Un­fair to de­monise all men

The Sunday Times - - Opinion - Mi­randa Devine

JOHN Edwards em­bod­ies ev­ery­thing any­one could pos­si­bly mean when they de­cry “toxic mas­culin­ity” but, re­ally, he sim­ply was an evil hu­man be­ing.

On Thurs­day he chased his own ter­ri­fied chil­dren into a bed­room of their Syd­ney subur­ban home and ex­e­cuted them in cold blood as they cow­ered from him. Jack, 15, and Jen­nifer, 13, didn’t stand a chance.

The 68-year-old for­mer AMP fi­nan­cial plan­ner re­port­edly had a string of failed mar­riages be­fore he mar­ried Rus­sian-born Olga, who was 32 years his ju­nior. He was abu­sive, the mar­riage ended, and he lost cus­tody of their chil­dren.

Edwards was vile, “a self­ish cow­ard” as po­lice char­ac­terised him. But he was an aber­ra­tion. Do­mes­tic vi­o­lence ide­o­logues al­ready are try­ing to use this tragedy to step up their de­mon­i­sa­tion cam­paign against men.

But if you tar all men with the same brush, what are you say­ing about Edwards’ poor son Jack, de­scribed by friends as “easy to get along with” and “car­ing”? What are you say­ing about male first re­spon­ders con­fronted with a har­row­ing scene they couldn’t re­deem?

What are you say­ing about stricken NSW Po­lice Com­man­der Brett McFad­den: “Noth­ing can pre­pare you for walk­ing into a home and see­ing two chil­dren in that state. There are no words.”

Prop­a­gat­ing the myth that mas­culin­ity is in­her­ently “toxic” dis­em­pow­ers good men. It does not pro­tect women and chil­dren. Mon­sters like Edwards won’t be moved by lec­tures on gen­dered vi­o­lence.

The prac­ti­cal fo­cus needs to be on how Edwards was able to ac­cess two guns when he had been the sub­ject of Ap­pre­hended Vi­o­lence Or­ders. Fix­ing a po­ten­tial weak­ness in our gun con­trol sys­tem would ac­tu­ally save lives.

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