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Mandy Nolan’s Soapbox: Sexism’s backyard

Hear that?

That’s the sound of patriarchy falling. The thunder of the powerful being felled by the powerless. The scream of indignation of the perpetrator being called to account by the victim. The din of disbelief that the priveledge party is over.

Patriarchy always knew this was going to happen. It’s why they wanted to keep us in the kitchen, on our knees with a Chux cloth in our hands, or on our backs, pregnant, penniless and dependent. Educated women, politicised women, women holding power, the introduction of legislation and laws to make our workplaces safe… one day that was going to create trouble for powerful predators who sit at the top of many of our big industries. Now we can sit back and watch the big men fall.

Sociopaths everywhere must be feeling nervous. All that arse they grabbed. That nice pussy they commented on. That tit they touched. Or talked about in tea rooms. All those bodies of women, girls and boys that they have felt entitled to because historically we have been their domain.

‘Why now?’ they ask. Why didn’t people speak up twenty years ago? Ten years ago? Two years ago? Well they have. Women have been speaking up for years, and guess what: they generally had to tell their stories to other sociopathic sexually harassing men and no-one listened. Or they did listen but they weren’t believed. Or they did listen and they were believed, but they were just women and no-one cared. Or they spoke up and made themselves ‘trouble’ like gutsy Tracey Spicer did; they broke the code of silence; they stopped swallowing corporate cock so they got sacked.

As women we have learnt to tolerate the groping hands and lascivious comments as part of workplace culture. Women have long been told to cover up. To button up that blouse. What we wear on our bodies apparently is an invitation to be touched.

When Don Burke was putting his hands up a co-worker’s skirt she was told ‘to wear jeans so he can’t get his hand up there’. That mindset sits neatly beside the deep-seated societal beliefs such as ‘she got raped because she wore a short skirt on a dark street’ that underwrites a culture that promotes violence and abuse.

It’s no surprise that powerful people are being outed as abusers. Abuse is always about power. And in the past there has been a code of silence. Just ask the Catholic Church.

But the foundations are being rocked. Women standing shoulder to shoulder, their stories crashing one after the other, detailing vile, abusive and despicable behaviour by people who knew better. In the US the spotlight of accountability fell on Harvey Weinstein, then Kevin Spacey, and then it turned out that comedian Louis CK wasn’t that funny after all. His narrative of masturbation onstage reflected his lived experience, where he had a penchant for cornering female colleagues cock in hand.

Last week we heard about Don Burke, who has more than 50 people making serious allegations against him. Actor Geoffrey Rush is being called to account for his inappropriate behaviour at the Sydney Theatre Company during a production of King Lear in 2015.

They deny it. They say they can’t remember. Burke reckons he’s got Asperger’s. He’s definitely on the spectrum – the fuckwit spectrum. He’s full blown. It seems that being rich, powerful and successful is no longer a condom for consequence. Powerful men are all catching a nasty dose of public accountability. It’s so embarrassing! Please don’t feel sorry for them. They have lived by the sociopath’s creed: ‘I was powerful and successful, I thought harassing, intimidating, bullying and assaulting people was part of my rider’. Feel sorry for the people they’ve treated like shit. And celebrate that they are finally being believed and supported.

These men are dinosaurs. I look forward to a time when women archaeologists dig up Don Burke, hand outstretched about to goose someone. ‘This is the Burkesaurus from the fuckwit genus.’ ‘Do we take him to the museum?’ ‘No, it’s best he stays here. He belongs in the backyard.’ Then they bury the him.


7 responses to “Mandy Nolan’s Soapbox: Sexism’s backyard”

  1. Anugraho says:

    What about a women’s party? Isn’t it time? After over 5000 years of wars and endless disasters women are the only hope for this planet to survive. Do you think a woman, I mean not a female politician but a woman, would have given the order for the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs? I don’t think so and the same applies to everything. The time is ripe and I say it with shame. Please think about a women’s party. Please feel it.
    I am a man, but you will have my vote.

    • tuatha says:

      Alas, yes – Golda Meir (various), Bandaranaike (Tamils), Mrs Ghandi (Amritsar), Benazir (Baluchistan), Thatcher (Falklands, Gulf I, etc), HRC (see extensive list).
      As Mandy noted re groping, it’s not about sex, it’s about power.

  2. Jules says:

    Perfect. Love your work, Mandy. Thanks for writing this. Powerful stuff!

    “Last week we heard about Don Burke, who has more than 50 people making serious allegations against him. Actor Geoffrey Rush is being called to account for his inappropriate behaviour at the Sydney Theatre Company during a production of King Lear in 2015.

    They deny it. They say they can’t remember. Burke reckons he’s got Asperger’s. He’s definitely on the spectrum – the fuckwit spectrum. He’s full blown. It seems that being rich, powerful and successful is no longer a condom for consequence. Powerful men are all catching a nasty dose of public accountability. It’s so embarrassing! Please don’t feel sorry for them. They have lived by the sociopath’s creed: ‘I was powerful and successful, I thought harassing, intimidating, bullying and assaulting people was part of my rider’. Feel sorry for the people they’ve treated like shit. And celebrate that they are finally being believed and supported.”

  3. Tomas says:

    That’s unfair; 99% of rich, powerful and successful white men are giving the rest of us a bad name.

  4. serena ballerina says:

    As a female who has weathered many instances of unwanted advances from men in the workplace, and in my life, it’s good to see all this brought out into the open and recognized for what it is – abuse of power.
    Roll on gender equality and respect.

  5. After Mandy’s lead in… Thanks Anugraho! I always thought of Women’s Collectives back
    in the 1970s – even more-so as a writer and publishing editor known to be ‘un-straight’.
    Career controllers are always ‘out there’. Believe it, one obnoxious peer acting as a book
    reviewer said that [I quote] “She writes with a male mind.” (Whatever that is.) Later on,
    and in print [there are a few] it was suggested ‘I leave the country’. Funny, I’d never
    thought of myself as dangerous. Still, physical and professional abuse of women needs
    to be called out – loudly.

  6. tuatha says:

    There have been so many ‘false flags’ in the Sex War just since the 60s (hi, GGreer!) but the brief attempt at solidarity & separatism foundered, as always, when they started having kids.
    There is a solution, it is not new nor delicate – first of all Judith & Holofernes and then, when the immediate, quotidian problems have been … err, severed …. at the head, as it were, to stop the re-emergence, bigger & badder than previously, a Lysistratan League.
    Simples.

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Some of The Echo’s editorial team: journalists Paul Bibby and Aslan Shand, editor Hans Lovejoy, photographer Jeff Dawson and Mandy Nolan

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