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Brown ban helps parents talk about domestic violence

  • 02 October 2015

Writing at Fairfax's online women's site Daily Life earlier this week, columnist Clem Bastow raised concerns about the campaign to ban US rapper and convicted woman basher Chris Brown from touring here.

She wasn't trying to spurn her fellow feminists. What Bastow did — and with no little aplomb — was to take aim at the hypocrisy behind such community-led campaigns.

Pointing out that all efforts seemed aimed at the 'alleged misogyny of rap and R&B' even though there were many other acts with questionable lyrics allowed to tour here, Bastow writes so convincingly, so dispassionately and with such insight (she also had the Australian Government in her sights, pointing out that while the immigration minister denied Brown a visa he turns a blind eye to the abuse of women held in detention) that it's almost ludicrous to argue otherwise.

But what resonated most for me was this: 'the use of immigration law to "send a message" is something any feminist should be profoundly uncomfortable with even in the face of Brown's well-documented crimes'.

I'm a feminist and, yet, I welcome the banning of Brown.

And here's why: I am the mother of two young boys, and have I've come to realise that in the dialogue I have with them regarding violence against women, rhetoric, posturing, instances where high-profile names are made example of and, yes, hypocrisy have their uses, too.

In my children's world, things are pretty black and white. And when my eight-year-old looks over my shoulder while I'm reading about Chris Brown and the ban looming over his upcoming concert, his curiosity gets the better of him.

'Mum, why do they want to ban that man?' he asks.

'Because he's a bad man,' I say.


'Because he hurts women.' And with that he's satisfied. I know, because I can see it in his face, behind his eyes, where no further questions dance. Hurting women is unacceptable and, therefore, the man who hurts women is bad. Simple.

(Brown has since appealed his ban, claiming that his life mistakes should stand as a lesson to other men. But repudiating his actions is, frankly, the least he can do, and earns him no sympathy from me.)

It's the second time this week that such rhetoric has come in handy in our house. And, as chance has it, the other, too, involved men behaving badly; very badly in one particular instance caught on a mobile phone camera.

That such behaviour