Posted by: malechallengemedia | October 19, 2016

Trumping Misogyny

Perhaps there is one positive to come out of the Donald Trump debacle.

Trumps abhorrent behaviour shines a spotlight on the magnitude of misogyny – hatred of women.

And the would-be First Lady, Ivanka Trump’s defence of his behaviour, indicates the extent to which women have been socialised to accept misogyny.

It is a conversation that needs to be had and repeated and had again until real progress is made

Clueless Trump divorces his behaviour from the wider issues impacting women and girls – issues such as rape, domestic violence, trafficking of women, pay inequity, porn, poverty and more.

Trump’s defensive responses to his obscene sexist rants reveal the extent of his delusion. He actually thinks that he loves women – albeit beautiful women.

But the big teaching from this spectacle is that Trump is not alone. His behaviour is widespread amongst men and as we see from the women who cling on to the rich and powerful, condoned by some women.

Equally shocking are the dialogues on radio and TV where men say they have not been exposed to other males who talked or acted in this manner.

What rubbish – what wholesale denial. I don’t know what universe these men live in but in my 70 years as an Australian I have accrued many examples of poison men trash talking about women.

I first heard the degrading conversations amongst my peers in the schoolyards of country Victoria in the 60s – it shocked me deeply. Later I heard similar conversations in the surf club I loved and at university – it created conflict in me. I have heard similar portrayals of women in many of the male groups I associated with in both Australia and America.

One day in the 80s, while working as a ski instructor at Perisher Valley, NSW, I encountered a young woman sitting in the snow crying. She had been thrown out of the ski lodge by a charismatic man I knew who had said if you don’t ‘f..  then ‘f’… off. Night was falling and she had nowhere to go.

Turns out he had promised her accommodation on the mountain and assumed he would be sexually rewarded.

On another occasion I spoke with a ski instructor colleague who stated he had had a bad day how he would find some young snow bunny and ‘f’ the hell out of her to get rid of his anger.

In the 90s, while working as a white water river guide in Oregon, late I found myself in the middle of a 12 man bucks party. The evening became ugly. It impacted me so deeply that I wrote about it.

The story, Sexism on the River, was picked up by some men’s magazines and a number of feminist groups. As a result of the Trump dialogues I have decided to revive the story.

But there is more. My wife, Grace Gawler, a physically beautiful woman who has spent almost 41 years working and caring for cancer patients, has endured a lifetime of sexist abuse from men in many countries she has worked in. Some years ago, after giving a rousing speech about breast cancer in Eumundi, Queensland, Grace was sexually heckled as she walked past the Eumundi Pub.

That this grandmother of five and tireless cancer worker should be subjected to such filth is beyond the tenants of a sane world and a just democracy. I wanted to sweep these filth mongers into a large crevice and leave them there – such was my anger and helplessness in a situation

As a lifetime outdoor adventurer, I have spent very little time in pubs and sporting clubs, however every time I do I am confronted with the same misogynistic rants – their derision is palpable.

In 2003, I worked with one of Australia’s top Olympic lead teams. The team performance had been reduced by the prevalence of sexist attitudes and actions by male members of the group. The group shall remain anonymous for confidentiality reasons but many are known to most Australians.

Even as I was being briefed for the job, at the Australian sports commission in Canberra, I detected the ‘vibe’ the nudge-nudge, wink-wink, old boys club vibe’ about the very topic we were discussing.

I applaud Adam Goode’s stance against racism in his sport. I would like to see the same energy applied to misogyny and sexism. Undoubtedly prominent sportsmen have a role to play in this awareness raising campaign.

My story, sexism on the river and another story (whose link I provide below) about three female river guides working for the American National Parks on the Grand Canyon, are indicative of the barriers faced when decent people try to tackle misogyny and sexism.

In my case I was alone in the wilderness with 13 other men, most were younger and bigger than I was and some carried hunting knives – I would not have been surprised if there was a hand gun or two.

The three female National Parks river guides on the Grand Canyon were confronted by the old boys club which fought hard to maintain the status quo – the ancient code that gave man ultimate power over women and children.

In Australia, we’ve seen misogyny and sexism rife in just about every corner of our society – the defence forces, sport and Olympic sports, the ambulance service, amongst doctors and surgeons in the medical profession, and as so accurately described by Peta Credlin, in government.

It took a lot of guts for me to make a stand against 13 men in the Oregon wilderness. I’m no hero I was shaking and upset and did not sleep that night. But I did make a stand.

I ask decent men everywhere to join together to stamp out what is one of the world’s great barriers to human equality and functional democracy.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: