My issue with this whole ‘mad fucking witch’ statement is that the language itself, no matter who it is intended for or accidentally sent to – and even if apologised for after the event – is a big no-no. This type of derogatory language underpins the grass roots sexism that creates an environment in which violence against women by men can thrive. It occurs in the workplace, on the sporting field and in many homes and I, perhaps naively, thought it was easily and widely understood to be wrong. Real men don’t utter it, and don’t stand by and let other men degrade women with their cowardly sexist language.
To be sure I wasn’t talking out of my arse, I checked up to make sure that my thoughts were, as I suspected they would be, publicly backed up by evidence and officially acknowledged.
It was no surprise, to find that the federally funded Australian Institute of Family Studies actively promotes the The Preventing Violence Against Women Program, run by the YMCA, which engages and empowers men using the bystander approach.
The bystander approach is about empowering individuals to speak out against sexist language, jokes, or comments. The empowerment and confidence comes from knowing that if you speak up you become part of the cultural change needed to reduce sexual violence through the eradication of the determinants of sexual violence (e.g., sexism, hostility to women, violence supportive attitudes). In the VicHealth bystander report, Powell (2012) stated that although a simple joke may not seem harmful, it promotes the idea that being sexist is okay when it is actually an underlying determinant of violence against women.
I think Malcom Turnbull needs to become more engaged in the prevention of sexual assault.