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Hey Singo, domestic violence is NOT a punchline

May 13 2015 By Wendy Tuohy

If the standard you walk past is the standard you accept, then ladies and gents, we’re in trouble.

Singo  Image

Because the general tolerance of jokes told this week about “belting” and “bashing” women by one of our most high profile businessmen suggests either people accept that, hey, maybe domestic violence really can be funny, or that if you’re well enough connected you can get away with it.

After being photographed outside at a Sydney restaurant pretending to “glass” his friend Jack Cowin, advertising baron John Singleton was asked by a photographer “was that just a bit of fun between friends?”

While being filmed, the 73-year-old Singleton ranted: “It was over a woman — we don’t have one. He (fellow lunch guest Jon Stevens) was trying to find a woman to belt and I was trying to have a sex change so he could bash me”.

He said some cruder stuff reverencing oral sex before adding: “And then he bashed me … but (putting on a high voice) ‘It’s OK now darling’.”

Asked by the cameraman what the group thought of “the violence” — Singleton’s mock glassing which caused staff to intervene — the veteran media personality ran at the camera saying “I f — kin love it, I f — kin love it”.

And most of what has followed has been a one-track story about how embarrassing it was for “old mates” to be caught horsing around. The tone of much of the reporting has been sympathetic to a guy just having fun and unlucky to get snapped.

In a raft of haw-haw-haw gossip items today, Singleton’s choice of comebacks was simply glossed over as if it never happened.

It’s as if he really is entitled to make light of something causing injury and a life lived in fear to untold numbers of Australian women. It goes without saying that Mr Singleton is absolutely well informed enough to know better.

But what does the fact these comments were brushed off say about our acceptance of a level of flippancy about domestic violence?

Behind the show of support for celebrated survivors such as Rosie Batty, and behind the outrage every time a high-profile homicide or court case occurs, do we just not care?

Radio broadcaster Richard Glover remarked on Twitter that when he stuck his head up yesterday as the lone voice criticising Singleton’s choice of punchlines, listeners rang to complain about him chastising “drunk Aussie men”.

Groups campaigning to reduce violence against women noted on their Facebook pages that “two of the highest profile and most influential media players in Australia joking about domestic violence is not on” and pointed out that diminishing violence against women by joking about it also supports it.

Laughing about the idea of “belting women” is exactly “what we’re trying to teach our sons is not acceptable in our society”, noted one reader on Our Watch’s page.

Singleton said he was horrified when he opened the paper today and saw pictures of him waving the glass, remarking it’s not something he’d want his grandkids to see.

“The cruel thing is that there is absolutely no drama between us,” he said.

Er, no Mr Singleton, the cruel thing is you still haven’t realised how dangerous it is to send the message that any aspect of violence against women is funny.

And I feel optimistic that when you do you will also acknowledge that is not something you’d ever want your grandchildren to experience or see.

That is not one standard we can afford to walk past.

Author: Wendy Tuohy

This piece first appeared in The Daily Telegraph on 13/05/15

Media contact

For enquiries or further information: Hannah Grant, Our Watch, mobile 0448 844 930, email Hannah.Grant@ourwatch.org.au

*If you cover this story, or any story regarding violence against women and children, please include the following tagline:

“If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault or family violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit www.1800RESPECT.org.au. In an emergency, call 000”