Women must feel free to call out bad behaviour, without the digital bullying - Women's Agenda

Women must feel free to call out bad behaviour, without the digital bullying

Harcourts Victoria CEO Sadhana Smiles spoke out on Facebook, and didn’t expect the backlash.

Have you ever thought twice about posting on Facebook and chosen not to because of the potential backlash?

I have. But I did choose to post my opinion in this instance. On Monday morning as most Melbournians were debating whether what Eddie McGuire said was politically correct or not I posted the following onto my personal Facebook page. 

“Eddie McGuire does it again. 
Melbourne woke up this morning to another inappropriate comment made by Eddie McGuire and his co-hosts on Triple M.
McGuire suggested that journalist Caroline Wilson be drowned in an ice pool and he would in fact pay money to see that happen. His co-hosts agreed and if you listen to the extract you can imagine the back slapping that would have gone on during this conversation. 
Now you can say this is political correctness gone mad, the boys were simply having fun and joking. 
But is it? You have two AFL Football Presidents of popular clubs and two legends of the game making a joke about drowning a woman in cold water and throwing money in to make sure it happens. 
Caroline Wilson has had a go at each one of these individuals but never once has she threatened to drown them. 
These four are seen as influencers and role models and they need to aware of their responsibility. With 1 woman a week being murdered in Australia, with perhaps a number of their young listeners living with family violence every day and having seen their mum held under water, with perhaps a number of their listeners hearing the message that mouthy women need to be taught a lesson, it is no longer about “they were just having a bit of fun” or “political madness”. 
There are a number of other men who are on radio who do not talk about women in this way. You have to question the on air footy culture that encourages this type of behaviour. 
It starts with respect and the standard you walk past is the standard you accept. This is not the standard we should accept from those who are in leadership and influential positions.”

I knew I would get a mix of positive and negative feedback but what I wasn’t prepared for was the tone in which this was delivered by both men and women. 

I was told to get a life, to move on, to stop making issues over nothing, to get some perspective, to stop being judge and jury, to do research that I clearly found too hard to do, that feminism had gone too far, that others who had commented were a waste of time, that people should lighten the f**k up, we were discussing first world problems and it went on. By the end of the day I had 62 likes, 32 comments and 4 shares.

The comments that disappointed me the most were the ones that suggested that because Caroline Wilson (at that stage) had not made a comment, who was I to take offense to what Eddie had said on her behalf.

The point I was making was not on behalf of Ms. Wilson but as a woman who is entitled to voice an opinion.

Since when as a society have we waited for victims to make a statement before we make comments? Dead women do not have a voice to make a statements. 

I have seen and experienced first-hand the impact of the “boys club culture” on women – it requires strength as a woman to have a voice within this environment and constant consideration and questioning yourself on what you say, how you feel and if you have the right to feel this way. Exactly what Caroline Wilson wrote in her comments later in the day. As I said in my commentary, Ms Wilson has had a go at each one of these men, however, never at any point has she threatened to drown them.

Women across the globe are uniting to demand equality, yet I don’t believe we will achieve this if men don’t demand it with us. Part of the journey we are on demands we call out behavior that is seen as disrespectful or bullying. And for the men and women who have the courage to do so know this stand often comes at a price. The price is the name calling, the labels, the bullying and the disrespect. Sadly, what this means is less men and women will make a stand and call out behaviours. Digital bullying is rife; it enables social media platforms to be disrespectful.

As a leader of an organisation I am very self-aware of my words and my messages written and verbal. Have I got it wrong sometimes? Of course, we all do. However, if I had a litany of occasions where I did have it wrong would I still have my job?

I have no issues with a different stand and opinion. However, respectful disagreements and discussions are far more valuable as it enables the richness of various opinions from people who feel safe to provide it.

1 woman a week is killed in Australia. 

1 in 2 women are impacted by violence in Fiji.

Over 8000 women a year a burned in India in dowry related deaths. 

So when a high profile leader in our community with his cohort of boys decides to make a joke about drowning a woman simply because you don’t like her, women like me will call you out.  The standards we walk past are the standards we accept and good men and women need to be brave enough to call out the standards we don’t accept.

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