This is really quite wondrous. There are two entirely different things going on concerning sex in the Australian Parliament. One is an allegation – claim? – of rape. Yes, this is a vile crime, the perpetrator should be brought to book. The other is a series of reports about sex – consensual sex – taking place in the Parliament building. Most of which seems to be gay sex taking place on desks and so on.
That these are both sex of a form is true. But they’re not really the same thing at all, are they?
‘A scandalous swamp’: how the Australian parliament’s toxic male culture hit global headlines
The rape of a female aide could indeed be evidence of a toxic male culture. One bloke giving another a bj on a desk is not, really and wholly, quite something we would describe as a toxic male culture. And yet the two things are being swirled together:
As the Australian government responds to yet more revelations about toxic male culture inside parliament, newspapers worldwide have reacted in horror, with Germany’s Der Spiegel warning that the news has put the prime minister, Scott Morrison, in “dire straits”, in a story headlined “Australia’s government is sinking into a scandalous swamp”.
This week a whistleblower alleged that Coalition staffers were swapping videos of themselves engaging in sex acts in Parliament House, including on the desk of a female Coalition MP. The whistleblower claimed that the building’s prayer room was often used for sex and sex workers had been invited into Parliament House by a former minister.
The revelations follow accusations made by the former staffer Brittany Higgins that she was raped by a colleague in a ministerial office, and a cabinet member being accused of sexual assault in 1988.
Berliner-Zeitung reports that “sexism in politics has sparked an avalanche of indignation in Australia” and that Morrison’s critics have accused him of “dealing awkwardly with the affairs”.
In France Le Monde reports that Morrison, “whose position was already shaken by his handling of several cases” has seen his executive “further weakened” by the videos of staffers engaging in sexual acts in Parliament House.
It is possible, I suppose, to note that greater promiscuity, that willingness to have sex when and wherever, is a male attribute and therefore a gay one. But it’s also considered terribly un-woke to do so.
But even so it does seem terribly strange to be associating consensual gay sex with heterosexual rape as this reporting is doing. They’re really, really, not the same thing.