Beer battered women

Not that I want to scare any women out there thinking about travelling to Australia (or, to use the local parlance, "ladies"), but maybe you should know that you'll be travelling to a country where violence against women is so widespread, the Australian Government has recently launched its own ad campaign to address the problem.

Have a peak at their web site, Violence Against Women - Australia Says NO. Now, it would be churlish of me to point this out, but then, I am a churl (Will Self): in fact, according to statistics, Australia has quite emphatically said YES to violence against women for basically ever, and still does. Maybe a more accurate title for the campaign would have been "Violence against women - Australia used to say yes, erm, actually we still quite like that sort of thing but the sheilas seem to get a bit upset about it, so dunno, might be time for a rethink, possibly?" Not quite as catchy, I grant you.

Why even mention this? Violence against women is, after all, the scourge of most societies on earth, and women all over the globe still live under that oh-so-first-wave-feminism and boring condition called patriarchy. What makes this particular Australian ad campaign so bone-chillingly frightening is the approach.

Every single campaign I've ever seen that is concerned with stopping violence against women had a fairly straightforward thrust - to stop men from committing violent crimes against women, be they rape, domestic abuse or any other form of violence. Every single one of these campaigns did this by stating the penalties that would be meted out to men should they be found guilty of violence towards women, and a few of them also threw in the notion that it's not "cool" or "excusable" to be violent towards women. This is true of campaigns I've witnessed in England, Ireland, Germany and France.

The Australian approach on the other hand is starting a couple of steps back. About 50 years back, in fact, because the ads currently running on teeve are mainly concerned with explaining what violence towards women actually is! In one of the ads, strapping young Aussie blokes make various statements along the lines of "She spoke out of turn so I slapped her, surely that's fine", "She wore a short skirt so was obviously asking for it" or "...and then I drove the bitch's head into a concrete wall" (OK, maybe not the last one), while a stern voice-over patiently explains that no, these things are not fine but rather abuse, rape and grievous bodily harm. The stern voice-over then explains that these things are, in fact, crimes and "might" (and they really say "might", not "will"...) be prosecuted by police.

Almost scarier still is the Campaign Booklet, which is full of earthshattering wisdoms such as:

It's not OK to be physically threatened or scared into things which make you uncomfortable or unhappy, just because you are in a relationship. (here) (What? It isn't?)

Forcing someone to have sex when they don't want to, or forcing them into having sex by making them think they will be harmed if they don't, is a serious criminal offence. (here) (Is it really?? You don't say.) , or

When there is violence or intimidation the relationship can become very destructive and physically and emotionally dangerous. (here) ("Can"... apparently there is a specific form of Australian violence that's not physically and emotionally dangerous)

Ever since I saw the first ad, I'm literally praying that these are just really bad ads and not well-researched pieces of social education. If the latter were true, I would've been living in the Dark Ages amongst cave people for a long time and I just can't face that. Surely the most basic tenets of human relationships do not have to be drilled into the men and women (who after all have been putting up with this shit for decades) of this country as if they were a bunch of five-year-olds. However, after 5 1/2 years here, I'm not so sure...

But never fear, female would-be traveller. All that will possibly happen to you is some pissed cave man coming on to you in a pub and then, when you politely decline his slurred offerings, calling you a stuck-up lezza.