MEMO to David Morrison. Stop apologising on behalf of all mankind. By all means flog yourself for any ignorance you may harbour, but leave the rest of us out of your remorse.
I know that criticising Morrison is to feminists what calling Richie McCaw a cheat is to Kiwis – heresy. But here goes.
The great rump of men who call Australia home thought you did a great thing when you confronted sexist elements of the army. Good work mate. Now you’ve left the army, give the hand-wringing a break.
You’ve got to stop viewing yourself as an apologist for men, because it is grating and ultimately unproductive.
Twice now I’ve heard the newly appointed Australian of the Year try to endear himself to non-male audiences by snidely bagging men as an entire gender, instead of focusing on the appalling behaviour of a few.
Last year, I went to hear the lieutenant-general speak about his stance against sinister elements in the army. His insights into how he felt when he found out about sexual assault allegations perpetrated by men under his command, what he determined to do about it, and the effect talking to some of the victims had on him were very powerful.
But as part of a response to an audience question, General Morrison said words to the effect that “men” had “been in charge” for a long time, and “look at the mess we had made of things”. I came away from that lecture thinking he had blunted his message by categorising all men as bumbling oppressors. We’re not.
He did it again after he was announced as Australian of the Year. Criticised by his former speech writer, Cate McGregor, for insensitivity towards LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex) people, General Morrison said: “I’m a middle-aged Anglo-Saxon heterosexual male. I do have much to learn.”
The inference there is that being a middle-aged Anglo-Saxon heterosexual male automatically makes you ignorant of the plight of others.
The advancement of women will not come about by the blanket denigration of men. It is not an “us versus them” situation. Say what you like about yourself, Davo, or stick to the issue, but don’t impugn the rest of us.