• Cheek

Don't apologise, change the legislation

I have two words for Scott Morrison in the wake of his so-called 'apology' to every woman who has been raped or assaulted in Parliament House: Fuck Off.

I share the same two words for every mainstream media outlet that put in their unasked for two cents. One article that arrived into my inbox just minutes after the Press Club speech given today read: 'First the apology, now to hear from two brave women who earned it'. You've got to be fucking kidding me. Earned it? Looks like we finally have an answer to the question what's a gal gotta do to earn an apology from the PM? and it's pretty fucking grim.

Grace Tame and Brittany Higgins are icons of modern feminism in Australia - that's just a fact. And I admire both of them, I absolutely do. But the glamourisation and fandom and absolute frothing over the two of them by some media outlets is horrendous. Have we lost touch of why they are so often in the press? They suffered tragedies. Why do we speak about survivors in the same way we speak about celebrities?

Tragedy is not an opportunity for grandstanding by the Prime Minister or mainstream media. In the wake of tragedy, these two women have stood up, exposed private details about their lives that were no doubt painful to expose, and they have demanded change. Real fucking change. Not speeches written by staffers and news stories designed to get fucking clicks. Both Grace and Brittany have told parliament what they want to see. What we need in Australia to avoid history repeating itself. Legislated fucking protections. Not 'sorry'. Not a speech you didn't write and probably didn't even lay eyes on before you gave it. Protections.

How dare MPs like Finance Minister Simon Birmingham say Tame's criticisms of the apology are not "entirely fair." How dare he police reception of a long-overdue apology, strategically performed during the election season. How dare he, who will never know how it feels to be in the position of any woman in How dare a news outlet refer to both women as the people who 'earned' the apology.

I'm glad Grace Tame and Brittany Higgins have a platform and a voice that's loud enough to make headlines. But I am disgusted by the way they are treated by many powerful people in this country. These two women are not celebrities to utilise for points. They are advocates for important causes - not by choice, not for fame, but by being survivors.

Grace Tame's speech at the Press Club pointed to the Prime Minister's 'fear' of his reputation being tarnished at election time. Imagine if he spent just a fraction of his time thinking about the fear women endure all across this country in the workplace, in their homes, in bars, and on the streets moving between. Imagine if just for a second Scott Morrison placed the importance of sexual violence and abuse above his polling numbers.

Brittany Higgins' speech included the line "I didn't want his sympathy as a father, I wanted him to use his power as Prime Minister," echoing a sentiment so many women have felt. We don't want sympathy when we are harassed in the street, abused in our homes, raped in our workplaces. We want it to have never happened. We want it not to happen to our friends, or our siblings, or our children.

Their message is abundantly clear. OUR message is abundantly clear: Make it stop.