Anne Summers: Shame on those mocking DV & Racism victims as mere fodder for an "industry" Print E-mail
 Saturday September 3 2016

Bashing of 'domestic violence industry' beyond the pale

By Anne Summers

I think most of us would agree that mocking someone for their suffering and attendant misery is a cruel and abhorrent thing to do. Un-Australian even, given we like to think we are the kind of country that extends a hand to those who are down on their luck or who have suffered misfortune of any kind.

Men don stilettos for domestic violence awareness
Dozens of men, including Lieutenant-General David Morrison, took to the streets of Melbourne in heels for the 'Walk a mile in their shoes' campaign. (Vision courtesy Seven News Melbourne)

Such generosity of spirit does not extend to many on the political right in this country who are turning such mockery into what they seem to think is a political art form. They apparently think by using the term "industry" in front of the group they wish to denigrate that they are somehow absolved from the opprobrium that would come if they attacked these groups directly.

To give an example, News Corporation columnist Bettina Arndt recently attacked what she called "the worldwide domestic violence industry" for what she portrayed as its wilful refusal to acknowledge women-initiated violence against men and for allegedly over-simplifying a complex issue.

Campaigning for change: Rosie Batty has been at the forefront of educating the community about family violence.  (Eddie Jim)

Arndt's stablemate Miranda Devine likewise gets stuck into the people who are trying to reduce violence and assist those who are its victims.

In The Daily Telegraph last September, Devine attacked "the man-bashing femi-fascists who control the domestic violence industry" for daring to disagree with her assertion: "… the incontrovertible truth about domestic violence, that it is overwhelmingly concentrated in dysfunctional remote Indigenous communities and public housing estates."

This is not borne out by the deaths in Australia so far this year. Of the 46 violent deaths of women reported by Destroy the Joint's Counting Dead Women project, 24 were unambiguously attributed to domestic violence. Of these, three appeared to be Indigenous women and another three lived in poor communities. The other 24 did not fit such categories.

Neither Arndt nor Devine has stooped so low as to attack a woman who has suffered domestic violence – unlike Mark Latham who disparaged Rosie Batty for what he called her "secular sainthood" and disputed Batty's claims of an "epidemic" of domestic violence in this country.

But both are more than happy to get stuck into the people who work to end the epidemic and assist those who are hurt by it.


Similarly, senator Cory Bernardi said on 7.30 last week: "… we need to nip what I call the grievance industry in the bud because they are doing a disservice to so many Australians."


He claimed that the Race Discrimination Commissioner was "encouraging people to lodge grievance claims on the back of a cartoon by a nationally syndicated cartoonist" (referring to a widely criticised Bill Leak cartoon stereotyping Aboriginal fathers that appeared in The Australian recently). He also cited the three Queensland students who face proceedings under S.18C of the Racial Discrimination Act for their responses when asked to leave an Indigenous-only space on campus as victims of grievance.

Yet Bernardi's inference that he invented – "what I call…" – the term "grievance industry" does not stand up to scrutiny. Like so much else of Bernardi's song-sheet, it is an American import. In fact, the term "racial grievance industry" is in such common use in the US it has its own acronym (RGI) and a host of websites and newsletters devoted to dissecting every aspect of the responses to race-based attacks.

Some of these are so over the top that they suggest that attacking the so-called "grievance industry" is in fact an industry in itself. Look, for instance, at this, from a website called American Thinker. It asks the rhetorical question: "Have you noticed the unchanged pattern of outrage that manifests from the black community whenever a black life is taken by a white person?" and contends that the ensuing calls to action "are not spontaneous; they're calculated manoeuvres promoted by an ever-present Race Grievance Industry".

And the explanation for this? "This time-tested equation of Black Victim + White Culprit = Racism has proven to be just as vital to the Race Grievance Industry as  E=mc2 was to Einstein," the website claims. "And just as Einstein's Theory of Relativity has revolutionised science, the Theory of Exploitivity has revolutionised the science of victimology while generating untold wealth for its practitioners."

Some of American's most prominent African-Americans are accused of profiting personally from this "race grievance industry". It's not about justice, or rights, it's only about the money.

It's the same with the "domestic violence industry" claims another American publication which, interestingly, has been reprinted on an Australian men's rights website. The assertion is that state and federal monies have turned violence into a huge industry that has unfairly blamed men for violence. Again, no mercy shown for the women who are hourly bashed or killed, or appreciation for those who work on their behalf.

How despicable – and un-Australian – for politicians and journalists to so cruelly mock those who suffer racism or violence with the ugly inference that they are just fodder for an "industry".