Words, Women and Sharks

Words, Women and Sharks

The phrase domestic violence is almost comical in its connotation. Say it. Then, think about it. What do you picture? If you really think about the two measly words, they don’t amount to much do they? I picture a malfunctioning toaster blasting a piece of hot toast into an unsuspecting breakfast patron’s eye. I also sometimes picture a runaway vacuum cleaner nozzle getting the better of some unsuspecting vacuuming person’s hair. I rarely think of those two words as what they really are and what it should be called – men terrorising and killing women and children in their own homes. That is what is should be called because that is what it is. It is not random inanimate domestic household appliances gone awry and causing violence. It is men terrorising and killing women and children in their own homes.

The phrase shark cull is almost comical in its connotation. Say it. Then, think about it. What do you picture? If you really think about the two measly words, they don’t amount to much do they? I picture a shark with long hair getting a hair cut by some crazy cleaner wrasse with tiny scissors. I also sometimes picture people wading into water with the bright orange batons that runway personnel use at airports to guide planes waving masses and masses of sharks who are clogging up the shores in directions away from beaches. I rarely think of those two words as what they really are and what it should be called – humans killing sharks to minimise the already miniscule chance that they may injure bathers on the coast. That is what it should be called because that is what it is. It is not a minimising of an out of control population of potential vermin that require thinning out for the safety of crops or the prevention of disease. It is humans killing sharks to minimise the already miniscule chance that they may injure bathers on the coast.

Now, before you accuse me of diminishing the death of women or sharks to the detriment of the other, bear with this argument, convoluted as it may be at this early stage.

Last year, 4 young men died from coward punches by the hands of other young men who were complete strangers. This received massive amounts of air and print time and publicity campaigns are still running to stop this scourge of despicable violence.
During the same period of time, 72 women died by the hands of men they knew and shared or at one time shared a life with. During this same time, over 100,000,000 sharks were killed by nets, hooks, knives and machetes by complete strangers who shared a commodity based relationship with the sharks who were and are not aware of this relationship.

The publicity campaigns for the coward punches and the sharks far exceed the campaigns for the violence of men against women and children. Coward punches seem to have thankfully stopped and the campaigns seem to have worked. There has not been a fatal coward punch incident since the campaign and the bar lock outs started.
The shark awareness campaigns are taking hold around the world and many cities and countries are banning shark products. The anti-cull campaign has a worldwide vocal public who continue to denounce the Western Australian government’s killing of more than 150 sharks and counting since the beginning of the cull in February 2014.
Male violence against women has not only not diminished but is actually believed to have increased.

Obviously there are myriads of issues to be discussed here and yes, they are complex and varied but there seems to be a clear message that people understand what the campaign is saying about coward punches but not sharks and not about men killing women and children in their own homes. I believe language has a lot to do with this.
The words king hit were replaced by the words coward punch. These two words speak the truth to the situation. A king is not performing the act, a coward is. Through this act of changing the words to speak the truth, the public have listened and responded. It is time to do the same for sharks, women and children. The words currently used are not speaking the truth to the situation. They are bureaucratic words couched in paperwork and wrapped up in red tape. Cull needs to be replaced by lure and kill. Domestic violence needs to be replaced, but by what? The word domestic is far too cosy and on the flip side it is wrapped up in privacy and an inability to intervene and the word violence is too general to be effective. The word coward seems to work here for all three acts. Cowards are the agents of all three acts. Perhaps the new campaign for sharks should read cowards luring and killing sharks out of fear and cowards hurting and killing women and children in their own homes.

Perhaps when we start speaking the truth, the truth will change.

September 4, 2014

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