It seems to be the case that my sex are increasingly displaying behaviour in public that has me dropping my head and shaking it in complete and utter bewilderment.
There have been three occasions within the past week here in Australia in which men have behaved like complete dickheads.
Last week, it emerged that a Minister of the Crown in our Federal Government, made inappropriate advances towards a female staffer from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, whilst on a tax payer funded delegation in Hong Kong. The details of the “inappropriate advances” have, so far, not been made explicit, however they were deemed serious enough for the Minister, Jamie Briggs, to have to tender his resignation as Minister for Cities.
In the fallout from this, our national broadsheet newspaper, The Australian, released portions of text communication that occurred between the female staffer and her superiors over the incident but they also published a pixelated photograph of the staffer posing with the former Minister’s Chief of Staff (taken prior to the incident of inappropriate advances). It has since emerged that the photograph had been distributed to his parliamentary colleagues, revealing the identity of the female staffer, by none other the Jamie Briggs himself.
Let’s be clear here – a Federal Minister has behaved in a manner that has caused a female staffer to make a formal complaint and then he has distributed a photographic image of that staffer. This is conduct that is immoral.
This whole train wreck continues, however. On Monday, January 4th, journalist Samantha Maiden (of the Daily Telegraph) penned an excoriating opinion piece in which she similarly chastised the behaviour of the Minister and the ramifications of that behaviour. Subsequent to that opinion piece, another Federal Minister, this time the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Peter Dutton composed a text message, referring to Samantha Maiden as a “mad f*cking witch. The intended recipient of this text message was his colleague, slain Minister Jamie Briggs.
Peter Dutton sent the text message to Samantha Maiden herself.
It has often been said that our current government and many of its male Members of Parliament have a problem with women particularly and sexism/misogyny more generally. I have highlighted two examples of our Parliamentary leaders, our legislators – Men!! – who have made themselves look like complete dickheads and, by extension make men look like collective dickheads.
I have problems with authority – particularly unearned authority. Messers Briggs and Dutton are two cases in point. Both men should be sacked and bundled out of Parliament immediately.
But this is not the end of my frustration.
Last night, (January 4), during the limited overs cricket competition, known as the Big Bash League, former West Indian Test Captain Chris Gayle, who is currently playing for the Melbourne Renegades, was interviewed following his innings by Channel 10 journalist Mel McLaughlin. In the exchange that followed, Gayle said, on air, that he wanted to be interviewed by McLaughlin “just to see your eyes for the first time.”
In what quickly became cringe worthy television, Gayle continued his sleazy flirtation with McLaughlin by adding, “Hopefully we can win this game and we can have a drink after”.
A clearly uncomfortable McLaughlin tried to steer the interview back to cricket but Chris Gayle misinterpreted her unease by saying, “Don’t blush, baby”.
Yep. He said that.
Predictably, the internet has erupted today in reaction to this exchange and it has been on a sort of rolling boil since Briggs and Dutton made prize idiots of themselves in the past week.
Men – particularly men of influence – treat women appallingly. Men everywhere treat women appallingly and I am completely bloody sick of it. Some men are dickheads and if we men that are not don’t call out this dickhead behaviour then we are dickheads too.
There is a really nasty undercurrent of behaviour perpetrated by men in Australia that has been allowed to fester for far too long. And it has to stop. We have to stop it.
Stop. Being. Dickheads.
Dean Mayes is a South Australian author and thinker. He lives in Adelaide with his wife, Emily, and their two children, Xavier and Lucy.
He has published three novels, The Hambledown Dream, Gifts of the Peramangk and The Recipient.