Contributed by Jim Hayes
Grace Tame and Brittany Higgins keep on causing a stir. Good on them. The abuse of women 9s a serious social problem, which has seriously infected the Australian parliament and its administrative apparatus. This is something Prime Minister Scott Morrison wants to cover up and do nothing about.
Bad public relations forced him to say he’s sorry. But backed without action it is hollow and insincere.
Grace, to was Australian of thew year in 2021, saw right through this, and went on to reveal that she had received a “threatening” phone call from a senior member of a government-funded organisation warning her not to criticise the prime minister, on the eve of last month’s Australian of the Year awards because there was “an election coming soon”.
She is right to suggest, “[Morrison] will have a fear… And then it crystallised, a fear – a fear for himself and no one else.”
Morrison had no option but to promise an investigation. This misses the point.
Brittany, who alleges that she had been raped in a minister’s office by an official, has lambasted Morrison for his failure to act. She called out again the culture within the parliament that aids and abets to abuse of women.
“I wanted him to use his power as prime minister,” she said at yesterday’s press conference.
Brittany Higgins and Grace Tame take aim at PM during National Press Club address
A review by Australia’s sex discrimination commissioner, Kate Jenkins, into federal parliament’s culture, provided a list of recommendations. The important ones have been ignored.
This has not stopped Grace and Britany from fighting on and winning a wave of support. They are the agents of change, an inspiration and example to others speak out. The abuse of women can no longer be hidden away and ignored.
Change needs the courageous to speak out. It also needs attention to a culture that permeates society and is at its worst in the corridors of power, in the parliament, board rooms of corporations, and other places of authority.
The abuse of women springs out of the glorification of power and wealth, and the attitude that those who have it, are entitled to inflict control on others. This is an outlook that denies empathy and glorifies and glorifies the self. Others are regarded as little more than objects for their satisfaction. Women are made to wear the worst of it.
It is obvious that where there is the most power, the pursuit of self-interest regardless of the price paid by others is most pronounced, experiences by women like those of Grace Tame and Brittany Higgins are going to be more frequent.
Without exposing this and bringing a change in the power relationships, little more than cosmetic changes will come about.
Building a sense of community and obligations to each other creates empathy and respect. This includes how women are treated.