Should we ignore advocates of violence against women or unite and fight against them?
Domestic violence, family violence, violence against women –it’s all getting more air time than ever, which is helping more and more women and children in danger find safety.
Talking about domestic violence helps the wider community also – suddenly everyone is hearing the message that Australia won’t tolerate family violence or the various insidious forms of misogyny that women face daily.
Thanks to people like Rosie Batty, David Morrison and countless others who work tirelessly to shine light on the cause, abusers are being removed from their victims and attitudes are slowly shifting. It’s not ok to be a bystander anymore – we’ve all got a job to do.
But with the rise of this critical message, the flip-side has been a rise in public figures citing excuses for abusive behaviour and attacks on those who are delivering the message. We’ve also begun to hear from advocates for rape culture and rape legalisation.
As women, we’ve come so far. But we’re still nowhere near claiming a few basic rights. Equal pay. The right to feel safe in our homes. The right to feel safe in our streets.
Even the right to be taken seriously as professionals (think Chris Gayle’s televised response to Mel McLaughlin at the BBL. If you’re female, it probably reminded you of times you were also humiliated or belittled at work or in public, just for being female).
It’s not funny. It makes women question their worth. It’s not a legacy I’m proud to leave for my kids. This video explains it beautifully if you’re not sure what I mean.
(Warning: It’s a tearjerker).
Last week Mark Latham took aim at Rosie Batty (and anti-domestic violence organisations in general) when he said that she and others like her are “doing more harm than good”. He said that domestic violence is being used as a Trojan horse to push a feminist left-wing agenda that ‘men hate women’. He then proceeded to cite a range of reasons as to why men might feel the need to physically abuse women.
“I don’t think it’s about how men look at women, it’s how the men look at themselves. Blokes have lost self-esteem, they’ve lost their job, they’re welfare dependent, they’ve got other troubles, drugs and alcohol – it’s that loss of self esteem where they use domestic violence as a coping mechanism,” he says.
Sorry Mark, but not every man who physically abuses has lost his job / has a drug problem. And not everyone on welfare is an abuser. It’s a wee bit more complicated than that.
If you can’t control your anger / you’ve lost your job / your dog’s sick / someone looked at you the wrong way and you need to use your fists to express how you feel, then you need to take appropriate steps to find another coping mechanism.
You need to remove yourself from the vulnerable people around you that you’re causing harm to.
As much as I hate to give Mark Latham publicity, it raises the question of what the wider impact is when high profile people make inflammatory remarks, defences and excuses about domestic violence.
In fact, Mark Latham’s comments resulted in a Q&A audience member asking whether domestic violence really is such a big deal after all – suggesting statistics show it to be on the decline. Watch Australian of the Year, David Morrison’s truly articulate smack-down response.
“That’s Bullshit” – we love you David
And then Roosh V came under our radar. He’s not bothering to create excuses for violence, he just wants to legalise it. He thinks the problem with rape is that it needs to be lawful…on private property (not in public – got that? Private property rape = OK; Public rape: NOT OK ?!?!?).
He’s quite the charmer, recently remarking “Fat chicks are simply unattractive so why should you waste time dating a fat chick. They don’t know how to be sexy, feminine, only trashy and slutty.”
He takes issue with the overly politically correct world we live in where masculinity is “punished and shamed.” The world where women are ‘allowed’ to assert superiority and control over men.
And he wants to tell men in Australia about his views this Saturday. In person. (Provided you’re not homosexual, transsexual or a woman – you are UN-IN-VITED).
If he can get into the country, that is. Immigration Minister, Peter Dutton, has already declared this won’t be happening because “Australia doesn’t welcome people to our country who disrespect women”.
He won’t be the first to be denied a visa. Boxer Floyd Mayweather, pick up artists Jeff Allen and Julien Blanc and Chris Brown are just a few who have either had visas denied or been forced out of Australia recently for histories of violent behaviour towards women or inciting rape culture.
The response from Doosh Roosh over the visa situation? He’ll take a boat from somewhere like Indonesia or East Timor.
Yup. He’s got to be the only person in the world that hasn’t heard about Tony Abbott’s boat stopping legacy.
We’ve talked before about young people’s attitudes to domestic violence and how important it is to talk to our kids about porn in relation to domestic violence, but when harmful messages are being given to young men from high-profile individuals, it’s even more difficult.
So my question is, do we try and go head-to-head with people who preach violence against women and misogyny? Should we be outraged that some men are being instructed in misogyny and threatening behaviour towards women by these people?
Or do we ignore them and focus on the solutions?
And is inciting violence against women actually within the realms of freedom of speech at all?
Waleed Aly says ignore. He thinks Roosh V is sexist, provocative, calculating, manipulative and publicity-hungry.
His (compelling) point is that if we’re talking about him, we’re “taking the bait”. Instead we should #clicksomethingelse or donate money to a domestic violence cause like a women’s shelter.
Watch Waleed slamming Roosh here
Another awesome Waleed campaign – we also love you Waleed
There are some, however, who disagree. They think that freedom of speech ceases to exist when we control what these men can/can’t say or whether they can/can’t enter Australia.
Alternatively, Blair Williams thinks we should be discussing Roosh V. She thinks this topic is too important to ignore so she started this petition, after hearing Waleed’s comments.
“I, and many people, cannot stay silent about such an extreme case of misogynistic ideologies. We shouldn’t have to stay quiet. We need to be screaming from the rooftops that what Roosh V advocates is not only completely immoral but it is also not welcome in Australia,” she says.
So what do you think – should we ignore misogyny and publicity-hungry people who incite violence against women by focussing on more productive things or is this an important time to unite and fight?