Like the U.S., Australia is faced with a scandal involving women in the military. That's where the similarities end, however. While American generals have been criticized for their handling of an epidemic of sexual assaults, Australia's army chief, David Morrison, is getting rave reviews for a blistering video he released this week demanding, through clenched teeth, that sexists in his country's military mend their ways or find another place to work.
Morrison this week revealed that 17 military personnel, including high-ranking officers, were under investigation for allegedly creating and exchanging "explicit and profane" emails and images that were demeaning to women. Three of them have been suspended.
"Those who think that it is okay to behave in a way that demeans or exploits their colleagues have no place in this army," Morrison says in the video. "Female soldiers and officers have proven themselves worthy of the best traditions of the Australian army... If that does not suit you, then get out... There is no place for you amongst this band of brothers and sisters."
Morrison also promises to be "ruthless" in rooting out sex abuse in the ranks, and urges all soldiers to do their part if they witness abuse. "Show moral courage and take a stand," he says.
Commentators in Australia and the U.S. say the withering message was exactly what everyone — victims and abusers alike — needed to hear. "Holeeee. Efffing. Crap," says Mary Elizabeth Williams at Salon. "It's brilliant."
The words are powerful. But the utterly credible fury is what nails it. It is a validation of the frustration and anger a whole lot of people who have been on the receiving end of that 'toughness' have been enduring for a very long time. And it says, yeah, you're right. This is goddamn outrageous. [Salon]
Morrison's direct, unflinching attacks on abusers have left observers slack-jawed. "Er, hang on," writes Sean Power at Mamamia. "Where are all the weasel words, the evasive language, and the spin?... This bloke is the real deal."