We’re not a full month into 2016 yet but a cursory glance at the various headline-making stories from the year suggests a clear theme: men behaving badly.
First we had Jamie Briggs, the government minister who resigned following an inappropriate incident with a public servant overseas and leaked the woman’s image to the press.
Then we had another government minister, Peter Dutton, caught out for sending a text message describing political editor Samantha Maiden as a “mad f*cking witch“.
We had cricketer Chris Gayle’s proposition for Channel 10 host Mel McLaughlin in a post-match interview.
We had the NSW Labor boss Jamie Clements resign amid claims of sexual harassment.
We had a pair of ANZ traders, who were sacked last year for misusing their corporate credit cards and inappropriate behaviour, sue the bank for what they describe as a rampant culture of sex, drugs and alcohol.
Yesterday we were confronted with the sight of NRL player Mitchell Pearce, co-captain of the Sydney Roosters, make unwelcome sexual advances towards a woman and a dog.
It’s quite a laundry list. And what’s least inspiring is the common thread that weaves these otherwise disparate incidents together.
In every case we are viewing the behaviour of men in positions of relative power. These are men who are paid handsomely, have jobs others dream of holding down; jobs that, like yours and mine, carry with them some responsibilities.
In every case, these men failed to adhere to standards of behaviour it is not unreasonable to expect from teenagers or young adults. Let alone adults in positions of power.
And in virtually every case there has been a rousing chorus from those who wish to defend the individuals or the behaviour in question.
Can’t these men have a bit of a fun? Can’t you compliment a woman? He was having a few drinks! The world’s gone mad.
A counterview is this: if it’s too much to expect grown adults to refrain from sexually harassing a co-worker, a woman, or a dog – whether they’re drinking or not — isn’t that proof the world really has gone mad?