Back in the 1960s, it was something we just didn’t want to admit existed. No one talked about it. It was something that happened “behind closed doors”, and since then it has started to emerge from the shadows. So should we be looking at way back then for inspiration to deal with it now?
On Monday night’s Q&A, politician Barnaby Joyce opened the door on domestic violence. The deputy Nationals leader started off well, but then strayed off track and straight back to those days of shame when domestic violence didn’t happen to “nice people” and women were expected just to accept being hit or abused as part of everyday life.
The Sydney Morning Herald reports after his good start he continued: “Ultimately it’s a cultural change and we’ve all got to be a part of that. This may seem a bit quaint … but I think we’ve got to start changing our attitude all the time in how we deal with women. Like, don’t swear in front of them. It’s not politically incorrect to open a door. All these things so we can change the attitude so we can show that we respect people. Because if you don’t respect from a younger age then how are you going to develop it later on.”
The studio audience reacted with rolling eyes and giggles after he said “open a door” .
Yes, that’s what he said, “open a door”. While his intentions were good, it showed trying to build a new attitude on a very old view of the world, a view we’d all rather consign to the past.
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We shouldn’t be too hard on Joyce for his choice of words because we all make stupid mistakes when speaking off the cuff, but it does show an underlying set of beliefs and values based firmly in the 1960s.
Sadly, domestic violence is still a very real issue. An Australian Bureau of Statistics study found more than a million women had experienced physical or sexual assault by their male current or ex-partner since the age of 15 and just under half a million Australian women reported they had experienced physical or sexual violence or sexual assault in the past 12 months
Should we really be suggesting in 2015 not swearing and making the effort to open a door can change attitudes? Yes, respect is important, but being treated as an equal and not looked down to is an integral part of that.
What do you think? Have you ever had domestic violence perpetuated against you or a friend?