Mark Latham is back in the headlines by, predictably, taking another swipe at a high profile woman.
During a one-off special podcast ahead of his new Triple M show “Lathamland” on Friday, Latham said men used domestic violence as a “coping mechanism” and described the issue as a political conspiracy launched by a “feminist left”.
The former labour party leader’s comments were widely condemned on social media, sparking a change.org campaign and a complaint by White Ribbon, calling the statements “shameful”:
“Mark Latham’s views on domestic violence, as aired by Triple M, show his lack of understanding and knowledge of this complex issue, including its prevalence, causes and community response,” White Ribbon Australia chair John Rosewarne said.
But Latham’s comments reveal a lot more than his ignorance. His attempt to minimise the horror and prevalence of domestic violence gives us a chilling insight into the mindset that justifies domestic violence in the first place. Domestic violence is a consequence of men’s feelings of entitlement; the belief that they have a right to power and control at any cost, even if it costs the lives of women and children.
The more successful the anti-domestic violence movement becomes, the more vocal and vile is Latham in denouncing it and reasserting his belief in men’s right to do as they please.
Let’s consider for a moment his bizarre swing at anti-domestic violence campaigner Rosie Batty, one of the most effective and deserving Australians of the Year we’ve had.
“A lot of it of course has come out of Rosie Batty’s role as a spokeswoman for the feminist movement, the left feminist movement,” Latham said. “That’s the thing that worries me about the domestic violence campaign. It’s being run for political reasons. It’s left feminists pushing what they call definition of patriarchy. They think Australia is a patriarchy.”
According to Latham, Batty has caused ‘more harm than good’ in her quest to fight domestic violence, because she has demonised all men. And when men get hurt feelings they are, apparently, entitled to start swinging their fists at women.
“Blokes have lost their self-esteem, they’re welfare dependent, they’ve got other troubles, drugs, alcohol in their life. It’s that loss of self-esteem where I think they use the domestic violence as a coping mechanism to get over all the other crap they’ve got in their lives. So demonising men and making them feel worse about themselves is not going to solve the problem,” he said.
One more time, in case you thought you imagined it: ‘domestic violence [is] a coping mechanism.’
In Latham’s Dreamland, men are the real victims of domestic violence — victims of a world that doesn’t treat them like gods. And, laughably, the victims of Rosie Batty’s harsh words that made them feel sad.
And what of the women? Well they’re just the punching bags for the fallen gods.
Are we to assume that battered and dead women and children are little more than collateral damage of men who ‘need’ to physically and emotionally abuse someone so they can make up for their inadequacies?
At the core of this belief women only exist to make life more enjoyable for men — to ease their stress and frustrations, meet their sexual desires and cook them dinner. And if women end up with a broken jaw and a life lived in fear as a consequence, well too bad.
In a strange twist, Latham’s comments echo the sentiments of another former “straight talking” politician Sarah Palin.
When it was reported that Palin’s son Track had been charged with domestic violence after assaulting his girlfriend, Palin laid the blame, inevitably it would seem, at the feet of one President Barak Obama.
According to Palin, after returning from fighting in Iraq Track felt like he wasn’t being respected by the President of the United States so he gave his girlfriend a black eye.
During her endorsement of Donald Trump, Palin justified her son’s alleged crimes by saying: “They come back wondering if there is that respect for what their fellow soldiers and airmen and every other member of the military so sacrificially have given to the country… And it makes me realise more than ever it is now or never for the sake of America’s finest that we have a commander-in-chief who will respect them. They have to question if they’re respected anymore.”
What’s particularly striking about both Latham and Palin is that both are on record pushing an ideology of individual responsibility — except, it would seem, when it comes to beating up women.
In this case, they can excuse the lack of individual responsibility faster than you can say ‘victim card’.
It’s not men’s fault for assaulting and killing women. It’s the fault of the women who wouldn’t put out, the company that sacked a good bloke, the football team that lost, the President of the United States, and the Australia of the Year.
While they’re looking around for someone to blame for the violence and crimes of the men who are having a bad day, they can’t spare a thought for the women and children who are having a much worse day as a result.
And this is why the work of Rosie Batty and all the other women and men who are fighting so tirelessly and masterfully against domestic violence is so important.
For the first time in our history, they are making the real victims of domestic violence visible and they’re making it clear where the blame and shame of domestic violence belongs: abusive men.
Meanwhile, Latham and Palin are reminding us how lucky we are that both failed to realise their political aspirations.