Mental Health Week
Donald Trump, in his mind anyway, is the next President of the United States of America. Last week, he was in deeper hot water than usual when a tape of a conversation between Trump and a reporter from Access Hollywood
regarding his sexual exploits with women, made a decade ago, was released. Trump released an apology around midnight on 7 October (US time) and where he did state
“I’ve said some foolish things,” Trump said in a taped apology posted on his Facebook page. “But there’s a big difference between the words and actions of other people. Bill Clinton has actually abused women.”
Turning to his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton, Trump accused her of having “bullied, attacked, shamed and intimidated” her husband’s “victims.”
It’s a classic ‘look over there’ approach, that demonstrates that while there is an apology on record, it’s a pretty safe bet that Trump’s campaign team told him he had to do it, rather than some intrinsic understanding that the original conversation was just wrong. The apology went for 90 seconds and the text is available on the CBS News
While Trump’s supporters are also apparently ‘looking over there’, some Republicans are less convinced. According to CBS
, his choice for Vice-President, Indiana Governor Mike Pense,
was “beside himself” and his wife was furious, according to a person familiar with their thinking. That person spoke on the condition of anonymity, because they were not authorized to share the private discussion.
also reports the head of the Republican Party was, if anything, more direct
“No woman should ever be described in these terms or talked about in this manner. Ever,” said Reince Priebus, who had stood by Trump through his past provocative comments.
According to the CBS
report, Trump’s justification for his actions in the original interview was “When you’re a star they let you do it,” Trump says. "You can do anything."
So Trump is a misogynist. At the time of preparation of this article, Trump is refusing to stand down as the Republican Party’s nomination for US President. It’s not the first time that Trump has made derogatory comments about women, immigrants foreign countries, welfare recipients or the current President, just to name a few. The actor Robert De Niro was asked to film a spot for a ‘get out to vote’ activist group in the US, which contains a really interesting Trump character assessment
"I mean, he's so blatantly stupid," the Academy Award winner, 73, said of Trump, 70, in the clip. "He's a punk, he's a dog, he's a pig. He's a con, a bulls--t artist, a mutt. He doesn't know what he's talking about, doesn't do his homework, doesn't care, thinks he's gaming society, doesn't pay his taxes. He's an idiot. Colin Powell said it best: He's a national disaster. He's an embarrassment to this country. It makes me so angry that this country has gotten to this point that this fool, this bozo, has wound up where he has."
De Niro continued, "He talks [about] how he wants to punch people in the face. Well, I'd like to punch him in the face. This is somebody that we want for president? I don't think so. What I care about is the direction of this country, and what I'm very, very worried about is that it might go in the wrong direction with someone like Donald Trump. If you care about your future, vote for it."
In 2012, Prime Minister, Julia Gillard rightly called out then Opposition Leader Tony Abbott on misogyny
The speech reverberated around the world. It’s probably fair to suggest that Gillard’s speech was not just a reaction to Abbott’s claim that Gillard was supporting then Speaker of the House Peter Slipper (who probably wasn’t the most moral character in the house), it was a reflection of the years of continual sniping at Gillard’s gender and her ‘lack of fitness’ to be Prime Minister as a result. Abbott’s wife runs an apparently successful business and he has three daughters. He obviously supports and respects his family’s successes and supports their endeavours. What Abbott didn’t and probably still doesn’t realise is continual sniping of a person based on their gender (as Abbott did to Gillard) is not fair game because the victim has differing opinions, it is as Gillard suggested – misogynisy.
Both Abbott and Trump are extremely conservative political leaders. While Trump could claim that he has reflected on his 2005 comments and knows better and Abbott did suggest that Gillard over reacted, is there a common theme here?
Prime Minister Turnbull committed to retaining Abbott’s plebiscite on marriage equity when he rolled Abbott in 2015. While the contents of the 2016 Coalition agreement are secret, is widely believed that the commitment remains – as Turnbull has brought the legislation to Parliament and if it was passed, the plebiscite would have been held on 11 February 2017.
Those who populate a number of religious organisations around Australia as well as organisations such as the Australian Christian Lobby will tell you any family that doesn’t consist of a husband and wife in a deeply committed loving relationship will lead to problems for the children later in their lives. In some cases, they are probably right; however, there are plenty of people with problems later in life that came from married couples with deeply committed and loving relationships as well.
In a perfect world, it would be wonderful if every person was valued for their potential contribution to the world and treated accordingly. Apart from creating ‘ideal’ families, this ‘perfect’ view of the world would also close the detention centres on Nauru and Manus Island, stop the bombing in Syria and provide food and shelter for those who are incapable of supporting themselves across the world. No Virginia, the world is not perfect, and those who are proclaiming the need for ‘ideal’ families are not similarly vocal about the conditions on Nauru, the various wars and human emergencies around the world.
This is where the moral and ethical problem is. For example, the top of the Australian Christian Lobby’s Home webpage looks like this:
Given that most religious groupings, be they Christian, Buddhist, Muslim or Jedi (it was accepted as a choice in the last Census) probably desire a compassionate, just and moral society through having the tenets of their particular religious text reflected in the political life of the nation
, it would be seemingly obvious that ethical and moral issues such as treatment of refugees, treatment of young adults in custody and attempting to assist those around the world would be amongst the issues at the top of their mind, after all most of the religious texts request their believers to ‘do unto others as you would have them do unto you’. None of those issues make the ACL’s ‘hit list’ contained on the 377 pages of ‘latest news’. Unfortunately, the actions of people like the Trump, Abbott and conservative groups such as the ACL do not reflect their claimed values. Unsurprisingly most of the ‘hot topics’ on the ACL’s list relate to marriage equity or sex education in schools.
Trump and Abbott clearly do not actually give women the respect they have claimed they do. The ACL has a very narrow view of Christian faith if it just stands by without calling out the Australian Government’s actions in regard to refugees, detention centres and recurring efforts to further marginalise those who can least afford private health care, private schools or even private rental homes. When others called out Trump and Abbott on misogyny, Trump’s response was to suggest that the husband of the Presidential candidate was worse than he was and Abbott suggested that Gillard ‘over reacted’. The ACL’s CEO, Lyle Shelton will make whatever claim he believes will further his argument such as
“Research clearly shows the quickest pathway to poverty for a child is for their biological mum and dad to break up, that's just a fact.”
to argue for his preferred position of the ‘ideal family’. Shelton’s Lobby group is also potentially one of the beneficiaries of the $7.5 million Turnbull would have given the “NO” case should the plebiscite legislation have passed Parliament. As it seems that his public utterances have no factual basis, as there is certainly no collaborating evidence for the issues they claim others are going to implement made in the “Latest News” section of their website (although to be fair the entire 377 pages of items were not checked), and while Trump, Abbott and the ACL are entitled to believe they have done the right and honourable thing, the reality is somewhat different.
There are numerous reasons why a child may not grow up with their biological mum or dad. One parent may have died, the parents may have separated, a parent may have to work in a different town, be in jail or even stuck in a detention centre operated by the Australian Government. Logically, most of these kids will have mental and physical issues to work through as a part of that process. Shelton’s comments (and a large proportion of the anti-marriage equity advertising that has already gone to air) giving the ‘traditional’ view of marriage will not assist the mental health of those kids who have a different reality – regardless of the reason for that reality.
Trump, Abbott and groups such as the ACL all claim to be good Christians who are upholding the values of society. Yet, Trump admits to abuse of women physically and mentally, Abbott certainly treated Gillard (and other women) as second class citizens and conservative groups such as the ACL seem to feel that there is no need for the facts to ruin a good story. If the values of society are those that suggest that the actions above are acceptable, let alone desirable attributes of ‘traditional’ society, we should be re-imaging society so that all people are equal, regardless of their gender, beliefs or attitudes.
In addition to the cost of a plebiscite that isn’t binding (estimated to be $160 million), Turnbull has decided to gift $7.5 million to both the ‘YES’ and ‘NO’ cases for the plebiscite, allowing further attacks on the mental health of those kids that don’t live in the conservatives’ ‘traditional’ families and their caregivers. According to news.com.au, the ACL has already planned to use some of the funding to widen the argument to include sex education in schools
Deputy Opposition Leader Tanya Plibersek today said she had concerns about “the idea that we’ll have a $15 million publicly-funded battle, when we’ve already seen the sort of material that’s been put out against marriage equality”.
“And we’ve got organisations engaged in this debate saying anti-discrimination law and rules around advertising should be suspended,” Ms Plibersek told ABC Radio.
She wanted to know what they intended to say during the campaign that currently was illegal.
It is a truism that sunlight is the best disinfectant. Political leaders legitimising abuse of other people, advertising legitimising only certain forms of family life and so on creates victims. While abuse of women, discrimination based on gender, preferences or beliefs may have been acceptable in the ‘good ole days’ of ‘traditional’ families, victims have to know firstly that they are victims, secondly there is help available and thirdly how to access that help. If conservatives try to push these issues back into the closet, they are deterring those who are having problems from putting their hand up and asking for help. World Mental Health Day is 10 October and in Australia, the week including that date is Mental Health Week. It’s a shame and not healthy for our society that Turnbull is again being held hostage by the conservatives on his side of politics and plans to fund advertising around a non-binding plebiscite that effectively seeks to de-legitimise a number of loving and sharing families around Australia.