Are Scott Morrison and Peter Dutton the true victims of Australia’s rape culture?
7 March 2022
First published on Independent Australia
Trigger warning: this article refers to suicide and sexual assault
As of 2021, sexual violence was at a twenty year high. The Jenkins report revealed sexual harassment is rife in our own Parliament House.
We need to talk about this. But I propose that for once, we consider how rape culture affects men for a change.
Oh no, not male assault survivors. I mean real victims. Federal politicians. White, middle-aged, millionaire politicians who are called nasty names on social media.
Over the past few weeks, it’s been nigh impossible to avoid the public backlash against child sexual abuse survivor and feminist activist Grace Tame and her, to be frank, cruelty against PM Scott Morrison, the most powerful man in the country. Certainly, Ms. Tame has had a “terrible life” as our leader graciously admitted. But does this give her the right to frown at Morrison and make him look silly in front of national press? You be the judge.
Is Australia’s PM responsible for a career-defining record of excusing and permitting sexism? Perhaps. Was his mishandling of a young staffer’s horrific rape an international embarrassment? Sure! But let’s not forget this a man with daughters. A wife. A man who has publicly disavowed rape.
Former Commissioner for women Pru Goward is one among many who has appealed for a little more gratitude toward our unlikely feminist hero (Morrison).
“That her attacks on a well-meaning and blindsided prime minister have been personal, has made people frightened to call her out since they may be next,” Goward argued in an Australian Financial Review column.
“Sometimes I felt she was ungenerous.
“If you’re negotiating something as complex as a national approach to sexual abuse then you need to accept that sometimes governments have their limitations and won’t go all the way with you.
“Scott Morrison must sometimes have felt very disappointed that she didn’t ever acknowledge that he seemed to be trying.”
Of course, the former Australian of the Year is not the only offender in the war on men. Back in April of last year, then-unknown refugee and feminist rights activist Shane Bazzi posted a six-word tweet reading “Peter Dutton is a rape apologist.”
Bazzi alleged that he came to this position after Dutton publicly questioned the legitimacy of refugee women’s’ sexual assault allegations and pleas to enter Australia for safe abortion procedures, and referred to a “he said, she said” view on Brittany Higgins’ assault.
Despite not seeing the hurtful tweet Dutton sought public acknowledgement that, given his integrity, the very act of questioning his respect for women was an offence more reprehensible than rape apology itself with his lawyer describing the tweet as having “attacked him for something he’s felt he’s done a very great deal to prevent over the years.”
And in November a court of law, headed by the sixty-seven-year-old year old Justice White found the MP was officially not a rape apologist. And quite rightly. At the very most, he’s a rape sceptic!
Finally, let us consider the position of disgraced former Industrial Relations Minister Christian Porter.
In June 2021, a dossier accusing Porter of historic rape was made available to, once again, Scott Morrison. One year earlier, a woman died from suicide following three alleged rapes at his hands, one occasion of which was she allegedly woke up to Porter anally raping her while she was lying face-down. Porter strenuously rejected all claims. Nonetheless, he courageously resigned from one of the most lucrative political posts in the country.
We need to do better and listen to victims. Victims of upsetting allegations. Men who pronounce their disavowal of rape.
After all, would a politician lie about having a tremendous respect for women? You be the judge.
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