Is this the real Australia?

Last month, when a 13-year-old girl racially abused indigenous footballer Adam Goodes, a lot of Australians thought the AFL player should ‘toughen up’.

Last week, when a rugby league player punched an opponent twice in the head on national television, he was portrayed as a hero.

And today we learned that some people think its funny to tell sexist jokes, and are honestly surprised when others are offended.

To look at the last month in Australia in isolation I would hope scares the hell out of most of us. Because what we see is a section of the community who still think, in 2013, racism, violence and sexist behaviour is acceptable.

Maybe I’ve gone soft. Maybe the News Ltd papers are right, and living in Canberra has put me out of touch with what real Australians think and feel. Maybe I just need to toughen up.

But I agree with Collingwood footballer Harry O’Brien when he says ‘casual racism’ is widespread in this country, and is often dismissed as ‘larrikinism’.

I think the same applies to sexism, and I certainly think a lot of Australians still believe violence is okay in certain situations.

I will never experience two out of those three, but I have experienced the third. As a white Australian I will never know what it’s like to be judged by the colour of my skin or the way I look.

As a male it’s unlikely I’ll ever be the butt of jokes because of my sex, or be made to feel less of a person.

I have been king hit by a thug outside a nightclub, but it was many years ago. I’ve been threatened with violence since, usually by drunks, and I found it a really unpleasant experience.

But my point is, unless we have been on the receiving end of racist, sexist or violent behaviour, how can we possibly even start to imagine how it must feel?

All I know is it hurts a lot of people. And it must hurt them a lot more when sections of our ‘fair go’ society dismiss these incidents as ‘a bit of fun’ or tell them to ‘harden up’.

People need to take a stand. Because despite what we might keep telling ourselves, for some members of the community we are not the wonderful nation we think we are.

The offending menu, author unknown. Meant to be a joke, apparently.


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