Vic­tim cul­ture and the end of strong women

The Advertiser - - OPINION -

IKNOW there are strong women in Aus­tralia. So why are our new fe­male he­roes so of­ten pas­sive-ag­gres­sive vic­tims in­stead, com­pet­ing to show off their tro­phy wounds? Why are th­ese hero vic­tims so de­ter­mined to seem dam­aged and frag­ile, cry­ing as if promised a candy-coloured world where it rains only sugar?

Ex­am­ple. Last week the Univer­sity of NSW sent an email to staff and stu­dents warn­ing of a sex­ual as­sault near the cam­pus.

Yes, the univer­sity was do­ing its best to keep ev­ery­one safe, but its email of­fered tips to help women be even safer, par­tic­u­larly at night.

“Walk to your des­ti­na­tion with friends,” it sug­gested.

“Don’t walk with your head down look­ing at your phone”, and “keep valuables out of sight”.

Good tips. Even as a tall bloke, I do the same in some streets. There are bad peo­ple among us and al­ways will be.

But to gen­der war­riors this was way too much re­al­ity. Way too much re­spon­si­bil­ity.

Anna Hush, a UNSW staffer and di­rec­tor of End Rape on Cam­pus Aus­tralia, protested that she’d been of­fended by this well-in­ten­tioned ad­vice.

“The email … is the lat­est in a long tra­di­tion of vic­tim-blam­ing state­ments made by uni­ver­si­ties,” she com­plained.

“Th­ese mes­sages put onus on po­ten­tial vic­tims to man­age their be­hav­iours, and thus sug­gests that they are re­spon­si­ble when they ex­pe­ri­ence vi­o­lence.”

“Here we go again with the vic­tim blam­ing,” agreed com­mu­nity lawyer Fadak Al­fayad

Se­ri­ously? So I guess th­ese women don’t just refuse to look around them when en­ter­ing a dark park, but like­wise refuse to lock their homes or cars, be­cause that would be to blame them­selves for be­ing bur­gled.

They must like­wise com­plain when air­lines check for bombs, be­cause it is vic­tim-blam­ing that shifts re­spon­si­bil­ity from the ter­ror­ists not to blow the plane from the sky.

What world do such women live in? One where ev­ery­one must take re­spon­si­bil­ity for th­ese women’s safety but them­selves? One where a #metoo hash­tag will turn rapists into saints?

Ex­am­ple two: One strong woman I know, psy­chol­o­gist and au­thor Bet­tina Arndt, this month started a speak- ing tour of cam­puses, at the in­vi­ta­tion of Lib­eral stu­dents want­ing to hear her re­search into the dodgy Hu­man Rights Com­mis­sion sur­vey used by ac­tivists to claim uni­ver­si­ties have a “rape cul­ture”.

I’m amazed any­one ever be­lieved this sur­vey’s im­prob­a­ble find­ing that 51 per cent of Aus­tralian univer­sity stu­dents were sex­u­ally ha­rassed in a sin­gle year.

In fact, only 10 per cent of stu­dents re­sponded to this on­line sur­vey, pre­sum­ably the most com­mit­ted and pol- it­i­cal, and their al­le­ga­tions weren’t tested.

What’s more, those al­le­ga­tions in­cluded al­leged in­ci­dents off cam­pus, with the most com­mon com­plaint merely “in­ap­pro­pri­ate star­ing or leer­ing”.

Yet so­cial­ists and fem­i­nists are so de­ter­mined to be­lieve that stu­dents face a rape epi­demic that Arndt has faced an as­ton­ish­ing cam­paign to stop her from speak­ing.

La Trobe Univer­sity first banned her, and Sydney Univer­sity then de- manded its Lib­eral stu­dents pay nearly $500 for se­cu­rity be­fore let­ting her come.

Once on cam­pus, Arndt and her au­di­ence faced bul­ly­ing from Left­ist protesters, many of them women. At La Trobe, Arndt’s speech was drowned out by heck­ling, a fire alarm and bang­ing on doors. At Sydney, protesters blocked the en­trance un­til riot po­lice cleared them.

Why are fe­male protesters so des­per­ate to seem big­ger vic­tims than they are? Why in­sist on be­ing too frag­ile to even let an­other woman ex­press a con­trary opin­ion?

Ex­am­ple three: For more than three weeks, fe­male MPs from the fed­eral Lib­er­als’ Left have claimed they, too, are vic­tims of a bul­ly­ing cul­ture. Lucy Gichuhi, Ju­lia Banks, Kelly O’Dwyer, Julie Bishop and other MP claim this bul­ly­ing is “toxic” and, adds Bishop, could even in­volve “il­le­gal” acts.

Re­porters, par­tic­u­larly women on the ABC, have treated th­ese MPs as hero vic­tims, even though none of those MPs will pub­licly give a sin­gle ex­am­ple of how ex­actly they were bul­lied, let alone by whom.

In fact, Gichuhi last week admit­ted she had not been bul­lied in Can­berra, af­ter all.

What makes th­ese fe­male politi­cians so keen to pose as vic­tims, and what makes fe­male re­porters so keen to be­lieve them in the absence of any ev­i­dence? Would Mar­garet Thatcher have sobbed and sighed like this?

Ah, Thatcher. Now there was a woman to ad­mire. But when we do get her kind of Al­pha fe­male here – a Peta Credlin, say – how do many fe­male opin­ion mak­ers and ac­tivists of­ten re­spond? Smear, sneer and be­lit­tle.

It seems only vic­tims are wanted now. Is the age of strong women dead?

TOO FAR: A group of protesters block the en­trance to a talk by Bet­tina Arndt, left, at Sydney Univer­sity.

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