Violent men no joke

Sexual assault survivor Alhena Lamont believes the film Joker normalises male violence

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Sexual assault survivor Alhena Lamont believes the film Joker normalises male violence, but journalist Sherele Moody insists media is only a fraction of a much bigger issue.

Several scenes within the film have divided critics, including the protagonist stalking a female neighbour and creating mental fantasies of a relationship with her.

Miss Lamont said it shows these dangerous behaviours in a “sympathetic light”.

“It was an ode to the incel community and took a lot of prompts from that,” Miss Lamont said.

Incel refers to members of an extreme online male community who feel they are “involuntarily celibate” and often blame women for this.

The group was linked to a mass shooting in 2014, and has a history of supporting violence against women.

NewsCorp journalist Sherele Moody has dedicated much of her career to covering the issue in Australia and said the current culture of violence goes beyond media representation.

“The reality is that the cultures that lead to the deaths of women and children have existed for as long as white people have been in Australia,” Ms Moody said.

“I don’t think that you can underplay the impact of media … but that said, it’s not simply enough to link, for example, violence in a video game to violence in a home.

“There are much more complex issues that are drivers of violence.”

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare’s 2019 report on family, domestic and sexual violence found that one in two women over the age of 15 have been sexually harassed, one in six have experienced being stalked, and one in five have experienced sexual violence.

A DVConnect spokeswoman said the lack of understanding around sexual consent in young people was “concerning”.

“Research indicates that a disturbing number of young men aged 16-24 years don’t understand that controlling behaviours in relationships are a problem, and too many believe that having control is a normal part of a relationship,” the spokeswoman said.

“Currently there are not enough providers of, or spaces on men’s behavioural change programs.

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“A disturbing number of young men aged 16-24 years don’t understand that controlling behaviours in relationships are a problem.”

“If a man calls us and wants to change by attending a program, there is an 18-month wait list.”

Earlier this month the domestic violence awareness group White Ribbon announced it was closing its doors, after the organisation became financially unviable.

Former White Ribbon Queensland chairman Dr Gregory Nash said the closure was a “big ding” in eliminating male violence.

“We were in the primary prevention end of domestic violence,” Dr Nash said.

“It was education, it was awareness raising, it was keeping the conversation going, talking to young men and young women about healthy behaviours, as opposed to safe centre care.”

Ms Moody said her relationship with White Ribbon was “tortured” at best, and she could not see their closure having much of an impact.

“I think the biggest issue right now is the lack of resources for women and children to safely leave,” Ms Moody said.

Miss Lamont said the issue would remain a problem until media discourse starts to change.

The International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women is on November 25.