Illustration, by Sam Moore
Toxic Masculinity, In Australia
“We run the risk, at times, of being a nation of bystanders comforted by a few statistics. Let me tell you, there are people dying and people whose lives are absolutely ruined as a result of domestic violence and, what’s more, we are all, as a society, the victim.”
– David Morrison, Australian of the year 2016
A female acquaintance of mine, details the contents of a message she received last night. The message contained a dick-pic, and a very clear threat:
I will not stop sending this until you come to Brisbane and suck my dick
This message was brought up in conversation, after she had shared her experience with sexual assault; an event which took place at her previous workplace. The assaulter, pulled her into a confined space, forced himself upon her, raising her legs, and hoisting her onto his pelvis; he then proceeded to force his mouth onto hers.
Unfortunately, this is not the only time a female friend, co-worker, or sexual partner has revealed an incident of the same calibre. In fact, I can still vividly recall the details of incidents revealed to me, which were far more sinister in nature.
So, I’m left with the questions: Is sexual assault, and violence against women a common occurrence in our country?
And, if so, why?
On the 13th of July 2016, the Australian Bureau of Statistics – yes, the folks responsible for the whole Census fiasco – reported that sexual assaults were at a six year high. With the Recorded Crimes – Victims Document, revealing: there were 21,380 victims of sexual assault recorded by the police in 2015.
Now if you couple those statistics, with the fact, that currently as an average, we are losing one female each week, to the hand of their partner. You begin to question, whether our nation has an issue with violence against Women, or, just blatant violence?
Sexual violence, domestic violence, racially motivated violence, alcohol fuelled violence. You can skew it however you wish to, but, they all carry the same results: pain, suffering, injustice, and inequality.
We have been recently subjected to a rampage of systematic violence, exposed in our detention centres, through the shocking abuse of the juveniles revealed by the Four Corner’s story on Don Dale; and, the harrowing accounts of violence that were revealed in the Narru files.
Continuous overexposure to such horrific treatment of human beings, almost creates a nullifying effect within community. One where it becomes difficult to pinpoint, just where we should look for resolutions.
Ole’ Turnbo, might have been swift with his quick-draw royal commission, but his well-intended words, do little to solve the real issues which lie at the heart of our nation.
Of course, both State and Federal Government, have articulated, the violence in our communities is an issue they aim to resolve with urgency. The Queensland Police service, forged a special taskforce in January, to help deal with the ‘epidemic’ of domestic violence on the Gold Coast. This special task force has collaboratively worked with local support agencies, such as the Domestic Violence Prevention centre, to strive to achieve education for the community, to eventuate a cultural change.
Unfortunately, not all public servants in Queensland, are striving for Twenty-first Century solutions with cultural change, and, a culture remaining. Instead, choosing to stifle our pre-bloomed cultural centre.
The “lockout laws”, introduced across New South Wales, Queensland, and once proposed, and trialled across Victoria, Western Australia, and The Australian Capital Territory, are not reasonable Twenty-first Century solutions.
The destruction of Sydney’s internationally renowned entertainment district, should have served as a lesson to all members of parliament across our fine land, that the damage to the city, did not justify the legislation. Unfortunately, when you have people such as Dr Anthony Lnyham, at the helm pushing for such drastic measures, it is hard to refute.
The Difference – Through The Looking Glass
Pictures are circulating the internet of a young Woman, who has stood in front of police protecting them from protesters as they turn violent; hurling rocks, and other nearby melee objects.
They were protesting, somewhat peacefully, outside the Kalgoolie Courthouse, before things turned malicious. The unrest occurred, ahead of the appearance of a 55-year-old man, suspected to be charged with manslaughter for the death of a young local boy, Elijah Doughty.
(Elijah’s alleged killer, whose identity has been suppressed, has now been charged with manslaughter.)
The image is powerful, provoking, and challenging almost, as you could expect her to be rallying with her relatives, and peers, drenched in raw emotion – as she also happens to be the cousin, of young Elijah. Yet, she stood there with her arms outstretched, symbolising a barrier between the angry mob, and the police officers…the ones with the real weapons. A fearless young soul, who demands maturity, and pacifism, to overcome their plight for justice.
And, sure, it seems like a rash sentiment to suggest that there are no violent Women in our country; so, I thought I would seek out some data, to clarify what the difference is in numbers.
In 2014-15, there were 56,875 male offenders, and 14,887 female offenders, with a principal offence of Acts Intended to Cause Injury.
This data was sourced once again from the ABS, and the principal offence of Acts Intending to Cause Injury, is under Division 2, of the Australian and New Zealand Standard Offence Classification (ANZSOC). The offence division excludes acts such as: attempted murder, and, other acts resulting in death that were intended to cause a non-fatal injury. It is also inclusive of the subdivisions: Assault and Other Acts intended to cause injury.
Now, there is a total of 41,988 male offenders difference between those statistics.
So, it would be unfair to suggest that Women are completely non-violent; but, I think that it is quite clear, Men have a much larger issue at hand.
(Females offenders, with a principal offence of Acts Intending to Cause Injury, has remained almost static over the last six years.)
And, now’s the time, the time is now…
I could ramble on, and on, like some crazed loony, mulling over the disparagement, and discourse of justice that is served by society, by erecting bronze statues of sporting men, with huge agro tempers, such as, The King, Wally Lewis. I could spew out half-truths, and digest finite details of: ‘The Pressures of Masculinity’, but, it would be half heartened, and attacking the platforms that Men use to elevate themselves, is far from constructive.
I could also, spill out some frightening, sappy memory of one of my own experiences with domestic violence; as a now estranged ex-stepfather, with cancerous lips, smashes bottles, and a Nokia handset into oblivion, on the countertop in our caravan in a drunken rage… The truth is though, it is unnecessary. As, you would be hard strung to find an Australian without their own similar story…
Perhaps, if not a step-father, maybe a brother, a friend, or even your own father. Slamming their fist into their phone, throwing a beer bottle across the Christmas table, screaming at you through your bedroom door…
We have all seen men recede backwards, into an ape like state, as the violent-white-blinding-light of testosterone, takes control of their senses, and they proceed throwing, slamming, choking, and screaming at anything that comes their way. Raw emotions, of generations, and generations of oppression spewing out of them, losing all sense of control and consequence… And, some of us have bared witness to the grotesque return to human form, as they grovel, and plead for forgiveness for their actions, promising they will never lose such control again.
It all seems so embedded, is there really anything we can do?
Renowned psychologist, and bestselling Australian author, Steve Biddulph, has been trying to address the issue of toxic masculinity within our society for decades. These man-made constructs, that have been entrenched in our society, inflicting multi-intergenerational damage upon our sons, husbands, fathers, and brothers. Leaving men, from all walks of life, numb, damaged, and emotionally disconnected creatures.
Steve Biddulph, has been promoting healthy masculinity through open discussion, of the hardships that Men face on their long road to manhood. By speaking of these hardships honestly, he has been able to expose the strange, and somewhat paradoxical lifestyles that our draconian constructs, command we all lead; endeavouring to alleviate all men of these shackles, through awareness, and education.
The destruction of these degrading paradigms may strike fear into some. Misconstrued into a delusionary belief, that the goal is to cultivate a hippy, homoerotic culture; where guys, are fucking guys, with long hair in the middle of the street, and men that look like girls, are eating lesbians out on the beach.
But, such a notion could not be any more ludicrous, than it reads off the page. The aim is to cultivate an environment, where humans can grow into the best version of themselves. To ensure, that every life in our community, is happy, healthy, and of course, productive.
Men, need to work hard at fighting the oppression they subject Women to – in every facet of our daily lives – but, also the oppression they subject their own brothers too. This will not inhibit anyone from growing up into their dream entity. If you wish to spend your life pumping weights, training for ten hours a day, and fighting in a cage; the destruction of these polarised constructs, will not stop you from pursuing that. Although, if you are a woman, your journey may become a little easier.
“A skinny mess, that’s breathless from telling you, all the things that I’m gonna do”
– Margaret Glaspy
The fight for equality is so much more than fixing the pay gap, enacting equal employment, or even, removing all forms of misogyny from our communities. It is about reengaging with the emotional side of Men, that seems to be discarded at some point through our development. It is about educating Men, and Women, on how skewed doctrine has controlled, and dominated our lives for so long. It is about blurring the gender boundaries, to a point where no longer anyone, feels the projection of their peer’s own oppression, in the form of personal, vindictive, vilifying attacks.
Education, and perspective have always been the key in my own life to progressing, and moving onwards from past crutches. And, whilst I would never claim to be a person who is enlightened to any degree, or, someone that does not still struggle with their own issues, of capricious attacks on others; I have always aimed to be someone who learns from their mistakes, but also accepts those errors, as the catalyst for my new found knowledge – and, power.