A good bloke? The bar is hanging too f-king low

Innocean Australia CEO, and leader of Fck The Cupcakes (FTC), Jasmin Bedir argues that the bar for being a 'good bloke' desperately needs to be lifted.

This article contains references to sexual consent, sexual harassment and sexual assault and may be triggering for some readers. For any Australian who has experienced, or is at risk of, family and domestic violence and/or sexual assault please call 1800 RESPECT or visit www.1800respect.org.au. 1800 RESPECT is open 24 hours, 7 days a week.

During the holidays, I had some clear headspace to dive deeper into conversations around misogyny, as well as misogynoir in the context of the “Meghans” (Thee Stallion and Markle), much of it deriding them based on gendered expectations of male entitlement and how women “should” behave.

After a year of women being murdered right on our doorstep, (11 in the 2 weeks just before Christmas) I was seriously yearning for a good news story and I’m not going to lie: the Twitter battle between Andrew Tate and Greta Thunberg, with the ultimate climax of his arrest, made me feel good about the world again for a split second.  Tate is in a jail in Romania – nature is healing.


But it really isn’t. The results of the last Global Institute for Women’s Leadership Survey revealed that 30 per cent of Australian men believe “women who say they were abused often make-up or exaggerate claims of abuse or rape”. In addition, Australia was second highest in the world (just behind Malaysia) when asked if it was acceptable to use sexist or misogynistic language online, with 14 per cent saying it was okay. The global average was eight per cent. Silence on not wanting to lower this number speaks volumes in exactly where a man’s belief system is.

This is where the “good guys” come in. According to our previous prime minister, a good bloke can feign incompetence and just consult his wife to find out if rape is bad. Currently, men can self-proclaim as a “good guy”, simply because they haven’t raped anyone or beaten their wives or partner. Notably, they simply haven’t done anything.

The not doing anything part is what’s wrong. The definition of a “good bloke” shouldn’t be based on what he doesn’t do. But that’s where we’re at: the bar is basically on the floor.

The cost of entry to the club of good blokes is zero. And that’s the real problem: that bar needs to be lifted.

But the thing with lifting things up is that it takes effort. What doesn’t cost us anything, isn’t worth anything.

So, how do we lift the bar for men? We need the ‘Aussie bloke’ to be actively championing equality. We need them to be outraged by “Tate-speech”. We need them not to be silent week-after-week, when 10 women were murdered across a 2-week period. We need them to be shocked and outraged. We need them to be diving straight onto their social media accounts to share their horror and raising their hands to actively be involved in the solution. Yes, it is uncomfortable for some men to be part of the discussion, but discomfort doesn’t compare to living in fear, or losing your life or livelihood. It isn’t nearly as crushing as the weight of feeling unsafe to simply walk down the street or catch a taxi alone. Unsafe to speak out about sexual harassment in the workplace. Unsafe because your phone is being tracked.

We need men to actively speak out and stop accepting old-fashioned ideas about what it is to be a man. Outdated role models in the form of fathers, grandfathers, uncles, and other male caregivers are the root cause of men’s violence towards women and children. These views harm men just as much as they harm women. Outdated gender narratives currently put men in a box they can’t think or step outside of, in fear of being ostracised for not being a “real man.”

For those of us who work in communications, I strongly believe it is our responsibility to redefine what aspirational culture in Australia looks like. We are big and powerful enough, as an industry, to shape and influence popular culture. But that requires effort and action.

FTC will continue to focus on messaging that actively engages men in the conversation around equality, with a lot of empathy and nuance.

We will continue to ask men to actively raise their hands and signal they are willing to listen, learn and do something. That’s when you become a good bloke.


Jasmin Bedir is CEO of Innocean Australia, and leader of Fck The Cupcakes (FTC).


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