Who could have predicted failed businessman and Pussy-Grabber in Chief Donald Trump would turn out to be a promoter and supporter of violence?
We all could have. Over four years ago, when we discovered Trump was a self-proclaimed pussy-grabber, we could have stopped it then. Instead, we enabled it. Politicians near and far enabled it. Conservative commentators enabled it. US citizens voted for a person with a furious disregard for the law and for women's bodily autonomy. Globally, international leaders both co-operated and legitimised his behaviour. "What a man does in private has no impact on what he does in public," seemed to be the consensus. Now his shocking acceptance and encouragement of violence is again public (remember the "you also had people that were very fine people, on both sides" nonsense of 2017, and his description of the Black Lives Matter movement as a symbol of hate?)
Supporters of Trump, such as the cadre of News Corp columnists including Miranda Devine, Andrew Bolt, Rita Panahi, forever belittling feminism, will never feel shame. They are too busy inciting clicks on behalf of their formerly Trump-adoring proprietor. Our own Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, couldn't even issue an early rebuke when terrorists stormed Congress. By the time he urged "a peaceful transfer of government" on Twitter at 9.40am AEST, there was already bloodshed. A little reminder Morrison nauseatingly accepted some kind of merit badge from a promoter of violence.
The continued support of a man with a history of violence against women (remember? He even admitted it himself) formed the foundation for the terrifying events on Wednesday in Washington D.C.
Every single person who mocked feminists attempting to make Trump's behaviour towards women an issue is responsible. Those who trivialised the Women's March? Also responsible. Those who admired and co-operated with him? Also responsible. The tiny turds at various pro-Trump events urging pussy-grabbing? Also responsible.
How so? Landmark Australian research published in the journal Critical Criminology - and awarded the American Society of Criminology's prize for best journal article in the discipline - makes one thing very clear: we must stop pretending violence against women is not the same as public violence. The authors, including Emeritus Professor Jude McCulloch of Monash University's Gender and Family Violence Prevention Centre, say the tendency to distinguish the "personal violence" of violence against women and the public violence of terrorism bolsters the commonly held view that violence against women is somehow different or special, not even really violence, and is less significant than the public violence of terrorism.
Remember we live in a country where, according to ANROWS, the national women's safety research organisation, 40 per cent of Australians believe women make up false reports of sexual assault in order to punish men, and where 20 per cent believe domestic violence is a normal reaction to stress, that sometimes a woman can make a man so angry he hits her without meaning to.
This is a failure of all of us. All of us. Men continue to kill and maim women and we still respond as if, somehow, these offenders just snapped, instead of owning up to a deep, embedded hostility to the agency and autonomy of women. Violence against women is a gateway crime (not because it is less important, but because it is one that can be carried out with little fear of arrest or imprisonment).
In 2016, the former executive director of the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research, Don Weatherburn, with colleague Wai-Yin Wan, published the report Violent Criminal Careers, which revealed offenders are much more likely to commit another violent offence more quickly if they are male; and if one of their previous offences carries a domestic violence flag. This should horrify us all. It should also serve as warning.
"Stop thinking of domestic violence as special, and just think about these offenders as ordinary, garden-variety criminals who are dangerous for other reasons, who are at risk of reoffending and who have a depth of involvement in crime," Weatherburn said at the time.
This makes it clear: domestic violence is a risk factor for other forms of criminal behaviour. The research of McCulloch and her colleagues, and Weatherburn and his colleague, show that those who commit violence against women often don't keep their violence at home. They direct it at all of us. I am not sure why world leaders and conservative commentators don't get that, why they don't understand that violence against women is real violence.
This idea that terrorists emerge from the ether and "turn violent" because of a significant event, such as the crushing defeat of a failed president, is false. Scratch the surface and you will find the domestic violence histories of Lindt Cafe killer Man Haron Monis, and of notorious underworld figure Victor Peirce, who shot at his wife when she refused to dance. Imagine if we had taken just those two episodes seriously. Imagine what the world might have avoided if Republican Party members had said in 2016, "let's not endorse this vile human being". But they did, and let's hope their rotten party never recovers from this. By all means have conservative voices and conservative politics, but not the kind which endorses violence against people of colour, against women. This lot has failed humanity over and over again, and certainly failed their citizens.
Let's be clear. Violent men escalate and continue their violence to include targeted or random members of the public. The one fatal victim of Wednesday's violence, a fervent Trump supporter, was a woman.
As McCulloch said on Wednesday, there is a clear continuity of violence from violence against women to violence which is seen as more public - "but the dichotomy of private versus public violence is a false one".
McCulloch says time and time again we have seen that right-wing terrorists who shoot and kill "random" people have a strong history of domestic violence or other violence against women.
"I am not surprised that the Pussy-Grabber in Chief has inspired his supporters to commit violence against others," she says.
Now it is up to us to ensure this doesn't happen again. But my God, it will take a huge shift in thinking to recognise that violence against women is violence.
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