Time to Toughen Up
When did adults lose the ability or the willingness to stick up for themselves?
Mulling over the political events of recent weeks, I have reached some interesting conclusions based on instincts and personal experience.
The entire bullying and sexual harassment movement is most likely overstated. That's not to say there aren't some genuine cases because I am sure there are.
However, like every other movement that came before it, the BS artists and attention seekers can't help but dive into the fray.
We saw it with Je Suis Charlie, Me Too, BLM, Occupy Wall Street and a host of other campaigns.
Sincere people participate in the hope of making change, and then a bunch of carpetbaggers join in for their fifteen minutes of fame.
In parliament, it now seems everyone has a tale of woe about how they were supposedly bullied or harassed, which they feel compelled to share with the media.
You can trace the roots of this back to when the Liberal Party Room deposed Malcolm Turnbull.
His few fans made unsubstantiated claims of bullying by those who lobbied for a change in leader. I thought it was a relatively weak public position to take at the time, and it made me question the mettle of those who made it.
Rigorous lobbying about policy and leadership positions has gone on for decades in Parliament. People of substance either listen politely to the advocacy, smile and nod or push the countercase.
If an adult doesn't want to participate in the process or doesn't like it, they can choose not to accept a requested meeting or tell the other person where to go - in whatever manner they deem appropriate.
They don't start crying or complain about it.
I know because I have done all of these things on many occasions.
Sometimes, friendships have been strained as a result, but as an adult, you need to be able to state your position and be prepared to hold it.
However, the world isn't raising adults any more.
It's no surprise, given that's what has been drilled into our children for decades. Children are now told to run to the authorities and complain at the slightest hint of confrontation or adversity rather than sticking up for themselves.
At the risk of being labelled a bad parent, I told my boys to always stick up for themselves. If a bully touched them, I taught them to defend themselves.
On a couple of occasions, they had to, and when they got into trouble with the school, I explained to the school my son's response was based on my instructions.
I further explained that I understood the school's position and that if they needed to punish the boys, that was their decision, but if my son's response were fair and reasonable, he'd be getting praise at home.
The inability or unwillingness to stand up for yourself now seems ingrained in adults too. At the slightest criticism or compliment, offence can and will be taken, and the real victim becomes the accused.
In parliament, we see legitimate criticism of behaviour labelled misogyny or sexism so it can be deflected and discredited. Commenting on clothes or hairstyles can be similarly misrepresented.
It wasn't that long ago that an entire website was devoted to the fashions of question time, where men and women were assessed on their sartorial choices.
If it hadn't closed down for lack of interest, it would be the subject of cancel culture today!
My point is this. People need to toughen up.
When every perceived slight is labelled as the cause of the day, it diminishes the genuine claims from the attention and respectful action they deserve.
There isn't a new cultural problem in Parliament House. It's a tough place to work.
Big egos, long hours, entwined work and social occasions lead to many people making poor decisions.
Inappropriate personal behaviour isn't confined to men either. However, in the new world of weaponised words and gender, it seems only men can be criticised for it.