THE INCREDIBLE WOMAN
The Age Newspaper
Despite accepting that conviction rates are down and sexual abuse
was 'shamefully under acknowledged in the past', Bettina Arndt (Age
Tuesday March 19) still believes anti-male crusaders armed with
wild accusations of child sexual assault are driving innocent men
to suicide and turning the criminal justice system into a bastion
of discrimination against blokes. Can it be true? Or is the history
of rape and sexual assault one of the great-untold stories?
While writing a book about the 1987 murder of my sister I've pored
over pages of court transcripts. The killer, Peter Keogh, and his
mates, emerge as a brazen subset within a culture that, as Bettina
Arndt and Bishop Hollingworth bear testimony, continues to blame
girls for sexual assault and treat their stories as incredible.
Keogh and 'the boys' always believed they could beat sexual assault.
When one of his sidekicks raped a girl in a Holden out back of Broadmeadows
in 1966 the driver was unmoved by her girlfriend's threats. 'The
police? Forget it. We've done this before and never been caught,'
Needless to say, the girls were hysterical by the time they reached
the safety of a local house. The rapist was found 'guilty with mitigating
circumstances' and received 12 months gaol. A brutal rape certified
with a barbaric verdict and a sentence that reinforced the moral
and physical dominance of men on the streets and confirmed that
women were not to be believed. Unless a woman was bashed within
an inch of her life that was the rule not the exception.
After another mob of blokes known to Keogh raped a 15-year-old
virgin in Fairfield in 1959, barrister Frank Galbally asked whether
the girl wore lipstick and makeup on the night of the rape. That
she didn't scream when the boys frog marched her down the lane,
went to the pictures two days later and associated with girls who
used the word 'c---', was offered by other lawyers as reason to
conclude there was no rape.
Even after the guilty verdict the judge suggested the girl had
tempted the boys by being out after dark. Is it any wonder women
have fought to change rape laws, and girls are reluctant to report
In 1974, at age 26, Keogh was charged with raping a neighbour's
nine-year-old daughter in his house. Stripped naked and told her
face would be 'bashed inside out' if she screamed, the girl was
catatonic when her mother found her. Although Keogh's parole officer
was convinced of his guilt, she captured the mood of the times and
the tenor of Arndt's views when she described the girl as precocious.
Despite her mother telling the court her daughter suffered nightmares,
and without a word of corroboration from a professional, Judge Rapke
said he was thankful the girl had been spared any deep emotional
scars. Is this what Bettina Arndt means when she suggests rape isn't
violent and asserts most children carry no long-term damage from
sexual assault? And was the 15 months gaol sentence Keogh received
for this offence an example of a draconian penalty?
Instead of exploring how the criminal justice system has conspired
against the reporting of sexual assault, Arndt ridicules those who
make such claims as hysterical, mad or anti male. Then, with breathtaking
logic she says men who suicide after being accused of sexual assault
are the innocent victims of wilful females. It's exactly what Peter
Keogh said after he survived an overdose when facing court over
the rape of the little girl. His parole officer described it as
There are less gang rapes making their way to the court these days.
The official explanation is that despite convictions being down
men now know they can't get away with what Keogh's mates once did.
Maybe that explains the prevalence of the date rape drug.
Bettina Arndt's offerings are dangerous because they belittle the
modest progress made in the realm of sexual assault. Although the
words 'girl' and 'woman' are absent from Arndt's article, as always,
its females she is blaming and men she is defending. It seems that
anyone who 'cries rape' or criticizes some pompous insensitive judge,
is an anti-male crusader or panic-stricken moral puritan from downtown
Blaming feminists for the bigotry of Senator Bill Heffernan is
laughable. Heffernan's attack on Justice Kirby is rooted in homophobia
and the tribal politics of the major parties. Neither he nor John
Howard has ever been on the side of those women who've fought to
free the criminal justice system from testosterone-laden barristers
and compliant patriarchal judges.
Of course females can lie, and disturbed people can imagine sexual
assault where there is none. But is this reason enough to risk resurrecting
the old myths that rape isn't really violent, sexual assault doesn't
really happen and women are not to be believed?
As the girl in the Holden said when raped by the boy, 'Oh dear
Thank you for a spirited and informed reply to the rubbish written
by Bettina Arndt re rape. Her views are indeed damaging, as they
let male aggressors off the hook and suggest the age old 'woman
as temptress' escape from responsibility................Judy
Thank you for your response to that dreadful and biased, not to
confused Bettina Arndt. I could not say i enjoyed your article given
content, but i did think you were accurate.
Thanks for your response to Bettina. It is such a relief that your
given the space they deserve.
Your comment is very powerful. Arguments backed up by odious and
examples from your experience. It is made more powerful by your
position. By writing you confound simplistic notions of how men
and women are supposed to behave. So few men have a public voice
on sexual assault.
Bettina is truly a scary woman. Her self oppressive, reactionary
writing is destructive. Thank you for countering this.
Thank you for your article in today's 'Age'. I was a victim of child
sexual abuse and was horrified to read Arndt's article - particularly
her quoting research that showed no long term damage from sexual
assault - what possible criteria could have been used to arrive
at such a conclusion? - it beggars comprehension. Please keep speaking
out. I know of so many lives damaged by abuse/assault and you speak
for all of us.
Dear Mr Cleary,
I found your article in response to Bettina Arndt a little
Certainly she said provoking things, but some of her factual information
indeed shocking - it is of great concern that our professionals
and grossly overestimate, for example, the extent of abuse by fathers.
There are indeed many victims of sexual abuse, but the forgotten
just as serious - the falsely accused men who lose their children,
and lives, let alone the general suspicion surrounding fathers,
proven false pretexts.
All the best,
Thank you for another stirring articles concerning the unjustice
of the way women and girls are perceived regarding sexual assault.
I commend your willingness and courage in speaking out.
I was once a prosecution witness in a case of sexual assault against
a number of teenage girls. It was sad revelation to see the way
the court system works.
The initial commital was personally traumatic as I watched one
victim after another be put through the most savage questioning
whilst the perpetrator looked on (almost as if still getting some
perverted kick from hearing the retelling of his offences). To me
it was as though they were being abused once again -- but this time
Then after the commital we had one adjournment after another and
it was nearly two years before it went to court. The tactic is clearly
to wear the victims down so they will withdaw the charges. Not because
the offences did not happen but because the mind games just get
I realise now that he court system has little to do with justice
and much to do with playing the system and the purchase of a lawyer
who puts to one side his concept of right and wrong simply so that
he can get his client off -- no matter how shocking his crime has
Thank you for keeping this issue before the public.