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Apr 6, 2011

The dark side of mateship in Australian military ranks

Gender equity interventions alone cannot penetrate the hermetically sealed, and bullet-proof culture of group solidarity that soldiers are socialised into at training, writes sociologist and former military man Dr Ben Wadham.


If you are interested in tales of sexual predation, the Australian Defence Force isn’t disappointing you at the moment.

In February the report into the culture of the HMAS Success was released. Defence Minister Stephen Smith explained modestly that it did not make good reading. It told tales of the high seas and a man’s culture of sexually predatory behavior, habitual binge drinking and bullying and intimidation of female personnel.

All in all an unsafe climate for women, isn’t it?

Just yesterday a new story of sexual misconduct surfaced, this time from the elite military training institution, the Australian Defence Force Academy. A male ADFA cadet has allegedly filmed himself having sex with a female cadet and broadcast it to his male mates in an adjacent room. We must ask the question: why? What do a group of young male ADFA cadets gain from this nefarious plot?

The 18-year-old female RAAF cadet was clearly traumatised. She spoke of her sense of betrayal and an overwhelming nausea when she found out from an ADFIS investigator. She is now concerned that she is tainted, that her career is determined by a case of perverse male behaviour.

These incidents are not new. In 1992, the s-x scandal aboard the HMAS Swan launched a Senate inquiry into sexual harassment in the services. Sexual harassment at Duntroon in the 1990s instigated a report into sexual misconduct at the Australian Defence Force Academy.

Other incidents mark the reputation of the Australian Defence Force, too. Inquiries into gang rape, or the cases of women officers such as Robyn Fahey or Kelly Wiggins, tell of persistent practices of sexual depravity.

The ADF is seeking to increase women among its ranks. It does take such incidents very seriously. There is a zero-tolerance policy, the establishment of the Defence Equity Organisation in 1997 and a current gender equity education program being developed online. So what is wrong?

At least one failure is the blindness of the Defence command. Gender equity interventions alone cannot penetrate the hermetically sealed, and bullet-proof culture of group solidarity that soldiers are socialised into at training. These kinds of indiscretions are most prolific when that logic of group identity is most intense. It is most intense in training establishments and arms corps, or closed shops such as navy ships.

This culture is established around men and their ideas of manhood. Warfare is almost an exclusively male enterprise. The ADF is a predominantly male domain. When men seek to close ranks they exclude others and they use language and practices that marginalise, and subordinate those others. Perverse sexuality, racist terms, bullying and intimidation consolidate the boundary between a group of mates and “the enemy”. Binge drinking and sharing sexual adventures intensify the sense of being one. It is the dark side of mateship.

We are left with an inherent paradox of militarism. Military personnel, largely men, must work closely together to endure the hardships of combat and warfare. Mateship motivates bravery, courage and sacrifice, the stuff our national legends are built upon. But the flip side is an unrestrained potential for violation, exclusion and hostility that includes sexual predation, excessive alcoholism, racism and intimidation.

This is the challenge that is the responsibility of the Australian military command. Personnel will continue to transgress, and stories will continue to draw media and community attention, and the reputation of the ADF will remain sullied until the military command opens its eyes. It is time to acknowledge the foundations of military culture established through the creation of the soldier, seaman or airman in military training.

Without a close hard look, women will continue to remain skeptical of serving their nation.



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54 thoughts on “The dark side of mateship in Australian military ranks

  1. Allison

    1. I feel for the young lady concerned and I hope that the ADF ensure that she has all appropriate levels of support and that it does not adversely affect her future;
    2. I am proud of the young man who told his superiors of what was going on;
    3. The grubs that watched and the horrible human being who video taped himself should be disciplined and then thrown out of the ADF; and
    4. I don’t accept that mateship requires this kind of behaviour .. you can achieve solidarity without being a pervert.

  2. kennethrobinson2

    Put a group of fit sexually active people in close contact, and nature will take its course, but their conduct must be a culture of respect.
    I remember the situation in Vietnam 1967, when orders were that Australian diggers weren’t permitted to use brothels, as stated, fit active young men not permitted to engage in sexual conduct, must have came out of the local church ladies tea party.
    Get real.

  3. Had Enough

    The dangers of web-cams!!!

  4. Gareth Perkins


    No one is telling these people to stop having s-x, or even using brothels.

    They’re saying maybe these guys should stop behaving like misogynistic a–holes, stop degrading women colleagues and treat everyone with a bit of respect.

  5. Mort

    It is the same dynamic as football thugs.
    Male bonding based on the degradation of a girl/woman – how much more hetereo alpha male can you get right?!!
    It is the sick side of masculinity. To prove you are a “real man” you have to have contempt /disregard for anything feminine and female. Apparently the official team bonding exercises aren’t working so well if they still have to “prove” after hours that they are so totally NOT GAY.

  6. mikeb

    @mort – I have experienced plenty of male bonding “exercises” and none of it included public sex. Actually apart from the fact that the girl is degraded and an unwitting performer i’d be too worried about being a “flop” to do anything like this .

    Not trying to defend the defence forces, or footy players for that matter, but i wonder if instances of this are any more widespread than your averge uni dorm or hospital campus? I somehow doubt it but it makes for great newspaper banners.

  7. Simon

    This sort of thing just gets me angry and shows how unfit men are for this sort of job.

  8. Angrybudgie

    Got to say completely not surprised, this is not the first time I have heard about/seen such behaviour in a group of young men. This is not strictly a problem of the military, although I have heard of similar types of behaviour at ADFA over many years. Some (not all) seem to think that the women are there for entertainment of the males. The other instances I am aware of were at an average uni dormitory. One group of young men decided that it would be fun to watch another member of their group have sex with his girlfriend. These bright lads didn’t think of using a webcam so they chose a large room, the Senior Common Room, where his mates could all sit down one end and watch. He was all for it, but she had no idea until the lights were turned on and there they were…… really funny. The girl eventually left the university, she could not take the gossip and laughter any more. Another time, we came across a similar male group all having sex with their girlfriends (very drunk, apparently for consent) in the same room at the same time…..so they could watch each other. I did not understand either situation when the lights came on and I do not understand it now. As Mort said, “Male bonding based on the degradation of a girl/woman – how much more hetereo alpha male can you get right?” Mateship is such a wonderful thing sometimes isn’t it??

  9. Mike

    Doc Ben said:

    “Without a close hard look, women will continue to remain skeptical of serving their nation.”

    One can only hope your right – if they can’t handle a bit of boyish mischief, what chance do they have on the battlefield?

  10. thirdborn314

    As one of those young blokes at Duntroon in the 90’s I saw first hand this attitude, and felt myself being dragged into the group think – it was a trap for young fellows. Looking back I can not believe how naive I was, and how close I came to being part of all of this – perhaps I was – who knows how my actions were actually perceived. I remember clearly the authorities coming down hard on a particular aspect of the behaviour, and realising that these guys were serious, some of the things we were doing that we thought were funny were actually sackable offences – I could lose my job. This was what made me sit back and have a think about what was right and wrong – and from that day on I have lived a life with more empathy for all minorities, not just females in the military.

    I think the best action here is rule with an iron fist – that is the hard currency for soldiers. Start sacking people, supervise closely and force behavioural change. Provide an example of strong leadership to teach leadership. When I heard whispers of inappropriate behaviour in the recruit lines when I was a recuit commander I would turn up to work early in the morning – or stay late at night – to make sure in my own mind that all was well. Leaders do the right thing, it’s time to set an example.

  11. freecountry

    It’s a bit like dog whistles against immigrant crime, isn’t it. We don’t see headlines like “Civilian woman gang raped by civilian work colleagues” any more often than we see “Man bashed by gang of third-generation Aussies”. That is to say, it happens, it’s unacceptable, charges need to be laid, it may even get a mention in the news … but we don’t go demanding Senate inquiries about it.

    As for all these “dark side of mateship” cliches, can’t you come up with something more original? Most military jobs set more demanding levels of dedication than the average Woolies checkout job, and this gives rise to sense of shared experience and high pressure, but it hardly makes them hive insects.

    Indeed, the closer contact between colleagues than in much of civilian life tends to liberate individual personalities more, because you can be judged for what you do under pressure, rather than for what first impression you make and how conformist you are. Of course, this varies from corps to corps and from unit to unit, and it’s not unique to military life; there are civilian areas of work or sport which have similar intensity and similar effect. And of course, a lot of military jobs are just ordinary boring nine-to-five jobs with a better-than-average healthcare plan.

    So let’s start over. A man filmed having sex with his female colleague and secretly broadcast it to his mates, who also knew the woman. That’s unacceptable. The man is a cadet supposedly in training to be an officer and a gentleman. Let us hope the military authorities throw the book at him, expel him dishonourably from ADFA, and appoint a suitable mentor to ensure the victim is able to overcome what’s been done to her. And let us hope her colleagues are mature enough not to change their image of her, and let us hope she goes on to a great career.

  12. nicolino

    This is a problem which is not going to go away any time soon judging by it’s long history in the ADF.
    Solution: Get the women out of there.Then wtahc the “men” flinch.

  13. Jean

    With all due respect to a case currently being investigated by someone or other (the great Australian solution- Hold An Enquiry) , should a theoretical ADF cadet film himself having sex and broadcast the result to his friends, he should certainly be disciplined appropriately- but surely he should also get an A in his Application of Digtital Technology module.

  14. Mort

    Nicolino, That discounts the majority of decent honourable men in the military who wouldn’t participate.

    Like ThirdBorn said strong leadership is the answer.
    The role models for these guys need to actively step up and say you’d have to be developmentally stunted to get off on the denigration of women for sport.

    Becoming a man or masculine or a shit hot soldier has nothing do demonstrating how much porno you watch.

    Many of these women will be trained to provide essential services to active military positions, only an idiot would actively undermine the camaraderie required to do the job well.

  15. bluepoppy

    When did mateship start being about a cretin or a misogynist. Where is the mateship for female colleagues. Hope this isn’t resonant of the sort of support a female cadet might expect in the battlefield.

    Surely Australia doesn’t need people of this calibre in the ADF. Sort of throws a shadow on any sort of psychological testing and validty of security clearance processes if this is the result.

  16. Fran Barlow

    Mike compared hazing/sexual humiliation by one’s peers with “boyish mischief”” as follows:

    [One can only hope your right (sic) {that women won’t want to join the armed services} – if they can’t handle a bit of boyish mischief, what chance do they have on the battlefield?]


    When one goes out onto a battlefield as prepared as one must be to suffer at the hands of the enemy, one expects that one’s fellow soldiers will be in full solidarity. These are hardly comparable.

    That you would imagine that this misogynist apologia for sexual abuse is acceptable underscores the scale of the problem the amred services face.

  17. thirdborn314

    Fran, spot on re Mike – he is misguided.

    The strongest leaders are those that learn to support and stand up for minority groups, this is the mark of a true warrior on the battlefield.

    I wonder if it is any coincidence that some of the greatest warriors that I trained with are now humanitarians. Sure, it might be manly to pick up a machine gun and shoot someone, but it takes a real man to dig a bit deeper into the moral complexities of life and do the right thing.

    Success at war is not how aggresive one is, or how many people are killed. It is about removing the will of your enemy to fight – and this can come in many forms. The role of military leadership runs a lot deeper than some might like to think – it’s not just about ‘guns n stuff’.

    There should be no leeway given for this incident, or any like it. It is this abuse of minority groups that we are training our forces to fight against. Heavy disciplinary action is required.

  18. freecountry

    It’s a bit like dog whistles against immigrant crime, isn’t it. We don’t see headlines like “Civilian woman abused by civilian work colleagues” any more often than we see “Man bashed by gang of third-generation Aussies”.

    As for all these “dark side of mateship” cliches, can’t you come up with something more original? Most military jobs set more demanding levels of dedication than the average Woolies checkout job, and this gives rise to sense of shared experience and high pressure, but it hardly makes them hive insects.

    The closer contact between colleagues than in much of civilian life is more likely to liberate individual personalities rather than turn them into hive insects. Socially, service people are more likely to be judged for what they do under pressure, and less on what first impression they make and how conformist they are. This enables a lot of people who felt out of place in civilian life to feel like they’re accepted for themselves in the services. Of course this varies on what part of the ADF you’re in, some of it being just regular nine-to-five jobs with a better-than-average healthcare plan.

    So let’s start over. A man filmed himself having sex with his female colleague and secretly broadcast it to his mates, who also knew the woman. That’s unacceptable. The man is a cadet supposedly training to be an officer and a gentleman, potentially to be entrusted with leading someone else’s sons and daughters into mortal danger. Let us hope the military authorities throw the book at him, expel him in disgrace from ADFA, and take steps to ensure the victim is able to overcome the experience of violation. And let us hope her colleagues are mature enough not to change their image of her, and let us hope she goes on to a great career.

  19. mikeb

    “and let us hope she goes on to a great career” unfortunately late news (nothing to do with this incident) indicates this won’t be the case – in the defence force at least.

  20. Mike

    Grow up FRAN!
    This is not a tupperware party, it’s the armed forces where recruits or volunteers are expected to be made of the right stuff. God help us if she was ever captured by the enemy, she’s squeal like a canary. If she can’t stand the heat, get back to the kitchen!

  21. freecountry

    Mike, trust is also crucial to military life. There’s a saying that “loose lips sink ships” and that’s not just blabbing to outsiders, it’s also to any defence staff who don’t need to know. Would you want the security of a mission, on which your son or daughter could be in mortal danger, entrusted to a commanding officer who goes around secretly filming private moments with his colleagues and showing it to his mates?

  22. Mike


    I’d be willing to bet you that even Osama Bin Laden fools around and brags to his martyrs about his sexual conquests, though I suspect he uses his rifle instead of his pee shooter.
    I’d even suggest that his harem boast, roast & toast the size of of cells member’s members – if you know what I mean.
    I have been in the company of many a Canberra Press Corp male stud who boasted about his conquests with, I must say mainly Left of middle Labor amazons.
    So lets get some perspective here – boys will be boys and gals will be gals.
    Talk about glass houses.

  23. Mike

    The Left always leans towards promiscuity and when confronted by it they shit themselves.

  24. freecountry

    Mike, you’re drifting into irrelevancy. Maybe a terrorist, and a vulture pack who no longer see the need to protect their sources in the face of a court order unless Parliament enacts a shield law, are not ADF officer material.

  25. Mike


    We seem to both be drifting into the ether.
    Looks like I’m going to be the only man standing.
    I suggest you start up on Pepsi or you may well make a fool of yourself.
    And we don’t want that now do we?

  26. Shirin

    Men seem to be becoming increasingly predatory under the influence of mass marketed pornography. Many seem unable to distinguish normal, healthy, consensual sex from pornographic ‘sex’ which seems to act primarily as a means of humiliating and degrading women and facilitating homo-erotic male bonding. Thank Goddess I’m a lesbian is all I can say.

  27. Mike


    I bet you wouldn’t complain if some one videos you deep inside your gal?
    I am so proud to know you.
    You, my girl, have balls.

  28. freecountry

    Mike: “Looks like I’m going to be the only man standing.”
    Well I expect you’ll be the last man talking anyway. Which, judging by your knowledge of women, men, conduct under interrogation, and the military in general, seems to be your only talent.

  29. Mike


    Excuse me my friend but I am a man in full.
    You, on the other hand may not be able to fulfill your wishes.
    Try the right hand.

  30. westral

    These pri… are supposedly the future officers and leaders of the Australian defense forces. Punishment should be swift and brutal, they should be kicked out. If they act like idiots they should be treated like idiots.

  31. drsmithy

    I’m not condoning it, but…

    We must ask the question: why? What do a group of young male ADFA cadets gain from this nefarious plot?

    Well, there is of course the obvious possibility that there was no “nefarious plot” and it was simply a bit of drunken stupidity. Or that the “nefarious plot” was nothing more than some horny young men wanting to see one of their female friends in the buff.

    I, for one, would be interested to see how the moral crusaders compare and contrast this event to the “St Kilda Schoolgirl”.

  32. zut alors

    My solution would be to dismiss the lot of them ie: the young woman, the jerk with the webcam and the six viewing mates. They are all culpable. There is a regulation about fraternising and, if that had been adhered to, the incident would not have occurred. They are first year recruits and the first 12 months would be crucial in establishing discipline.

    If the ADF doesn’t discharge ALL the players in this incident then they are not serious and will continue to attract lightweights who think they can make their own rules. It’s time to raise the bar.

  33. Liz45

    @MIKE – It’s men like you who are contributing to the male culture in our society, that thinks it’s OK to denigrate women in this manner. Would you like someone to treat your mother, sister, wife or daughter in this manner? No? But it’s alright to treat other women like ‘plates of meat’ to be enjoyed by misogynist men who think that having a penis justifies revolting behaviour?

    Whether it’s in the military or in the office, this type of attitude does not help remove the horrific stat of violence towards women and girls. Attitudes like yours foster the idea, that when you de-humanise women, you can do as you wish. The way this woman was treated by these males AFTER it became public knowledge only removed all doubt about their attitude to women – totally gross and despicable!

    This is not funny at all. There’s no need to lighten up. It’s gross, and it’s great to see that all the other men on this site, with the exception of yourself and SMITHY are repulsed by this type of behaviour.

    If defence personnel want our respect, they’d better earn it! I wouldn’t like my daughter(if I had one) to join any of the military services, nor would I like her to have anything to do with most football players for the same reason.
    I did not raise my sons to think that women were put on this planet for man’s use and benefit.
    I’m gratified to see, that Stephen Smith, Minister for Defence also finds this type of behaviour a disgrace, as does PM Gillard!
    May I suggest that MIKE and SMITHY listen to this morning’s interview on AM with Stephen Smith! A decent man with decent attitudes to women!

  34. Liz45

    @DR SMITHY – The I’m not condoning it but, line is the same as someone making some racist comment, and then claiming, ‘I’m not racist but’? You are condoning it! At least be honest about your attitudes.

    @ZUT ALORS – It was consensual sex on the young woman’s part. She didn’t make the decision to show it to the world – he did! That’s the issue. Let’s not mess it up with the ‘fraternising’ argument – even the military haven’t tried that excuse, nor has the PM or the Minister for Defence!
    The issue is what the young men did to her without her consent.

    We’ll discuss the ‘fraternising’ aspect on another day! Don’t muddy these disgusting waters with red herrings!

  35. Had Enough

    @ Zut Alors

    There is no rule about fraternising among the same ranks, which they were. The rule is to stop senior ranks hitting on lower ranks.

    My Father went to the academy and they were not allowed to smoke in first 12 months. My Father did not smoke anyway. Anyway at the end of the 12 months, he and almost all the rest of the class started smoking!!

    Silly bans dont work and they just encourage behaviour later on.

  36. no_party_preferred

    The only thing the ADF has to answer for, or at least question themselves over is why wasn’t her disciplinary hearing postponed. The ADF does not condone, or encourage this sort of behaviour and to suggest an inquiry or sacking the commandant is ludicrous.

    What happened was appalling and all of those blokes should be immediately discharged. If this is what they do then they are not fit to be officers. That being said there were a lot of poor choices made including by the young lady for participating in fraternisation with a fellow cadet, which is not allowed. Now before people get all uppity , read the first 2 lines of this paragraph again.

  37. Pdaddy

    And people think its only AFL and NRL players who have a problem with women.

    What a disgrace. In my opinion, too many of these boneheads think they are “heroes” just for joining the defence force rather than doing anything actually heroic.

  38. kennethrobinson2

    Liz 45.
    I totally agree, that disgusting bloke should be kicked out, he certainly doesn’t fit the Officer and gentleman picture.
    As an old dig, I certainly wouldn’t like that type of person leading me in a sticky situation, or any other situation.

  39. Observation

    The ANZAC spirit of the armed forces has always been a noble one but with the streak of being a larrikin. Mate-ship and watching each others backs has always been the priority. Surely this culture also permeates through to our female diggers where they are of limits to this kind of behavior and should, if anything, feel safer and more comfortable around their mates and the ones that act the way these animals have would be dealt with by their piers internally.

  40. botswana bob

    Dr Wadham is spot on with his comments about the military culture. As the Another Liberal Party pollies soften us up for the Horror Budget with harsh new rules for disability pensioners I’m sure I’m not the only taxpayer finding it strange the Defense budget seems to have avoided cuts. There is a long record of bungles and cost overruns here but seemingly nothing is done. Add this to the culture of the department which relentlessly white ants its ministers–either Labor or Coalition–and there is an urgent need to put a broom through this bureaucracy

  41. Liz45

    I heard several comments by those who support the military per se, that the Defence Mininster, Stephen Smith shouldn’t have been asked questions on AM this morning such as, ‘Do you have confidence in the Defence leadership’ or words to that effect. I disagree! The Defence Minister has the right to demand, that the leadership in all areas of the military upholds the highest modes of behaviour. I’d have thought, that if they want more women in the services, the Leadership would be keen to show due care – it’s their responsibility to uphold the codes of behaviour.

    To think that the male involved in the sexual liason organised this debacle with his mates prior to the ‘occasion’ shows a pretty disgraceful and decadent attitude to women. All the males concerned should be hauled over the coals, and this situation used to educate all other members of the military.

    There’s been too many occasions of disrespect/degrading behaviour to women; bullying, which at times has caused the bullied to commit suicide; males in senior positions bullying younger women of lower rank into sexual liasons, also ending up in suicide, and other either racist or predatory behaviour to people in other countries. If they want respect, they should act like decent human beings. If the ‘Leaders’ want to keep their jobs, they should act like leaders not like professional misogynists. The young woman concerned should not have been charged with anything, those who used her should have been. She’s entitled to engage in a sexual liason like anyone else – that doesn’t automatically show her as promiscuous – not any more than the males!

    Let’s just get rid of treating women in the manner Anne Summers was thinking of when she wrote, ‘damned whores and god’s police’? Used and abused as whores on one hand, but expected to ‘protect’ men from themselves – acting like the moral police FOR men. Pathetic!

  42. drsmithy

    I was also disappointed an article from a Sociologist did not bother to discuss how the dramatically different attitudes towards privacy of the current “Facebook” generation may have played a part.

  43. Liz45

    @DRSMITHY – you still don’t get it do you? This has nothing to do with any generation or Facebook or Twitter or anything else. Men either treat women with respect in all areas of life, or pay the price. Men either know how to treat other people, of both sexes with respect, or they don’t. These men used todays technology to abuse this young woman, and to treat her as just a sex object for their gratification. Full stop! The End! It would’ve been just as revolting if the ‘mates’ were peering in the door or window as PRE-ARRANGED! The filming it was disgusting. I just hope that it’s been destroyed, so that it doesn’t ‘pop up’ in a few years time to blackmail her or jeopardise her then relationship!

    You have a jaundiced view of the role of women in our society. You need to do some soul searching. I hope if you don’t have kids, you give yourself a reality check before you do! Weren’t you ever taught about ‘sexual manners’? Didn’t anyone pull you up when you used sexist words like ‘mole’ or ‘slut’? I did with my boys and their mates when they were in their early teens. I’d challenge the use of those words; ask them the male equivalent(which none exist, and I’d suggest ‘super stud’ – at least they looked embarrassed or chagrined by that, but you?). We’d then chat about the role of women and girls in their lives etc. They certainly learnt that they didn’t have an automatic right to sex or anything else either for that matter – being waited on was not an option, and having a penis didn’t get you out of the washing up, vacuuming or learning to cook, iron etc.

    You’d learn a lot from reading, ‘Damned Whores and God’s Police’ by Anne Summers, or ‘The End of Equality’ by her also – a more recent book!
    A few hours on the Internet after you’ve put in ‘sexual assault’ or ‘domestic violence’ would be most appropriate!

    You’re only ‘opening your mouth to change feet’ at the moment!

  44. mikeb

    I don’t thing the woman has been charged with anything in relation to the incident? Correct me if I’m wrong.

    I do think there is a “Facebook” generation aspect to this in that many seem to think it vitally important to video everything and present it to as many people as possible. Technology makes this possible now whereas it would have been very difficult even 10 years ago. Social media time wasters such as twitter is the text equivalent of “look at me…look at me” for attention seekers.

    No doubt in pre video times similar things would have happened (i.e. pre-arranged voyerism) but fortunately at least the record of events wasn’t there for the whole world to see in perpetuity.

    The only way to stop it is to draw a line in the sand and make it absolutely clear that actions such as this will result in instant dismissal and possible criminal charges if proven – no ifs & no buts.

  45. Liz45

    @MIKEB – You’re right about the charges – they’re unrelated to this incident. My mistake! However, Minister Stephen Smith said that at best it was insensitive to go ahead with this matter yesterday, and that those charges should be removed. I find it perplexing that those who viewed the whole sorry saga haven’t been sanctioned – whether they broke the law or not, they should be at least given a ‘tongue lashing’?

    The incidents of sexual assault, domestic violence etc are too high in this country. In recent years, while other crimes have decreased, in most States I believe, these crimes of violence against women and girls has increased. One factor that has been suggested as one contributor is the growing violence and degradation of women via pornography. When one thinks of some of the awful situations in recent years and this type of ‘entertainment’ I believe this assertion has merit. I’ve read accounts from men who are disgusted by many of the conversations they overhear. That this attitude to women is an ingrained part of daily life for some men.

    The way to stop it is for all of us to show our disgust, and for the community to discuss how we’re raising boys – from the cradle. It’s too late to start in late teens. If there’s sexist, mosogynist attitudes in the home, or children live in a violent environment where there’s little or no respect, this is the possible outcome at a later time. I can’t understand why ‘social manners’ aren’t taught or at least emphasized in the defence forces.

    I’d be mortified and ashamed if my sons behaved in this manner. I’m proud of the fact, that they have had and do have loving and respectful relationships, and are bringing up their children in the same manner. It must start prior to children’s birth – respect and consideration. As important to life as a good education in the usual topics.

    I think Neil James is wrong criticising the Minister, and Stephen Smith and Angus Houston have it right. Good for them!

  46. Joombi OFlaherty

    On the one hand, both parties signed enrolment documents prohibiting the liason that took place. All the watching parties knew what they were doing was against the rules as was what they were watching. On the other hand, guys and gals in closely accomodated proximity are always going to find a way to spend time together. So, perhaps while bemoaning their lack of “sticking to the rules” we should also accept that these kind of things are going to happen (the consensual act, I mean). I’m not condoning the “watchers” either by the way – they definately don’t have any excuses. BTW, does anyone have a link to the video footage?

  47. Mike


    If I hear one more of your long winded, low intellect, boring as bat shit diatribes on the female unich, I’ll scream!!!

  48. Clytie

    Mike, it would be helpful if you could spell. I think “eunuch” is the word you may have meant to type. (referring to Germaine Greer’s 70s book, “The Female Eunuch”).

    It’s interesting that you feel you are able to judge other people as “low intellect” and classify their comments as “diatribes”. Does this come from an assumption that you must be right, so anyone disagreeing with you must be wrong (and obviously inadequate and over-emotional)?

    If so, this attitude will not bring you happiness. It alienates people, means you’re not really listening to anyone, and prevents you learning.

    Start really listening to people, and you may be surprised how much you learn, and how much you feel like you’re really part of the world around you.

    (I regularly have to remind myself to listen carefully and not pre-judge what people say. 😉 )

  49. Elan


    I stopped reading right there.

    What I have to say will take more time than I have now,( and I don’t want to run the risk of melting my keyboard).


  50. Elan

    I have posted. It is up for moderation.

    Mercy me! What did I say? Women are equals??


  51. Elan

    Bugger! I see them as all the same! Stephen SMITH? I called him Conroy. Ah well,

    The Min of Def.

  52. Liz45

    @MIKE – And you think I have the problem? Have you ever read the book I referred to? If you were one of my sons and spoke as you did, I’d give you the MESSAGE! You are part of the problem. I hope you don’t have any kids? Sons or daughters! You are an ignorant misogynist moron, who just keep the whole abusive crap towards women simmering away.

    Go and do some growing up! There are other books, but you wouldn’t be interested anyway! I’m bored with you now. (yawn!) There are men out there who are capable of thinking past their dick. I suggest you tap into their views. You just might learn something!

  53. Elan

    I Copy all my posts. I do so because there was a period when they ‘evaporated’ when I tried to post them. It is a habit that has stuck. Some are C/P’d-as was this.

    Crikey has minimal moderation compared to some sites. I would like to believe my post ‘disappeared’ because of an error;-and not because of some kind of unwarranted censorship.

    I am reposting it because I have checked it carefully and see absolutely no breach of forum rules, nor any defamatory statement.

    (I have made minor grammatic changes-and named the correct Minister! AND I refuse to grace some officers referred to, with a capital O. Thanks for allowing that opportunity Crikey……..).
    Where were we? Ah yes…………..

    “The ADF is a predominantly male domain. When men seek to close ranks they exclude others and they use language and practises that marginalise, and subordinate those others. Perverse sexuality, racist terms, bullying and intimidation consolidate the boundary between a group of mates and “the enemy”.

    I appreciate that these comments are not an endorsement, but they do justify the culture that is so prevalent in society,-never mind the military.

    This crap about: ’ it’s a man thing’, ’ a group of blokes together-what can you expect? ’ …..”boyish mischief”….type of rational.

    It’s BS. Utter BS. This is the kind of logic that causes the problem.

    My first career was military (RAF). I achieved a rank where I did not need to make the tea! NONE of this occurred then. NONE. I refer to ‘military’. Not RAF nor RAAF nor other branches: Military.

    This behaviour occurs ONLY because senior officers have allowed it to. No other reason. It occurs because the most senior of them all refers to it as an “isolated incident”.

    Well!! That’s OK then….isn’t it?

    These ’ isolated incidences’ have occurred before as the article writer points out. And these ’ isolated incidences’ will continue to occur when they are dismissed as such; when these matters are given some logic by referral to the ADF as a predominantly ‘male domain’.

    I understand how that is meant, but it underpins the thought process that women are ‘intruders’….”the enemy”.

    Really? Absolute nonsense! TWO s.exes folks. Not one: TWO. Male/female are part of life and male female have worked in many fields as equals;-including the military.

    I don’t give one fecking damn for the nonsensical ‘mans world’ logic. It does not fit the reality. This is a man’s AND woman’s world. GET OVER IT.

    This can be stopped. If it is not stopped at this level: at those who are in training to be dispersed as leaders and future senior leaders , then there is no hope of resolving things.

    The neglect; and I mean neglect of senior officers to take action, should see more than one of them Court Marshalled. Unfortunately this lamentable situation is not grounds for CM.

    But those who are charged with leading; with setting an example, when they set none, should be ‘bumped down’. They should be reduced in rank.

    Above everything Houston should acknowledge a problem. He should then take a zero tolerance approach to deal with it. Not just that mantra: implement it!

    I would like to see a senior ranking female Officer on every station;-on every vessel, who is appointed to be responsible directly to the Minister AND his/her Opposition number; NOT her senior officer. An Officer who has a role where she is not forced to report any incident to those she knows full well will not deal with it!

    Such selectee’s would thus be empowered, because they do not need to seek any redress from those who are responsible for the situation in the first place. It would not be easy. But it would not be impossible. The presence of such an officer would send a clear message to those who perpetuate the culture of ‘man up’ ; of: suck it up”.

    The military slime- who should not even be serving- would have to watch their cowardly behaviour. That might just ‘encourage’ senior personnel to actually lead!

    It is utter fallacious garbage to suggest that: ’ this is the way it is;-its been happening for a long time’ SO?

    It never used to happen. If it had happened on my station I would have the officers and the protagonists stripped of rank and kicked off my station. This would humiliate them-as they allowed the humiliation of others.

    Was it Utopia then ? Well of course not!! But not only did this type if thing not occur; what is vastly more important: the logic that explains WHY it occurs simply did not exist!

    That is the key to the whole problem.

    I am utterly sickened by some of the rationales here. I am sickened that women have to be afraid to serve. I am sickened beyond belief that the young officer trainee who spoke up is now allegedly being called a slut. (I would deal equally with any female personnel who were involved in any of this).

    I have no interest in Smith or any damn politician, but I am thoroughly disgusted at the primitive military ‘bovver boys’ who are angry at his stance.

    They are the very people who are responsible for this vile ethic in the military.

  54. Liz45

    @ELAN – I can’t see what was wrong with your post? I even used the word “dick”? I’m with you re all you posted. I’m 66 now, and I’d hoped that this sort of crap would be gone – I used to be hopeful in the 80’s? But this crap now? Unbelievable!You and others are correct in saying that this sort of culture is ‘out there’ and perhaps this is just a reflection of that, but it’s revolting regardless of where it happens.

    Neil James is out of touch with what the reality SHOULD be. His criticism of Stephen Smith was offensive. If the Minister for Defence can’t criticise revolting behaviour in the defence forces, then who’s going to? Neil James? I don’t think so! I haven’t heard him utter one word of rebuke let alone repulsion?

    So, the Minister for Defence can participate in sending troups to war; oversee them and the weaponry etc used, but not speak out against this sort of disgusting behaviour? What rot! Good on him I say, and he’s reinforced his view this afternoon! Great stuff! Stick to the principles you’ve asserted Stephen, and don’t be bullied by pip squeaks who want to live in the 50’s. I don’t think the defence forces need the type of males who exhibited such gross behaviour. Turf them out!

    It’s interesting to note that Admiral Houston said that he was disgusted too! Neil James didn’t criticise him for his outspokeness?

    People should realise, that it wasn’t that long ago, that a husband in NSW(and other states too) couldn’t be charged with raping his wife; that the police and even Chamber Magistrates response to a woman’s plea for advice re domestic violence was to tell her to “go home, cook his favourite meal and be a good wife”? How do I know this? It was my personal experience in the 60’s – the police weren’t much better! Didn’t even ask if I was OK, let alone my infant children. We’ve moved on, be it ever so slowly, but expectations of mens’ behaviour has improved markedly – and those out of step are the dinosaurs who think this sort of behaviour is OK! It’s definitely not OK!

    Neil James is part of the problem – he’s criticising the wrong person/s! Take a reality check Neil!

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