Polished Man

Dear Adam,

Please forgive the length of this letter. I ask you for your patience and attention. Please read it through to its conclusion.

I have been an admirer of yours for a long time. As a passionate Collingwood supporter, I loved watching you play in the beautiful black and white. You wore your heart on your sleeve and clearly loved our football club.

I was saddened by your forced exit and I’ve continued to watch you play for the Bulldogs with the same class and passion.

It is clear to me you are a kind, compassionate man, but I was very upset by an Instagram post a friend pointed out in which you announced your new role as an ambassador for Polished Man. This organisation wants to end male violence against women and especially children.

I recall seeing Tim and Jobe Watson promoting this cause some time ago and back then the organization stated clearly that their organization was all about ending male violence against children. Perhaps it has expanded its scope.

You may be wondering why such an apparently righteous cause could cause me to feel so upset.

Let me explain.

If I created an organization whose mission was to end male suicide, I am certain many eyebrows would be raised. The question, “what about female suicide?” would surely be on the lips of the families touched by this scourge due to the loss of a mother, daughter, sister or friend.

As noble as my goal may appear, it would be difficult to justify my focus on just one demographic involved in this devastating societal issue. I could respond by saying the vast majority of suicide victims in Australia and indeed the world are male, but that would bring little comfort to people grieving the loss of loved females.

Why would I not devote myself to promoting an organization whose goal was to end all suicide or at least lessen its occurrence?

Domestic violence is no different.

One third of all victims are men.

According to the Australian Institute of Criminology, one woman is killed every six days and one man is killed every ten days in a domestic violence incident in Australia.

When it comes to the murder of children, the perpetrators are split almost fifty/fifty. Statistics show a child is actually safer being in the care of their biological father than they are being cared for by their biological mum.

These are facts you can research for yourself, Adam. In fact, you should have done some research if you are going to represent an organization focused on an issue as serious as family violence.

In fact, it would be easier to defend a focus on male suicide than it is to defend an organization whose aim is to end male violence against children when women are just as likely to kill their children and far more likely to neglect and abuse them.

It is quite bewildering given the number of child murders committed by mothers in Australia in just the past four months that you could be unaware of the propensity of mothers to kill their children.

It is a shameful truth to state that our media and government spend billions of dollars demonising men and boys and promoting the distorted notion that family violence is an entirely male problem. Most people assume men and only men kill or abuse children and women. The idea that there could be female perpetrators or male victims is seen as ridiculous. Have you ever seen one advertisement on this issue do anything other than present men as the perpetrator and women and children the victims of male violence?

I haven’t.

This is quite deliberate and demonstrably false and misleading.

Just last week a mother murdered her three children in Port Hedland. She burned them alive. They said the fathers of the dead children had been informed of their heartbreaking loss. As is always the case, this tragedy stayed in the news cycle for 24 hours. Her children were a daughter aged ten, and two boys aged seven and five months. The mother’s name is Margaret Dale Hawke, aged 36. I give you these facts in case you doubt me and want to verify what I tell you.

One article says when she appeared in court, she waved to a supporter in the public gallery.

There were no editorials telling women it was their collective responsibility to take a stand and speak up about mothers who kill their children. There were no television hosts staring down the lens lecturing women about their toxic femininity and urging them to swear an oath, wear a white ribbon or paint their nails.

This kind of reaction is reserved solely for men when a male kills a child or woman.

If the murder of those three children was a rarity, perhaps your organisation could argue that such incidents are so rare as to be almost unworthy of mentioning. But this is far from being the case.

Let me support my point of view with indisputable facts.

The mother who burned her children to death in Port Hedland is the third to do so in the past four months.

Let me provide you with some more heartbreaking evidence to support my claim that the deliberate invisibility of female perpetrators of family violence which is hidden in any government campaign or domestic violence organizations publicity is an outrageous misrepresentation of the truth and daily reality so many experience.

  • On March 25th 2022 a mother burned herself and her two daughters to death in Cranbourne. A woman in her 30s and two girls aged under six have been found dead after a car burst into flames in Melbourne’s south east.
  • On March 17th 2022, a mother, Selvanna Doreswamy burned her two children to death in a car in Perth.
  • January 17th 2021, a mother killed her three children, Claire 7, Anna 5 and Matthew 3 in Tullamarine. Her husband discovered the dead bodies of his children.
  • In 2021, a Geelong woman burned a married couple and their baby alive.
  • Three husbands were burned to death by their female partners in 2019 within a period of a couple of months. The shocking murders were barely mentioned in the media. I’ll give you the names of these three men who died horrifically and almost anonymously as victims of female violence.
  • Jeffrey Lindsell
  • Darren Reid
  • Daniel Surtees

Let me introduce you to a woman whose compassion extends to all victims of family violence. Her compassion isn’t conditional or based upon the genitals of the perpetrator or victim.

Jewell Drury, like me, is astounded by the media silence regarding the horrific murders of these dads by their female partners. She is equally appalled by the silence or very different tone our media adopts when women perpetrate violence on their partners or children.

Let me quote Jewell.

Last week I shared information about the deaths of three men who were all set on fire by their female partners in separate incidents. Two of the men were set alight in front of their children and all three men later died from their injuries.

Three men. Each murdered by his female partner.

All three set on fire and left to die.

No floral tributes.

No candlelight vigils.

No media outrage or finger pointing lectures by the hosts of The Project or The Today show.

Not one person was willing to stand up for these innocent victims of domestic violence.”

Why is it the case, Adam, that we never hear a word about male victims? Why are women never told they carry collective responsibility for the acts of murder carried out by people who happen to share their gender?

Whenever one man commits an act of domestic violence, all men are told they carry responsibility for creating a toxic masculine society which encourages or enables such violence.

This is utterly despicable behaviour. We would condemn any such collective blame targeting any other demographic in our society. If all Muslims were held responsible for the violence of a tiny minority of Muslim extremists you would rightly label such behaviour bigoted and phobic. If we blamed or even demanded action from the indigenous community to end their far higher rate of family violence within their communities, we would be branded racist and condemned.

Yet men are consistently blamed, targeted and held responsible simply because they share the immutable characteristics of a perpetrator. This is the very definition of bigotry. You are continuing this tradition by urging men to polish their nails and take a stand as if they can somehow stop the tiny minority of males who because of mental illness, drug and alcohol abuse or financial strain resort to violent abuse. These have always been the major drivers of violence in the home for both men and women and this is borne out by all of the literature.

Yet our government campaigns on a lie. The respect women campaign claims a lack of respect is what leads to the violent abuse of women and children. It is a lie. When Senator Leyonhjelm questioned the women responsible for the promotion of this multi-million dollar propaganda campaign in the senate, none of them could provide a skerrick of evidence to support their assertion that a lack of respect is a leading cause of family violence.

It isn’t listed in the top ten causes listed in the WHO literature on domestic violence.

Watch it for yourself. Of course, this truth never made it into the mainstream media.

Senator Leyonhjelm asks questions about “Let’s Stop It At The Start” domestic violence ad campaign – YouTube

Premiers and Prime Ministers promote this man blaming and male demonisation regardless of which side of the political fence they sit. It is shameful and doing untold damage to our boys and young men.

Terms like toxic masculinity are used constantly in our media implying that there is something uniquely poisonous in male DNA which has to be changed, controlled or eradicated.

Sadly Adam, your well-intentioned gesture and promotion of Polished Man is simply reinforcing this concept of collective guilt. It’s a virtue signalling stunt which ultimately feeds into the loop telling us men are the cause and only men can stop it.

If our media and governments truly cared about domestic violence their strongest focus would be in our indigenous communities where the rate is said to be thirty times the rates found in urban Australia. This is rarely if ever spoken about or the focus of articles. Why? We don’t want to be branded racist so the truth is hidden while indigenous families continue to be torn apart by this scourge, fuelled mostly by alcohol abuse. Indigenous senator Jacinta Price has cried out for action but no-one has the courage to act.

The whole subject is politicised and the truth has been the biggest casualty.

Let me return to that good woman, Jewell Drury again. I want to provide you with more recent examples of mothers who have murdered their children in Australia and ask you how an organisation claiming to care about victims of domestic violence can ignore the countless lives of children lost at the hands of their mums.

Jewell said,

Each of the many cases of mothers killing their children which I will list below were represented as a mother’s tragic cry for help, or a woman who couldn’t cope with the pressures of the family. Of course, the mothers must have suffered abuse at the hands of their husbands- except this was found to be untrue in ALL of the cases I will present here.”

Why is this compassion and understanding never afforded to men who snap and kill their children? Men are branded evil, vile monsters who deserve to burn in hell. The contrast in tone is so stark it is disturbing.

Here are the murderous mothers.

  • Tamara Gunney is awaiting trial for allegedly murdering her three year old child, Isla Gunney.

Tammara was charged with murdering her child then setting her bedroom on fire. She did this the same day she was meant to give the child to her father who had been awarded custody.

  • Akon Guode killed her three youngest children by deliberately driving them into a lake.
  • Milka Djurasovik killed her daughters, 10 year old Mia, 6 year old Tiana at the family home in Madeley in Perth. She beat them to death with a hammer.
  • Charmaine McLeod 35, murdered her four children, Aaleyn 6, Matilda 5, Wyatt 4 and Zaidok 2, when she deliberately collided head on with a truck on May 27th 2019.
  • A horrifying massacre (the worst domestic violence incident in Australian history) took place in Cairns six days before Christmas in Cairns. Eight children were stabbed to death, They were aged between 2 and 14. Their mother, Raina Thaiday was charged with the murder of her seven children and her niece.
  • A mother charged with the murder of her 8 year old son, died in jail. Joanne Finch 42 from Tootgarook on the Mornington Peninsula was charged with the murder of her son, Brodie Moran.
  • Mother Deidre Morley, murdered her three young children by sedating them with injections before suffocating them.
  • Makavelii Leoni was drowned in his bath by his mother, Lina Daley. She had a history of drug abuse. Her son’s dead body was covered in bite marks, burn marks and bruises.
  • Newly divorced mother, 39, shot her three children dead. All three kids were under 12 years of age. Ashley Auzenne 29, was found dead with the children. Her husband had been awarded custody by the court. She was said to be upset by the decision.
  • Mother Melissa Arbuckle placed her baby on train tracks. Her baby was killed. Melissa pleaded guilty to infanticide but did not go to prison because of the tragic circumstances of the case. She is back at work as a veterinary assistant. Her baby is dead.
  • A mother, Sofia Nikat confessed to drowning her daughter in a local creek. Her husband had to identify the body of his only child.

Adam, these are just a few of the many more cases from the past decade.

How can any organization claiming to be devoted to the eradication of domestic violence choose to coldly and quite deliberately ignore the clear evidence which shows that domestic violence is not a gendered issue?

Imagine the outrage if campaigns began in which women were urged to swear an oath and wear a ribbon promising that they would intervene or speak up whenever they saw another woman engage in abuse or violence toward their children?

Men have been told to do this.

Imagine if schoolgirls were asked to stand at assembly and apologise for the violent, abusive actions of mother and women they never knew while the boys sat watching. This has taken place at schools across Australia-but of course it was the boys who were asked to stand and apologise for something they had not done. How sickening.

Imagine if the term toxic femininity was used frequently by media commentators and politicians.

Imagine if tv hosts looked down a camera lens and told women to tell their daughters and girlfriends that they should not kill or abuse their babies. Lisa Wilkinson told the men of Australia to tell their sons not to rape.

This endless demonisation of men and boys has gone on for decades. Ads abound showing boys bullying their sisters and dads throwing footballs at their wives’ heads and laughing. It is utterly disgusting and pure bigotry.

Do your mates at the Kennel need to be told not to bash their wives or rape their girlfriends, Adam? Perhaps it’s all those evil strangers outside of your circle who commit all these horrific acts.

Polished Man is feeding into the very same narrative as the campaigns I mentioned. It tells us DV is a male only issue which can only ever be stopped when men make it stop.

As well intentioned as you clearly are, Adam, I think causes like yours do untold damage to the men and kids who are the silent victims of female abuse. How does a man or boy tell a disbelieving, brainwashed public which already struggles to feel the same compassion and concern for male victims that they are being abused by their wife or mum?

My best mate told me he had been sexually and physically abused by his mum after thirty years of friendship. He told me he found it impossible to speak about because talking about an abusive mum was a taboo subject and it made him feel even more ashamed given the endless focus on fathers being the perpetrators. He said he felt there must be something wrong with him. We are soul mates who talk openly yet it took him three decades to tell me. He finally left an abusive marriage after decades of emotional and physical abuse.

I think of him and the many dads who come home to an empty house which was once filled with the laughter of his children who are now dead at the hands of the women they thought they could trust. What do they think when they hear of campaigns like yours telling the world men must stop family violence or men must stop killing and abusing their children?

How do kids who are abused by their mums ever find their voice when all they see on tv is ads showing demonic fathers and innocent mothers. They will react just like my best mate and turn their pain inward and remain silent.

Who speaks up for the countless boys and girls lying in their graves because of the violence of their mothers? They are forgotten.

An annual candlelight vigil is held in Federation Square, Adam. The names of women and children killed by men are read aloud. The names of men and children killed by female hands are not read out. Rosie Batty used to host the nights. I cannot begin to describe how this silence when it comes to victims of female violence affects me.

Both my son and daughter are victims of vicious street assaults and both bear the scars. Do you think my wife and I were more deeply upset by our daughter’s assault and suffering? Do you think we shed more tears over her assault? This is the madness of our society. You know the answer, yet when it comes to domestic violence this is exactly what we do. ‘

This is the very attitude you promote Adam- the abuse and murder of a man or boy is somehow less tragic than the murder or abuse of a woman or girl. Hence headlines saying “Ten killed, including Two Women.”

Your campaign tells us male perpetrators of DV are far more heinous than female perpetrators who are never even mentioned. Perhaps a blade wielded by female hands is less painful as it slices a child’s flesh and the flames lit by female hands burn less fiercely.

Unlike you, my heart breaks for all victims of domestic violence. Even your quoted statistic proves my point. One in two children have experienced violence and one in three women. Were men even surveyed? Was their rate of violence experienced deemed unworthy of being cited? We are literally ignoring half of our society every time we present these statistics. What have we become? Men are ignored and nobody even asks the question. Why? You talk about checking in on your mates and mental illness and depression yet you contradict this message about caring for men by being an ambassador for an organisation which offers male victims no recognition or support. How many men have experienced violence? It is the only form of bigotry supported and reinforced by our leaders, teachers and society.

You will receive great acclaim, standing ovations and dewy eyes looks of love and appreciation for continuing the tradition of blaming men for family violence and asking men to do something about it.

You have chosen wisely Adam. I have spent my life trying to speak up for men and boys and it has led to nothing but jeering abuse and denigration. No back pats or awards for me. I don’t care. My son, brothers, mates and male students matter as much to me as my beautiful wife, daughter, female friends and female students.

I hope you can find the time to reflect on all I have written.

Thanks for reading this far and good luck with the rest of the 2022 season. You are a good man but I think very misguided on this issue.

Kind regards,

Mark Dent

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