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Life After Kyle

Today is International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, which is also commemorated by the White Ribbon Campaign.

White Ribbon recognises that men and boys need to to work towards eradicating the fact that one in three Australian women over the age of 15 have experienced physical or sexual violence at some time in their lives. Disability Discrimination Commissioner Innes summed up why this day is more than merely symbolic: “…it is a time to draw attention to this grave issue in our society. It is a time to ask men to ensure their actions make it clear they are against it, by speaking out about it and passing the important message – that there is no place for violence against women – onto their family and friends, particularly to other males.” The White Ribbon Campaign encourages us to highlight the importance of respect for women and strive for attitudinal change; all it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.

How fitting then that both mainstream and social media are abuzz with discussion over Kyle Sandiland’s recent outburst against a female journalist. Sandilands named the journalist and said she was a “troll…a bullshit artist”. He then commented on her appearance, mocking her hairdo and ranting:  ”You haven’t got that much titty to be wearing that low cut a blouse. Watch your mouth girl, or I will hunt you down.”

Using the hash tag #vilekyle, Tweets called for Austereo to sack him. An on-line petition urging sponsors to “ditch” Kyle attracted thousands of signatures. David Penberthy declared he finds him “…about as funny as the hole he has in his head where other people keep their brains” and branded him a “dictionary definition misogynist”. Miranda Devine attempted to highlight how this “living, sagging embodiment of misogyny” was a sad indictment on a culture that has become increasingly toxic for boys and men:  ”We now have a generation of men brought up with rap music that celebrates violence to women while their own innocent maleness has been treated as a dirty little crime since boyhood.” Whilst, in my discussion with Kerri-Anne, I argued that it is those around him, his co-host Jackie O, Austereo, and indeed the listening audience who must also be held responsible for allowing this man the elevated platform from which he can belittle, threaten and abuse:

 

It is my belief Kyle will go. He has proven himself to be not just a shock-jock but a liability. You may recall Charlie Sheen was forgiven for his atrocious behaviour towards women (in 2006, Sheen’s then wife, Denise Richards, filed a restraining order against him, saying that Sheen had thrown chairs at her, pushed her, and threatened to kill her. In 2009, he made similar threats against his new wife, Brooke Mueller, while holding a knife to her throat.  And in 2010 Sheen went on a violent rampage at the Plaza Hotel, allegedly verbally and physically abusing a prostitute he had hired for the night). It was only after Sheen turned on his producers that he was sacked.

But how can we ensure another Kyle, or another Sheen, does not emerge to replace those that have, fuelled by their own self-importance and fury, self-combusted?

And how do we deal with the many other men who are not so public in their abuse of women, and are not currently being held accountable?

The conversations need to be kept alive long after Sandilands has been silenced.

4 Responses to “Life After Kyle”

  1. Glenn Buesnel-May says:

    My first exposure to this man was in 1999. By 2008, I had submitted four complaints about his behaviour to the media watchdog. Interestingly, as per requirements, I submitted letters to Austereo first. I was dismissed as a ‘nobody’ by the network on all occasions. Trying to highlight my point that this was an inappropriate, damaged and damaging individual who’d bullied and lied and was now rewarded with powerful authority to influence public perceptions via radio, I wrote letters to newspaper editors and submitted comments on blogs, columns and opinion pieces to highlight the risk this individual exposes vulnerable and impressionable people in his objectionable and bullying manner. Not a single letter, of approximately a dozen, was published. And my blog and opinion piece comments were also rarely published. When I got fed up and walked into Fairfax Media to get an explanation, I was politely informed that due to his popularity, corporate sponsorship and ‘difficult personality’, most media outlets had to be careful that he wouldn’t sue them, which is his first resort when ANYONE DARES hold him responsible.

    I have repeatedly made the point that this individual is emotionally, corporately and socially dangerous and that his behaviour has constantly contravened the Sex Discrimination and Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Acts governing bullying and discrimination. I have dealt with the people like him as an educator in leadership development institutions, sports clubs and in industry. Typically, they are people who eventually need focused, professional and clinical support to help develop lives of acceptable balance. He lacks however, any measure of self-awareness and his expose a few weeks ago about the way he conducts himself with vulnerable young women who crave acknowledgement through his fame has particularly disgusted and saddened me.

    However, his behaviour is all that is necessary to bring him undone. He will hang himself with his own noose. We are seeing that now and it’s about time. But we need to deeply question not just the man himself, but his ‘enablers’. This includes his employer, his workmates and those who have created a market to use damaged, ambitious people like him to make them money. And we need to turn the microscope on those around us that give him his popularity. We need to ask young men and women what need it is that they seek fulfilling by people admiring and courting people like this. And we need to continue a deeper conversation about the value in seeking better for their lives, their community, and their world through their perceptions and their choices.

    But this individual is simply a symptom. One which I have been seeking a remedy for for in excess of ten, long years. There is a lot of work to do. But it’s deeply satisfying to see Danni Miller’s vision in bringing light and love to the world of our girls, and seeking to be the difference that makes a difference, which continues to add a relevant and compassionate voice to the conversations we need to have in order to lessen the impact of people like this in our world.

  2. Storm Greenhill-Brown says:

    A fantastcic response Glenn. What a stark contrast an intelligent, insightful and morally responsible man like you is to the persona that is Kyle S. I totally agree Danni and Glenn that the enablers are also held accountable. How can Jackie O be a part of this? Money and fame. Sandilands should not be someone people love to hate. He should not be a media personality, even that title that is given in mainstream media i find hideous. We must discuss these issues i believe too, long after that show is off the air.

  3. Diane Illingworth-Wilcox says:

    Thank you Danni and Glen for highlighting how damaging Kyle Sandilands comments and behaviour are to the community. As a media personality he holds a priveleged position of power which he is clearly abusing. His employers and colleagues are also accountable for providing him with a forum to do the damage that he is doing. It was so refreshing to read Glenn’s comments and see that there are intelligent, educated and above all compassionate men out there who, like so many women out there, want to see violence against women stopped.

  4. Francesca says:

    One of the mist pressing issues feminists are facing today is violence against women. Kyle’s comments are inappropriate and reflect a blatant disrespect for women. This sort of behavior should not be permissible and he should be held accountable by the media powers that be.

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