Bettina Arndt is the Andrew Bolt of the Women’s Movement. After the brutal murders of Hannah Clarke and her three children, Laianah, Aaliyah and Trey, the woman who was foolishly awarded an Order of Australia congratulated the disgraced Queensland Detective Mark Thompson for suggesting Rowan Baxter (Hannah’s estranged husband) may have ‘been driven too far’. She went on to sarcastically tweet ‘How dare the police deviate from the feminist script of seeking excuses.’ What excuse is there for incinerating a woman and her children? How can there ever be an acceptable narrative that explains such murders?
Arndt’s comments are socially reckless and without compassion. Quite frankly they are dangerous and in defence of the murder of innocents. Arndt is quite literally out of order. So let’s remove her Order of Australia. We must stop blaming women for the behaviour of men. Arndt has previously suggested that women who take domestic violence leave from work are problematic because it’s impossible for employers to prove that they really experience DV. Clearly, she’s never experienced domestic violence. She’s never had to cover a bruised eye or a swollen lip. Never had to explain the finger marks on her arm. Being subjected to domestic violence is a source of deep shame, and not something that you’d ever fake for a day off.
There’s a violence in the sentiment of Arndt’s approach that is perhaps more confronting than the misogyny of men–because she is a woman. She is one of us. She should know better. Arndt is a gender traitor. Bettina Arndt’s attitude is why women are dying. She is not a voice in the wilderness – her ethos is embedded in legislation, in legal apathy, and in the usual media disinterest in the weekly deaths. It is at the core of a community who, to date, haven’t cared enough to try to make it stop.
And by the way, I don’t believe domestic violence is a women’s issue. It’s a men’s issue. Probably the most important issue men have never faced. Instead of shuffling yourselves into groups of ‘good men’(who’d never do that) and ‘bad men’(monsters), why not step up and be men who have these conversations with each other, who create the change in your culture? It’s your toxic masculinity that needs remedy. The toxic masculinity forged by patriarchy to maintain dominance. It’s time to use your power to relinquish power. The onus should not be on women to convince men to stop killing us.
Someone suggested that we stage a public action where women and children protest for change. But I don’t want to be united by our victimhood. And I don’t want to shout for liberty from violence and death – that should be my birthright. I want men to stand in the street and publicly address the dark shadows that lurk in their ranks. It is their shame, not ours. Last week Hannah and her children were killed. The week before it was an unnamed Indigenous woman, murdered in full view of her children. On Saturday, a woman in Townsville was stabbed to death by her partner, and another woman in Ipswich was held captive, strangled and beaten.
I’m tired of outrage. It’s empty and meaningless. Outrage is not enough. Outrage stops nothing. Right now, the media is awash with stories that ‘pornographise’ the violence. Perpetrators are described as ‘monsters’ – but we need to stop exceptionalising them. They are not monsters. These women didn’t have children with, love and/or marry monsters. They partnered with ordinary men. It’s interesting to read the observations of the perpetrators’ friends, that ‘they were good men’ or ‘they were loving fathers’. I think this is important to hear, because loving fathers and good men kill women too – not just monsters. Women are beaten and killed by unexceptional men every day.
Acts of domestic violence are exceptional. Women’s deaths are what is exceptional. Stopping the terrorism of domestic violence has never been a crucial political issue. We are more interested in dealing with border control and the enemy from outside than the enemy who is already inside.
Is it a co-incidence that Australia’s White Ribbon charity, set up to stop violence against women, liquidated last year?
We must stop using the term ‘domestic violence.’ It dilutes the gravity of the issue at hand. Domestic violence is far too soft. What we are facing isn’t domestic violence, there is a war against women. This is gender terrorism. It’s time for zero tolerance. It’s time for action from good men.