Sorry... Please be aware this rant contains reference to rape and sexual abuse, take care reading if you are a survivor - and hugs and love to you 💜
The last month or so has been hard, the last week or so probably the hardest and the last few days, just rage inducing if you are a woman – or decent man who gives a rats about women – in this nation.
I won’t go through all the history, you have all seen the revelations, from the 4 Corners report on Ministers Tudge and Porter and their ‘form’ in how they treat women, to Minister Birmingham ignoring harassment & assault in his office to brave Brittany Higgins coming forward about her alleged rape in Minister Reynolds office, she of the “lying cow” comment UGH! To the most recent rape allegations against Minister Porter posthumously.
Now consider this… According to the 2016 Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) Personal Safety Survey (PSS):
• almost 2 million Australian adults had experienced at least 1 sexual assault since the age of 15
• more than 200,000 (1.1%) Australian adults had experienced sexual assault in the 12 months before the survey—an increase from 2012 (0.7%)
• around 639,000 Australian women experienced their most recent incident of sexual assault perpetrated by a male in the last 10 years.
This is the Government’s own statistics and to be frank, I think they are optimistic.. Nobody really knows how many women (and men to a lesser degree, and I don’t mean that in harm, just sheer numbers) are raped and sexually assaulted every day in this nation.
Many men and women love to yell “Why didn’t she go to the Police at the time”!
Re the data in my article for @TheNewDailyAu today. here's another way to look at the number of people who were sexually assaulted and the number of people convicted for sexual assault in 2019. pic.twitter.com/zx46KGG0U4— Jane Gilmore (@JaneTribune) March 2, 2021
There are many and varied reasons why some victims take many years to come forward, hell, often even admit to themselves they have been abused and I am not going to go into that, what I will go into is fact that even if you go to the Police, chances are, you will find nothing except more pain. Jane Gilmore wrote a very good piece on this and I urge you to read it while suffering the rubbish “rule of law” claims from our Prime Minister, all his toadies in government and of course their mates in media. “We tell women to report rape, sexual assault. Then we make it impossible to do”
I raise Jane’s piece, not just because it is a very good article everyone should read, but because it perfectly illustrates a system that is set up by men, for men and is broken.
The government knows our Police and Legal system is broken when it comes to reporting and treatment of rape and sexual assault victims, so do those in our media landscape.
I will digress here for a moment to recommend to you a book called “Eggshell Skull” by Bri Lee. If you thought things had improved for women in recent years, think again. This book came out in 2018 is the experience of not only the assault on Bri herself (a woman who is only 29 as I type) and her journey in trying to bring the abuser to justice, but the justice system itself as she was a judge’s associate, so probably had a bit of a step up when it comes to knowledge in navigating the system and… well, read the book.
Whether it be domestic abuse, workplace and life sexual harassment or rape, women find little justice or support. From families (yes families can often be worse than general public) to work places to our government institutions we have a really sick culture in regard to treatment of women and children abused.
Look at his club 🙄 pic.twitter.com/CivxMuyrQR— 💧The Angry Goddess (@Bishop64) March 6, 2021
All too often this culture to denigrate, dismiss and gaslight women who do come forward is led by men, powerful men, and the women who support those powerful men. I get this, they are protecting a system that has for millennia afforded them all the power. What I want to discuss are the “good blokes”.
“Good blokes” are why nothing has improved for women in this nation and most likely will not for years to come. While good blokes support and excuse rapists, misogynists and abusers, women will never be free or equal in this nation.
I am no expert in why men rape or sexually abuse. Yes, I am very aware men are also raped and abused, I am not dismissing that, though in the context of this particular rant, I am only focusing on men as they are the people I want to have a conversation with.
Let me tell you a story. I have been married to a lovely bloke for 26 years now. Any who have met my husband would tell you he is a ‘good bloke’ and he is. He is not that boofhead blokey type, he is the calm teddy bear type that random lost children will hit up to help find their parents – yes, this has happened more than once, at both shopping centres, even Suncorp stadium LOL! – and he does help them. He is the sort of man who has always respected me as an equal, did and still does 50/50 parenting and is what you would describe as intelligent and a great partner. He is a good man.
However, as we have found over the years, it doesn’t matter how good a man he is, you have ‘culture’ and ‘conditioning’ and as a male of our species he has just never had to live and experience what women do. So is always learning, from myself and our daughter, just how different life is for women in our society, to his credit, he does learn and adjusts accordingly. To give you a few examples of things that men, even the nicest men may just never realise as it does not affect them are:
Walking in the dark from the shops to your car:
This was an odd conversation as this is something women are very wary of, we don’t really talk about it, as to be honest, is just life for us, we are totally aware of our surroundings, we will often hold our keys in a particular way, with the largest between our fingers in case we are attacked, we don’t blithely wander across the car park, a single male following us will increase our blood pressure and in some cases terrify us, even though, more often than not, that single male following is just heading to his car after picking up milk from the shops. The fear for us though is real.
My husband just could not comprehend this fear. He does now of course and is aware. It may seem a small thing, but if he is walking out to the car now when it is dark, regardless of where he is, if he sees a lone woman (or even a pair) walking ahead, he will hold back and wait, so as to not induce any trepidation on their part. He is aware now.
At the gym:
This is another area where he had not even considered could be uncomfortable for women. Like most ‘good blokes’, he is not a perv, he does not wolf whistle or treat women like pieces of meat. But… also like most men, he does not notice what others are doing and never thought it was his place to ‘police’ other blokes. Of course, if someone was physically threatening a woman, he would step in, but he didn’t consider that a few young blokes a distance from the woman in question, just nudging each other, making disparaging comments or the like could be intimidating. As well, obviously is not intimidating to him? Correct? It was not that he didn’t care, just really didn’t notice, as most men don’t.
He is now aware of this. He does not cause a drama, but if he sees a situation like that, he will sidle over, look the blokes up and down and just mutter something like ‘not cool boys’ and that is normally enough to have them skittle away, leaving the woman to exercise in peace. As he is a regular at his gym, most of the women know of him and I suspect there are a few who when feeling a tad vulnerable will ensure they exercise close to him.
The above two examples are just small things that help. Though also illustrate, how even the nicest of men just don’t comprehend what women face every day of their lives in the simplest of settings, just going about their daily lives. I have no idea how many women and girls have felt a tad more secure due to these small actions by my husband over the years? They may seem small, but they matter and they all come down to a good man, learning how the other half live and adjusting his actions accordingly and giving a damn.
This is before we get into the more complicated, dangerous and damaging areas of rape, sexual assault and domestic violence.
I mentioned my husband as a good man and related the above to illustrate that he really is, because it makes the conversation we had on Friday a scary illustration of exactly how ‘good men’ enable the abusers in our society.
everyone should read (or re-read) @theage's landmark reporting on how survivors of sexual violence are treated by the 'rule of law' to better understand the issues with our system, and how it fails women https://t.co/TWFSnBNZGZ— Nick Evershed (@NickEvershed) March 4, 2021
My husband sat at his desk and rattled of the rape statistics, relating it back to how many men must know of and most likely have a good friend who is a rapist. “At least 180,000 Australians experienced sexual violence, according to an ABS survey in 2016-17.” (personally I think the numbers would be a lot higher.
BEFORE they are 15! You only have to sit down with a few women and ‘chat’ to know that these stats would be much higher. Many women just won’t discuss rape, sexual assault or domestic abuse, for many reasons and that is ok, it is traumatic and everyone deals with their trauma in different ways.
For my husband, he looked at these figures and pretty much realised that every male in this nation must know of or be friends with, now or in the past, a rapist or abuser.
This was a pretty big realisation for him, it was not something he had considered. Like most ‘good men’ he didn’t think he would associate with someone who was capable of raping or abusing a woman. He must have been the rare one.
After a bit of discussion he admits, well, yes, maybe someone he knows at the gym could be a rapist or abuser, but he would not know that.
I looked at him, shocked, answered with “Of course you do, what about Amos*!”, he responded with same sort of shock.
*Amos is not really is name but he is a cunning prick and if rumours we heard later about all his steroid and drug abuse are correct, hopefully he is already dead, but if not, is the sort of arsehole would sue if he saw this.
We then had a conversation about a friend of his from his school days who I met when we were young (early 20’s) and despised on the spot. He gave me the creeps and I did not actually understand at first how a nice guy like my boyfriend could be friends with a sleaze like that. As is often the case with guys, they have friends they meet at school when they are younger, often before hormones kick in, they stay friends with for years after school finishes. Due to moving countries in senior, my husband had not stayed in touch and was not until we moved back to NZ for a few years for work they reconnected, hence me meeting him and yes, my partner admitted at the time “Amos can be a bit much”.
That sort of euphemism often used by guys to describe a bloke that is full of himself, gets “a bit out of hand when drinking” etc., and after only two or three meetings he sort of faded away and didn’t bother keeping in touch. Most likely due to my husband growing up and not being into the whole clubbing thing as much and I suppose I didn’t try to hard to hide my distaste of his friend either.
Now, this is where it becomes uncomfortable for me…
One night out at a club, I saw Amos in action, the party man on fire. I didn’t know he was an abuser, but you know, you often get a vibe. In the toilets with a few other girls I did sort of warn one young girl off him, backed up by another girl in there with us, not detailed, just that standard girls toilet talk along the lines of ‘hey, watch yourself with that bloke, not sure about him’ type conversation. I didn’t elaborate, just had a vibe and she seemed rather young and impressed with him throwing the money around, buying the drinks etc. In hindsight I should have said more.
We left pretty early, but had to visit his place the next morning to see another old school friend of my boyfriends who was leaving to go back to the South Island that afternoon. Amos had taken the girl home, she was very very drunk and he even stated “Oh had a great night, she passed out and I got to do whatever I liked, it was a blast!”. I sat there stunned. Others were there as well, conversation turned to ‘the great night’. Then another friend of theirs stumbled out of bed, noting that the ‘girl’ had left. My partner, more interested in catching up with his other friend, pretty much had that whole conversation go over his head, didn’t notice it. Didn’t even think of the ramifications of it and as I discovered only a few days ago, never actually realised his friend Amos was a rapist. A rapist who was happy to brag about it.
To this day I still regret I did not say more, I did not kick up a stink the next morning. I said nothing. I just sat there as the outsider of the group. I don’t know the girls name, I don’t even know if she was old enough to be in that club. It might have been me being young myself, it might have been not feeling secure in that group of young men or it might have just been conditioning, I don’t know. But I never said anything there nor later. All I remember is getting in the car to go back to our place and feeling relieved that my boyfriend was glad he got to see the other old school mate of his that was visiting but not really interested in seeing Amos again, times change, grown up since school, blah blah and I felt relieved.
All I could think of was it was something I did not have to confront with my boyfriend and even having him say that Amos was a bit sleazy made me feel better. Much better, as this was a ‘mate’, you know, the guy you could call to come rescue you when your car broke down – which Amos had done a month earlier - good mate UGH!
It is shameful to admit, I was so engrossed, as we are when we are young and dumb, not that it is an excuse, just a fact of life, that the ‘incident’ was over and I still had a nice boyfriend and didn’t have to see Amos again.
I felt for the young girl but did not once consider the onus was on myself to check up on her, as I said, did not even know her name. I don’t know exactly what Amos did to her. I didn’t ask. Hell, I did not even raise her treatment by Amos with my boyfriend.
Is she one of the women like Porters alleged victim who was scarred for life by their rape? Did her life change irrevocably? I don’t know. This is my shame.
“The most important questions are why 90 per cent don’t report, and why so few go to jail. Of those reported, only about 7 per cent result in convictions. So 7 per cent of 10 per cent. Ponder that stat when you think about the rule of law.” https://t.co/jtSWSZciv7— Daniel Harvey (@Daniel__Harvey) March 5, 2021
My husband, until our conversation on Friday, was not even aware that yes, yes he did know a rapist.
Upon looking back, he realised it would have been more than that occasion I referred to as well. Even suggested that his friends brother was most likely one as well. Being older and wiser, more aware of the serial predator tendencies and was hard to deny, not that my husband even considered it, that yeah Amos was a sexual predator and that was a bit to take in. There was a lot of reflection.
Yes, we all do things we regret when we are young. It is amazing what we find acceptable or in the case of young men, they don’t even notice. In this guys case, my husband and other friends in that group who were decent just considered that Amos was a bit wild, a bit much when out clubbing or on the drinks.
That “bit much” from a young girls point of view has very different ramifications.
So I ask all men who are reading this. I know many of you ‘good men”, think back, look around you. How many of your ‘mates’ are a ‘bit much on the drink’? Can be a bit disparaging of women, but you write off as “oh that is just… he can be a weird unit sometimes”? Had friends who had a marriage break-up and your mate cried on your shoulder about “… was just so demanding, now lying about how I treated her” type vibe? These and many more are indicators of an abusive man.
Worse. How often over the years have you seen a mate be dismissive of their partner or heard a rumour that he might have ‘gone a bit too far…’ and dismissed it because, “he is a good bloke and has never treated my wife like that”, or “Hey! He dropped everything to come and help rescue me when the car broke down, what a top bloke!”
“He has always been decent to me”
“I never experienced anything but respect from him” – the catchcry of the women in particular who aid and abet abusers.
I will note here that being the partner of his friend, meant that my boyfriend’s rapist mate Amos always treated me with respect. Are you getting the picture?
There are all sorts of reasons why men in particular though just seem to have a blind spot for abusive mates.
I assume for many it is like my husband, they were friends before they got older and actually think about who they want to be friends with? For some, it could be their mate helped them out at a particular time they needed it so just can’t see that their ‘good mate’ could be anything but that.
For some ‘good men’ though, I suspect they “choose” not to believe their ‘mate’ could possibly be what they are accused of because that would force them to look at their own role in maybe aiding abetting this predator over the years.
How often did they laugh along at the club, even pay for some of those drinks handed over to their mates prey? How often did they ignore rumours about him? How often did they just decide, even as older men, that it was easier to believe the bullshit about how ‘women lie for attention about rape’ ONE OF THE WORST URBAN MYTHS EVER! No woman thinks she will be rewarded from lying about rape FFS! And it could not be true as the mate has always treated his girlfriend nicely?
I don’t know, I really don’t.
What I do know is too many women have been raped or abused. Their abusers have families and friends who turn a blind eye to it.
In recent weeks many men have put their hand up and said, enough is enough. This is encouraging it really is, but you need to do more. You ‘good men’ need to recognise the misogynistic, sexist and predatory signals your mates give off. You need to listen and talk to women to learn what these signals and behaviours are.
We are now entering the phase of the discussion on sexual assault and rape in our Government and society which Jess Hill – who wrote a very good book on domestic abuse “See What You Made Me Do' which is a must read - predicted days ago called DARVO – Deny, Attack, Reverse, Victim and Offender.
If there are media reports in the next few days undermining the credibility of the complainant, refer back to this. I hope Porter’s office, or those in the govt, refrain from backgrounding against her. If they do, the only decent thing for journalists to do is report on that. https://t.co/qSugL5dMop— Jess Hill (@jessradio) March 3, 2021
We are seeing it in so many media reports. All too often these pieces of victim blaming and gaslighting are written by “good blokes”, which makes them even more damaging. The likes of an Andrew Probyn straight after Porter’s crocodile tears ‘performance’ denying the allegations starting his ‘analysis’ on ABC with “a shattered man”, then going on to tell us how brilliant Porters career has been and could now be in jeopardy, of course including the ‘context’ of the alleged victims ‘troubled past with mental health’, yet… did not include Porters own ‘troubled past with sexism and misogyny’ revealed in his own network’s 4 Corners report and ending of course with “shattered man” again.
Not only was this so-called analysis gaslighting the victim, it was made worse by the fact that Andrew Probyn is a decent bloke, therefore, being a ‘good man’ saying something like this, it has more affect in the wider public, the gaslighting gives others something to cling to. Reducing the trauma of the victim to just a tragedy where sympathy should lay with the alleged rapist. Probyn, being a male, most likely is not even aware of how much his words were a sucker punch to the gut of women who have been abused in the past and not believed was.
Peter van Onselen is another. A member of the media fraternity that most would consider to be a decent bloke, a ‘good man’ if you will. He wrote very well when Brittany Higgin allegations first hit the media, though... amazing how the tone of his writing and social media comments changed as soon as it was his "mate" accused of rape? Even if not a fan of his work, he tends to give a rats about the more vulnerable in society, so his recent piece and then his getting narky at those who were angry about what he wrote was not only pretty crook as far as privileged white male ‘hurt’ goes, but another example of the ‘good man’ explaining away how it could just not be possible that his mate Porter was an alleged rapist, in fact, is was “a chilling, disgraceful denial of basic rights”, as yes, of course people calling for action, an independent inquiry, hell any form of an alleged rapist being held to account is unfair.
The alleged victim? Well, she is dead, so MYEH! How could that ever compare to the so-called ‘rights of our attorney-general’?
Yes the above is said with dripping sarcasm.
Problem is, because the likes of both Probyn and van Onselen are the ‘good men’ types, their words have impact on the population in general, who let’s face it, really don’t want to talk about rape.
It is uncomfortable, these men distract from that conversation and give succour to powerful men who like the system exactly the way it is, with them on top and the system rigged to ensure that women are not believed and never get justice when harmed by those same men.
If I am being kind, I would suggest these ‘good men’ do not even realise the harm they are causing, the hurt they are inflicting on the women who have suffered in the past and are still suffering now when they hear their words or read their work distracting and victim blaming, even if they don’t think they are victim blaming, the subtle choices they have made in how they describe their ‘mate’ Porter and the ‘victim’ are very different.
Don’t get me wrong, Probyn and van Onselen are not the only ones, there are more, though I stopped reading others. My point is, it is not the odious men’s rights types who stop women being heard and believed, they have a small audience and preach to those who only believe as they do, so can be ignored to a degree as they are uber conservative and were never going to respect women as equals.
The ‘good men’ in media are dangerous. They do respect their fellow women journalists, they will come to the fore to defend them when they see sexism and abuse of these women on social media or elsewhere, they are ‘good men’, so when they victim blame and gaslight – regardless of whether that was their intention or not – that has impact, it harms!
Only when ‘good men’ stand up, resist the urge to defend a ‘mate’, ‘choose’ to look at the relationship with these men they know with clear eyes and call out misogynistic behaviour will we see a change in our society. This starts at the top, with Leaders.
We know from comments from our PM that we will NOT see that leadership from him or his government.
Many good women in our media have been doing a sterling job. Let down by their ‘good men’ male counterparts. Will they listen and stand up, show some leadership? Hold ‘truth to power’ and take their own powerful role seriously in our society?
This exchange in “Promising Young Women” () – which you really should see if you have not, though be aware if you have been a victim of sexual assault – keeps entering my head and I just can’t get rid of it, in regard to men being accused of rape:
Al Monroe: It's every man's worst nightmare, getting accused of something like that.
Cassandra: Can you guess what every woman's worst nightmare is?
"It's every guys worst nightmare getting accused like that."— Fandango (@Fandango) December 11, 2019
"Can you guess what every woman's worst nightmare is?"
Carey Mulligan is out for vengeance in the first trailer for #PromisingYoungWoman pic.twitter.com/TYgYR31tzS
So please… Good Men? Listen to women in your life, stand up! Half the population can’t fix this problem we have in Australia on our own.
If you don’t have many women in your life willing to speak, listen to Australian of the Year, Grace Tame, in her powerful National Press Gallery speech, including the QandA part at the end, you won’t regret it.
Good Men we not only need to you listen and learn, we need you to support us. There will be marches held all over the nation on the 15th of March.
You are welcome to come and have our backs, though first, think about this…
Is there a woman whose shift you can maybe cover at work so she can attend? A friend who won’t get home from the March in time to pick up the kids from school? Offer to do so? Hell, if you are available put your hand up to drive and pick up some women you know so they can attend the March? There are many ways you can assist women to attend these marches. If you don’t know any women attending and still want to help, hit the odious Facebook pages for the march in your area and put your hand up 😉
Please Good Men, Bad Men can only get away with rape, sexual assault and domestic abuse with the aid of Good Men looking away or walking past. Don’t be that man.
If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault or violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit 1800RESPECT.org.au.
Much love and thanks to my husband, Stephen, for being open to these conversations and happy for me to share our conversation with others in the hopes it may be the start of conversations with others
Professional desk jockey