What Took Me so Long?
There is an unease in the household.
It’s not only the terrible news of the murder of Hannah Baxter and Laianah, Aaliyah and Trey, her three children at the hands of their father.
It’s about an epoch of violence against women.
It takes place in the context of my own inertia, in taking pride in the fact that I think I am a #goodman, in the fact that Joanne Fedler would not be with me if I was not a #goodman.
So, as usual, I sit back, I tut tut, I nod in agreement at the outrage rightly bursting out.
I agree that the Queensland policeman was an idiot and ill-informed with his “man pushed too far” excuse.
I agree that the media – with some exceptions, women writers mainly – spin a narrative that portrays actions of a man who was a good father, an ex-NRL player etc… and that confounds me.
I lazily cling to the coat tails of everyone else’s outrage.
I am dumbfounded by the behaviour, I believe I could never be capable of that.
As if that is enough.
So I sit back.
Maybe waiting for it to all die down.
But it doesn’t die down.
And like the violence, it won’t die down, unless there is a move to act and change.
So, not unexpectedly, that unease came to a head tonight.
(It’s the coming to a head part and my wife’s relentless challenging of me that led me to end up here in the first place.)
“You’re a coward.
“I am so disappointed.
“It’s because men like you don’t speak up that this happens.
“You’re so quiet.
“You’re part of the problem.”
I aspire to be carefully prepared if I am to tackle something publicly.
I am measured, I need the facts, time to reflect, think about the consequences, I don’t want a flame war, especially in the easily misconstrued bluntness of the grammar of Facebook. I generally don’t post much beyond inanities, and what good will a few “likes” do anyway?
“What are you waiting for?
“Waiting for the right time?
“You should be fucking furious.
“What if it was your daughter?”
There is no answer to these questions, other than action.
This is all also taking place in the smaller context of me totally coincidentally reading Peter Harris’ In a Different Time, an account of a famous political trial in South Africa in the late 80’s.
And what motivated people to not only take a stand, not only to speak out, but to act and to move for change. At great personal risk… as far as facing the death penalty.
So, so what if things are misconstrued, or so what if I am seen to be weak. It’s not weakness to do the right thing.
When I saw the distress and frustration in the tears of my wife’s eyes, carrying the sadness of Hannah’s family, of every victim of domestic violence in South Africa, in Australia, in the world, I thought, what the fuck am I actually waiting for. This is not difficult, just a start is easy.
I am embarrassed by the males of my species.
I do feel like a coward.
I am outraged.
We have to stop being lazy, we have to speak up.
Stop turning a blind eye.
Starting in the small places where we can.
In the boardrooms where lip service is paid to gender diversity, but nothing changes.
On the sports fields where hand eye co-ordination trumps sexual violence.
Stop listening to bloated shock jocks and call out casual misogyny, not to mention racism and homophobia, they seem to go together, sometimes.
I know my mates are outraged (you wouldn’t be my mates if you weren’t) and you all need to stand up and say you are outraged.
I’m not sure right now what the next step is, I am not a leader, I am maybe one monkey, but this is my start.
PS: Please don’t fucking say that this post is brave, because it’s not, it’s easy to type.