Hamish Macdonald
Hamish Macdonald

What Australian men have to say about gender equality

On International Women's Day, nine high-profile Australian men share their thoughts on the role they believe men can play in achieving greater gender equality.

 

Adam Goodes

AFL great & David Jones ambassador

As a man raised by a single mother and my aunties, I have had strong, proud, caring and courageous women around me my whole life.

I feel blessed by the influence they have all had on me, and now to be raising a daughter of my own.

 

This #MenToo feature is in Sunday’s Stellar.
This #MenToo feature is in Sunday’s Stellar.

 

Adam Goodes. (Picture: Christopher Quyen/Seakyu Creative)
Adam Goodes. (Picture: Christopher Quyen/Seakyu Creative)

One way I am helping to achieve greater gender equality is through our GO Foundation, where we have a 60 per cent commitment for girls in our scholarship program.

I have seen too often that young girls, especially Indigenous girls, are not getting the same opportunities as boys.

As a man, I am committed to helping break gender inequality, and I think all men have a role to play.

 

David Campbell

Co-host of Today Extra & singer

I am so thrilled to pass on this message for this issue of Stellar.

If I may just address the blokes right now: Guys, I think the best we can do at the moment is shut up.

Don't speak. Just listen.

Listen to what women are saying. Really hear them.

 

David Campbell. (Picture: Daniel Nadel for Stellar)
David Campbell. (Picture: Daniel Nadel for Stellar)

 

When you do speak, instead of offering a solution, ask, "How can I help?"

If you are in power, promote and raise up. If you are married, then be a partner in life.

Just be quiet. Not for long. Maybe 100 years or so.

Then we should be even.

 

Peter Helliar

Comedian & co-host of The Project

We need to become less defensive when discussing equality, sexism and women's rights.

We need to stop jumping from confusion to anger, completely bypassing the all-important stage of comprehension.

True understanding takes time so we need to make space for this. Practise empathy.

 

Peter Helliar. (Picture: Daniel Nadel for Stellar)
Peter Helliar. (Picture: Daniel Nadel for Stellar)

 

Don't wait until you or someone you know is personally affected for you to consider the ramifications.

We need to be all in.

It's not all about you. It's all about us because, as much as we talk and often joke about the battle of the sexes, we are all actually on the same side.

 

Todd Sampson

Documentary maker & Gruen panellist

My daughter Jet had a surfing accident and was rushed to hospital. She saw a surgeon and, when I arrived in a panic, I asked what he said about the cut.

My oldest daughter Coco smiled and said, "Dad, he is a she."

Unconscious biases are real, and considering over 80 per cent of our decisions are made unconsciously, they're also dangerous, particularly when it comes to gender.

Their strength lies in our lack of awareness, so if you're a man, it's best to assume you have them.

 

Todd Sampson. (Picture: Supplied)
Todd Sampson. (Picture: Supplied)

 

Rather than resisting this reality, invest time and thought into changing it - not just in yourself, but anywhere else you find it.

Every time you stand up for gender equality, you not only stand up for women, you stand up for men.

(Jet's face is fine and she wants to be a doctor.)

 

Sam Neill

Actor

As far as adding voices go, I actually think it would be better if men just shut up for a while.

Learn to listen. Resist the urge to shout over the top of women.

Never, on any account, mansplain.

Stop being boofheads. And bullies.

Turn your head around and look at Jacinda Ardern. And learn something - about leadership, about empathy.

 

Sam Neill. (Picture: David Wheeler for Stellar)
Sam Neill. (Picture: David Wheeler for Stellar)

 

And when someone says, "You're not the boss of me," you better believe it. You're just a guy that messes up the house.

Or the office.

 

Benjamin Law

Writer

Fellow blokes: there's work for us to do.

Plan International Australia - who do such vital work for girls' equality, and for whom I am an ambassador - has found while Aussie guys support the women in our lives, we're a bit hopeless at supporting women more broadly.

A report we're launching later this month reveals nearly 80 per cent of surveyed Australian girls said they felt the men and boys around them supported their personal goals, but only nine per cent felt blokes did enough to end gender inequality.

 

Benjamin Law. (Picture: Daniel Francisco Robles)
Benjamin Law. (Picture: Daniel Francisco Robles)

 

Which is to say, there's work to do on a community and global scale.

Let's donate to - or volunteer for - our local women's crisis centres.

Let's march alongside women, and let's educate ourselves about inequality instead of waiting for women to do it for us.

 

Hamish Macdonald

Journalist & host of Q&A

There are few things more powerful than listening. And listening properly.

It's not always the thing that comes most naturally to blokes - many of us have a tendency to speak first and think later.

If we are prepared to genuinely listen, men can also play a constructive role in finding the solutions to entrenched gender inequality.

Equality, full inclusion, lifts us all up, so men have as much interest in meeting this challenge.

We are sons, brothers, uncles, colleagues, friends and we owe this to the women in our lives.

I'm learning in my new role on Q&A that this challenge is more complex than just aiming for a 50/50 split. It is about genuinely sharing the voice.

 

Hamish Macdonald. (Picture: Damian Bennett for Stellar)
Hamish Macdonald. (Picture: Damian Bennett for Stellar)

 

It's no good letting the two blokes on the panel dominate the discussion; it's about ensuring the structure changes, the culture changes, the dynamic changes to facilitate an authentic sharing of the space.

When we do, it always ends up more interesting, more thoughtful, more reflective of the real world.

 

Chris Taylor

Comedian & writer

It's maddeningly evident that gender inequality is at the root of our domestic violence epidemic.

Men aren't born violent. It's learnt behaviour, born of the historically entrenched belief that men hold all the cards and are free to play them as they choose.

The recent unpardonable horror in Brisbane is a rare public example of poisonous male entitlement, but most domestic violence happens in places we can't see it; flourishing in private homes where men still think they're king.

 

Chris Taylor. (Picture: Supplied)
Chris Taylor. (Picture: Supplied)

 

Dismantling centuries of male authority was never going to be a cinch, but we can't expect women to do all the heavy lifting - a willingness by men to loosen the reins would also go a very long way.

 

Michael Usher

News anchor & host of The Latest

It's really a very simple question of respect. And a very dear value, that starts early, in the home.

Like a lot of Australian households, I grew up in a home where Mum, my aunts, my nanna all worked.

The women were all strong and equal to any of the men in our family. It was normal. And I was lucky to take that with me into my adult and working life.

Importantly, as a father of a young daughter, I teach her every day that her voice and opinion is equal to her two older, opinionated teenage brothers.

 

Michael Usher. (Picture: Seven Network)
Michael Usher. (Picture: Seven Network)

 

And that she can achieve whatever she sets her mind on. No boundaries. Early empowerment.

Perhaps just as importantly, I teach the boys to zip it, listen and respect her voice and opinions. Not always successfully!

Her interests, her views, likes, passions and ambitions are no different in value to theirs. But that respect starts in the home.

They're the stepping stones towards equality.

 

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