Ravishly wrong about #MeToo and demonising men

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In the wake of the #MeToo, feminist site Ravishly speculates how relations between men and womwn, including in romantic relationships, have been affected

 

I usually like the American feminist site, Ravishly. I like how they allow various voices to be heard. I like their advocacy and inclusion, especially of the LGBTQ+ community.I love the way they have written about asexuality.

 

This, though, goes too far. The title itself is provocative enough: “Can Straight Couples Survive #MeToo”.The columnist, Myisha Battle starts off alright; how the #MeToo movement emboldened and terrified women about the extent of sexual assault and harassment. Women seek solace forming communities where women can support other survivors of such trauma. Great. But, after that, the article goes downhill.

Take these quotes:

How do women still go out with guys when you consider that there is no greater threat to women than men?

(said by CK himself before the accusations against him became public)

…where does that leave us with our relationships with men?

Fair or not, the biggest question that women who are partnered with men is “has he always been a good man and can I continue to trust that he will be good to me and all the other women in his life?

I imagine that people would be offended by the last quote in particular. And if it was said about any other group: LGBTQ+ people, people of colour, etc, it wouldn’t be tolerated.

Men as a whole should not be condemned for the actions of a few. Women shouldn’t feel like they tiptoe around partners, husbands, brothers, uncles, fathers, etc unnecessarily (unless there is reason to; violence, etc).

 

Another thing I don’t like about this is women perpetrators and male victims of abuse and harassment get ignored. At least one male survivors of sexual assault have  made that accusation against the movement as a whole.

The author of the Stuff article I posted above isn’t the only male that has broken his silence of abuse and harassment. Infamously, Anthony Rapp accused Kevin Spacey of assaulting him when he was only fourteen. George of the Jungle and The Mummy star, Brendan Fraser, used #MeToo to allege that he was sexually assaulted by a former Hollywood Press Association president (which the accused denied at the time the article was written).

 

It’s true that the vast majority of victims of sexual violence are women, according the the Australian Bureau of Statistics, and over 90% of perpetrators are male, according to Centres Against Sexual Assault (CASA). I think we have to remember when the roles are reversed (male victim/ female perpetrator) or when men have been assaulted by other men either as children or adults.

Final thing. As a non – straight person, I want to defend straight couples. They are not all toxic. The revelations brought about by the #MeToo movement should not be treated as an indictment against heterosexuality. This is ridiculous. There are good men who love women, both their partners, other family members and friends. There are fathers of girls who adore them and would hate for any harm to come to them – especially something as abhorrent as sexual assault.

The #MeToo movement should— and I think has done so somewhat successfully— exposed men, in particular, that have been abusive. They should be held to account. Using the movement to scaremonger and demonise men unjustly won’t do anyone any good.

If you’re Australian and this has brought up any issues for you, you can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or 1800 – RESPECT (1800 737 732)

If you aren’t from Australia and know any helpline numbers or other contact details of organisations that help sexual assault sufferers in your country, please post them in the comments below. 

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We need to talk about men and mental health

Sad man sitting on beach
Image: iStock

Content warning: depression and suicide(brief mention)

Mental health is a topic that has hit the spotlight again. This year started with a tragic death of Akubra child model Amy ‘Dolly’ Everett, who took her own life after relentless cyber – bullying.

I firmly believe that bullying is something that needs to be taken more seriously, but that discussion isn’t for this post. I want to talk about mental health and men.

 

News came out late last month that Australian tennis player, Bernard Tomic, left the jungle in I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here after less than forty – eight hours. He admitted that he was depressed.

The reactions, to be frank, have been quite appalling. People both within and outside the media has attacked Tomic’s sudden departure. At least one has backed off.

Good on Fordham for having the humility to retract his statement. Yet, I’m saddened that this has turned into a debate.

So, he’s made arrogant comments about ‘counting’ his ‘millions’. According to Jessie Stephens from Mamamia, suggested that Tomic had shown symptoms long before the I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here.

Tomic was condemned last year for expressing his desire to want to quit tennis. Loss of interest in once – enjoyed activities is one common sign of depression.

Now, of course, Tomic needs to be diagnosed by a professional, not the general public or journalists. But what has annoyed me is the dismissive attitude people have had. Why has it sparked so much scrutiny? Have we gone backwards in our attitudes toward mental health, especially in men? I really hope not, considering that men are more than twice as likely to die by suicide than women, according to Mindframe, who used Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data in from 1989 to 2016. Over – representation of men in suicide statistics is consistent across all States and Territories and Aboriginal and non – Aboriginal people alike.

 

Anyone suffering mental health issues, including anxiety and depression should have access to necessary treatment without shame. On a similar note, I want to talk about another criticism that Tomic has copped about ‘self – diagnosis’. Most people know in their heart when something isn’t right. Many symptoms of depression can be picked up by the sufferer or their families. There are online questionnaires you can take that may help give an indication of whether you maybe showing depressive symptoms or not. Of course, these tests can not take the place of a professional diagnosis, but it may spur someone to seek out an official diagnosis and treatment.

So, can we please give Bernard Tomic and anyone else who is (or potentially is) suffering a mental illness a break? Can we offer them a bit of compassion, regardless of who they are? The stigma needs to stop. Period.

If you or anyone else is suffering mental illness or is struggling or concerned, you can contact Lifeline: 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue: 1300 224 636 or www.beyondblue.org.au if you prefer a webchat. For emergencies call 000 or seek medical help immediately. 

If your from another country, please feel free to put contact details of any national mental health or suicide prevention hotlines in your country. 

The death of Amy ‘Dolly’ Everett should be a wake up call. Words hurt

Cyber - bullying victim distressed
Image: iStock

 

Content warning; bullying, depression and suicide

People were understandably shocked and upset to hear the passing of 14 – year – old Amy ‘Dolly’ Everett, the face of hat manufacturer Akubra. She took her own life after receiving abuse online.

This has sparked calls for Apple and Google Play to ban apps, like Saraha that allow users to make anonymous comments and posts.

While I sympathise with the campaignersa, I don’t think these calls for a ban get to the heart of the problem.

 

Here’s what people need to get: the saying ‘sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me’ is a myth. I’ll go one step further. It’s total bull.

 

Words can kill. I thought we got this through our heads after the death of former model, Charlotte Dawson in 2014. Apparently not.

 

So, how can we stop this repeating? Maybe we can’t stop it completely. But what we can do is get honest, with ourselves and each other. We need to teach children and young adults that what they say matters. It has an impact and if they choose to bully someone, they will destroy both their lives and that of their victims.

People die due to bullying. That’s the reality. And there’s more. Last year, HealthDayNews reported  on a study that suggested that half of teens admitted into emergency were victims of violence or cyber – bullying. Nearly a quarter (23%) showed symptoms of post – traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The findings were published in journal General Hospital Psychiatry. 

 

Verbal or cyber bullying can and does have other affects, many arguably not so extreme. You’re ability to trust can be severely damaged. For me, it took me a long time to be able to trust people again.

 

Bullying also erodes your self – esteem. My self – esteem has hit rock bottom before. While it’s better now, I wouldn’t say it’s high. I’ve questioned my self – worth and to this day, sometimes feel like I’m not enough.

I wrote what I did above not to gain sympathy. I wanted to be honest about my own experiences and to demonstrate that often, the effects of bullying can last for years.

Fortunately, I’ve never been the victim of cyber – bullying. The rise of the Internet, especially various social media sites and apps, has made combating bullying complicated. This generation of children can’t escape bullying when they get home from school. Another complication is anonymity. They don’t have to see the impact of what their words have.

As I said near the start of this post, I don’t think banning certain apps like Saraha will work, nor is it necessary. Whether people like it or not, social media is the way most people, especially of this generation, communicate and a way they can get information and current events. The world needs to learn how to cope with social media, not avoid it. “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me” needs to be exposed for the myth that it is and discarded. Words do hurt and cyber – bullying needs to be condemned. Period.

 

 

People need better protection in the entertainment industry

TW: sexual abuse, sexual harassment and domestic violence. If these are triggering for you proceed with caution or skip this post. 

 

Hollywood star
Image: iStock

There is something sick in the entertainment industry in the US, UK and Australia that needs to be addressed.

As you probably know, producer Harvey Weinstein has finally had to step down after women alleged that he sexually harassed women over thirty years. There were allegations of massages e and public masturbation in front of an unwilling participant. New York Times said that Weinstein paid off complainants for years.

 

I won’t go into who knew what, etc. I want to go to a deeper question: what the hell is going on in the entertainment industries in Australia, US and UK? The Weinstein saga is the latest that has been exposed. You’ve had allegations against comedian Bill Crosby, JImmy Saville in the UK and Hey Dad star Robert Hughes to name a few.

It’s not just the movie industry that has been affected either. On Sunday, TV personality Kerri – Anne Kennerly told Sunday Night about domestic violence she suffered at the hands of her ex – husband who was a record producer. It stopped when Kennerly held a loaded gun and threatened to pull the trigger. She then escaped.

 

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Also, former glam rock pioneer, Paul Gadd (better known as Gary Glitter), was convicted of rape, attempted rape and sexual assault of a ten  year – old girl, a thirteen year – old and twelve year – old back in the 1970’s. He was convicted of the rapes and in the 1990’s, was also charged with child pornography possession.

 

These are the incidents I can think of. No doubt there are countless more. My question is, why have children and women (and no doubt some men), who all they wanted to do was become a performer or see a performer they admired (as the Glitter case), only to be abused? What is with that?

More importantly, what has changed to protect those who are vulnerable? What can be done? Last night on ABC’s The Drum, writer, Jamila Rizvi made a point about how too few women become producers and how the movie industry is dominated by men. Maybe she has a point. But what about attitudes? What is the ethos in the entertainment industry when it comes to protecting children and not having anyone assaulted?

 

People should be able to follow their dreams. They should be able to do that without fear of abuse. Children and teenagers who have a particular passion for performing arts and have the opportunity should be able to do so without some sleaze taking advantage of them. That also goes for young people who see their heroes perform. Enough’s enough.

If this post has brought up any issues for you, you can contact:

Lifeline: 13 11 14

1800 – RESPECT (1800 737 732)

Blue Knot Foundation (formerly Adults Surviving Child Abuse): 1300 657 380.

Feel free to put numbers/ contact details of any services in your area if you’re not from Australia. The more people we can help who’ve suffered sexual assault, childhood trauma, etc the better). 

Frances Abbott has made an advertisement campaigning for same – sex marriage

Yes!!!!

Daughter of former Australian Prime Minister, Frances Abbott, has vocally supported the legalisation of same – sex marriage in Australia, notably on Instagram. Now, Australian Marriage Equality has launched an ad featuring her. It’s brilliant!

Abbott did a brilliant job at explaining why she supports same – sex marriage. Her reason? Love and family. She spoke so fondly of her aunt Tony Abbott’s younger sister), Sydney Liberal Councillor, Christine Forster, who is in a long – term same – sex relationship.

This is what the same – sex marriage campaign should have been about from the start — love and family! Finally, there’s no ideological cat fight. Not left versus right. Just love. And LGBTQ+ people.

This is what about the “Yes” campaign should have been about all along! Instead, it’s been hijacked by ideologues, who’ve, lets’ honest, made the rate of favour for same – sex marriage has slipped to just over fifty percent. It’s become a left versus right issue. For too long, the campaign has been divisive and not something that some supporters of the LGBTQ+ community want to be associated with.

Is it too late, though? We’ll have to wait another month and see. There are no guarantees, but, as I wrote above, the “Yes” are still in front. Just. Hopefully, this advertisement can curb a further decline in support.

A few months ago, Australian Marriage Equality launched another advertisement, featuring former president of the Australian Medical Association (AMA) and author, Professor Kerryn Phelps.

While it isn’t a bad advertisement, I feel that it combated ideology, rather than dealing with just dealing with LGBTQ+ people. It was about countering the Coalition for Marriage advertisement, rather than aiming at people’s hearts. How many people really care about the politics, especially those who really don’t care either way (the people that need to be convinced)?

This is what made Frances Abbott’s advertisement so great. She has even said that she doesn’t care about politics. So, she talked about someone she obviously loves very much, her aunt. She said that she wanted to see her aunt happy and equal under Australian law. Again, this is what the  “Yes” campaign should’ve been about from the start.

What’s more, Abbott didn’t attack anyone; not her father, not Coalition for Marriage, no one. This is great, in my view.

 

Last night, Daily Telegraph’s Sharri Markson told Andrew Bolt (who was impressed by the advertisement), that it was good that Professor Kerryn Phelps did one of the “Yes” advertisement as it may encourage older people to support the campaign, where as Abbott’s campaign advertisement would likely preach to the converted. Maybe Markson has a point. I still think that Abbott’s focus on love and family, rather than combating the  Coalition for Marriage and the like may have won more hearts. It’s just a pity it was made so late in the campaign.

In regard to the vote, do whatever you think is fair. If you do feel strongly about the issue one way or another, vote and have your survey in by November 7.

 

 

Mamamia celebrates 10 years!

Article: MAMAMIA TURNS 10: This is the original team who started it all
Mamamia celebrates ten years since it’s atart by founder Mia Freedman

Lifestyle, feminism and news site, Mamamia celebrates ten years since its launch by founder, Mia Freedman. What an achievement!

I’ve been reading articles on Mamamia probably for the past, three, four years. Some of the articles have been brilliant, and, as I’ve written here before, I’ve really admired the advocacy that the team at Mamamia do.

Mamamia has continued a spark in me to continue with this blog. Mia Freedman, along with the other columnists, have been a great source of inspiration for much of my writing, as you may have noticed by the number of times I’ve limked or talked about the articles. Along with columnists like Andrew Bolt, I love how Mamamia inspires me to respond, to get out thoughts and feelings I have about things that have gone one in the world.

 

I love how, along with the regular columnists, Mamamia allows other s to pitch in ideas, and have their own articles published on the site. As I’ve written here before, the one that touched me the most was Jo Qualmann’s article on asexuality in 2014. It was great that they contributed to asexuality visibility and I’ll be forever grateful for that.

 

Screenshot of story featured in Mamamia on asexuality in 2014,written by Jo Qualmann
Jo Qualmann had a story published in Mamamia on her experiences being asexual.

 

They have also done a great job at raising awareness around disability. I first realised this when they published an article on disabled parking. While I don’t drive myself, I think it was great how they allowed the issue to be raised, by a person affected by it. Most importantly, they’ve given people with a disability and their loved ones the voice.

I think Mamamia has also done a great job in the same – sex marriage debate as well. I’ve loved how they’ve let gay people and their family members tell their personal stories and how the debate affects them. I think that’s great. To be honest, I believe there has been too little of that in the mainstream media. The fact that the staff at Mamamia have given LGBTQ+ people and their loved ones a voice is something that is worthy of a great hug!

 

Back in the ‘1980’s ABBA claimed Thank you for the music. Well, I’d like to say to Mia Freedman and the team, thank you for the words. Thank you for the advocacy and inspiration to live and write authentically.

Happy ten year anniversary and here’s to ten more!

10 years candles
Image: Canva

 

Tell me, what have been your favourite articles you’ve read on Mamamia? 

 

The misreporting and omissions in the media on same – sex marriage need to stop

Sunday Herald Sun17 September2017
I think the media plays a role in what side of the same – sex marriage wins or loses.

The debate on same – sex marriage is still going on as the postal surveys are being sent out nationwide.

A win for the ‘Yes’ side is not guaranteed.

Yesterday in Sunday’s Herald Sun a study by ‘No’ campaigners predicted that there was a million vote swing against the ‘Yes’ vote. According to the stats, if that’s the case, the ‘Yes’ vote will still get up, but only just. Only a few hundred thousand less, then it’s gone.

Million vote swing claim in same - sex polls article Sunday Herald Sun
Story in ‘Sunday’s Herald Sun’ reports that poll estimates that there is up to a million vote swing to oppose same – sex marriage

If the ‘Yes’ side doesn’t get up, I’ll personally blame the media.

The liberal/ Left and conservative media have been pathetic during this campaign. Commentary, for the most part, have been deliberately skewed and extremely selective on what they are willing to report, condemn and support.

The earliest example of poor journalism (or in this case ‘interviewing’), that saw the demise of the ‘Yes’ campaign in my view, was The Project’s ‘interview’ with former tennis champion, Margaret Court.

This was the first of a number of extreme media biases that ended up painting the LGBTQ+ community and their supporters in a bad light.

More recently, ABC’s Insiders allegedly promoted Tim Minchin’s parody of Peter Allen’s I still call Australia home, titled I still call Australia home -o – phobic (look it up on YouTube if you want. I won’t post it here). While opit got some praise in the media and elsewhere, there was a fair bit of backlash on social media due to it’s crudeness.

On a more serious note, is the misreporting of incidents between ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ campaigners. One example is Channel 9’s coverage of a standoff between ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ campaigners in Brisbane, in which, a meeting attendee was falsely accused of deliberately using his car as a weapon to mow down ‘Yes’ campaigners, in which protester Jessica Payne — who Today Show interviewed. Andrew Bolt pointed out that Payne was not injured by the driver, but tripping on a gutter.

There was more misreporting by the media on another confrontation happened at a barbeque set by a group of ‘It’s OK to say no’ campaigners. Contrary to the media reports, it was members of  the ‘Yes’ side that was causing the trouble, not ‘No’ campaigners.

Talking about ‘No’ side causing trouble, I’ve been incredibly disappointed about the lack of reporting and condemnation when the shoe is on the other foot. I noticed this for the first time last year when bomb threats were made against Melbourne’s LGBT radio station, Joy 94.9FM. At the time, I looked up multiple Facebook and news sites. There was no article ddon Mamamia, nothing on The Project and, most disappointingly, Andrew Bolt did not mention itvat all, on his TV show, on radio, in the papers or his blog.

There have been other events that haven’t been reported or condemned, for example, a Greek Orthodox priest saying that gays should be shot on Fatger’s Day this year. Another, more frightening example happened in Dubbo, New South Wales where a man was arrested after he threatened a 14 – year – old girl after she posted her support for same – sex marriage. Plus, very few from the mainstream media is pointing out that Madeline’s former contractor, Madlin Sims,  has faced abuse over  the incident with Madeline.

Plus, I’ve also read that parents of LGBTQ+ people and LGBTQ+ celebrities, like Magda Szubanski have been abused on social media. The abuse has been vile, including the false link that LGBTQ+ people are paedophiles. Author, Anthony Venn – Brown recently put his foot down and took to his Facebook page, warning that anyone who suggested a link between being LGBTQ+ and paedophilia were at risk of being permanently banned from his pages.

Screenshot of warning from author, Anthony Venn - Brown
Anthony Venn – Brown often takes criticism and insults on the chin, but has put his foot down when LGBTQ+ people are compared to paedophiles

 

So, from now on, can I make a plea to both sides of the media, please report factually. And please condemn ‘Yes’ supporters when it’s due and don’t ignore when it’s the ‘No’ side. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has said that he wants respectful debate. A bit of accurate reporting and fair commentary might help.