Voice of Real Australia: It's International Women's Day - and I'm tired

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The theme of International Women's Day is Choose to Challenge. Photo: file

The theme of International Women's Day is Choose to Challenge. Photo: file

It's International Women's Day and I don't want to rain on anyone's parade, but I am tired.

I will first acknowledge all my dear friends - women and men - who, by being a part of my life, make it better because of their passion and unrelenting commitment to leave behind a more equitable, inclusive, kinder world.

They include the trailblazers who put themselves on the line during the first women's liberation rallies across the streets of Melbourne in the 60s and 70s, to those who advocate politically for indigenous communities recognising the shackles of power that prop up patriarchal systems do not just limit the progress of white women.

The theme of International Women's Day is Choose to Challenge.

Of course, there are many ways to interpret this and no-one would argue the intent of this statement is to fuel change. Enduring change. Change that matters.

But really, when do we draw a line in the sand?

Last week our government had a national audience as attorney general Christian Porter strenuously denied allegations he was the perpetrator of an historical rape.

"Just imagine for a second that it's not true," he said.

Well, imagine for a second it is. What if the alleged victim, who is now deceased, is telling the truth?

Our prime minister has resisted calls from lawyers, women's advocates, human rights groups, Labor and crossbench MPs for an independent inquiry, saying there was "no alternative process" available to him.

The South Australian coroner is weighing up whether to launch an inquest into the death of the woman in June 2020. The PM says that is a matter for the coroner to decide.

On top the stonewalling by our PM, we also had minister for defence, Linda Reynolds, calling Brittany Higgins a "lying cow" over the level of support she received following allegations of a rape involving a Liberal staffer.

And if that wasn't enough, we hear the head of the ADF advised young female cadets they shouldn't go out looking too attractive. Women now need to take full responsibility for not being raped?

The culture you nurture in any organisation is the culture you attract. Our government has shown it has a serious problem with women and its dismissive, deflective narrative exhibited over the last week is toxic.

Sexism and misogyny in this country is endemic and while we have come a long way since the first women's rallies, any light that flickered at the end of the tunnel was snuffed out last week.

A report in the Newcastle Herald on the call to include consent lessons in the curriculum was a blinding reminder of just how casually rape culture and male entitlement is transferred through generations.

A student survey, conducted anonymously, revealed allegations of being sexually assaulted by three male peers from the same school; an assault by two males stopping only after their friend walked in; male students secretly filming female peers during sex; and being assaulted while unconscious.

If our own government's recent defence is any measure, do we ignore these allegations as well?

I don't think "choosing" to challenge is enough anymore. We no longer have a choice. Change is the only option.

If challenging the institutions that benefit most from maintaining toxic systems of power and control makes you feel uncomfortable, then perhaps reflect on whether you too are part of the problem.

Choose to challenge, but also be the change. And not just today.

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