@AustralianArmy #ausnews #auspol @DeptDefence @ASRC1
July 2, 2013
By Marie Bellino
When I grow up I want to be a pop star. If a pretty young girl uttered these words, few would question her career choice, as it’s perfectly acceptable to pursue an occupation that capitalises on her physical beauty.
Conversely, if another girl proclaimed: When I grow up I want to be the Prime Minister, her statement would probably provoke looks of bemusement or mockery, considering ‘saviour’ Rudd’s return as leader of the Labor party.
It is only in recent history that an Australian woman has assumed this role of great national importance, but it is an unenviable spotlight to be in since it invites its fair share of controversy and disdain. As a journalist wryly observed in the UK Guardian, the “slaying” expected by women who dare occupy high office in Australia, is comparable to the impending doom of a “recently-deflowered teenage girl at an abandoned summer camp in a horror movie.”
There’s no escaping the unflinching criticism directed at women who take on influential positions traditionally held by members of the exclusive ‘boys’ club.’ Recent events in politics and the Australian Defence Force highlight the imbalance of power that threatens to derail women’s continued progress in Australian society.
Australia was once synonymous with Crocodile Dundee, Sunday barbies and a fiery Kiwi thespian we like to claim as our own, until that speech; an unexpected, explosive commentary on misogyny in Australian politics, delivered by none other than Prime Minister of the time, Julia Gillard.
The impassioned speech attracted thunderous applause from women around the globe, as Gillard challenged Tony Abbott and his party’s attitude towards women and disrespect for her leadership role. She recalled an interviewer’s question about the under-representation of women in institutions of power, to which Abbott replied: “what if men are by physiology or temperament, more adapted to exercise authority or to issue command?” His comments suggested gender equality in leadership positions was of no consequence, and by extension, underhandedly questioned Gillard’s suitability for the top job.
Every time Abbott undermined Gillard’s authority as a woman, the nation experienced a dangerous flashback to the 1950’s, when women’s rights were suppressed by dominant patriarchal values, and work life was largely an extension of their role in the domestic sphere. Mid twentieth century mores have no place in 2013 politics, yet degrading, female archetypes are still a part of everyday vocabulary. Who can forget Gillard’s disgust when Abbott stood next to signs outside Parliament that characterised her as a “witch” and “man’s bitch?” His sentiments were bolstered by outspoken talkback host, Alan Jones, who has been given a substantial platform to espouse misogynistic ideals, once implying Gillard needed to be silenced by “putting her into a chaff bag and hoisting her into the Tasman Sea.” But there was no greater blow than Jones’ personal attack at a Liberal party function, when he attributed Gillard’s father’s passing to “shame” over his daughter’s questionable leadership. Abbott later played tag team with Jones, echoing his stinging remarks in Parliament.
Julia was the butt of many a Liberal party joke during her leadership; the most juvenile being an LNP donor’s unsavoury ‘mock’ menu for a party fundraiser, which crudely likened her body to a “Kentucky fried quail.” Whether or not Liberal MPs were aware of the menu, the restaurateur’s description of the incident as a “light-hearted” joke intended for him and his son reveals the inherent sexism in Australian society, which reduces intelligent, capable women to mere bodies exposed to harsh judgment and ridicule. Sadly, this is just the tip of the iceberg, as the blatant objectification of women continues in the Australian Defence Force (ADF). The effect on victims of this gross violation is no laughing matter.
The recent scandal involving the circulation of emails containing degrading, explicit images of female ADF members and others, along with offensive commentary, has rocked the foundations of the institution. According to Chief of Army Lieutenant-General David Morrison, the seriousness of the incident surpasses the 2011 ADFA “Skype scandal.” Three officers have been suspended, while more than 100 other personnel appear to have had some connection to the incident. What makes it particularly problematic besides the sheer number of people involved, including high ranking leaders, is the conniving way the details were disseminated. Lewd material was not only distributed across Defence computer systems, but also over the internet for millions of people to view and scrutinise, thereby exacerbating the humiliation. The act sends the message that women don’t belong in the army, and objectification is acceptable.
The dark side of machismo has long cast a shadow over the male dominated ADF. Dr Ben Wadham, a former infantry soldier, received death threats after leaking denigrating comments on the RAR buddies Facebook page, which described all women as “filthy, lying whores.” Similar pages created by members of the Australian army have emerged. Despite the obscene behaviour of the culprits, these beliefs are not formed in a vacuum. Identifying their employer and posting photos of themselves in official uniform connotes pride in their actions, alluding to the normalisation of misogynistic beliefs in army life. Wadham affirms sexism is a major characteristic of the culture, revealing details of a 1990’s book published out of the ADFA known as the Lexicon of Cadet Language, which included roughly 200 derogatory terms for women. Although initiatives have been implemented to address inequality in the Force since the publication was released, recent events demand a more systematic approach to stamp out misogynistic views entrenched in army culture.
A deep-seated patriarchal belief that women play the supporting role, rather than the protagonist in the public domain is at the heart of the gender power imbalance. According to the 2012 Australian Census of Women in Leadership, Australia has the lowest percentage of women in top executive positions compared to countries with a similar corporate structure like New Zealand and the United States. Dr Jennifer Whelan, Research Fellow at the Melbourne Business School, attributes the slow progress to a common view that “gender diversity and inclusion” is not a “crucial bottom line endeavour.” Women’s voices are often drowned out by the supposed authority of their male counterparts.
Destroy the Joint, an anti-sexism organisation, garnered attention for their commentary on Gillard and Morrison’s exposure of the culture of misogyny in politics and the ADF. They maintain that Gillard was “mocked and trivialised” in Australia, while Morrison was “hailed a hero.” The great divide between two leaders’ essentially congruent messages about gender inequality reiterates the rational man/emotional woman dichotomy, which attributes women’s words and actions to feeling, rather than logic and intellect, thereby questioning their validity. The dismissal of her concerns as emotional rhetoric suggests it takes a man in a leadership position to render it a legitimate issue.
Misogyny will continue to infiltrate social institutions as long as we turn a blind eye to it. As Morrison asserts, “the standard you walk past is the standard you accept.” Despite the controversy that marred her leadership, Julia Gillard’s fierce conviction and drive as PM will facilitate the empowerment of aspiring female politicians to come. The leaders of this country have a responsibility to take a stand against misogynistic values and practices as she did, raising the level of respect for women and supporting their integral place in the public domain. On a micro level, families and educational institutions have the ability to instill confidence in young women, thereby teaching them self-worth.
Goddess Graduates is an initiative that empowers female university graduates entering the workplace. It aims to shift restrictive thought patterns and foster trust in their abilities, which its founder, Lisa Camille Robertson, identifies as a major inhibiting factor for women pursuing leadership positions. The workshop will be taught throughout 11 universities in NSW and include a mentorship program, equipping women with the resources required to achieve their career goals.
It is high time we started focusing on the quality of the contribution we make to society, rather than the combination of chromosomes that partly constitute our DNA. Equality is crucial to the prosperity and health of the nation. It is every woman’s right to aim high without fearing her safety or dignity will be jeopardised. The glass ceiling only exists if we allow it to. It is time to destroy it.
@australianarmy @abcnews24 @channeltennews @7news @9newsmelb @SBSnews #auspol
The administrator of the Royal Australian Infantry Facebook page broadcasted this anti-asylum-seeker joke to an audience of:
19,021 followers of the page +
180 (shares) x avg. 200 Facebook friends each (36,000)
= approx. >55,000 people.
Julia Baird June 8, 2013
It was one of the most important speeches in Australian military history, but not a word has been written about it.
On an ear-bitingly cold day in New York this year, Australia’s Army Chief, Lieutenant -General David Morrison, stood in front of several hundred people in an auditorium at the United Nations headquarters, in full uniform, with polished badges pinned to his chest. It was March 5, International Women’s Day; outside women were marching in the snow, hats jammed on heads as winds whistled across the East River.
Inside, the crowd stared at the military man who had come to talk to the UN women’s council. Sex Discrimination Commissioner Elizabeth Broderick, who was also speaking there, said they were ”astonished, taken aback”. First, that a military chief was there, and second, that he was so passionate about gender equality.
He started off by acknowledging his own limitations: ”Foremost, I can never fully imagine, much less experience, the issues faced by any woman. I was born male in an advanced Western nation to comfortably well-off parents. I have never routinely experienced discrimination in my career, nor the apprehension of violence in my personal life. Most benefits of masculinity and patriarchy have accrued to me. Nonetheless, I hope those considerable limitations in my perspective can in part be offset by my sincere intent to support women in my organisation to thrive in the absence of both.”
Morrison, who has led the Australian Army since 2011, then recounted why he was there.
A year earlier, Broderick had taken three army women who had been sexually assaulted by fellow soldiers to talk with Morrison, and sat with them for hours as they told their stories. They sobbed as a stricken Morrison assured them this should never have happened to anyone, and that he was deeply sorry. He said it was his ”Road to Damascus” moment. Broderick believes this is how you effect change: ”When you engage people’s hearts, that’s when transformational things happen”.
And so a crusade began.
It was important to remember how change can happen this week, while watching the seven women on the US Senate Defence Committee forcing the military, and the Congress, to take violence against women in the American armed forces seriously. They grilled military chiefs about sexual assault, and debated seven pieces of legislation designed to deal with what is now being called a ”crisis” and ”cancer”.
The Pentagon found 26,000 members of the armed forces experienced unwanted sexual contact last year. Women in the defence force are more likely to be assaulted by fellow soldiers than killed in combat.
Just recently, a West Point sergeant was charged with covertly filming female cadets in the shower and the head of the air force sexual assault convention program was arrested for grabbing a woman’s breasts in a car park. As Barack Obama said so well: ”Honour, like character, is what you do when nobody is looking”. Which is also what you hope showering might be.
In Australia, a recent report found one in four women in the Australian Defence Force had been sexually harassed, though few reported it. It is a systemic, cultural, destructive and ongoing problem. But unlike America, criminal courts weigh charges of assault in armed forces, not military tribunals. And here, our Sex Discrimination Commissioner has worked closely with an army chief who has become one of her ”male champions of change”. It remains to be seen what he can achieve, but he is determined to make a start.
Morrison told the UN council the story of the women he met, who ”had endured appalling physical and emotional abuse at the hands of their fellow soldiers”. They had been let down by leaders and comrades, ”robbed of that irreplaceable component of their individual human personal identity – their dignity and self-respect. This was not the army that I had loved and thought I knew”.
Even the Anzac legend, he said, had become ”something of a double-edged sword”. It was misleading and damaging: ”Many Australians have an idealised image of the Australian soldier as a rough-hewn country lad – invariably white – a larrikin who fights best with a hangover and who never salutes officers, especially the Poms. This is a pantomime caricature. Every soldier is Mel Gibson in Gallipoli and frankly it undermines our recruitment from some segments of society and breeds a dangerous complacency about how professional and sophisticated soldiering really is.”
The 57-year-old soldier and father of three sons was angry that in a crisis, these women ”had not been able to rely on their mates: in other words the very thing that we claim as our defining ethos had been used to exclude and humiliate others. I am resolved to make improvements to our culture one of the fundamental elements of the legacy that I hope to leave the Australian Army”.
Morrison then recounted some of his specific goals, including increasing the number of women in the army from 3000 to 3600 by the middle of next year. He has set specific recruiting targets, provided pre-enlistment fitness programs for women, allowed for shared leave between couples and launched an investigation into childcare. In September 2011, it was announced women would be allowed into combat roles by 2016. In January this year, the army implemented ”trade specific physical standards based on capability, not age or gender”.
To get women into more senior ranks, Morrison has told the hierarchy to rethink recognition of merit. When I asked for an example, he said we should value the ”skills that come with having and looking after children”. He has begun promoting women when they return from maternity leave in order to retain them.
After the speech, Broderick says she sent Morrison a text: ”There are four women wanting to join the army and three offering marriage proposals.”
Morrison has a huge job: there will be more rot uncovered, more scandals, more frustration. He ended a phone interview by stressing he is acutely conscious of how much remains to be done. ”Change is bloody hard and it takes generations but you have to take steps. The sign of success is when the momentum does not rely on the leader. I have implicit faith this will carry forward.”
Morrison’s term ends in July next year. We can only hope his successor won’t make the road to Damascus a dead end, but a highway.
@bairdjulia on Twitter
Remember this guy?
Shannon Austin, shit kicker who once kicked shit for the Australian Defence Force has been trolling. His comments below speak for themselves, but what we haven’t shown is the posts where he posted private details of young Australian teenagers and threatened to contact their employers. You can see those posts here, as Facebook would have no doubt felt it appropriate to leave them and not delete them. He has a history of making threats so it seems as though he hasn’t changed much.
So the guy has form. Oh well. At least he has turned over a new leaf. He used to be a massive homophobe.
Pete McCormick worked for the Australian Defence Force, and went to the ‘collage’ of hard knocks *snort*, so one would assume that he might have had some amount of integrity. But no. He posted this ridiculous hoax email to Facebook and so far there have been 24,128 braindead morons who would rather share propaganda on Facebook than do a quick spot of Google research.
This has been debunked a million and one times, even by us:
Does this look like a man who really gives a shit
about how people other than himself are doing?
Yeah um, no. Refugees do not get more money than pensioners. Here’s the proof:
1. How do you remove people who follow a religion from society? Wouldn’t people just start lying about their religion if Gerard went on a deportation witch hunt? It’s all well and good to want to eliminate people from society… actually, no, it’s not. But Gerard would choose to overlook other dregs just so he can carry out his xenophobic and bigoted whitewash.
2. Does Gerard realise that the vast majority of illegal immigrants are those who fly here and overstay their Visas? There are over 80,000 of these ‘illegals’ in our country right now.
3. Does someone want to let Gerard Scaballagher that Aboriginal people are not the only people who are entitled to financial and housing assistance? As for free cars – WTF?
One day, like so many children-of-bogan-arse-hats, these two children will grow up and wish that daddy hadn’t acted like a complete bell-end on a public social media website using a photo of them in his profile picture.
Meet John Atherton. He’s now into his 4th marriage (no lie – check his Facebook profile out). He’s into fucking up his life and then blaming non-whites. Obviously didn’t get much out of his Catholic education.
Ed McDonald: “Like it, love it. Should have pushed his baton through his ears and picked the scum up by the handles”
(Is that the kind of comment that should be made by someone in the defence force? The kind of guy we give guns to?)
the fact of two things being seen or placed close together with contrasting effect: the juxtaposition of these two images, ie. a racist gun-owner and his beauty therapist