a nation, as a people, as a society that respects women", he said.

"We have to make it as though it was un-Australian to disrespect women."
Reported in NZ here

Good luck with that, Malcohn, Australia's brand new but all too familiar PM, who probably hadn't given a moment's thought to this 'national disgrace' - no worse today than it has ever been - until he claimed the top job, in part thanks to the rampant sexism that derailed, demeaned and eventually dismissed one of his predecessors from that very job, the country's first female PM, the exceptionally articulate, intelligent and justice-minded Julia Gillard.

Turnbull's ignorance of the complexity of the issue he thinks might be simply sorted with a wave of his Magic Malcolm man wand, would be endearing if it wasn't so embarrassing. John Key, Malcolm's mentor, did exactly the same thing here recently, pledging money - all that these right-wingers seem to understand - and making sweeping claims to end domestic violence with a wave of his magic man wand. It's not that simple. It's not like making money when you're a privileged white man, boys. You have to fight against resistance. You have to show humility and courage and endurance.

This is my subject: the systematic cultural disrespecting of women by men (a vital aspect of the problem that is rarely stated in simplistic anti-domestic violence campaigns like this one that are fronted by powerful men wanting to appear all things to all people; Mr Nice Guy) that leads to and underpins all male-perpetrated domestic violence, which is to say, 90+% of all domestic violence. Only it's not simply 'disrespect', it's a hatred of women that domestic abusers feel. It's misogyny. It's thinking men are the primary beings entitled to respect and control from and of women by virtue of being male. All domestic abusers suffer a profound sense of male superiority and rightful dominance over women, across countries and cultures. And it's no mystery where they get this sense of entitlement from. Male primacy is reinforced across culture, in sport, religion, film, media and politics. The arts, which the right-wing don't understand or respect, is the one field of human endeavour in which women are starting to be respected equally to men.

You can't expect to change all this cultural disrespect and misogyny with one wave of your magic man wand, Malcolm. Actions speak louder than words, indeed. But to be more sincere with your pledge, you could have acknowledged, for starters, that Julia Gillard's treatment by the Australian media was highly disrespectful to all women, even if you don't agree with her politics. You could have apologised on behalf of Australian men, and perhaps your right-wing colleagues in particular, for electing a leader (Tony Abbott) who showed such disrespect for the then PM that he dared tell her in parliament that her father, who had just died, had died of shame to see her become PM, she the first woman PM of Australia.

Tellingly, Abbott later thought he could wave his magic man wand and stop domestic violence in its tracks by saying 'Real men don't hit women.' Telling a woman her father died of shame - of her - is effectively hitting, Tony, you stupid sexist simpleton.

You, Magic Malcolm, who seem somewhat less simple than your predecessor, might also do well to acknowledge, once you do your research and find out the facts, that it is women, almost entirely left-wing women, who have been working and campaigning tirelessly and thanklessly in this field of domestic violence prevention and protection long before you came along with your pledge, and will doubtless continue long after. It is these women who have fought hard for the respect you say you value so highly, but have not bothered to talk about till now, since well before you were born, most often on a voluntary basis too, not amassing the $150+ million you have to your name.

You could also apologise for the childish backlash that has been waged against these women, by men's rights groups and others typically on the right-wing, who label these gutsy women's efforts to secure better legislation to protect women, better funding for women's refuge and other front-line services, more respect from police to enforce protection orders and stronger punishments for domestic abuse that sends a greater message of deterrence, all as 'man-hating', a charge always effective in undermining the efforts of compassionate and courageous women, fighting for change.

Until you do this, women will be disrespected, beaten and killed by men in disgraceful numbers across your country and all others. Because men, including you, refuse to change substantively, if at all, refuse to give up your male privilege. Refuse to admit you are not better than women. Refuse to admit you are often so much worse and he cause of unthinkable suffering.

Instead of empty platitudes and pledges, Malcolm, and John, you both might acknowledge your weaknesses and mistakes in not realising, before it was politic, what a serious issue domestic violence is. You might apologise to the victims on behalf of men. You could give thanks to the women working for change and admit that male arrogance and sense of superiority over women is the heart of the problem. On top of this, you could pledge to a new style of male leadership that embraces humility and equality substantively, not in easy, macho - I can fix everything if you get behind me - platitudes. That might be a start. It would certainly be a first for male politicians.

Disrespect comes from arrogance, respect from humility. And so respect is magic, just not the wand-waving sort.

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