ABC journalist Stan Grant has used an appearance on Q+A to call out Australia for only taking notice of sexual assaults when they happen to “middle class” white women.
- Sam Mostyn accused the Prime Minister of historically keeping women down
- She also said she thinks the Prime Minister now “gets” the issue facing the government
- Stan Grant called on Australia to care more about the most vulnerable in Australia especially Indigenous women when it comes to assaults
Allegations of sexual assaults, misogyny and inappropriate behaviour in political circles have dominated the news for weeks.
But while Grant said those issues deserved national attention, he said the complaints of Indigenous women about the same issues had been ignored for too long.
“As necessary and as urgent and as righteous as these claims are, and this movement is, there have been so many women’s voices who have not been listened to for a long time,” Grant said.
“And … when it becomes a white middle-class issue, when it is in private schools, when it is in Parliament House, when it is in the press gallery, we take notice.
“But when Aboriginal women who have been suffering domestic violence at rates 40 times higher than the rest of the population, 10 times more likely to die as a result of that violence, when I have seen Aboriginal women marching and protesting and calling for support for generations, I did not see the same women outside Parliament House.
“When poor women, when migrant women, when refugee women have suffered these things, I did not see the same media attention.
“Poor women do not end up on television programs, they are not on Q+A, there are a lot of voices that are not listened to here and while this is a movement and a moment we need to reflect on our own blindness and biases.”
He then went on to cite comments made by former NRL player Joe Williams on last week’s panel.
“When a nation is built on theft, invasion, massacre and rape, you then wonder now why you have a culture and a society that reflects some of these attitudes,” he said.
Grant was speaking after other panellists, including Sam Mostyn, the president of Chief Executive Women, and The Australian’s economics editor Adam Creighton, discussed the recent Women’s March 4 Justice events and the political storm engulfing the Morrison government.
‘Keeping women down’ accusation levelled at PM
Ms Mostyn said she hoped the pressure on the government over the alleged rape of Brittany Higgins, the misbehaviour of male staffers in Parliament House and the historical rape allegation strenuously denied by senior minister Christian Porter would force Prime Minister Scott Morrison to take issues of sexual inequality and assault seriously.
“I hope it’s gotten so bad that the Prime Minister does really care,” Ms Mostyn said.
“There are many things he could be doing right now to show his government really cares.
“He could take Kate Jenkins 55 recommendations to make all of our workplaces safer, he could shuffle his Cabinet to make sure there are lots of women in very senior positions.”
Asked by host Hamish Macdonald if she thought the PM understood the severity of the issue, she responded in the affirmative.
“I think he gets it now,” she said.
“I think what was the most disturbing thing for the Prime Minister was the gross acts by young men inside Parliament House, that said they completely disrespected women who chose to be MPs.
“At that point the Prime Minister really did get it because it was such an affront.
“I’m sure for the women in the audience and watching tonight, we are used to these behaviours and we’re looking for men and women in leadership that say to us, ‘Enough is enough.’
“At all the rallies around the country men and women called for this change.”
It was a statement that Creighton fundamentally disagreed with when asked how he saw the rallies.
“I was in Melbourne and walked past it [March 4 Justice] and there were so many placards which were anti-Scott Morrison, rather than pro-women,” he said.
“It was a political march.
“If you go back 120 years, women wanted to vote and certainly they should have got it, many decades later there was abortion.
“What is justice this time? It’s like marching for happiness. Everyone wants it but what is the tangible outcome?
“What could the federal government do about attitudes? It’s the Commonwealth government. It can’t legislate for people to be nice.
“No matter what the Prime Minister says, no matter what platitudes he utters, it’s not going to change people’s attitudes, that’s up to civil society.”
That comment drew a rebuff from Ms Mostyn, who said real leadership would be doing something about it, before she accused the PM of “keeping women down”.
“And suddenly we have had enough and, that’s why the marches took place.”