I’m angry. I’m disgusted. I’m sickened. Yet sadly, I’m not surprised. I’ve seen too much to be surprised at this…
The direct reason for my anger this morning? – this article in today’s Melbourne The Age: ‘Virgin defends policy of separating men from children‘. Read that article first, then come back here…
All of my life, I’ve worked very hard to challenge sexism, and all such forms of structural-abuse. To me, sexism and suchlike are truly evil, because it blights people’s lives, destroys hope and trust, creates an inherently arrogant and dysfunctional ‘holier than thou’, punishes people for being alive at all.
It’s even more evil when it’s ingrained in a culture, insidious, omnipresent, corrupting everything. A dioxin of the soul; the callous call of the cuckoo, stealing lives, betraying the hopes and dreams and effort of everyone else.
There are countries whose cultures, unfortunately, are rampantly sexist against their women.
By contrast, Australia’s culture is rabidly sexist against its men.
The word ‘rabidly’ is the right term here: foaming-at-the-mouth rabid at times. Just as contagious as rabies; and just as deadly. And it’s illustrated all too well in that article…
Various things to note from the article, but a first, a very simple thought-experiment for you, based on the exact context of the article:
You’re sending your two boys on a routine interstate flight. For various practical reasons, they’re unaccompanied for this flight, but they’re at a reasonably-sensible age – perhaps 8 and 10yrs old – and they’ve no doubt flown before.
The plane is full, so a random stranger will be seated next to your two boys. This will solely be for the duration of the flight, in daytime, and in a very public place.
The passenger randomly assigned that seat is a man: a 33yr-old fireman – a professional rescue-worker.
How do you feel about this placement?
- You might feel very happy about this. The boys are with a man who’s around the same age as their father; he might well regale them with stories about his work.
- You might feel relieved and reassured, because he’s an experienced rescue-worker who knows how to calm anxious kids, and will know exactly what to do in the unlikely yet still real possibility of an emergency.
- Or you might feel that, simply and solely because he’s an adult male – and for no other reason, and without any form of evidence whatsoever – he’s therefore an inherent danger to your kids, and must be kept separate from them at all costs.
That last example might seem somewhat extreme – more than a little crazy, in fact. If so, you need to understand that that kind of insanely-sexist absurdity is now deeply embedded in Australian law and culture. The explicit anti-male attitudes embedded and implied in Virgin’s policy – and, even more, as executed by the flight-attendant, and then as defended by the company – are nothing unusual at all there: if anything, it’s the norm.
As a male in Australia you learn, very early on, that in all social matters, and private matters too, that you will automatically be presumed guilty in everything you do – or not-do. Everywhere you go, in almost every part of the culture, you’ll hear the sneering refrain of the old feminist assertion that “men are the problem, women are the solution”. And it’s everywhere: there’s no escape. (Not even the classic escape to the old ‘men’s clubs’: they’ve long since been banned. But not women-only clubs, you’ll note: those are still actively promoted, often with full state support.)
Australia is now the only ‘Western’ country without a Bill Of Rights in some form or other. It’s probably also the only country in the world that tried to push through a Bill Of Women’s Rights instead – a legal structure which would enshrine, in law, that women alone had rights, and men alone had blame. (It was a pet project of the Cabinet-level ‘Office Of The Status Of Women‘, somewhen back in the 1990s: killing that bill was one of the few sensible actions that the Howard government ever did…) That should give you some idea of just how extreme this is.
To give just one example, Australian governments tell us that there’s an urgent need for male primary-teachers: but when the law states that any male teacher (though not female teacher) who hugs a crying child to calm them down will automatically be sent to jail for sexual-assault, there should be no surprise that few men are willing to take up that task…
So as a man, you learn to be wary, cautious, especially in public. To give a first-hand example, when a four-year-old girl came up to me in a street-cafe and started running her toy-truck first over my feet and then up my leg, I instantly held my hands well up in the air and looked around urgently for the girl’s parents. (They were inside the cafe, as it happened, facing the other way.) Only when I had made explicit eye-contact with the parents, and showed them what was going on, did I risk interacting with the child at all.
(Contrast that with almost any Latin culture, where it’s considered extremely strange – almost abusive, even – if I don’t play with any child who approaches me in that way.)
And this insane over-caution is not merely stressful to men: it puts children at risk, too. A friend described the kind of dilemma we face every day: a child playing on a swing in the park, falls off, is clearly hurt, is crying. But the parents are nowhere to be seen, no-one else around: my friend knows the child needs help, needs comfort, and right now he’s the only who can do it. Yet he also knows – as every Australian man knows – that he will be blamed for everything as soon as anyone does arrive: hence it’s far too dangerous for him to do anything at all to help. All he can do is walk on, the child’s cries tugging at his soul with every step he takes. And the child learns that men, it seems, don’t care…
For men, the threat is everywhere, relentless, insidious, omnipresent at every moment. No surprise, then, that some men do eventually crack under the strain – which is then used further ‘proof’ that men alone are the sole source of all evil in the world. ‘Men are the problem; women are the solution’ – and the women’s ‘solution’, it seems, is seek to punish men (or better yet, to get men to punish themselves), throughout all and every aspect of their lives, for the ‘crime’ of being male. It’s not a sane ‘solution’…
We see this most in more overtly problematic areas such as domestic-violence. I did a fair amount of research-work in that field during the mid-1990s, and again in the mid-200os. (There are several posts here and on my TomGraves website that touch on this.) The ‘official line’, as you would now expect, is that in domestic-violence the only perpetrators are men, and the only victims are adult women. (It’s occasionally remembered that children may be victims too – but only as victims of men. Of course.) Almost all formal policies and service-provision reflect this purported ‘fact’ of Australian life. Yet what we found in our research was that this was simply not true – in fact it was more often flat-out false. All of the hard-data such as hospital-records were explicit on this point. The blunt reality in Australia is this:
- in terms of domestic-violence, the most violent class of relationship – by a huge margin – is lesbian, or female-on-female in general
- by a huge margin, women are the majority abusers of children – especially in relation to abuse against boys
- overall, though by a small margin, the majority of victims of physical domestic-violence are male
- the more severe the injury, the more likely the victim is to be male – around three times as many, for injuries classed as ‘very severe’
- in studies of university-students, using gender-neutral definitions of sexual assault, female students were somewhat more likely to abuse males than the other way round
In short, the policies and public-assertions on domestic-violence and the like are so wrong, and so false, that we have to wonder what kind of insanity underpins it. The reality is that the sources really aren’t hard to find. Take a look at some of the ‘gender-studies’ university courses, for example: I read perhaps half of the standard texts, and I’d have to say that in just about every one of them, blame-based fantasy took far, far higher priority than anything resembling fact. Take a look at The Age and its sister-newspapers: with the exception of a few brave women writers such as Bettina Arndt, that article referenced above is almost the first on gender-issues that I’ve seen in more than twenty years in that newspaper that does not assert and assume that males are automatically to blame, and that instead there might actually be a real problem here. Take a look at Anne Summers’ 1975 book Damned Whores and God’s Police, and then realise that the spiritual-descendants of Summers’ ‘damn’d whores’ have indeed established themselves as that self-styled, self-serving, obscenely self-dishonest ‘God’s Police’ – with no checks, no balances, no oversight, no nothing, running rampant in every aspect of Australian society.
That’s present-day Australia: rabidly sexist in the extreme – and all served up with an additional, insatiable, almost uniquely-Australian side-serving of gleeful, goading, gut-wrenching spite.
I love Australia: I lived there for almost twenty years, and if there’s anywhere that my heart could belong, it would probably be somewhere in that sprawling sub-continent. Yet the challenge for me is that I literally can’t live in a place with that kind of tension, that kind of ingrained injustice. In the same way that I can’t cope with the gun-culture of so much of the US, I simply can’t cope with the insidious sexism of Australia. I feel it everywhere around me, from the first moment I arrive at the international airport; I can see its impact in the damage it does to the children, to women, and, perhaps most, to the men – especially the boys. It hurts, every moment that I’m there.
As evidenced in that article in The Age, there are thin signs that Australians are at last waking up to this. But there is a long, long way to go: and ultimately, a need for a national reconciliation, every bit as deep and painful as that still owed, after too many centuries, to the much-abused (and still much-abused) indigenous population of that country.
But signs of hope at last, I guess?