Sexual violence and it’s prosecution in Australia remain a taboo – so much so, that as a collective society we are ill-equipped to properly prosecute and resource survivors adequately. Part of the reason why sexual crime remains an ‘unspeakable’ topic, is because the nature of sexual offending relies on a heavily imbalanced power dynamic.
At a minimum, this looks like a disparity in physical strength between the survivor and offender. At its most nuanced, it includes the emotional and psychological grooming and manipulation between the offender and survivor (especially if the offender is an adult and survivor a child/minor). For sexual violence to thrive as it does in Australia, it relies on the offender using their power to keep their victims silent – with threats of harm to themselves or their loved ones, or harm to their career. It also relies on grooming the victim to believe that they have not been abused, or violated – that what happened was normal, natural, but still a secret that can’t be shared.
No profession, class, or other demographic is immune from sexual predation because it thrives wherever an imbalance of power exists – and in a deeply patriarchal culture like ours, should we really be so surprised that even a High Court Justice is renown in professional circles for their abhorrent behavior?
No, we should expect this.
In a culture that celebrates the physical strength and prowess of men, and idolizes toxic ideals of manhood, we cannot claim to be shocked or surprised by stories of men in power abusing their position for their own gratification – doing so is to willfully ignore the problem, and by default, marks you as complicit in the power-abuse dynamic of our culture.
We are consistently seeing stories of men in power and authority who abuse their position – from NRL players, singers and politicians, we have seen a constant succession of men behaving violently towards women. Too many for us, the public, to hold a pretense of ignorance and facade of shock.
If we want real change to happen, those in the highest positions of power and authority must be held to account and responsible for their actions, and actively held to a high behavioural code of conduct.