Blanc, Bernardi, visas and free speech

Australia’s police chiefs have cited society’s “vulgar and violent attitudes toward women” as a primary cause of the nation’s high level of domestic violence. Changing men’s behaviour is seen as the ONLY way to address the problem.

Tasmania’s commissioner, Darren Hine, said cultural change can begin with society’s influencers – sportsmen, businessman, actors and other personalities – standing up to condemn violence against women and children.

Yet the same week we had a foreigner and one of our own senators sending different messages entirely.

The foreigner, Julien Blanc, had his visa cancelled and departed. Or departed and then had his visa cancelled, depending on which report you read.

His tactics, which include choking women and pulling them into his crotch, were criticised online as misogynistic and abusive. (Source: ABC.net.au)

Lovely. In my view his attitude is both violent and vulgar. The cancellation of his visa, however, raises other questions. Gay Alcorn and Wendy Harmer are among those who have expressed concerns over Morrison’s possible overreach of power, a dangerous precedent. Section 501 of the Migration Act 1958 has been raised by some. I suggest people be careful of criticising Morrison’s decision simply because he is Morrison. I am not one who supports Morrison: hell, I killed him off in a bit of short fiction. In this case, however, I support his decision. I’m not alone.

I do have an issue over Morrison protecting us dear little Aussie women from Blanc’s vulgarity while at the same time treating asylum seeker women so abominably. Then there is question of the visa cancellation by Morrison versus Brandis and his belief in our inalienable right to be bigots: protection of the people versus freedom of speech. Bigots often incite violence, just as Julien was considered to be doing. Trish Corry asks will Brandis shirt-front Morrison? Surely we can’t cherry-pick our freedoms? Freedom always has to be balanced with protection: Blanc is this week’s illustration.

As part of my research I ventured to Julien’s website. While I failed to find evidence of choking and crotch antics, I did feel I was reading stuff written by people with vulgar attitudes towards women. I’m not linking to his site.

To top the week off,  we had our own Senator Cory Bernardi making very ill-considered remarks.

“It is a dangerous comment because it’s going to be much easier for men to get women into headlocks. If he was out of control, there’s no way I could get Cory Bernardi into a headlock. I would run away, but he might say if I was out of control he could put me in a headlock.” (Source:  Barbara Crossing via SMH)

Technically, Bernardi is correct. A headlock is an appropriate restraint for containing an aggressive attacker in the professional context. I accept that if a woman is being dangerously aggressive, restraint is no less required than if the aggressor is a man. Gender equality applies. However Bernardi was speaking at a Senate inquiry into domestic violence, not a Police Academy training course.  To indicate headlocks were appropriate at an event discussing domestic violence has the potential to send the wrong message to the wrong people. John Kelly draws attention to a lovely Bible verse in his article “Christians are Terrorists too“:

Finally, the pick of the day is in Proverbs 20:30, “Blows and wounds scrub away evil,
and beatings purge the inmost being.

So, a good thrashing cleanses us of evil, it says. Is this not a great endorsement for family violence?

In our Judeo-Christian society (as we keep getting told it is, by Cory Bernardi et al) the violence of such passages lurks in the psyche of some and should not be seen to be encouraged by a senior member of our government.

Queensland is experiencing a dramatic rise in domestic violence. New South Wales is ceasing funding to women’s shelters – yet 40% of NSW homicides are domestic violence-related. We have our Foreign Minister declaring the word feminism in not in her lexicon. While Julie Bishop may not like the word, as the only woman in Cabinet, I hope she has a quiet word with Bernardi. Our police chiefs have sent the message loud and clear, it is time we listened.


3 comments on “Blanc, Bernardi, visas and free speech

  1. I congratulate you, Robyn, on initiating this discussion on violence, especially in connection with domestic violence.
    ‘Changing men’s behaviour is seen as the ONLY way to address the problem.’

    “Tasmania’s commissioner, Darren Hine, said cultural change can begin with society’s influencers – sportsmen, businessman, actors and other personalities – standing up to condemn violence against women and children.”

    It is quite obvious, isn’t it, that a cultural change is needed. It is not a bad idea that “society’s influencers” could play a part in changing the culture.

    All concerned women and men could also play a part in changing the culture by instructing their sons, for instance, that it is not okay to be violent against women and children, or animals for that matter. Boys (or girls) who tend to be cruel towards animals should learn not to be cruel. It is a matter of conditioning, isn’t it? When boys learn it is okay to be cruel, then a freedom loving woman can never feel safe in the company of a man.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Uta. Domestic violence is something I have no tolerance for. Yes, we can get angry with our partners, furious even, but is that a reason to murder and maim? No.

      Betty tells me 60 women have been murdered so far this year. Terrible.


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