The Danger of the Monster Myth by Tom Meagher

On the White Ribbon blog, Tom Meagher writes about the danger of the monster myth, something he was forced to confront during an appeal hearing by Adrain Bayley, the man who murdered his wife. 

This post builds a powerful, cogent argument for men to stand up and say something instead of tolerating jokes and conversations that trivialise men’s violence against women. 

What struck Meagher was the fact that Bayley didn’t sound like a monster in court. Instead he was capable of articulating sentences and that fact was even more frightening than Bayley the monster. Here was a man with agency who had become “socialised by the ingrained sexism and entrenched masculinity that permeates everything from our daily interactions all the way up to our highest institutions.”

Something about his ability to weave together nouns, verbs and pronouns to form real, intelligible sentences forced a re-focus, one that required a look at the spectrum of men’s violence against women, and its relation to Bayley and the society from which he came. By insulating myself with the intellectually evasive dismissal of violent men as psychotic or sociopathic aberrations, I self-comforted by avoiding the more terrifying concept that violent men are socialised by the ingrained sexism and entrenched masculinity that permeates everything from our daily interactions all the way up to our highest institutions. 

We should be saying that male violence, in any of its many forms, is never ok. And rather than, as Meagher observes, obsessing about the movements and the actions of the victim, we should be placing responsibility squarely on the predator. 

One of the most dangerous things about the media saturation of this crime was that Bayley is in fact the archetypal monster. Bayley feeds into a commonly held social myth that most men who commit rape are like him, violent strangers who stalk their victims and strike at the opportune moment. It gives a disproportionate focus to the rarest of rapes, ignoring the catalogue of non-consensual sex happening on a daily basis everywhere on the planet. It validates a limitation of the freedom of women, by persisting with an obsession with a victim’s movements rather than the vile actions of the perpetrator, while simultaneously creating a ‘canary down the mine’ scenario. 

Although Meagher justifiably wants Bayley to remain Australia’s most vilified man he points out that it’s up to every one of us – and especially men – to take a stand, not only against violence against women but against those conversation that serve as the fertiliser for the seeds of misogyny and sexism to grow and to flourish. 

 The monster myth creates the illusion that this is simply banter, and sexist horseplay. While most of us would never abide racist comments among a male peer-group, the trivialisation of men’s violence against women often remains a staple, invidious, and rather boring subject of mirth. We can either examine this by setting our standards against the monster-rapist, or by accepting that this behaviour intrinsically contributes to a culture in which rape and violence are allowed to exist.

In the end violence against women has a single cause - “violent men, and the silence of non-violent men.”

 We cannot separate these cases from one another because doing so allows us to ignore the fact that all these crimes have exactly the same cause – violent men, and the silence of non-violent men. 

It’s time for each of us to tell our children, the men on our football team, and the the other blokes at the pub that men’s violence against women – in any of its forms – is always unacceptable. 

About my Good Friday

Today, I did pretty close to nothing. After 10 hours sleep I went for an easy 5 k run with Rita than had a nap for an hour. Then it was onto the couch for a movie and a bottle of wine.

We bought Game of Thrones Season 1. Seriously can’t see what the fuss is about. Now where watching Spartacus for which Rita has developed a minor addiction.

In a way I feel like these blog posts are cheating because I’ve got so few followers and I don’t share them on social media but they are blog posts and that was the challenge at the start of the year.

What I’d like to access is the story of a day where I have no real goal. Maybe this post is the story because it’s one more step toward achieving my goal for the year.

just-writer-problems:

Requested by Anonymous.

Yep, it happens this way sometimes.

just-writer-problems:

Requested by Anonymous.

Yep, it happens this way sometimes.

What happened today

Another flat out day that started with a client meeting where the client went to one side of the city and me to the other. After a few emails we finally got together for a productive conversation.

Next, it was on to a meeting with my coach. We discussed strategies for working with people with anger management issues and the best way to deal with my (probable) plantar fasciitis.

After picking up the jerseys for the women’s soccer team it was back to the office. I called our software developer to discuss the best way forward for our new quoting system. We’re now working on the back end quoting system that will give our junior staff an easy way to match new files with quotes given.

I’ve just woken up from a nap on the couch. Now it’s off to bed.

Sometimes commitment is just hard work

I didn’t want to go to bed without writing something, so this is that something.

As short as it is these words represent my commitment to writing a blog post every day this year.

Sometimes commitments take effort, they take work and they take doing something when doing nothing would feel so much nicer.

This is one of those moments but words have been written and my work for this day is now done.

Councillors of Victoria Park, it’s time to come clean

Councillors of Victoria Park, it’s time to come clean

Councillors of Victoria Park, it’s time to come clean and tell us where you stand on the issue of paid parking. Your constituents are tired of your weasel words, fed up with being kept in the dark, and angered by your silence.

It’s time to start speaking in a language we understand.

So that there is no confusion here are two examples of what’s causing so much anger and resentment in our community.

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Stop writing for an audience, write for yourself

Stop writing for an audience, write for yourself

Today, after more that 600 attempts, I finally saw one of my blog posts perform like the content marketers tell you will happen. Until today I’ve been writing posts about social media and email marketing and Michel Foucault with little to no reaction. Sure, some of my close friends have said about a few of my posts “That’s an amazing story Pete. You should write these more often.”

But aside from…

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Today, after more than 90 attempts, I finally saw one of my blog posts perform like the content marketers tell you will happen. Until today I’ve been writing posts about social media and email marketing and Michel Foucault with little to no reaction. Sure, some of my close friends have said about some of my posts “that’s an amazing story Pete.” But aside from that, nothing. 

Then, last night, I wrote a post about the Town of Victoria Park’s parking policy. I’d tried to write that story before. I tried to write it on rational grounds, tried to write it as a cogent, thoughtful argument but it came up bland – so bland that it was never published. 

Then I met with my writing coach. John told me to put myself into the story. What mistake did you make to get to form the opinion you have today? What did you have to give up? What obstacle did you have to overcome to achieve what you achieved? 

So that’s what I threw into the story. I told how my struggles to get storage for a bag of soccer balls at the local soccer club. I told about my disgust at being charged for parking when there was no justification for parking. I got angry and I let that anger be known. 

Then I hit the go button. Before I went to bed the post had already achieved hundreds of views, and when I woke this morning the views kept climbing. Along with the views came the reactions online. Hundreds of likes, comments and shares (as of writing this story it was 557) showed that somehow I’d struck a nerve. Even the local Mayor got involved adding a comment to the post defending his Council’s management of the local playing field and claiming to be listening to his constituents. 

But in writing the post I didn’t give a rats arse what people thought. I wrote for me. I wrote to express where I was at and I wrote to improve my craft as a writer. And that’s what I’m going to continue to do–write like there’s no-one listening. 

In the process I’ll ignore all of the advice I’ve ever given about knowing your audience and creating valuable content and adding value. In the end it may turn out that my most important audience is myself. 

Town of Victoria Park: I’ve had enough

Town of Victoria Park: I’ve had enough

If you’re thinking about visiting the Town of Victoria Park to enjoy one of it’s many excellent coffee shops or eating houses, think again. Why? Because as of a bit over a month ago the local council imposed on local businesses and their customers one of the most draconian, absurd and regressive parking policies ever seen in the metropolitan area.

Their policy is to place parking meters along the…

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A story that’s exactly 50 words long

This morning, I ran through treacle for 14.3 kilometres.

Then I flipped tractor tyres and swung kettlebells and dragged weights across a carpark.

After that came the laundry and the mopping and the tidying.

But, on my mother-in-law’s couch, the yelling of the football commentators faded to black.