Wednesday, July 20, 2016

So, you hate Muslims? Congratulations. You have been Successfully Radicalised.

I realise the above might sound like an extreme statement. But after the darkness of the week just passed, and the growing animosity between fellow Australians - scrap that - fellow human beings - it's the only conclusion I can draw. And crucially, it's one of the few conversations we're not having.

Beyond ISIS' predatory recruitment processes, high quality propaganda and sophisticated social media presence, they have one painfully simple goal in the West: to turn Muslims and non-Muslims against each other. They want to create an environment so toxic; where Muslims are so marginalised, despised and hated, that turning to Islamic State seems like a legitimate or even logical choice. In their propaganda, they call this strategy 'Eliminating the Grey Zone.'

Yes - ISIS clearly hate secularism, the perceived liberalism of the West, and have been fuelled by a sociopathic response to a complex history of Western invasion, colonial mentality and interventionism. And a gross, regressive interpretation of one of the three Abrahamic faiths. They use this to violently slaughter anyone who disagrees with their twisted ideology, and rejoice at the scenes we have witnessed in France, Germany, America and countless other liberal democracies. 

But it's not just mindless violence; it's violence and terror with a goal. 

And it's this goal that my mind keeps coming back to. If ISIS' aim is to drive a wedge of division, hatred and mistrust between Muslims and non-Muslims, doesn't it follow, then, that if you find yourself hating all Muslims, you might just have been radicalised yourself?

Radicalisation is broadly defined as 'a process by which an individual or group comes to adopt increasingly extreme political, social or religious ideals and aspirations that reject or undermine the status quo, or undermine contemporary ideas and expressions of freedom of choice.'

Those who speak out against Islam constantly claim they are 'speaking the truth', 'saying what everyone is thinking' and 'making the difficult choices.' I would argue they are making the easiest choice available to them. And in the process, becoming radicalised by the very people they claim to be against.

Doing exactly what ISIS wants you to do seems like a very peculiar way to stand up against them. And yet that's precisely what thousands of Australian 'patriots' have done; walking head first into radicalisation, and giving the terrorists everything they want in the process.
In Waleed Aly's video on The Project earlier this week, he suggested you can only 'spin the gravitron' so many times before someone gets sick. The problem with our discourse up to this point is that we have focussed almost entirely on the sickness that emerges from our Muslim youth, and awkwardly fumbled for tired, blunt words to describe the sickness which has emerged in the non-Muslim community. 

Whether you hold violent thoughts towards non-Muslims or violent thoughts towards Muslims, you have both been radicalised - and it's been facilitated by exactly the same process. You are both supporting ISIS in what they hope to achieve.

Here's one radicalised Australian's thoughts, courtesy of The United Patriots Front:
Here's another young man, who has sadly also become radicalised:
This Australian has become particularly radicalised, and shares his thoughts about New South Wales Labor Senator, Sam Dastyari:

There are, of course, less violent and vitriolic forms of radicalisation, be they the comments of Sonia Kruger earlier this week, or Pauline Hanson airing her 'genuine' concerns for the future of Australia throughout her election campaign.

The thing is - it doesn't matter how much you bang on about freedom of speech or speaking your mind - when these are the views that you arrive at, you have been successfully lead through a process; and it's exactly the one ISIS wanted you to undertake. You are literally helping them achieve their goal - one hateful, bigotted, alienating opinion at a time.

These issues are undeniably complex; at the very least, far more complex that I'm capable of articulating. The road to humanity's healing will be long, and I'm almost certain things will get worse before they get better. But if there's one thing I could change about our current framing of the debate right now, it would be to call people who have decided they hate all Muslims for exactly what they are - products of the same radicalisation process which young Muslim men have succumbed to - and who are supporting the precise agenda ISIS want them to. Everytime you abuse, degrade and attack innocent Australian Muslims, you are supporting Islamic State. 

And for any radicalised non-Muslim Australians who find all of this a bit hard to swallow, I would be glad to hear of a single example in the history of humanity where actively supporting the goal of your enemy has furthered your own cause.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Whatever we might take from the Brexit result, I think one thing is really clear. The 'remain' camp failed miserably in prosecuting their case. The issues at play are undeniably complex, but there is something that those of us on the progressive side of politics can take from this. For one reason or another, we've become far too adept and judging, dismissing and belittling the views of those we disagree with. 

We throw around terms like 'bigot', 'xenophobe' and 'racist' as if it were a bodily function; hurling them far too comfortably at people who don't share our world-view. It makes us feel righteous and justified. But what does labeling someone racist or xenophobic actually achieve? We convince ourselves that people with right-leaning views can't be reasoned with, so there's no point in trying. But they were reasoned with at this referendum, and persuaded. They were a majority.

 (Nigel Farage, leader of the far right UKIP) 

Now, more than ever, the world needs more connection, more sharing; we need more empathy, and more non-judgemental exchanging of ideas - especially with the people we disagree with. Of course some people can be bigots and xenophobes. But labeling them as such and simply walking away is not effective. If anything, it shoves people further into the hands of the mainstream media and conservative governments - organs which are far more adept at persuading people they should be afraid than anyone else is at reassuring them they are safe. 

Something needs to change. The world is rapidly lurching further to the right, and we're adamantly, almost stubbornly singing the same song, waiting for people to sing along. And then we hurl abuse at them when they refuse. At times, there is an almost staggering amount of arrogance on 'the left.'

When someone shares an opinion we abhor on Facebook, we should try to strengthen our connection with them, rather than reaching for the delete button. When someone advocates a view we consider racist or bigoted, we should be listening to them - empathising with their views and engaging with them non-judgementally. We need to understand peoples' fears, rather than chastising them for being afraid. 

Many will argue that it's 'not our job' to lead people away from bigotry. Well, quietly fuck that. Because tens upon thousands of people are in the full-time job of leading them there in the first place. If someone has genuine concerns about immigration and we flippantly dismiss them as racist, what then of the far-right group which reaches out and says "Hey, we share your concerns. Let's talk." We lose opportunities for genuine connection like this every day, whether it's the unspoken ideological divide with our friends or family, or the person we just unfollowed on Facebook. 

I think about those living in rural Australia, often bereft of the lived experience of the functioning, multicultural city-hubs which many of us take for granted. On a daily basis, they are berated with a representation of our Muslim and refugee communities which amount to a relentless parade of fear and violence. Many of these people might have never even met someone of Islamic faith, but they are being deluged with stories of extremism and terror by our media and our government. How on Earth can we blame them? If I didn't have the lived experience of connecting with generous, community minded people from a Muslim background on a daily basis, I could very easily see myself being lead down a similar path. It's all far too easy. 

And how do we engage with the mother or father of this family when they air their concerns? We yell at them. We demonise them. We call them racist, xenophobic bogans. How helpful can that possibly be? And why are we targeting our anger at them, rather than the system which lead them to those views in the first place? 

  (The far-left group Antifa. What are statements like this supposed to achieve?) 

As a community development worker, I encounter challenges and frictions in communities on a daily basis. If a particular community was wrestling with bigotry or intolerance, there's basically two approaches I could take. I could call a meeting, sit everybody down, and yell at them about how disgusting and racist and bigoted they all are; call them a pack of bogans, close the meeting and head home. Or I could spend time with them; attempt to empathise with their circumstances and experiences, and try to understand the concerns which have lead to the views they hold. And then we might look for solutions. I'd like to think these options are a bit of a no brainer. So why are we convinced the first approach is effective? 

Social media has made it far too easy for us to look people up and down, form an assessment, and throw them in a box. We do it because it's easy. Everything is easy on a digital platform, especially when you're convinced that you're right. But that's exactly the problem. We need to find a new way to engage and a new way to listen. We need to disentangle ourselves from the paternalistic arrogance which has become the calling card of progressive politics. I can only hope that Brexit is the wake-up call we need. Because something needs to change. 

If we don't drastically reconsider our approach, this will be the first of many results where we shake our head, post a satisfying meme (or a link to a John Stewart clip), and complain to our friends about how much bigotry there is in the world. It might continue to make us feel good in our comfortable, progressive circle-jerk, but it's not working. At all. Brexit didn't happen because people are inherently bigoted; it happened because people are scared, and our arguments and methods of engagement are simply not working. If we're going to point the finger of blame at anyone, it should be squarely at ourselves.

Monday, November 24, 2014

The Silence That Damages Us All

I was really lucky to have a group of close, male friends through my childhood. We all went to the same primary school, and most of us went to the same secondary college. We played basketball together, shared the same taste in awful nineties dance music, drank our first beers together, and spent most of our spare time just hanging out. I'd often have them round at my place, and my mother would regularly embarrass me by pointing out what good taste I had in friends. My family loved them. And I did too.

"So, did you give it to her?"
"Didn't you hear? He stuck it in her ass mate!"
"Get fucked, really?"
"Oh, she was such a dirty fat bitch. Took me forever to find the fucking thing before I finally got it in. Punished the shit out of her."

Everybody laughs.

I was around 22, and we had all caught up for some drinks in the city. This is my last, lingering memory of those friends.

These days I wonder less about what made me uncomfortable about that conversation, and much more about why I just laughed along, drank my beer and didn't say anything.

There are no rules for men engaging with one another. And yet, there are so many. So many unspoken codes - no-go zones and taboos. Saying something at that moment would have almost certainly meant my resignation from the group. My objections would have either been met with a long, awkward silence - or me being labelled 'soft', 'a femmo' or 'PC' - and either way, that would have been the end of it. No one wants to have beers with a guy who's going to rain on their pussy parade.

These are the same boys I went to primary school with.

Somewhere along the way, men learn to limit their interactions with each other to a narrow spectrum of designated topics. We are constantly looking to each other for acceptable behaviours – ways we can ‘be men’ which meet the approval of other men. When we occasionally dip our toes in the water and show some emotion or vulnerability, we get called on it. Our mates give us shit. We get called pussies. Soft. On our rags. We get laughed at and told to suck it up.

In most cases, the language that reminds us of our masculinity is gendered - and denegrating to women. It paints women as vulnerable and frail, and reminds men of their need for stiocism and testicles. It tells us that women are weak, and we have to be better than that. Every time this happens, we learn more and more that exhibiting 'feminine' qualities is something to be avoided. At all costs.

(Courtesy Jeff Perera: The Ladder of Manhood)

In a classic piece of stand-up comedy, Jerry Seinfeld comments "That's why we're honkin' car horns, yelling from construction sites. These are the best ideas we've had so far. Why do men behave in these ways? Why are we rude, obnoxious, getting drunk, falling down, peeling rubber, making kissing noises out the window? Why are we like this?"

Seinfeld's material is met with laughter and applause, but beneath his comments, there's a much more serious question: what options have we given ourselves to express our masculinity?

If being a man is avoiding ‘feminine’ qualities at all costs, what sort of challenge have we set ourselves?

Let's think for a moment about what we have decided is feminine: expressing feelings, showing emotions, being vulnerable - speaking openly about anxiety, depression, or any other challenges we might be facing. Talking plainly about care and concern for each other. We've filed all these behaviours under 'female.'

And what does that leave us with? What avenues are available to men if we need to talk about any of these issues? Can we open at the pub, on the sporting field or at work? Do we feel comfortable letting our guard down around other men?

Or does that little voice in our head tell us to suck it up and grow a pair – my mates probably won’t understand, and they’ll just give me shit.

Be strong. Don’t be a princess. Get off your rags.

Almost 2000 men commit suicide each year in Australia. That's over five men taking their own lives every day, just in this country alone. Comparatively, around 500 women commit suicide in Australia each year. A little over one per day. Whilst any form of self harm or suicide poses questions about our society, why men? Why are we killing ourselves at four times the rate of women?

If, as men, we have taken behaviours we perceive as ‘feminine’ off the table, what options does that leave us with when we need to reach out?

November 25th marks International Day for The Elimination of Violence Against Women. A solemn reminder that one women will be killed by her partner or ex partner every week in Australia. That one in three women will experience violence at the hands of men in their lifetime. Of course, men experience violence too – but over 90% of that violence will be at the hands of another man.

When feminists and female leaders try to challenge male attitudes, they are routinely met with the response: "Not all men. I'm not like that."

The hashtag #notallmen has taken off online in recent years, as an attempt to remind us that not all men have damaging attitudes towards women. Not all men are rapists, not all men are violent. Not all men hold misogynistic views.

I have a serious problem with this statement. And it goes to the heart of the problem facing masculinity as it currently exists.

We have created a situation where all the 'good men' among us can relax, because it's #notallmen. “I treat women really well, so this doesn't apply to me.”

Meanwhile, those of us who are violent, controlling or abusive have never been engaged to begin with.

'Good men' don't need to hear the message, and the men who do aren't listening.

These issues of what it means to be a man, our attitudes towards women, and the current rates of domestic violence are closely connected. Studies have found that rigid gender roles - our current definitions of masculinity and its relation to women - are a leading cause of violence against women. (Hattery, A., Smith, E. (2012). The Social Dynamics of Family Violence)

Thinking back to that evening in the city, I can't help but wonder if the '22 year-old me' needs to stand up in the middle of that conversation and say something. To challenge my friends when they simultaneously brag about - and insult - the women they are sleeping with. To start conversations that fall outside the 'safe zones' of male interaction.

Our masculinity does not have to be proven by the cars we drive, or how we drive them. It’s not about the sports we follow, or the women we have sex with. Being a man doesn’t have to be defined by our avoidance of 'feminine' behaviour. When other men pay us out or call us women, we need to challenge these statements, rather than allowing them to limit and define us.

The rules that we men have made for ourselves are hurting us in ways we don't fully understand, and hurting women in ways that are very well documented. Women should not live in fear of men, just as men should not live in fear of each other. Whether it's the fear of ridicule, the fear of shame, or the fear of violence. We have to be better than this.

We owe it to the 52 women who will die at the hands of a male partner or ex-partner this year, and the one in three women who will experience domestic violence at the hands of a man in their lifetime. We owe it to the 2000 men who will take their own lives in this year alone, and the countless number of men who experience violence at the hands of another man, each and every year.

Good men stand up and have conversations with other men that are difficult, challenging and uncomfortable. Our current definition of masculinity is the problem that ties all of these issues together. It is a problem for women - and the problem for men.

Recently, Gavin McInnes, founder of Vice Magazine was asked about his thoughts on feminism. He responded by saying “Women are feigning that toughness. They’re feigning toughness and they’re miserable.”

I couldn't help but think he was talking about men.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Anxiety and The Age of Entitlement: A Personal Story

I realise that writing about the Australian Federal Budget is approximately as exciting as watching Justin Bieber interview himself, but there was an announcement last night that made me reflect on my own personal experiences.

In my early twenties, I managed a record store. As a music nerd, this was pretty much my dream job. Debating which Pink Floyd album was the best, discovering the music of Miles Davis, and occasionally directing people to the Ricky Martin section. It was a humble job, but one I enjoyed immensely.

It would also be the job in which I developed a crippling anxiety disorder. I can remember quite clearly the day when it first happened. I was serving an elderly gentleman, who had purchased some Frank Sinatra albums. As I was handing him his change, I started to shake. Slightly at first, then violently. I had absolutely no idea what was going on, but it scared the shit out of me. I knew something wasn't right, and I felt the overwhelming need to escape my environment - immediately.

Thankfully, after the customer left there was no one else in the store. I locked the doors, called my colleague, and told him what was happening. I then called my mum, who said it sounded like I was experiencing a panic attack. At that time in my life, I had no idea what she was talking about. My work-mate came in to cover for me and I went straight to the doctor. He took my blood pressure, and confirmed that I had indeed experienced an episode of anxiety, or a panic attack.

Following my doctor's advice, I took a week off work. But when I returned, it happened again. And again. I began to develop anxiety about the feelings of anxiety. I felt trapped, and I was scared. I didn't understand what was happening.

After a month or so of this pattern, I eventually made a decision: I had to quit my job. It was a difficult call - not only because I loved my work, but also because I'd never been officially unemployed before. With my entitlements, I had around a month's worth of savings - but beyond that, nothing. So I applied for the Newstart allowance.

During the months that followed, I experienced repeated panic attacks, and symptoms that developed into full-blown agoraphobia (a fear of open spaces) - any form of social engagement became a task that was both daunting and deeply challenging.

My Newstart allowance was meagre, yes - but I was thankful to have it. I was also grateful beyond words to have the support of my family during this time, who provided me with food, financial assistance, and ultimately a roof over my head. I could go to sleep every night knowing that, regardless of whatever it was that I was going through - I had a place to call home, and people I could depend on.

Last night, Joe Hockey announced that anyone under 30 years old who applies for Newstart will have to wait 6 months before they start receiving benefits.

Under Abbott's new policy, if I didn't have the support of my family, I would have found myself with no source of income or support. Where would I have lived? How could I have payed rent? How would I have purchased food, or payed for the frequent visits to my doctor and psychologist? And how would I have afforded the petrol that got me to all of these appointments?

I would have had no access to support for half a year. And honestly, I can't really imagine where I might have ended up. When I think back to that time in my life, I am terrified at what this policy would have meant for me. Emergency relief, borrowing from friends, sleeping on couches - all of these things would have been a reality. I could have been homeless.

I didn't choose to develop an anxiety disorder. I didn't choose to quit a job that I loved. And I certainly didn't choose to embark on the already demoralizing experience that was applying for Newstart, and standing in line at Centerlink. These were not choices. And at no point did I feel I was comfortably laying back in a "hammock", or embracing a "welfare lifestyle" - both terms used by our current treasurer, Joe Hockey.

But despite all of my experiences, I consider myself incredibly lucky. Newstart supported me to seek medical support, afford food, and ultimately return to work in a career which is more fulfilling than selling Nickelback albums could have ever been.

I don't know of anyone who views Newstart as a lifestyle choice, a comfortable existence, or an arrangement they would enter into voluntarily. It is a ridiculously small amount of money, rationed out to young people who need it to simply stay afloat.

I would like to think this issue transcends politics. It is not about a 'budget emergency', and it is certainly beyond traditional left and right ideologies. If we can't support young people through periods of unemployment - if we are asking them to survive on no money for half a year - we will inherit a problem that goes well beyond sustainable welfare. A new generation of unemployed, disempowered and homeless youth, leaning further on charities that are already under enormous strain. This is ultimately about what sort of a society we want to be. It goes to the heart of our nation, and the notion we so regularly tout - one of 'a fair go for all.'

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Man Up: The Words That Benefit No One

In primary school:

"Stop being such a girl."

In high school:

“He’s gone soft”, "Suck it up princess", “What a pussy.”

On Saturday night:

"Don't be a weak cunt", "She must be on her rags", "You blokes have all gone fucking soft."

Whether male or female, 18 years old or 50 – at some point in our lives, we have all been told to man up, grow a pair, suck it up, or stop being a pussy. These terms comprise the unofficial score card by which so many of our actions and behaviors are judged. They begin in the playground, weave their way through school culture, and define the language we take with us - out into the world.

These words - these insults - come from somewhere deep within our culture. From the pub to the sporting field, in our media and our social circles - at every turn, our language reinforces the notion that men are tough, emotionally baron, endlessly resilient. Women are submissive and nurturing. They are highly emotional, and deeply sensitive. Women have feelings. Men have balls.

(Courtesy Brendan Riley, Flickr)

Some argue this language is just an extension of biology; that men and women have separate and distinct characteristics, particularly where emotions are involved. This is the natural order, and challenging notions of gender roles would be challenging nature itself. 

The reality, of course, is that we have created these roles and rules for ourselves. Every time we perpetuate these rigid notions of gender - either overtly, or through casual language - we are reinforcing a system which hasn't benefited any of us for a very, very long time.

We know now, for example, that a belief in rigid gender roles are a contributing factor in men's violence against women. Domestic violence is far more prevalent in relationships where one or both partners enforce narrow definitions of their gendered responsibilities, particularly where child rearing is involved (Hattery, A., Smith, E. (2012). The Social Dynamics of Family Violence).

One in three women will experience domestic violence in their lifetime.

Whilst we see a growing awareness around how this language and these beliefs benefit men and disempower women; there is another side. It's a side where men are suffering, and they are suffering profoundly. If we believe that 'having balls' is the ultimate affirmation of courage and success, and being a ‘pussy’ is the exact opposite, we are buying into a language and a system which continues to not only hurt women, but men too. The male fixation with avoiding ‘feminine' characteristics is literally killing us.

In 2012, approximately 2500 Australians committed suicide. 1900 of them were men.

Not only are suicide rates amongst men nearly four times higher than women, men are also falling behind women when it comes to work and career. A recent study showed that women are succeeding in positions and industries traditionally seen as the 'male domain.' By contrast, men are showing little, if any growth into traditionally 'female' spheres of employment:

These notions of rigid gender roles are nothing new. Female leaders and feminists have been exploring and challenging them for decades. But so often when men hear the term ‘gender’ - or even worse, feminism - we either tune out, or feel we are under threat – as though at any moment, our tenuous grasp on masculinity could be taken away from us. But looking at the data, we realise this version of masculinity - with its balls and its hard cocks and all the language we use to perpetuate it - has been hurting men for as long as we've been subscribing to it. 

Masculinity, as we currently define and embrace it, is letting a staggering number of men down.

Feminism has seen women start to redefine their place in society. It has subverted the expectations thrust upon them, and given them the ideas and tools to challenge their role in the world. The male response to this movement has been mostly to ignore it, argue with it, or insult the incredible women who lead and embrace it. All the while creating nothing new for ourselves. 

At times, it feels that men would rather do anything than examine their own masculinity.

When we embrace gender stereotypes, nobody wins. Women are demoted as submissive and emotionally unstable, whilst men have balls and stoicism and are immune to emotion. Of course, neither is capital T true – we have entirely imposed these restrictions on ourselves.

Shifting this culture, one so deeply entrenched, is a profoundly large task. But there are things we can do. We can connect the casual language to the outcome. We can challenge people when they perpetuate these standards through their language, their behavior and their actions. 

Every time we’re out with our mates, we can choose language which doesn’t refer to soft cocks and manning up. We can choose language that doesn’t equate sensitivity with being a pussy or ‘being a weak cunt.’ We can challenge other men when they tell someone to ‘grow a set.’  We can decide what sort of future we want for men. Because this isn’t about ‘softing it’ or being a girl. It is about questioning why nearly three quarters of Australian suicides are men.  It is about questioning why one in three women will experience domestic violence in their lifetime. It is about respecting women, and respecting ourselves.

We need to start being honest. These standards are ridiculous. If we let our language define masculinity as simply 'not being a women' - we will continue to view women as second rate citizens, and continue to view manhood as the challenge of avoiding 'feminine' qualities at all costs. This is a language which benefits no one, built on a culture which is hurting all of us. 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

An Open Letter to Joe Hildebrand

Dear Joe,

“You have to get out.”

This was your advice to women across Australia who are currently experiencing domestic violence. Needless to say, I have been promoting your advice furiously since you offered it on Studio 10 last Wednesday, and look forward to seeing a drastic reduction of men’s violence against women in Australia. Because “you have to get out” is obviously something no woman suffering abuse has ever considered. “Just leave? Why didn’t I think of that? Shit, thanks Joe. I’ll just start packing now.”

One in three Australian women will experience some form of domestic violence in their lifetime. Statistics suggest that it takes women on average seven attempts to permanently leave an abusive relationship. Domestic violence can be physical, psychological, verbal, social, sexual, financial – the list goes on. In most cases, more than one of these behaviours are present. In almost every case, domestic violence is about establishing a culture of dominance, fear and control.

I don’t expect you to be an expert on domestic violence. I don’t think anybody does. And this is why I’m writing to you. If you have no personal experience of domestic violence; if you have no understanding of the factors that define and contribute to cultures of violence; if you have no concept of the cycles of abuse and the factors that make it terrifying for so many women to consider leaving abusive men… Why on Earth would you feel compelled to offer an opinion at all?

I have worked with victims of domestic violence. More than five of my friends have experienced it personally. But that does not give me experience. Do you know what that gives me the right to do? Sit down, shut up, and listen. Listen to what women who have experienced it have to say. Listen to their experiences, their stories. Not to pontificate and offer really helpful suggestions like “I know it’s hard, but you have to get out.”

No. Your job is to listen. To listen when Rosie Batty, a woman who has experienced one of the worst forms of domestic violence possible says: “We are talking about the risk to our lives. We’re talking about when women may finally decide to leave their partners, they are at the most risk. Do you know what happened to me? Greg had finally lost control of me, and to make me suffer, and the final act of control, which was the most hideous form of violence, was to kill my son.”

Rosie Batty handled herself with such dignity, such grace and composure in responding to your comments – and frankly, even if her response had lacked those qualities, she still would have been showing courageous leadership. Rosie has suffered inconceivable violence and abuse, and on a public scale. She then has to listen to you, a man who will never experience intimate partner violence from a male in your lifetime, sit there and tell her what she – and the millions of others like her - should have done.

Your apology the following day comprised the collective humility of a kid who’d be dragged to the principal’s office and forced to apologise - he didn’t really understand why he was there, and was only apologising to avoid detention. You still felt you were right.

“It is the role of every adult who is aware of children being sexually abused to blow the whistle on it. It is their job to raise the alarm. In cases, which is sadly all too common, where the person who is in a position to do that is also a victim of abuse themselves, makes it enormously hard – I certainly know that. But, that is not a reason to say ‘well, we’ll just let it go on.’ … That is not blaming the victim at all.”

 Victim blaming doesn’t mean pointing at an abuse victim and saying “It’s your fault you were abused.” It is about focusing entirely on the actions and behaviours of the victim, whilst avoiding any focus on the perpetrator. At no point – through your initial comments, Rosie’s response, or your apology did you seek to address, explore or even acknowledge the men who commit these crimes. In fact, a focus on the perpetrator was so deafeningly absent from any of your comments, it was almost staggering. Advising women that they simply need to “get out” of abusive relationships is akin to asking a rape victim “Why did you let him rape you?”

I know I’m waffling. But I’m waffling to a man who has further traumatised a domestic abuse victim, sent an appalling message to victims of abuse everywhere, failed to listen, failed to learn, and continued on your merry way in the hope that this will all blow over. Then you can get back to being Joe and not deal with all these crazy misrepresentations of your comments. It must have been a tough week.

But maybe you can sleep a little better knowing that as a male, you will not be one of the 33% of Australian women who will experience domestic violence in their lifetime. You will remain firmly within the majority of men whose victimhood is never questioned. You will never have to suffer speculations about what you could have done to avoid or mitigate your own abuse. You will never have to listen to a male onlooker question your actions and your choices. And you will certainly not be one of the millions of female domestic violence victims who continue to live with the specific shame and stigma that permeates our attitudes towards domestic abuse on a daily basis. You will never have to listen to men like you.

The next time you find yourself in a position to offer an opinion on domestic violence, perhaps you could put this on the auto-cue: “As a man who has never experienced violence against women, I don’t have an opinion. I want to listen – and I want to talk about a society which continues to breed abusive men at an alarming rate; a society which critiques every aspect of abusive relationships, except the men who create them. I want to talk about men.”