Monthly Archives

June 2020

Consulting, Domestic Violence, Jenny Jackson, Women

On Power and (mis)use

I watch as women are killed in their homes in Australia at the rate of more than 1 woman per week. I read with despair, the number of Australia’s first peoples being incarcerated, dying in custody and living significantly shorter lives than non-Aboriginal Australians. I recoil at the treatment of those seeking asylum in our country of plenty. I see ‘self-interest’ driving government action and policy. At home and across the seas, I see prejudice and discrimination in every news cast. It’s news but it’s not new.

When so much is changing, why is it that nothing really changes?

I’ve just finished watching The Clinton Affair on SBS. Monica Lewinski is a name we all know. We don’t know the person. We know of a 22 yo intern at the White House. We know of “the dress”. He was POTUS.

He conspired, lied and cheated. More than once. His power over Ms Lewinski was immense. The power imbalance between POTUS and a 22 yo female intern is so obvious and oh so vast. The media ate her up and spat her out. And so did we as a society. The harm caused to Ms Lewinski and her family vs the harm to Clinton bear no resemblance whatsoever. People hear her name and immediately label her, shame her, judge her. This has affected every single facet of her life. Applying for jobs. Making dinner reservations. New relationships. The lot. For more than 20 years she has suffered the most vile public abuse and has been silenced by shame. The abuse she and the producer of the docu-series suffered when it was published is appalling yet not surprising, sadly. Him? Nope. Nada. “Charismatic…”

I’m now watching the Epstein series. Same power abuse. Different women (and girls). Same same but different. An horrendous and shameful story that befits ‘Hollywood fiction’, only it isn’t fiction.

This abuse of power occurs at an individual level, in communities and within the systems supposedly set up to protect us from inequality and misuse of power.

Many have experienced or witnessed the gross misuse of political and positional power. The system empowers the powerful. It silences, humiliates and ruins those without the power. We see that ‘politics’ and the focus on ‘winning elections’ so often gets in the way of good policy and transparency in every day dealings. In the famous words of Gough Whitlam in 1989, “the punters know that the horse named morality rarely gets past the post whereas the nag named self interest always runs a good race”.

We talk and talk and talk about living with honesty, dignity and respect. I don’t claim to have the answers but my response is to name how utterly sad I am and how desperately I want the world to be one where all people are equal and where systems and governments truly aspire and work towards this, not just use it as an election pitch. There are many who are determined to keep speaking about power and its frequent misuse despite the consequences and my name is on the list too. Please add your voice to this.

Because until we are all equal, none of us are truly free.

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