‘I’m lucky I’m not a woman in Australia’
HOW lucky am I?
A bloke living in Australia. I'm not dodging mortar shells in my neighbourhood. My children go to school with little to no chance of being shot in the face during maths class.
As frustrating as our politicians are, we're not on the brink of economic ruin, food riots and rolling energy blackouts … yet.
Hell, on the rare occasion when I'm pulled over by the police, not once have I worried about them busting a cap in my ample ass. Lucky as, mate!
I'm especially lucky not to be a woman in Australia: police allege 34 have already been killed by their current or former partner this year.
Thirty one dead women.
More than one a week. Sadly, it is the norm and has been for ages.
Despite this, it took the death of Eurydice Dixon for me to realise something.
Little things are happening every day in our country that, in essence, lead to such horror. And men need to play a part in stamping it out.
Why didn't I recognise this before? Why not after the tragic murder of Masa Vukotic or Stephanie Scott, Jayde Kendall, Tara Brown … the list does go on, but I won't burden you with more victims to Google (I bet those names resonate with female readers, though).
Yes, I felt for Jill Meagher, her family and cheered when her rapist and murderer was caught. Another bad man off the streets. Yes, I wept for Rosie Batty when her little boy Luke was taken from her. I held my boys a lot tighter in the weeks following, unable to fathom how a father could do such a thing.
Following the allleged rape and murder of Eurydice it was different. All I could hear was a chorus of female voices demanding, "Men need to do more" to stop these deaths. On the news, in my feed. Hell, Hannah Gadsby's Nanette Netflix special pointed the finger right at me! Written months before, it's sad her message continues to be relevant, right up to the second I write this.
As a bloke, what do you expect me to do? It's horrible, I wish it didn't happen but I'm powerless to stop these monstrous acts. I'm not a rapist. I love my children. I don't hit my wife, or anyone for that matter. As long as I'm not a perpetrator, I'm doing my bit against violence in the home, violence in the community. Don't lump this on me. Not all men bash, rape and murder women, right?
Days later I found myself in the presence of Rosie Batty. At the business luncheon, she too implored men to "do more" to combat family violence.
I spoke with her directly after her presentation; a truly profound experience. She echoed the words of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull; "Disrespecting women doesn't always result in violence against women but all violence against women begins with disrespecting women".
This! All of this! It's so simple, isn't it? It's not exclusive to women victims. It's exactly what your nanna says is wrong with the world; "No one has respect for anything anymore".
So how can men turn the tide, when it's the fault of parents, schools, social media for a lack of respect in our society? Men can make an effort to understand how the world is for others. It's called empathy. Look it up. As opposed to reacting and labelling a request for consideration as 'political correctness gone mad', see how we all talk to and (dis) regard each other in everyday life.
There is a real cost of jokes at someone else's expense. You only laugh when the jokes not on you. It's hard to call someone out in front of a group for being sexist, racist, homophobic. No one wants to be "that guy".
Laughing along or ignoring it only reinforces the attitudes and behaviour. So, be a good man and pull the joke teller up. Rock the boat. Start to turn the tide of what should be acceptable in our community.
"That's not funny, mate." It's that simple. All men can be part of attitudinal change and forge a new standard of behaviour and respect for the future, and maybe a bit on today.
Reflecting on the past week, it's time for all men to acknowledge;
• The scene of a male junior surfer receiving double the prize money as the female champion speaks volumes about the perceptions of a woman's achievements and overall worth.
• You should be sacked from radio for making, not a "gross" joke, but a rape joke on air (it's sexual assault and it's very much a thing in Australia!)
• When you slut-shame a politician on the floors of parliament and then on Sky News, you don't deserve to represent the electorate you serve. Hell, if Peta Credlin can come to Sarah Hanson-Young's defence there's hope for us yet.
If you're reluctant to acknowledge that all of these things add up, grow up. Why do you fight the idea of entrenched disrespect can ultimately lead to someone's death? Is it so unbelievable? Not always, but it's at the start whenever it does. You don't murder someone you respect. No 16-year-old "asks" to be tortured, killed and stuffed in a barrel like trash.
At the very least, it's one step closer to becoming a kinder community, and what's wrong with that?
John Edwards planned to execute his own children in Pennant Hills, just as Greg Anderson murdered his son Luke Batty. Did sexist jokes drive him to it? Was it a mental health issue exacerbated by a biased family court system?
No matter why you think men are driven to rape and murder, don't waste your energy on me. Become part of the solution. Channel it towards the law makers. Lobby for change. Support mental health organisations. Don't wait to be forced into advocacy like Rosie Batty, because you have nothing left to lose.