Unlikely feminist hero: Army chief’s video message draws plaudits


June 14, 2013 – 11:32AM

Rachel Olding


In full: Army chief's scathing warning
 Chief of Army David Morrison sends a stern warning to Australia's armed forces on Thursday regarding unacceptable behaviour.

His organisation is in the midst of yet another internet sex scandal but the Chief of Army, Lieutenant-General David Morrison, has emerged as the unlikely poster boy for feminism.

If that does not suit you then get out

Following revelations of further “demeaning, explicit and profane” behaviour by his army members, the tough-talking army chief released a powerful video message on Thursday night telling defence members who degrade women: “We don’t want you.”

Steely stare: Chief of Army, Lieutenant General David Morrison. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

The three-minute “smack down” has earned him the tag of “feminist hero” on social media and even suggestions that he should run for prime minister.

With a steely death stare, General Morrison vowed to ruthlessly rid the army of sexist men and told defence members to “find something else to do with your life” if they couldn’t uphold the values of the organisation.

“No one has ever explained to me how the exploitation or degradation of others enhances capability or honours the traditions of the Australian Army,” he says in the video posted on the Department of Defence website.

“Those who think that it is OK to behave in a way that demeans or exploits their colleagues have no place in this army.”

“On all operations, female soldiers and officers have proven themselves worthy of the best traditions of the Australian Army. They are vital to us maintaining our capability now and into the future.

“If that does not suit you then get out. You may find another employer where your attitude and behaviour is acceptable but I doubt it.”

The video was posted on YouTube, where it quickly amassed thousands of views and more than 300 comments.

It followed a week of accusations of misogyny, including an attack by Prime Minister Julia Gillard on the Coalition’s ranks of “men in blue ties”, the emergence of a menu comparing Ms Gillard’s body to a cooked quail and the suspension of a Perth radio host who repeatedly questioned her partner’s sexuality.

In response to the General Morrison’s video and the week’s events, feminist commentator Jane Caro said: “Feminist heroes turn up in the unlikeliest places, that’s what keeps my hope alive.”

She tweeted: “Quick, can we organise a series of leadership seminars run by the ADF’s David Morrison for all our politicians before Sept 14?”

The feminist group Destroy The Joint shared the video on social media and said that General Morrison has emerged from the week as “someone who’s got their marbles”.

Others said his performance was a remarkable show of “real leadership” that is all too rare in Australian public life.

“I’d almost forgotten what a true leader sounds like,” said political commentator and author George Megalogenis, who called the general “a gun”.

TV host Marc Fennell called it the speech of 2013 to which another Twitter user replied: “I can’t stop fist pumping. That’s f–ing leadership right there”.

General Morrison finished the video with a stern warning to Defence Force members that it was up to them to make a difference.

He called on innocent members to “show moral courage” and take a stand against those who displayed degrading behaviour.

“If you’re not up to it find something else to do with your life. There is no place for you among this band of brothers and sisters.”




17 thoughts on “Unlikely feminist hero: Army chief’s video message draws plaudits

  1. I shit you not, this guy is the re-incarnation of my mentor back when I was a young bastard in the army reserve and as an apprentice. Bloody awesome guy all round. Even back in the day when the ADF was all macho oorah shit my captain was onto that sexist and racist shit like a fly on a turd. This story and this man restore some of my faith in humanity here in Oz.

  2. Why a feminist hero? Surely the kind of behaviour he is attacking degrades both genders? Hero is an apt term, but I wouldn’t consider him a feminist, that seems a little limiting.

    • David, whilst I agree that feminist may be a limiting term here, all of the issues that the army has recently faced have involved men behaving extremely inappropriately towards women. There hasn’t really been anything the other way.

      With that said though, the word feminist isn’t needed here. The man is a leader, pure and simple, and we should all respect what he’s done both here and in his entire career with the defence force.

    • You consider equality between the sexes ‘limiting’? Feminism is about equality. It’s crucial to the betterment of the lives of both women and men. It’s exactly the kind of hero this man is.

  3. ““On all operations, female soldiers and officers have proven themselves worthy of the best traditions of the Australian Army. They are vital to us maintaining our capability now and into the future.

    “If that does not suit you then get out. You may find another employer where your attitude and behaviour is acceptable but I doubt it.””

    And that’s why they should all have gotten out when the whole women in army stupidity started.

    • There are certain roles that women are restricted from

      Not any more as long as they are deemed physically and mentally fit

      I don’t know if the army is really the place for women.

      Then it is not the place for men either

  4. Not that this isn’t great, but it is sort of irritating that one of the only ways to get people to take feminism and the rights of women taken seriously is if it’s said by a man. But on the other hand, it’s good to have another ally. I’m very conflicted right now.

    • Understood, but here’s my 2 cents.

      In an ideal world this kind of message would come from a woman and everyone would respect her for it. But in the meantime we really need to men to stand up and be champions of feminism AS WELL as the women. Don’t be conflicted. For now, just be thankful that SOMEONE is saying it and being taken seriously. Anything else undermines the cause.
      And once you’ve smiled, allowed yourself to celebrate a little, and perhaps thanked the person in question … you can move on and keep fighting the good fight.

  5. Great speech, and I agree 100% with what he’s saying, but the real tragedy is that it ever had to be said in the first place.

  6. I thought the tragedy was that there are groups that have defended these soldiers actions and labelled the whole thing a witch hunt, then they complain about minority groups supposedly not respecting women

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