DAVID PENBERTHY Behaviour is inexcusable
SOME years ago a prominent Australian sport star and his wife were the victims of a burglary.
I won’t name the bloke because he copped enough sniggering from the public and media when it transpired that one of the items stolen from his house was an, ahem, home video, in which he and his wife were expressing their love for one another in a physical way. He held a press conference where he understandably pleaded for privacy, arguing the video he and his wife had made was no different to those made by “many other couples”.
Aside from making me reflect on how mundane my own life was, this sportsman’s comments were a good example of how people will attempt to rope in the rest of us when they find themselves in a bind. I mean, who can honestly say they haven’t made their own porno? Everyone does it, right?
Having said that, good luck to them. There’s no crime in what they did. He probably had a whole stack of fun pretending to be the pizza delivery guy who couldn’t believe what happened after he dropped off the Super Supreme.
The biggest stories of 2017 have involved sex. Not sex in the loving and consensual way as expressed by this decent couple, but unwanted and aberrant sexual advances, the use of sexually aggressive language, sexual assaults perpetrated by men in positions of power. Men who are often so ugly in appearance and character that they would be flat out pulling a you-knowwhat in a brothel if they were forced to battle on like the rest of us, armed only with our looks and personalities.
The debate and analysis of all these stories has been driven to a large degree by female commentators, and fair enough too, because it is the women who are suffering here, and who have suffered silently for far too long.
As a bloke, one part of this whole sordid series of scandals that I find really galling is the attempt by the men at the centre to rope the rest of us into their conduct.
This excuse-making mindset was epitomised by Donald Trump during last year’s US election campaign upon the release of the so-called “pussygate” audio, in which he was heard boasting that when you’re rich and powerful like he is you can get away with indecently assaulting women.
Trump’s insulting subsequent explanation was that this was just “locker room talk”, suggesting that when the rest of us guys aren’t digging ditches, teaching schoolchildren, programming computers or writing newspaper columns, we are sitting around with our mates guffawing about how many women’s skirts we’ve stuck our hands up lately.
Harvey Weinstein used the same approach with his pitiful declaration “Guys, I’m not doing OK, I need help” — the cringeworthy use of the word “guys” being a shameless plea for misplaced sympathy, as if we were all somehow meant to relate to what the poor guy was going through.
It is probably only a matter of time before Matt Lauer pops up for a tell-all interview, where he asks who can honestly say that they haven’t installed a button-operated locking device in their office so they can keep female colleagues trapped while they get their dongers out?
From a crowded field of excuses — indeed he used almost every excuse that has ever been used since the dawn of time — Don Burke deserves a special mention for his assertion that his use of ripe language and sexual imagery was simply part of some graphic comic banter that many of us knockabout Aussies cherish.
I’m not a prude and nor are any of my mates. I know plenty of dirty jokes that would be regarded in some circles as inappropriate.
But I don’t think I know any men who would talk the way Don Burke did to Susie O’Neil, or Jessica Rowe, or Annalise Braakensiek, or Alison Piotrowksi, and try to laugh it all off as a bit of playful lockerroom banter.
There are many issues that arise from the aforementioned scandals that reflect very poorly not just on the perpetrators but the men around them who did nothing.
One of the most shameful aspects of these stories is the volume of women who had their careers interrupted or even abandoned as gutless managers forced them to tiptoe around people such as Burke, where the non-solution to being groped or bombarded with profanities was to move the woman to a different shift or a different show.
These blokes have plenty of explaining do. It’s no different from the Catholic Church’s deplorable modus operandi of shifting problem priests from one parish to the next, rather than addressing and owning the fact that they had sex offenders in their midst.
But I would part company with those who argue that the behaviour of Burke, Weinstein et al is part of a spectrum of male behaviour.
It doesn’t strike me as a spectrum, rather a sick cul-desac that most of us have never even gone near.
I simply do not know these men, and I’m not up for helping them concoct their rubbish alibis.
QUESTIONABLE: Donald Trump, main picture, and, inset from top, Harvey Weinstein, Matt Lauer and Don Burke.