The Danger of the Monster Myth

Tom Meagher

One of the most disturbing moments of the past eighteen months of my life was hearing my wife’s killer form a coherent sentence in court. Jill had been murdered almost six months earlier, and Adrian Bayley’s defence team were presenting a rather feeble case for a four-week adjournment of his committal hearing. Bayley appeared via video-link as I sat flanked by two friends and a detective. The screen was to my right, mounted high up and tilted slightly towards the bench. It was uncomfortably silent apart from the occasional paper shuffle or short flurry of keyboard clicks. I anticipated, and prepared for the most difficult moment of the day when Bayley’s face appeared on the big-screen TV, looming over the seat I then occupied. When that moment arrived, a jolt of nausea came and went, but the worst was to come, made all the more horrifying because it was unexpected. The judge asked Bayley whether he could he see the courtroom. I don’t remember his exact words, but he replied that he was able to see his lawyer and half of the bench. I had come face to face with him before in court, but vocally, I never heard him manage more than a monosyllabic mumble into his chest. This was different. There was a clarity of communication, sentence structure, and proper articulation. It was chilling. I had formed an image that this man was not human, that he existed as a singular force of pure evil who somehow emerged from the ether. Something about his ability to weave together nouns, verbs and pronouns to form real, intelligible sentences forced a re-focus, one that required a look at the spectrum of men’s violence against women, and its relation to Bayley and the society from which he came. By insulating myself with the intellectually evasive dismissal of violent men as psychotic or sociopathic aberrations, I self-comforted by avoiding the more terrifying concept that violent men are socialised by the ingrained sexism and entrenched masculinity that permeates everything from our daily interactions all the way up to our highest institutions. Bayley’s appeal was dismissed, but I left court that day in a perpetual trauma-loop, knowing I needed to re-imagine the social, institutional and cultural context in which a man like Adrian Bayley exists. *

Three days after Jill’s body was found, 30,000 people marched respectfully down Sydney Road. I watched on T.V as the long parade of people reacted to their anger at what happened to Jill with love and compassion, the very opposite of everything Bayley represents. I remember my sister’s voice from behind me as I fixed my eyes on the images saying, “wow, people really care about this.” After the court date where I heard Bayley speak, that infinite conveyor belt of the compassionate replayed in my mind. People did care about this, and for whatever reason people identified with this particular case, it was something that I hoped could be universalised, not localised to this case, but for every instance of men’s violence against women. The major difficulties in mobilising this kind of outrage on a regular basis is that most cases of men’s violence against women:

1)     Lack the ingredients of an archetypal villain and a relatable victim,

2)     Are perpetrated and suffered in silence and

3)    Are perpetrated by somebody known to the victim.

The more I felt the incredible support from the community, the more difficult it was to ignore of the silent majority whose tormentors are not monsters lurking on busy streets, but their friends, acquaintances, husbands, lovers, brothers and fathers.

Since Jill died, my inbox overflowed with messages from thousands of women who shared with me their stories of sexual and physical abuse. Some were prostitutes who felt it pointless to report sexual assault because of perceived deficiencies in the justice system, some were women whose tormentors received suspended sentences, and felt too frightened to stay in their home town. These are the prevalent, and ongoing stories that too often remain unchallenged in male company.

While the vast majority of men abhor violence against women, those dissenting male voices are rarely heard in our public discourse, outside of the monster-rapist narrative. Indeed, the agency of male perpetrators disappears from the discussion, discouraging male involvement and even knowledge of the prevalence and diversity of male violence against women. Even the term ‘violence against women’ sounds like a standalone force of nature, with no subject, whereas ‘men’s violence against women’ is used far less frequently. While not attempting to broad-brush or essentialise the all too abstracted notion of ‘masculinity’, male invisibility in the language of the conversation can be compounded by masculine posturing, various ‘bro-codes’ of silence, and a belief, through the monster myth, in the intrinsic otherness of violent men. The Canadian feminist and anti-violence educator Lee Lakeman argued that, “Violent men, and men in authority over violent men, and the broader public that authorises those men, are not yet shamed by the harm of coercive control over women…..Maybe we can rest some hope on the growing activity of men of goodwill calling on each other to change. When that group hits a critical mass, the majority of men will be more likely to want to change.” According to an EU wide study conducted in 2010, one person in five knows of someone who commits domestic violence in their circle of friends and family (Special Eurobarometer 344, Domestic Violence Against Women Report, September 2010). Perhaps it’s time we, as non-violent men, attempted to hit this critical mass.

One of the most dangerous things about the media saturation of this crime was that Bayley is in fact the archetypal monster. Bayley feeds into a commonly held social myth that most men who commit rape are like him, violent strangers who stalk their victims and strike at the opportune moment. It gives a disproportionate focus to the rarest of rapes, ignoring the catalogue of non-consensual sex happening on a daily basis everywhere on the planet. It validates a limitation of the freedom of women, by persisting with an obsession with a victim’s movements rather than the vile actions of the perpetrator, while simultaneously creating a ‘canary down the mine’ scenario. Men who may feel uncomfortable by a peer’s behaviour towards women, may absolve themselves from interfering with male group norms, or breaking ranks with the boys by normalising that conduct in relation to ‘the rapist’. In other words he can justify his friend’s behaviour by comparison – “he may be a ___, but he’s not Adrian Bayley.”

The monster myth allows us to see public infractions on women’s sovereignty as minor, because the man committing the infraction is not a monster like Bayley. We see instances of this occur in bars when men become furious and verbally abusive to, or about, women who decline their attention. We see it on the street as groups of men shout comments, grab, grope and intimidate women with friends either ignoring or getting involved in the activity. We see it in male peer groups where rape-jokes and disrespectful attitudes towards women go uncontested.  The monster myth creates the illusion that this is simply banter, and sexist horseplay. While most of us would never abide racist comments among a male peer-group, the trivialisation of men’s violence against women often remains a staple, invidious, and rather boring subject of mirth. We can either examine this by setting our standards against the monster-rapist, or by accepting that this behaviour intrinsically contributes to a culture in which rape and violence are allowed to exist.

The monster myth perpetuates a comforting lack of self-awareness. When I heard Bayley forming sentences in court, I froze because I’d been socialised to believe that men who rape are jabbering madmen, who wear tracksuit bottoms with dress shoes and knee-high socks. The only thing more disturbing than that paradigm is the fact that most rapists are normal guys, guys we might work beside or socialise with, our neighbours or even members of our family. Where men’s violence against women is normalised in our society, we often we compartmentalise it to fit our view of the victim. If a prostitute is raped or beaten, we may consider it an awful occupational hazard ‘given her line of work.’ We rarely think ‘she didn’t get beaten – somebody (i.e a man) beat her’. Her line of work is dangerous, but mainly because there are men who want to hurt women. If a husband batters his wife, we often unthinkingly put it down to socio-economic factors or alcohol and drugs rather than how men and boys are taught and socialised to be men and view women.

I wonder at what stage we will stop being shocked by how normal a rapist seemed. Many years ago, two female friends confided in me about past abuses that happened in their lives, both of which had been perpetrated by ‘normal guys’. As I attempted to console them, I mentally comforted myself by reducing it to some, as yet undetected mental illnesses in these men. The cognitive shift is easy to do when we are not knowingly surrounded by men who commit these crimes, but then we rarely need to fear such an attack.

The idea of the lurking monster is no doubt a useful myth, one we can use to defuse any fear of the women we love being hurt, without the need to examine ourselves or our male-dominated society. It is also an excuse to implement a set of rules on women on ‘how not to get raped’, which is a strange cocktail of naiveté and cynicism. It is naïve because it views rapists as a monolithic group of thigh-rubbing predators with a checklist rather than the bloke you just passed in the office, pub or gym,  cynical because these rules allow us to classify victims. If the victim was wearing x or drinking y well then of course the monster is going to attack – didn’t she read the rules? I have often come up against people on this point who claim that they’re just being ‘realistic’. While it may come from a place of concern, if we’re being realistic we need to look at how and where rape and violence actually occur, and how troubling it is that we use a nebulous term like ‘reality’ to condone the imposition of dress codes, acceptable behaviours, and living spaces on women to avoid a mythical rape-monster. Ok, this rape-monster did exist in the form of Adrian Bayley, but no amount of adherence to these ill-conceived rules could have stopped him from raping somebody that night.

When Bayley was arrested, the nightmare of the lurking evil stranger was realised. It was beamed through every television set and printed on every newspaper headline in the country. It’s was the reminder that there are men out there who are ‘not like us’, men who exist so far outside our social norms that the problem can be solved simply by extinguishing this person. Bayley became a singular evil that stirred our anger, and provoked a backlash so violent that it mirrored the society from which he emerged, that the answer to violence is more violence.

Many comments on facebook pages and memorial sites set up in honour of Jill, often expressed a wish for Bayley to be raped in prison, presumably at the arbitrary whim of other incarcerated men. Putting aside the fact that wishing rape on somebody is the perhaps last thing we do before exiting civilisation entirely, there is a point that these avengers may have missed – somebody has to do the raping. Vengeance by rape, implies that rape is a suitable punishment for certain crimes. In other words, rape is fine as long as it’s used in the service of retributive justice. Indeed, we would be essentially cheering on the rapist who rapes Bayley, for ensuring that justice is done. Or, if we find this rapist just as abhorrent as Bayley, we’ll need another rapist to rape him, to avenge the rape he committed, and this would go on and on in an infinite loop. In essence this ‘rape as retribution’ argument invokes the need for far too many rapists. For people like Bayley, rape is punishment, it’s how he exerts his dominance, and exhibits his deep misogyny through sexual humiliation. If we, as a society then ask for Bayley to be raped as punishment, are we not cementing the validity of this mind-set?

I dreamed for over a year of how I would like to physically hurt this man, and still often relish the inevitable manner of his death, but wouldn’t it be more beneficial for Jill’s memory, and other women affected by violence to focus on the problems that surround our attitudes, our legal system, our silence rather than focusing on what manner we would like to torture and murder this individual? Adrian Bayley murdered a daughter, a sister, a great friend to so many, and my favourite person. I am the first one who wants to see him vilified and long may he be one of Australia’s most hated people, but it only does any good if this example highlights rather than obscures the social issues that surround men’s violence against women.

What would make this tragedy even more tragic would be if we were to separate what happened to Jill from cases of violence against women where the victim knew, had a sexual past with, talked to the perpetrator in a bar, or went home with him. It would be tragic if we did not recognise that Bayley’s previous crimes were against prostitutes, and that the social normalisation of violence against a woman of a certain profession and our inability to deal with or talk about these issues, socially and legally, resulted in untold horror for those victims, and led to the brutal murder of my wife.  We cannot separate these cases from one another because doing so allows us to ignore the fact that all these crimes have exactly the same cause – violent men, and the silence of non-violent men.  We can only move past violence when we recognise how it is enabled, and by attributing it to the mental illness of a singular human being, we ignore its prevalence, it root causes, and the self-examination required to end the cycle. The paradox, of course is that in our current narrow framework of masculinity, self-examination is almost universally discouraged.

Since Jill died, I wake up every day and read a quote by Maya Angelou – “history, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again.” Male self-examination requires this courage, and we cannot end the pattern of men’s violence against women without consciously breaking our silence.


*Special mention here must be given to Jill Meagher (McKeon), who, many years before she was killed as a result of them, originally introduced me to these issues, to Louise Milligan for her endless support and encouragement to express them, to Clementine Ford, whose personal support, tireless crusade for gender equality and against violence allowed me to organise my thoughts, and to Alan O’Neill and Ben Leonard who have shown me that many men are passionate and serious about ending men’s violence against women.

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445 Responses to The Danger of the Monster Myth

  1. Mark says:

    More facts on Family Violence. Why do we always combine women with children when we talk about abuse? Half the children killed are murdered by women.

    Is this somehow less horrific than the abuse of a woman? Is the death of a child less tragic when it dies at the hand of its mother? When does Ken Lay’s campaign on violent mothers get underway?

    • raeniebabe says:

      And yet the link is a comprehensive list of recent father-child revenge murders, albeit a few years out of date. Sadly that list has already grown thanks to Greg Hutchings and Greg Anderson.

      Did you post this link to highlight the a seemingly absence of reporting of mother-child revenge murders? Perhaps this is because there aren’t as many. A few years ago Australian mother Allyson McConnell murdered her sons in Canada. This was widely reported and widely reviled. She wasn’t given preferential coverage, and her sad, pathetic suicide even made headlines (her successful mental impairment defence wasn’t an Australian judgement and was publicly condemned – but occasionally killer fathers also win this defence)

      Other mother child-killers also make headlines: Kathleen Folbig (she was herself orphaned when her father murdered her mother) is widely reviled and is serving 30 years for killing 4 babies.

      Child bashers Rachel Pfitzner (30+10 years), Kristi Abrahams (22.5 / 16 years) and Donna Deaves (12 years – didn’t physically abuse her child, but failed to seek medical help) have received lengthy sentences for their children’s violent deaths – their sentences are harsher than equivalent sentences for defactos who beat a child to death, such as Nathan Forrest (9 / 6 years.) or Christopher Hoerler (11 / 8.3 years) who inflicted injuries that were described as torture.

      In cases of severe neglect resulting in death, such as 7 year old Ebony or the 18 month old Sunnybank Hills twins, the mother is almost always considered more culpable.

      In any case, your 50% statistics are not accurate. A study by forensic psychologist Lillian De Bortoli found that:

      “Australia-wide, of the cases I’ve collected of child homicide, 41 per cent were killed by the biological mother, 31 per cent by the biological father and 21 per cent were killed by the de facto male partner.”

      Presumably the remaining 7 per cent is made up of stranger danger crime.

      Child homicide is a horrific and inexcusable crime no matter who commits it. The public reacts with horror when a caregiver kills their child, but especially when it is either due to prolonged cruelty as with cases of abuse or neglect, or premeditated revenge against the surviving parent.

      We absolutely need a action to reduce the incidence of child homicide. We also need action to reduce male on female violence. They don’t have to be the same campaign, because as you’ve rightly pointed out a large percentage of child homicides are committed by mothers. I will argue just as strongly against child abuse as I will against male violence against women, and just as strongly as I will argue against male violence against other men. But I might not argue all of the above at the same time because they are different (though connected) issues. None is more important, and none is unworthy of debate – which is why I think it is appropriate to talk only about one kind of violence right now.

    • Jenny says:

      Mark, I think you need to read the source article before you make such a comment. It is true that in terms of offender statistics women do kill younger victims (babies, toddlers) at a higher rate than any other age group. However the article studied children killed by their parents during a separation only and made this very clear at the beginning of the article. The study also noted the following: most intimate partner homicides involve women who are killed by their male partners; 93% of homicides in a family are perpetrated by men; 82% of partners and children are killed by men; women who kill their children are more likely to be diagnosed with a mental illness at the time (depression or schizophrenia) and men who kill their children are more likely to kill them by way of a fatal assault. The author discussed numerous other studies at odds with this one that show that even though the gap closes significantly between male and female offenders in relation to killing younger children, men still kill their children significantly more often than women. The study also found that when women kill their children their motivations are more likely to ‘altruistic’ or ‘mercy killings’ whereas men tend to engage in retaliatory/revenge killings. She also pointed out the following Australian statistics: those who kill their children and then kill themselves are more likely to have a mental illness and be women, whereas those who kill their children and then kill their partners are more likely to be men. Also men who kill their children are more likely to have engaged in domestic violence in the past while women who kill their children are more likely to have been victims of domestic violence. Now that’s just a very very brief overview of what I found during a quick read of the source article; the issues alluded to above are far more complex than they are depicted in the article in the SMH. Given this, I am extremely curious to know exactly what it is you are going to say to Uncle Ken about any campaign aimed at violent mothers.

      • Natalie Redhead says:

        Jenny, at the risk of becoming a stalker, well done to you again.

      • Maria from Coburg says:

        Thanks Jenny,..I’m exhausted. You’ve saved me a lot of time & energy.

      • Mark says:

        Oh yes, Jenny. I love that “women kill for different reasons” response. The most recent case we had a few weeks back involved a woman who had abuses her children over a period of months and made up stories to explain their injuries. Yet this woman was also found to be suffering from depression and was able to walk free after killing one child and causing brain damage to the other. How can you possibly suggest that a other who systematically beats and abuses her children and then has the presence of mind to fabricate the reasons for their injuries over a period of months is simply not responsible due to mental illness or depression? It is outrageous.

        Might I suggest that most people would consider a man would have to be mentally unhinged or high on drugs or alcohol to perpetrate violence upon his own children or female partner but that would be called “excusing the perpetrator” of”blaming the victim”. No -it is clear that when men kill it is because they are evil, smelly, hairy and very masculine. When women kill and torture they are still regarded as the victim.

        I never questioned the fact that more men murder their adult , female partners so why did you raise the issue? I can think of no more vulnerable, innocent member of the public than a baby or child and women are almost as likely as men to kill or abuse them I’m sure it’s a great comfort to the victims or those who loved the victims of female violence to be told the child was killed for “different reasons.”

        When a father threw his child off the West Gate Bridge a year or so ago it was a media story for days and a quick google will provide you with endless articles on the monstrous man who committed the crime. You have to dig very deep to discover a mother killed her daughter in the same way a year or so earlier but was never labelled a monster. A cop referred to the incident as tragic-again the inference being tragic for the mother who killed herself and the child. Two victims for the one incident and seemingly no evil perpetrator.

        At this stage i would be grateful if Uncle Ken told Victoria that women kill and beat up our children too, but for different reasons rather than never mention the fact at all. How’s that for a start?

        My best mate was sexually abused and beaten by his mum for years. He is damaged goods. I should tell him his mum isn’t like abusive men. She must have had mental issues even though she appeared to be a lovely, smiling member of the community. Perhaps he deserved it. He feels deeper shame because the media seems to suggest that violence from mums is non existent. My friend thinks he must be a freak and deserving of her hatred given the sanctification of females in our society. It would help him to know that it is far more common than he could ever believe.

      • Mark says:

        I might ask how you think our female population would respond to Ken Lay and the government running a multi million dollar campaign on suicide. Imagine he decides to run it in the same manner as our Family Violence campaigns. This means ALl of the focus would be on male suicide because 75% of suicide victims are male.

        Television ads would run slogans like ” Australia says no to the scourge of male suicide!”
        Billboards would scream, “Australian society does not value our men-why are they killing themselves at such an alarming rate?’ “One male suicide is one too many!” “Take a stand against Male suicide.” Wear a ribbon to proclaim your concern for the men of Australia.” These are you sons, brothers, fathers and husbands- what will you do?

        Predictably women would screech-“but what about the women who commit suicide? Don’t we care about them?

        Ken would say-they kill themselves for different reasons and more men commit suicide.
        So women are never referred to-not ever. How would that go down, Jen?

      • Maria from Coburg says:

        Mark,.for all our disagreements,.I understand your outrage with respect to what happened to your friend. Horrible stuff. Don’t give up on him. There are some really good therapists around that could support him & help him to recover, heal & reclaim who he is.
        And, yes it probably would help him to know that sexual & physical assaults by mothers of their children is more common & hidden than we realize & definitely needs to be openly addressed within the context of family violence.
        If nothing else has come of this but your friend getting the support he needs to recover, then it has been worth it.
        I wish him all the best

      • Jenny says:

        Mark, my comment was only meant to illustrate the very complex nature of this issue. But it is true, women kill for a variety of reasons, as do men. My point is that while the issue is very complex, domestic violence is one of the variables that impacts on this to a very great degree. However to dismiss this and react to any attempts to address it as tarring all men with the violent wife-basher/stalker/murder brush and to attempt to deflect it by implying that ‘women are just as bad if not worse’ doesn’t work. I don’t believe any person here actually believes that all men are violent, I would venture to say that most men aren’t. Unfortunately, (and I say this because I have some great men in my life) men tend to be the perpetrators and women and children tend to be the victims (note the words ‘tend to be’). To address issues such as domestic violence surely will mean we as a society have to face some unpalatable truths (which I believe that my post didn’t resile from in relation to women who kill their children) so that we will make our homes safer and happier for everyone. And isn’t that what we all want: to live a happy and peaceful life with those of our choosing that we love.

  2. Thank you, for your courage, insight and, passion.

  3. jemym says:

    You are engaged in rape culture.

  4. nivoa says:

    The fact that Bayley looks normal doesn’t mean that he is normal. Psychopaths are well-known for their “mask of sanity” which allows them to blend in society.
    But assuming that every man has the potential to become a serial rapist or a killer – like many feminists do – is nonsensical.
    Unfortunately, I don’t think that your ordeal made you wiser on this issue, for the time being. Grief doesn’t always walk hand in hand with lucidity. But it takes time to grapple with such sorrow and with the huge amount of informations about sexual violence.
    I wish you the best.

  5. jemym says:

    I said, you are engaged in rape culture. You are putting the responsibility on the victim to stop the crime.

    • jemym says:

      What you promote isn’t new. The victims fault, should have defended themselves. You defend rapists, that’s what you do.

  6. Twitcher says:

    Thank you Tom. Beautifully thought out and logically argued, a wonderful combination of heart and mind. plus, so true. I find it frightening that often the argument about male violence against females ends, if it doesn’t begin with the “defense” that “males aren’t the only violent ones” . There is an example of this above. While it is true that females can also be abusive and violent, when thie conversation is about male violence against females, it is a sidetrack, meant to deflect thought from the subject. It is also defensive and so indicates a closed mind which is never going to be part of finding a solution.
    The fact is that many men who consider themselves decent individuals are acting abusively. The husband who says ‘ I am your husband, I have a right to sex’ and won’t accept “no” is raping. Do his mates accept that? My former husband swears he has never hit a woman is his life. No, just pushed me out of the way, but that’s not bashing, right? Any attempt at defense, verbal or physical, on my part is seen as violence and a justification for any action on his. This man is highly educated, very successful and seen as a quiet, friendly, polite fellow. He is truly ‘the man you work with’ that Tom talks about. It is heartening to hear men talk about these actions as the violence they are, and accept that mates excusing and condoning bad actions is a contributing factor in the enculturation of violence. After reading this, I say a huge “thank you ” to the men who contributed so compassionately.

  7. Twitcher says:

    While this this is not a relevant forum, we do need to discuss violence against men, and against children, too. But one subject at a time. Violence against one of these groups does not preclude, excuse or give reason for violence against another. They are separate issues and need to be adressed separately. the comments above which deal with these subjects are valid in their own right, need to be acknowledged as such, and discussed on their own merits. Introduced here they are meant only to deflect thinking and discussion from the topic.

  8. Jenny says:

    Jimboo, whilst I admire your ability to fashion an insult out of seemingly innocuous nouns and adjectives I don’t admire the presentation of your opinion or the manner in which you analyse the issues and formulate your argument. You are entitled to your opinion, however you are not entitled to call people fools, freaks and drongos. Nor are those who respond to your post entitled to call you names (which from what I have read in this particular thread of yours only one person has). Your arguments are flawed and appear to be driven by an emotional zeal. For example, you seem to imply that the death penalty doesn’t deter violent criminals in the US, which is interesting because that is one of the arguments that I have heard cited for retaining the death penalty. Also, there is a direct correlation between the number of guns in a society and the number of deaths by shotgun wounds, that is an armed populace results in an increase in gun-related violence. Furthermore, in NSW (Australia) the general trend in crime statistics is downward or stable. There is some variation amongst statistics with increases in some geographical areas of domestic violence offences, sexual offences and fraud offences (this is just my interpretation after a quick perusal at BOCSAR’s website). I most certainly didn’t see any marked increases in any crime category that would warrant the arming of the populace. Personally, I would be very reticent to carry a firearm for fear that I would not be strong enough to retain the firearm and have it used on me. And to counter this argument with ‘shoot them before they shoot you’, is tantamount to sanctioning murder, mayhem and social disintegration, which I believe is the very result that you too are arguing against.

    • Natalie Redhead says:

      Hi Jenny. Very eloquently put. I have never deliberately name called anyone in real life or online. I believe it is only the response to what I wrote that made my comment look like name calling. I genuinely believe that I was identifying the poster accurately based on my knowledge. I chose not to react when he countered with more extreme labelling. You arean impressive human being to deal so rationally with the ideas put forward. Well done to you.

    • Jenny says:

      Thank you Natalie.

  9. NH says:

    Not necessarily. Someone who is not used to handling guns may at a traumatic time like this not even be able to find it, hold it and use it effectively.

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  11. Is it possible for someone to block jimboo? On top of everything else, he is a self-confessed white supremacist. His profile states that he regards ”niggas and jews as his mortal enemies” (sic). He has kind of destroyed an otherwise intelligent and civilized thread.

  12. Is it possible for someone to block jimboo? On top of everything else, he is a self-confessed white supremacist. His profile states that he regards ”niggas and jews as his mortal enemies” (sic). He has kind of destroyed an otherwise intelligent and civilized thread.

    • nothingbutblueskies says:

      He hasn’t Natalie. Don’t give him so much credit. He’s just showing himself up for what he is. I think he’s done us a favour & confirmed the problem we have with males who are out of control & violent. The type who’d hold a gun to your head if you disagreed with him. Best we acknowledge what we’re up against I reckon.

    • Natalie Redhead says:

      Fair point nothingbutblueskies – I was giving far too much credit to jimboo and I greatly appreciate you gently pointing that out. Thank you for cheering me and allowing me to see the ongoing value in his robust contribution. Jimboo, you seem to be suggesting that by choosing to stay living in a country in which I was born, which is diversely multicultural and in which I currently agree with the gun laws I am being a hypocrite. I cannot follow your logic. Surely by this logic you should be the one who should not be hypocritical and should move somewhere else in the world where the gun laws are more to your liking?

    • SIMPOM says:

      He’s a troll, probably been banned from Facebook, twitter and all the other social media sites so he’s desperately searching the internet. Unlikely to actually believe anything he writes but just wants a rise and some attention.

      He probably has Mummy issues too.

  13. Jenny says:

    Jimbo0, I understand that you are passionate about your beliefs. But I am actually saddened by the bitterness and anger in your entries and replies. I only hope that this bitterness and anger doesn’t manifest itself in your life and in ways that detract from your right to peace, happiness and joy, a right that we all possess. As I have mentioned you have every right to your opinions as well as to express them. However you don’t have the right to attempt to impose your anger and bitterness on others, no matter how right you believe yourself to be. Remember, you get what you give.

  14. Jenny says:

    Essentially Jimbo0, I made my argument and backed them up with statistics, which I am happy are reputable and robust and I feel no need to justify them any further. You have made your argument and backed them up with statistics which you believe to be reputable and robust. Additionally others here have presented their arguments in a similar way and I’m sure they are completely happy with their arguments. However what you have done is insult others and respond inappropriately to those who disagree with you. We are all entitled to do disagree, and you are entitled to disagree with me and others. However this tendency of yours to respond with anger and aggressiveness undermines your argument and detracts from any relevant points you may have made; your comments have the appearance of extremism and so are unlikely to be taken seriously by too many people and are more likely to be discounted as such. No one can bully people into agreeing with them.

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  16. Kelly says:

    moderation is needed for comments on this site. Abuse is not acceptable and will put off contributors.

    • Maria from Coburg says:

      We’re not scared of him Kelly….he’s a coward.
      Good practise for learning how to deal with these cowardly male abusers.

  17. m wilcox says:

    Tom, I am deeply impressed that you could suffer such a tragedy and deal with it by examining the culture of rape that is tacitly supported, rather than taking the easier and more comforting way out by assigning such behavior to “rape monsters.” You are an exceptional man, and you’re probably doing more to advance the abolition of rape culture than you will ever know.

  18. tracey says:

    Tom that was an amazingly inciteful, thought provoking and emotional piece of writing…thank you Tracey

  19. D . Munro says:

    Thanks for sharing, it must have been very hard for you, thank you. You are correct, most men who abuse women can look like anyone. They are are friend, how just gets crazy when he drinks, the neighbor how just had a bad day, our brother how just gets a little ruff. Its time to stop making excuses for them and make a difference.

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  21. India Weeks says:

    Thank you so much for this incredibly articulate assessment of current society and the danger it poses to half of the human family. My husband and I have 4 daughters and we decided that our family mission statement would be “gender equality around the world within our lifetime”, we chose this moto to live by out of necessity. With 4 women in the world statistically, we will suffer many injustices as a family, its just inevitable. I am so so sorry for the unbearable path that has brought you to this place, your decision to become a beacon of hope for the world is beyond words Your wife”s name will never be forgotten in our house nor will your timeless philosophical treaty. We are with you, we are for you and we will stand with you whenever you ask for support.

  22. familiaburns says:

    Thank you so much for this incredibly articulate assessment of current society and the danger it poses to half of the human family. My husband and I have 4 daughters and we decided that our family mission statement would be “gender equality around the world within our lifetime”, we chose this moto to live by out of necessity. With 4 women in the world statistically, we will suffer many injustices as a family, its just inevitable.

    I am so so sorry for the unbearable path that has brought you to this place, your decision to become a beacon of hope for the world is admirable beyond words Your wife’s name will never be forgotten in our house nor will your timeless philosophical treaty. We are with you, we are for you and we will stand with you whenever you ask for our support. The whole world is watching and caring.

  23. I just want to say Tom Meagher is such an incredible person which is demonstrated by the dignified manner he has handled everything through such immense tragedy. And now he’s raising awareness and drawing attention to areas we need strength to keep women safe. He is spending time he’ll never get back to change our legal system (which is a disgrace – not just state-wide but also on a federal level!) and ensure his tragedy isn’t repeated.
    This blog is outstanding and written from a place that would be absolute hell, beyond any comprehension and I’m so grateful to have read it.
    You’re right Tom – the monsters are human – which is so difficult to grasp and it’s also what makes the abuse so much more terrifying. If they all look the same, how can we be guaranteed safety in our decisions and our community?
    At the same time – how can they cause such destruction but take the same form as us? I’ll never understand that link they’re missing that makes them the psychopaths they are. How can you live on earth and not feel empathy, regret, guilt… just not feel? They’re shadows with footprints.
    All respect, Tom – thank you for blogging and sharing your voice and opening up to show us what it is like to be in your shoes and experience the aftermath. Jill’s story, above any, truly demonstrates that just because something goes through the justice system, doesn’t mean justice is served. Thank you for using your pain and power to address issues that have previously been ignored, and to make a positive difference to our world, community and lives – it’s more appreciated than you will ever know.
    My ongoing thoughts are with you and your family on your healing journey. Stay strong.
    Best wishes,

    • Vicki says:

      Totally agree Sarah happinessweekly! you pretty much summed up the article, I myself could only add “BRILLIANTLY WRITTEN” to Tom’s words. I wish there were more people in this world like him.

  24. Jesse says:

    This is truly an excellent piece of writing which should be shared around as much as possible. It is disgusting to think that 1 woman a week is killed in Australia by a current or ex partner. I am the brother of the recently killed Rekiah O’Donnell (11th October 2013) who was killed by her ex partner. Reading something like this is really reassuring in that we are trying to make a difference. We are yet to go through the court process, it is beginning soon, but we saw his face on a live video feed for the mention hearing and I nearly threw up too. Hearing his voice also sent icy chills down my back, it really is hard to think that these people are human, that they could do something like this to another human being with loving friends and family.

    You have a ton of support and love being sent your way as much as my family and I know is being sent our way, but together, hopefully we can start to make a difference to the lives of females in Australia.


  25. HeatherG says:

    Yes, men also suffer as victims of violence, but that is a simple deflection from the article, which is not about that. If one wants to talk about male-on-male or female-on-male violence, then one needs to write about that, not hijack something completely different. the fact the latter items happen does not in any way reduce the points of this post. Deflection =/= solutions, to any of it.

    Back on topic: Tom, I don’t know you, but I have been in the position you stated and you are correct: my ex husband was in no way a monster, and he has never held himself accountable for what he did to me and our children. That is why we stay for so long: we know that. We love them, and it is not until our fear (for ourselves or our children) outweighs that love that we are able to leave. I just want to say thank you for speaking out so poignantly and strongly (especially given the ubiquity of Lewis’ Law) in the face of your own tragedy.

  26. Kriz Armo says:

    What an amazing, caring and loving man you are Tom. Thank you for sharing part of your journey with us. I wish you love, light and happiness in the future.

    • Jesse says:

      I find it very disrespectful and ignorant of you to be harassing people on this blog.

      1. If you actually looked at hard, serious, academic research, you will discover that homicides involving guns is astronomically higher in the US than in Australia. In 2011, 11,101 people were killed via a gun, as opposed to 25 in Australia. If that doesn’t compute, in the US that’s roughly equivalent to 30 people PER DAY. That’s already MORE than Australia PER YEAR.

      2. My sister is sadly one of those statistics who was killed last year by domestic violence and I find it disheartening that your ignorance and plain cold-heartedness has compelled you to spoil what was a scarily accurate blog post, one to which I can directly relate and agree to.

      3. To suggest that it’s the victim’s fault for not having a gun themselves is the most disgusting thing I have ever read in my life. I do not understand how you think that if we abolished gun laws, allowing anyone to purchase guns, that our crime rates involving guns (and in general) would not increase!!

      4. You need to take another “hard, serious” look at your research before you keep posting on this blog. Have a look at this website:

      5. And if you continue to believe what you do, then that is up to you, but please do not continue abusing people’s comments on this beautiful blog post. Keep it to yourself because it is VERY clear that no-one here agrees with you.

      Someone who knows what it’s like.

  27. Lu says:

    I salute Tom Meagher. However, I have witnessed domestic violence and I have been a victim of child sex abuse and I am frightened of Jimboo. The way he verbally pounces on people and puts people down in an intimidating manner, spoils the whole tone of Tom’s article. I think the moderator should not allow his abuse to continue. Lu

    • jamboo says:

      Then you better start doing some self-pouncing, jimboo. You’ve obviously lost all capacity to reason, and are therefore only interested in using force. And your speculation ≠ documentation.

    • Maria from Coburg says:

      Hi Lu,
      Maria here,…I just want to say, that as a survivor myself I thoroughly understand how you feel.I am weary of being frightened by violent men & the damage they do too. I do not mean to diminish your feelings by my comments re; Jimboo.
      I hope you now have the support & protection you need to live your life as you choose.

      I hate to say it, but I think there is positive to have allowed males like the many who have advanced like an army on this site & clearly would not do what they could to provide protection to make the World a safer place for females & children.
      That is that it reinforces how widespread in the collective male psyche that the epidemic of violence against women & kids in all it’s ugly manifestations, is not a problem & therefore they are not responsible for it & do not need to do anything about it re; their own thinking & behaviour.

      Correct me if I am wrong folks, but I cannot recall 1 male who has come on here & expressed an offer of reassurance, that they would actively do what they could to defend, protect & support a female or child who was at risk of male violence.

      • Maria from Coburg says:

        …oops, meant to include “at risk of or was a victim of male violence.” Is it that they’re all too busy doing it to come on here or they are the exception rather the rule…?
        I know what I know.

  28. Iris E says:

    Tom, I cannot properley articulate anything even close to describing my gratitude at the worth of this post. I have sent it around to all friends and family because I feel this should be read by anybody anywhere regardless of gender age or experience of domestic or stranger violence. This will probably be lost amongst the sea of comments all expressing our gratitude at you lending your voice to this most important cause. That you have used your loss, mourning and grief as a platform to address such a serious issue touching everyone’s lives in one way or another. Cannot express it beyond this clumsy compilation of words here so may I simply say; thank you from the bottom of my heart.

  29. Lynne Moten says:

    Tom, you are incredibly courageous. I would love you to meet my friend, Azim Khamisa, from San Diego, who comes to Aus each year, but not usually to Melbourne. Google him, and you will see you two have so much in common.

  30. w says:

    Jimboo i’m laughing at you.

  31. Thanks for this great work Tom.

    White Ribbon Campaign I respectfully request that your team look at banning trolls. Some may claim all comments should be approved in support of freedom of speech, but such a freedom is not the only value held in society. Your campaign is providing a (de-facto) platform for abusive people in the comments section and I suggest that allowing these comments to remain is a major distraction from the important work that you do.

    • James Burns says:

      That is an interesting point, I just read that Hitler rose to power durring a time when Germany had absolute free speech, no anti hate speech provisions to protect the jewish community from his hate filled rants. Then again maybe these guys need to be argued with for their own good? Or converted for everyone elses good?

    • Hi Maureen – I completely agree. We are doing are best to monitor all inappropriate comments. Thank ,you for your concern.

  32. EJ says:

    Silence is violence

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  34. PMac says:

    Dear Tom,
    Thank-you. I believe violence begets violence. Let’s just try to put a stop to it. It can’t be easy but we have to behave better than those who hurt us.
    Best Wishes.

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  38. Esmeralda Green says:

    I really hope that something good comes out of so much suffering. The suffering of the Meagher family and the family of the young innocent victim, Jill , is unfathomable. Life is unfair to bring such deep pain to them. However, I have just watched Tom Meagher talk on the Late Late Show, a programme I rarely watch, but which this time drew me in because of Tom. I was waiting to hear Michael Fassbender but ended up listening to Tom Meagher. Like Savita Halappannavar’s husband Praveen, I can see that Tom is determined to fight grief brought on by the unjust and atrocious deaths of their wives, with strength and mental clarity. Even though the lives of these two men has forever been brutally destroyed , their wives’ atrocious deaths will have a positive legacy in our society. It’s a long overdue idea to have a whistle-blowing mentally towards unfair treatment of women, whether it is verbal, insinuated or real physical violent acts. Let’s support Tom’s campaign for a egalitarian society and let’s work against creating more predatory sexual monsters, whether they are big or small.

    • Salana says:

      Hello Tom.
      I cannot know your pain but I know you have the strength to work through this. Violence against women is deep in the core of this race. Mysogeny has been on our planet for a long long time. More than we all know. It’s time to bring this to closure. I believe, no matter how painful this is, you chose this destination to bring about a new healing towards men and women. We must learn to really respect each other , but deep down many men and women are at war towards each other. I feel this goes back a long way and it’s complicated . There can be no winners or losers in this strife against each other. There can only be a reconciliation . We do not know what caused this gender war but it has to be addressed. This is the beginning of a new world of peace between men and women. But sadly the worst must be dragged up and the evil must be seen for what it is worth. Outrageous. !! I’m sure other races that Luce on other planets are not doing this to each other. Men and women must work to together and enjoy equalities in all kinds of situations or there will never be an end to war. You must have questioned your own violence experienced , on a thought level when you were going through so much anguish and punishment towards Jill’s attacker felt, some how reasonable, until you realised higher reason. You probably did not imagine that you had all of that rage in you, till this happened to dear Jill. She is a bright light for our world and her light brought so much out for us all to see what has been dark and hidden.You will make her torch glow brighter and I’m so happy that you are getting your teachings and are facing the pain with courage, this is how you will be of greater service to this world, for you will be able to tap into solutions for all . It’s been long prayed for and is long over due.
      You are here, on earth, to drag this subject out , into the open. Your deepest healing and love will be your gift. You came to this world to create new beginnings of healing for the hatred of women. Then women can also give up all of their fear towards men.
      As a women I always check around myself when I walk the streets, night or day. The fear of men us in me. And yet we are all interconnected, we are from this earth and we have fear of each other. It’s not like we are dealing with creatures from other worlds. It’s rather strange this tall this is going on in our minds. It has to come to a end. Thank you for being on earth with us all. I pray that your mission gets completed. We support you on every level.
      May you be well and one day experience a joy not known to you.

  39. Elizabeth Hannon says:

    So sorry for your loss Tom, my sister was also murdered in Australia in 1983. I truly feel your pain. Good luck with campaign.

  40. Gen says:

    so many australian men think it’s ‘cool’ to treat women badly, and a sign of weakness to be nice. it makes them feel mighty to supposedly have the upper hand and hurt someone else. this culture desperately needs good male role models to change the image of being cool to that of being respectful and treating women well.

    • NH says:

      Not just Australian men. A majority of men around the world have this inclination to think it a weakness to be nice to women. You are right, we need good male role models – unfortunately those who do respect women and treat them well are not seen as “role models” by their own male peers. I think it is up to us women to start treating these guys as the real heroes who are the cool ones and be totally disdainful of those who portray even the slightest disrespect to women and girls – so that they GET the message. Very often, we women take unpleasant slights, swallow them, decide to forget them, and bury them deep in our subconscious. What I mean is, just like almost everything else – it is us women who have to be responsible for this change. Otherwise, it just continues……..

  41. Sally says:

    No one is addressing the fact that most men & young men view hard corn porn on a regular basis. It is naive to think this is not a contributing factor to how men view & treat women. It appears to be a parallel universe – an issue that we are not addressing at our peril.

  42. gabe says:

    My own law:

    Any form of negation or counterargument to the natural fact that women should be able to fully and freely live a mentally, socially, physically, sexually, spiritually free life, be it any one of the following typically and frequently used arguments below (non-exhaustive) by both men AND women, is an argument that directly or indirectly supports any form of suppression (be it historical, social, psychological, or any other suppression) of women and shows a bias against women’s freedom:

    – It’s the woman’s fault
    – It’s partially the woman’s fault
    – A woman should not go out alone
    – A woman should not dress like that
    – It’s only banter or lads having fun
    – Men get raped too
    – Women just aren’t programmers, engineers, or builders
    – Why don’t women work on building sites
    – Men don’t get to see the children
    – and so on and so forth.

  43. gabedude says:

    First of all, go back to your man-cave Jimboo, and stay there!

    I suppose I would like to add an extension or addition to Lewis’ Law that I am attempting to formulate myself (any edits or comments welcome):

    Any form of negation or counterargument to the natural fact that women should be able to fully and freely live a mentally, socially, physically, sexually, politically, and spiritually free life, be it any one of the following typically and frequently used arguments below (non-exhaustive) by both men AND women, is an argument that
    1) misses the point,
    2) directly or indirectly supports any form of suppression (be it historical, social, psychological, or any other suppression) of women,
    and 3) shows an implicit cognitive bias against women’s right to 100% freedom:

    – “It’s the woman’s fault”
    – “It’s partially the woman’s fault”
    – “A woman should not go out alone”
    – “A woman should not dress like that”
    – “It’s only banter or lads having fun”
    – “Men get raped too”
    – “Women just aren’t programmers, engineers, or builders”
    – “Why don’t women work on building sites”
    – “Men don’t get to see the children”
    – and so on and so forth..

  44. Dear Tom,

    As a woman and a mother, you have my sincerest sympathy. However, there is also such a thing known as Psychological Rape. You only have to listen to the “voice” of our political leaders (both male and female) to know what the term “Psychological Rape” means. For example, I, for one, do not personally known any of the men or women who have traditionally formed the Irish government, yet they are responsible for psychologically raping just about any Irish citizen who does not comply to their “rules”. Do you ever wonder why that is? The Vatican should give you a clue …


  45. Dear Moderator,

    If you do post my comment, please use “LS” instead of my full name. Thank you.

  46. Elizabeth says:

    What a profoundly moving piece. So much respect and admiration for Tom’s courage in not being silent in his grief, but speaking loudly against violence men to help others in the wake of Jill’s devastating death.

    May there be many more men like Tom Meagher.

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