There’s a silly little game played by people when someone is going to deliver a speech. The bigger the occasion and audience, the funnier it is to the participants. It goes something like this:
“I’ll bet you can’t use the word elephant in your speech.” The speaker may be talking about the economy, fashion, sport or ship building. There is always a gasp of delight from those in on the secret gag if the speaker manages to place the word somewhere and use it in a manner which raises no eyebrows.
Julia Gillard, former Prime Minister of Australia, must surely have been involved in a similar stunt a few weeks ago when she penned an article on suicide prevention in Australia. Gillard was recently appointed the Chair of Beyond Blue, an organization devoted to addressing the scourge of depression and suicide in our nation.
Now, her version of the game differed in one key aspect. The challenge set before her was an astonishing one, which few people would think anyone could possibly accomplish and yet she did it with aplomb. Julia had to write a detailed article about suicide in Australia without using the word men.
Challenges on a par with the difficulty of this one might be:
- Writing an essay on the greatest English writers in history without mentioning Shakespeare
- Writing about the origins of Christianity without once referring to Jesus.
- Writing a book about space exploration without mentioning the moon landing.
When Gillard was the leader of our country she was very concerned about another serious issue- violence. Well, to be more accurate, it was a particular kind of violence, the kind which harmed women and children. She created a National Plan to Reduce Violence Against Women and Their Children.
I know it’s been said before but the words “their children” feel like a kick in the testicles to every father who reads them. I suppose that is exactly what they are meant to be.
But back to this multi-million-dollar national plan.
Here we have an issue which incontestably affects men, women and children. There is overwhelming evidence researched by many experts in the field of family violence which shows that this issue is far from being one which almost exclusively harms women. Nevertheless, Julia and her government decided to create a national plan which unapologetically focuses in both name and action upon one subset of the people affected.
The Federal Government estimates that approximately $1.9 billion is spent every four years on addressing domestic violence and sexual assault through payments, programs and services.
Of this $1.9 billion, seven hundred and fifty thousand dollars will be directed to phone counselling services for men affected by domestic violence. (Hey-we did get a mention!) That equates to 0.07% of the total funding for domestic violence victims.
Julia explains why the focus is upon women (and their children).
One in three Australian women experience physical or sexual violence, but only one in five report the violence. Another manipulated figure which fails to hold up under scrutiny but let’s just take it at face value. When this woman has actually appeared in a video presentation about violence against women where she claimed “One billion women will be raped or beaten in their lifetime..” – you know you are dealing with someone who doesn’t place a strong emphasis on facts.
“One billion women will be raped or beaten in their lifetime..”
Gillard fails to provide any statistics on violence perpetrated upon males in the home in her national plan. As Prime Minister you would think she would care about all of the citizens in her country. So how does this woman tackle the problem of suicide which overwhelmingly affects males and the people who love them?
She begins her article with these paragraphs.
About 200 Australians attempt suicide every day and in about 96% of cases, the attempt does not result in death. But sadly, that doesn’t mean those people are out of danger.
In fact, no group is at greater risk of suicide than those who have previously tried to end their lives.
You have to acknowledge the clever way in which Julia has written something which could be called “true” without telling the truth. The truth being that being male is what makes your chances of death by suicide most likely.
I read the statistics released by Mindframe: Facts and stats about suicide in Australia, which bases its data on The Australian Bureau of Statistics.
It tells us:
Consistently over the past 10 years, the number of suicide deaths was approximately 3 times higher in males than females. In 2016, 75.1% of people who died by suicide were male.
- Overall, the age-specific suicide rate in 2016 was highest in men aged 85 or above (34.0 per 100,000), which has been the age group with the highest rate since 2011.
- With the exception of those aged over 85, in 2016 age-specific suicide rates were highest among middle age men (i.e.30-34 and 40-54 age groups).
Rather than state the raw facts about suicide and who is most likely to commit it, something which one would hope the Chair of Beyond Blue would be aware, Gillard chose to write about those who attempt suicide and how we can stop a second attempt. Funnily enough, it is women who attempt suicide more than men. The blokes seem to be far more serious about the business of ending their lives.
Why are we not pouring two billion dollars into a problem which sees over 2000 men killing themselves each year?* That’s 44 men a week! Where are the hundreds of millions of dollars in funding being directed into prevention of male suicide -particularly in the most vulnerable age categories and in our rural communities?
Approximately fifty women being killed in family violence incidents a year is considered to be an epidemic. I don’t know what word we should use to describe the deaths of more than 2000 men annually.
Let me give you a feel for the way in which Gillard makes the word men disappear while writing about an issue which overwhelmingly affects men. Remember, her justification for making women and children the focus of the billion-dollar funding by her government was that women were twice as likely to be victims. Well, it just so happens that men are three times more likely to be victims of suicide.
Let’s list her manipulative ways. Rather than mention men she says:
- Dads, mums, sons, daughters, neighbours and co-workers
- the person
- eight people will die today
There is absolutely no reason why Gillard could not have used the same language when writing about her domestic violence initiative but she chose to be very gender specific in her language, and more appallingly, in her funding. Men were given a tiny crumb and very brief mention in her national plan, yet they constitute at least a third of all victims.
Three quarters of suicide victims are male. Two thirds of domestic violence victims (fatalities) are female. The gap between gender in the two is wider in the area of suicide yet no-one refers to the scourge of suicide as a “gendered issue” nor do they focus almost exclusively on one gender when it is warranted by the standard set on family violence.
Who are the grovelling cowards at Beyond Blue who hear this woman speak and read what she writes and refuse to stand up and say, “Enough!”
The real crime is the fact that a self- proclaimed radical feminist could have been given such a prominent position for a problem which should be branded a male crisis.
Once again, we are left to ponder why anyone at Beyond Blue thought a woman who sees a misogynist wherever she turns and probably thinks one lurks under her bed would be the ideal choice to be the voice and face of a problem which has had a devastating impact on the men of Australia. It is a decision of indescribable stupidity and unforgivable ignorance.
*(In 2016, preliminary data showed a total of 2,866 deaths by suicide 2,151 males (17.9 per 100,000) and 715 females (5.9 per 100,000). There were 3,027 deaths in 2015 (12.7 per 100,000)