Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature

Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature
vfl
afl
phil on...
politics
people
history
travel
music
literature
Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature
Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature
Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature Home : Politics Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature

 

 

 

THE AGE NEWSPAPER 2001

KILLER MEN

Janet Albrechtsen (Age Opinion Page August 23) is right to say 'men and women have an equal capacity for all things evil'. But does this mean women act on this capacity and commit as much or more violence than men? And is it really true that we 'pity mothers but vilify fathers' when they kill? After 33-year-old Steven Fraser was charged with murdering his three children, ABC TV News described how 'a man wept uncontrollably' in a Sydney court. You'd hardly have known this was the very man alleged to have killed his own children while the poor mother was off at TAFE. To reinforce the 'father as victim' paradigm, we were told the alleged killer was 'involved in a custody battle over the children'.

When Roland Jonker killed his estranged wife's son and their own two children in Perth in 1998 the Herald Sun carried the headline 'Dad loved his boys to death. And when Kevin Crowe pulled a gun from his car and shot dead his estranged wife in 1987 aSunday Tabloid screamed 'Love pulls the trigger'. By contrast, when Heather Osland conspired with her son to kill her violent husband and was sentenced to 15 years and her son was found not guilty, the Herald Sun proclaimed 'This killer got Justice'. And last weekend the Sunday Age led with 'When love turns lethal' to explain why estranged father Dean Williamson smothered his son with a pillow. It's just plain wrong for Albrechtsen to argue that the media doesn't side with men when they kill within the family.

Janet Albrechtsen surely knows the law of provocation consistently delivers manslaughter verdicts and reduced sentences when men kill their ex wife or girl friend. So contemptuous of murdered women is this law a 1998 federal government report 'Fatal Offences against the Person' called for its abolition and Justice Minister Amanda Vanstone declared it 'an excuse for men to kill women'.

Contrary to the implications in Albrechtsen's article it is almost impossible for women to run a provocation defence. And as she knows, when women do kill the man in their life it's for reasons far graver than those trotted out when men kill. In misinterpreting the real origins of violence, Albrechtsen affirms the 'men's movement' view that male violence is a product of the pro-female bias of the Family Court and of the callous abandonment of men by women.

Thus we read of 'a wife taking the children, or the husband finding out that custody has been awarded to his former wife'. But in whose care were the Jonker and Fraser children when they were murdered? Jonker and Fraser weren't, to quote Albrechtsen, 'deprived of their children'. The evidence now suggests they should have been. And how do these assertions of men deprived of their children tally with the fact that 40 per cent of custody contests in the Family Court result in men receiving custody of the children?

None of this means that women are saints or that men are evil. Nor does it mean that the question of infanticide isn't a vexed one or shouldn't be examined. It's instructive that the federal report did question the female infanticide defence. So too does feminists Jocelynne Scutt who believes it obfuscates the real sociological obstacles - lack of child care and financial support - borne by women. If Janet Albrechtsen thinks men are vilified she might ponder those mothers forced to grapple with Age cartoonist Michael Leunig's censorious approach to a woman's 'child rearing business'.

Nevertheless Albrechtsen's question remains. So, do men who kill their children do so for the same reasons as women? It's a question almost too dark and debilitating to explore. For what if we conclude that those few men who do it are driven by a desire to wreak revenge on a woman who refused to stay put? Whatever the explanation for a woman killing her child, few seem to argue that it has its origins in revenge.

What's disturbing about Albrechten's article is her desire to paint women as the prime perpetrators of violence. The assertion that 'women commit a greater share of physical abuse, an equal rate of sibling violence and assaults on the elderly, about a quarter of sexual abuse, and a fair preponderance of spousal assault' would astound even the average misogynist. The only thing left out is abortion!

It's just demeaning for blokes to seek to blame women for everything that befalls us or to claim the media vilifies men but sanctifies women who kill within the confines of the family. Women do kill their biological infants (but not their step-children) in greater numbers than men. But why on the basis of that fact must we conclude that it's a woman's fault when a man kills their children, kills himself or kills her when she leaves?

And let's cut to the chase. Every man knows how taxing it is to be left with an infant, let alone without respite. So let's do something about it. And let's stop telling blokes it's romantic or some God-given property right to kill the ex or the kids, or that if only the little woman does as she's told everything will be apples.

PHIL CLEARY

 

FROM THE MAIL BAG

Phil

 

Did I miss something important you said in the House of Representatives? If so, I extend my abject apologies. I have today communicated to all the female MsHR and Senators my strongest possible urging that they read your article and visit your website to read about your sister, and what that terrible experience means in terms of the present state of the Australian courts and law.

 

Criminal jurisdiction is, of course, the province of our State governments, but I cannot believe that the number of women we have in the Federal Parliament can count for nothing in this dreadful state of affairs.

 

I have asked my "sisters" for suggestions.

 

Kathy Sullivan

MHR

Australian Parliament

 

 

 

 

 

PHIL

 

I would like to congratulate you on your stance on matters contained in your article in this morning's 'Age'. I admire the way you are consistently articulate an intelligence in the area of violence where so many lose the plot by being partisan and 'over the top'.

 

You have turned the tragedy of your sister's fate into a positive by being a voice of passionate reason. More power to your arm.

 

Gillian Henderson.

Dear Phil, I sent this email on Friday.

A very restrained response considering. Needless to say I have had no reply.

Margaret

Dear Janet

I'm not sure that in attempting to redress the balance, you have not gone too far in the opposite direction. I don't remember anyone calling this man evil, but I do remember (are you too young?) the hatred that Lindy Chamberlain was subjected to in this country not so long ago, and how she was portrayed as evil incarnate, for supposedly killing her baby, to say nothing of the severity of her sentence.

 

I also think it is difficult to argue (unless you use very selective evidence) that women are treated more favourably in law. There is a woman serving a long sentence in NSW for threatening to kill her husband on the evidence of his friend a detective, and there are men who kill women who are given heavily reduced sentences on the grounds of provocation. Phil Cleary has written very eloquently about this in relation to the murder of his sister.

 

Also there have been cases where women have been murdered and where the police have conspired to let a murderer go free. eg the Tanner case and the alleged (but impossible) double suicide of two women (in NSW?)

 

I also think it is quite unhelpful to be cynical and contemptuous of post-natal depression. When men kill their children they always seem to have a motive, (eg if I cannot have these children then no one else shall) whereas women seem to kill irrationally, (apart from the woman in the US who killed her children to be with a lover) which makes us more inclined to link it to mental illness.

yours etc

 

Margaret

phil

Thanks for writing your piece on men who kill their children. Always a tragedy whoever the murderer is, but I get sick of the space the angry dads get in the media, their simplistic analysis and the women-bashing that underpins so much of the debate.

thanks again

gerry


Phil Cleary's view on Australian politics, people, vfl and afl football, music, history and literature
[home]   [vfl]   [afl]   [world sport]   [politics]   [people]   [history]   [travel]   [music]   [literature]

© 2000 Phil Cleary Holdings
site by five