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Byron Shire
March 4, 2021

Mandy Nolan’s Soapbox: The War Against Women

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Is it a co-incidence that Australia’s White Ribbon charity, set up to stop violence against women, liquidated last year?

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.


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19 COMMENTS

  1. Yes! Undeniably! Yes!

    Have mentioned before I think, watched recordings of men in prising blaming
    their partners rather than dealing with their own issues.

    There is never any excuse for violence.

    To any women in situations that are not serving you. Please know, it isn’t easy to leave. It takes a lot of courage. There are support systems there. Please let those around you know what is happening. While they are not responsible for you. The decision to leave ultimately must come from you. For you & if you have children, pets.. it is your choice to remove yourself from these situations. To contact support networks. To let your friends know what’s happening for you. Silence is what keeps these situations happening. You are not responsible for someone else’s behaviour. You are in no way shape or form obliged to stay with an abuser.
    It is not your fault. You are not responsible for their choice to drink too much or to do drugs.
    You are not responsible for their refusal to seek help or accept they are violent. No violence is acceptable. Nor financial, emotional or mental.

    You are not responsible for their inability to deal rationally with situations they don’t know how to in a peaceful way.

    There is a thing that happens that through our love for someone we often put or our needs 2nd. There is a point in which bit by bit, the line becomes blurred & abuse becomes normal. Physical abuse is wrong. No one has the right. No one deserves it. No living being deserves it. No one is obliged to accept, tolerate or rake responsibility for someone else’s behaviour. No matter how long the relationship. In all truth, we do not have the right to.

    It takes courage. It isn’t easy. Please ask for help. Tell people.

    Thank you Mandy.

  2. This statement:
    “Bettina Arndt is the Andrew Bolt of the Women’s Movement” Ok, so you want people to agree with that statement by kicking Bettina down. Is that the way up?
    Here is the way to start.
    “What was the actual cause of a murder/suicide so we can all understand what caused that harm without getting offended?”
    There are reasons for violence. The discourse used is the word ‘excuses’. All motivation has a motivational flash point.

  3. Emily I am shocked that you wouldn’t support “kicking Bettina down” – an oddly aggressive metaphor, we are only talking of having her OA revoked, not assaulting her physically. The “actual cause” of a quadruple murder/suicide was that the man in question was violent and was not able to control his violence — he was in control enough to premeditate the hideous, terrifying and excruciatingly painful immolation of 4 people. His ability to do this was exacerbated by legal and social structures that failed and left Hannah and her children unprotected. Knowing the “motivational flashpoint” helps little when people like Arndt support men who suggest being “pushed too far” is a reason to kill someone. If the policeman had said of a rapist, ‘Well, the girl was dressed provocatively’ or a child sex abuser ‘that mother should never have left them alone with their uncle/grandfather/priest’ there would be justifiable outrage. Is a ‘crime passionel’ different, somehow? What’s my motivation? I’m angry and hurt. What should I do about it? Kill innocent people. How does anyone come to believe that was the right response?

  4. Thank you Mandy for your clear and eloquent writing on this topic of domestic murder.
    I wondered what became of the White Ribbon charity – how pathetic!
    It seems too much of a challenge for men to publicly call out offending men.

  5. Emily, some situations are too damn hot
    to handle. My mother was repeatedly hit
    upon… let’s truly call it… bashed… by a
    jealous brute. My mother died May 15th
    1975 after internal bleeding [due to
    kicking], severe head injuries etc. My
    step-father got away with it because he
    had not taken his ‘manic meds’. My 2
    half brothers – both young – witnessed
    the lot. As for gender kill, it’s all too
    easy even now. And Arndt – ‘look at
    me’ & what I got away with, is sick!

  6. @Ginga

    You wrote “There is never any excuse for violence.”

    According to quite a deal of research, much of which is cited online, e.g. “This bibliography examines 286 scholarly investigations: 221 empirical studies and 65 reviews and/or analyses, which demonstrate that women are as physically aggressive, or more aggressive, than men in their relationships with their spouses or male partners. The aggregate sample size in the reviewed studies exceeds 371,600.”

    I assume you meant to write, “There is never any excuse for violence, except when it is women being violent”?

  7. Having recently witnessed a group of men at a pub, 10 or so, 30’s to 65’s describe women and young girls entering the pub, loudly, what I want to her, skirt short enough to give an idea, or wouldnot go near her, too ugly, old, fat, tart etc etc and on it went to raucous laughter and more insults! Not one of their mates said, stop it mate, not good enough, no there were in my opinion as bad as the one saying it all. People wonder why girls have drama with body issues, eating disorders and reluctance to go out. If a group of men behave like that publicly what are they like in their own homes?

  8. Well said Emily ,
    God knows that murder was the work of a mad-man, but I’ve know dozens of women just as sick and dangerous and every bit as destructive.
    If what Ginga says is true” There is never any excuse for violence.” then,let’s get rid of the armed-forces and the police, and as all politics relies on the treat of violence, no country would exist without violence and women and children would not have the safety and security to stand behind, and berate toxic masculinity .
    I would like Cate to explain how to remedy the ” legal and social structures that failed and left Hannah and her children unprotected”, in a manner that would prevent the insane from commiting such acts .
    In the meantime Mandy and her cronies ,should jump off their soapboxes ,because the bandwagon is about to roll through.
    Cheers G”)
    G”)

  9. Thanks for devoting your column to violence against women Mandy. Your words are so thoughtful, well measured and full of clarity. I’m sobered to read the comment that seems to question removing the recent OA from Bettina Arndt. And also saddened to read of a mother’s murder from intimate partner violence and the pub story.
    It’s so good that this is all getting talked about. This is the legacy of Hannah Clarke, and all the other women who have been in the firing line. It’s a war against women. May they rest in peace and the rest of us find the strength to change.

  10. Some years ago I was a member of the team of men and women who ran the Children’s Contact Centre in Lismore, alongside the Men & Family resource Centre. For four years I was part of a team that ran groups to address the issues Mandy raises in this accurate and confronting article. Yes, it is a war against women. it is gender terrorism. It is well past time for more action from men.

  11. A year or so ago, there was a program on TV which explored the Dunedin University research project which followed over one thousand people from birth to now with the participants now in their 40’s. The research included DNA and a multitude of other data. Each participant was interviewed every few years. Some ended up in Jail, some as top business people, etc. In other words, a cross section of society. Over 95% are still involved.

    It was all fascinating, but the relevant pieces of information that relates to the Bettina Arndt situation was that some survey participants had very poor impulse control and, unfortunately such people seemed to seek each other out for relationships. The data collected studied domestic violence and found that roughly 50% of the domestic fights were instigated by the women. In no way do I justify or believe in domestic violence as a way to resolve issues, and I totally agree that any form of physical or emotional or financial violence is absolutely unacceptable, and I understand that men are usually stronger and therefore more dangerous. Nevertheless, we need to accept that some fights that get out of control – remember poor impulse control – may have been started by the woman. If we try to ignore this, then we are only dealing with half the problem. Violence of any type against anyone is totally unacceptable, but don;t forget that sometimes – certainly not every time – it does take two to tango. Where appropriate we need to work with all participants and not just blame one or the other..

  12. @RIchard Swinton

    Agree. I was aware of the Dunedin Longitudinal Study.

    What I found most telling (about our present culture) was how Prof. Terrie Moffit was ‘dis-ininvited’ to conferences when conference organizers learned the substance of her findings, and the nature of her intended presentation.

    I agree, that in shutting down discussion of the actual dynamics of relationships is counter-productive and will only exacerbate the divide and vitriol present in our society.

  13. I agree that “Domestic Violence” is too soft of a term and should be replaced by “gender murder” or “gender terrorism”. Gender murder is rooted in gender inequality In the patriarchal system. Period. It is based on men perceiving themselves as entitled to have the women in their lives as a source of something: uterus to provide kids, life long carers, cooks, cleaners, counsellors, sex workers. There is an unconscious perception in men that they are entitled to have women devoting their lives to service them without having to reciprocate.
    The system is failing at every step to provide any protection. Police continues to have men as head of the DV cases and some of them are mysoginous. When women call for an emergency it can take up to 3 hours for the officers to arrive to the scene. AVOs can take months in court to be put and really they are just a paper. They don’t stop the most dangerous type of perpetrators. Perpetrators feel further empowered at every step that the system is failing us women. Women refuges are flooded out and sometimes a woman has to wait long time to be hosted anywhere.
    The worst of all is the general lack of action by the community. Neighbours will hear his endless yelling and pretend they didn’t hear anything. Common friends convince themselves the man is so nice he is not capable of what seems to be happening and turn their backs on the women. Local gurus will label anyone with anxiety, trauma or depression as a “dramatic” person and encourage others to keep away. They treat anyone going through a difficult time as a pest.
    The community is stigmatising the victims and turning their backs on them, not just the system.

  14. In response to Richard’s comment; When a dog and a cat have a fight, a dog can kill a cat but a cat can’t kill a dog. People argue and everyone can be at fault of starting an argument. But we are talking about a man burning alive a woman and his 3 little children. We are talking about thousands of women being murdered at the hands of their partners or ex-partners. We are talking about a horrible crime that is ongoing in our current societies. I wish you had something more profound to say about this topic rather than just reminding us that women “also” start arguments. Yes women also start arguments, but almost never those arguments lead to men’s brutal deaths, men burned alive or lifelong disabilities. The results of a couples argument should NEVER be anyone’s death. The topic is the outrageous crimes against women at the hands of partners or ex-partners, not who was to blame for the arguement. We should all be equally entitled to have an argument without fearing for our lives. Mandy Nolan is asking men to step in and take some action that will assist with the ongoing terrorism against women. I wish more men could have something more profound to say. I wish more men could try to put themselves in our shoes and just feel the urge to make some changes in society from the bottom.

  15. “a dog can kill a cat but a cat can’t kill a dog” and some female spiders kill and eat the male spider after copulation. And the relevance of that to domestic violence is …?
    According to the data I’ve seen, males are killed, as a result of domestic violence. somewhere around the rate of 25% (of all domestic violence deaths).
    It would seem prudent to analyze the psycho-social causes of violence, irrespective of gender, rather than focusing on blame, us-versus-them attitudes.

  16. An add-on from me. My step-father had undergone
    shock treatments several times to no improvement
    though there were times he appeared normal. My
    mother obviously loved him & that was fatal. The
    younger brothers saw their dogs shot along with
    the horse because they were too costly to feed.
    Any excuse was good enough for violence. I well
    recall being held at gun point along with my mum
    because he thought she was going to leave him.
    No phone was allowed to be connected to the
    farm-house. He would sit with a ‘tallie’ [i.e. beer
    bottle] in one hand & a gun in the other. The
    other farmers in the district avoided him. So did
    the police. On one occasion he chucked a
    police officer down the steps. Consider – if a cop
    is afraid of a bruiser why wouldn’t the family feel
    the same way. Anyway, enough from me. Often
    the Law [add magistrates] are asses as well.

  17. To Anonymous DV survivor, I totally agree that any violence, be it physical, emotional or financial is totally unacceptable; and I am equally shocked at the stories of men killing their partners and children. This is murder
    I’m sorry for your experience. And I am horrified at the shocking murder of the mother and her three children.
    Yes, we have developed or inherited a culture of men believing they can control/own/abuse women; but an attempt to shift all of the blame onto men will only create even larger divisions in the community.
    All I say is that dealing with domestic violence needs to look at the whole picture, even, for example, at film and media glorifying violence as the way to solve issues.
    I believe our political history over the last few decades has contributed by fomenting division rather than community, but that is another story. I agree that DV is horrific, but lets deal with the whole picture, not create even bigger problems.

  18. Great article Mandy, and many fine responses in the conversation you have started.
    Come on brothers, let’s do our men’s business and grow up.
    A deadly warrior/grown man doesn’t behave that way to a woman, child or anyone/thing else.

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