Australians Call For Tools To Challenge Sexism And Disrespect

Sexist jokes, objectifying women, off-colour comments; most people hate these all too common signs of disrespect towards women, but too often they just go along with them, or don’t feel comfortable voicing their disapproval.

Australia’s national body for the prevention of violence against women, Our Watch, has today launched an interactive online video campaign to help Australians do something when they witness disrespect towards women. 

The campaign, Doing nothing does harm, was developed in response to new research that revealed four in five Australians (79 per cent) want practical tips on how to take positive bystander action, with only 14 per cent of Australians currently likely to act. 

The campaign centrepiece is a series of short, interactive videos that recreate everyday situations and challenge the viewer to click “do something” when the conversation turns disrespectful. The conclusion of each video is dependent on the viewer’s choice of action – or inaction.   

Doing nothing does harm also provides Australians with practical tips about how to respond to casual sexism in a social environment, after the research revealed 75 per cent of the population want advice that helps them act without being a ‘party pooper’.

Our Watch Chair, Natasha Stott Despoja AM, said the campaign aims to help people understand what disrespectful behaviour towards women looks like and how bystander inaction can imply acceptance.

“We know from our research that disrespectful attitudes and behaviours are part of the culture that can drive violence against women. When everyday signs of disrespect go unchallenged, it is normalised, excused and tolerated,” Ms Stott-Despoja said.

According to the Our Watch research, almost half of Australia’s population (47 per cent) can recognise and identify disrespect towards women but are unlikely to do something. Another 39 per cent of all Australians struggle to even recognise such situations.

“The Doing nothing does harm campaign equips Australians with simple and practical ways to do something about some of the disrespectful behaviour they observe everyday – whether that is among friends or in public situations,” Ms Stott Despoja said.

“The defining message of the campaign is that no matter how big or small the action you take, we can all play a part in challenging disrespect,” she added.

Our Watch Chief Executive Officer, Patty Kinnersly, said it was vital that we help Australians overcome the barriers to action and encourage bystanders to do something.

“When we remain silent or do not show our discomfort in the face of disrespectful comments or jokes, we are contributing to a society where men and women are not treated equally,” Ms Kinnersly said.

“The good news is that together we can all help create a new ‘normal’, where women and men are always treated with equal respect. Doing nothing does harm but doing something can make a world of difference.”

You can watch the Doing nothing does harm videos via an interactive website Our Watch has designed, doingnothingdoesharm.org.au, which provides a deeper understanding of how people could act when they see disrespectful behaviour towards women.

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