What do you do about a persistent bully? Ignore them? Stand up to them? Go to someone who has authority over them and complain?
Many of the people in my world are divided on this subject at the moment. Especially the women.
Some who have been the victims of this bullying are in tears. Many are angry. A few are rolling their eyes and urging everyone to rise above it and stop calling themselves victims.
It’s an interesting debate and no right or wrong answer. But it’s a distraction from the bullying itself.
This time the bully is Mark Latham and for the past four weeks he has waged a vicious, demeaning and sustained campaign against mothers who take antidepressants, mothers who work outside the home, women who identify as feminists and those who seek medical help for mental illness.
It’s an enormous group at which he’s aimed his toxic spray but in the signature way of bullies, he has singled out several individuals for personal attacks including journalists and mothers Lisa Pryor and Sarah Macdonald.
I know both these women personally. I have met their children and their partners. Part of me doesn’t want to tell you what brilliant, engaged, present, loving mothers Lisa and Sarah are because Latham’s vile accusations do not deserve the dignity of a response.
However, his comments are on the public record – thanks to his employers at the Australian Financial Review who continue to pay him and give him a microphone to spread his bile to a wider audience than he would otherwise have if he was just blogging or tweeting to a self-selecting bunch of people who chose to follow him.
This is the same newspaper who claimed to support and encourage women in their very public PR extravaganza last month when they announced their annual list of Australia’s 100 Most Influential Women along with a banking partner who presumably paid a lot of money to sponsor this admirable initiative.
Since then however, they have published two columns by Mark Latham which have attacked mothers and women. He has also appeared on Fairfax radio stations 3aw and 2UE to discuss his columns.
The repetition of these puerile attacks suggest this is pure trolling – saying outrageous or offensive things for the purpose of gaining attention and readers.