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Mason Black's speech

Mason Black's speech

On Thursday 18th March, the captain of Brisbane Boys' College in Queensland, Mason Black, gave his weekly captain's speech at school assembly. By the end of the day, the speech had gone viral

His speech last week spoke to the very topical issue of sexual assault against women. One of the big problems in understanding any kind of discrimination, assault or abuse is when you haven't experienced it, it is impossible to really understand. And yet, the issue has to be tackled for solutions and tough as it is, we really need men and boys to be leading this conversation. 

Mason Black tackled the challenge for his own school at a routine weekly assembly and that in itself shows perhaps where these conversations can successfully start.

Mason Black's speech is one we all need to listen to carefully as it is not only a legitimate and effective call to arms for way better behaviour for boys to be humans, it is also a cry from the voice of a generation with very different values to their forefathers. I don't for a minute suggest that among this generation there will not be perpetrators, but what I am suggesting is that more of them have the balls to tackle it. And we need to help them speak.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk actually republished the speech on her Insta feed, which should make it easy for Scott Morrison to refer to. Or simply look below as we have followed Plaszczuk's lead and republished the words:

Grace Tame, this year’s Australian of the year, at 15 was groomed and raped by her 58-year-old teacher.

Brittany Higgins, former Liberal staffer, was allegedly rated in Parliament House, the place that was build on the foundation of law and justice for all.

Sarah Everard, a 33-year-old woman who was walking home from a friend’s house in a well-lit area at night – last week her life was taken, and her body was found.

Boys, this speech today is different, and it is the hardest one I have ever had to write. Not because it is difficult, but because it is heartbreaking. 

Too many of my friends, our friends, too many of my loved ones, your loved ones, and too many women around Australian are victims of sexual assault. 

The narrative need to change. Boys, it feels like no matter where we look, this issue is not at the forefront of everyone’s mind, but why not? Why is it like this?

Boys, for me, it cuts too close to home. Even my own mother, at the age of 10, against her will, was sexually abused before she learned about the birds and the bees.

Are you brave enough to ask your mum about her experiences? What about your sisters? Friends? You shouldn’t have to ask women these questions.

I wish I grew up in an Australia where the narrative that one in three women will be physically or sexually abused at some point in their life wasn’t true. But it is. 

Why is it that almost every day we hear of new cases and examples of abuse against women? 

How can it be that even with all of out money and laws, every day women around our country continue to be abused, raped, psychologically vilified and denied the basic human rights that most males take for granted?

If we are so smart and so enlightened on this issue as a society, why is it still happening?

I see in the news today a police commissioner is calling on a sexual consult app as a way to now record consent. I understand the good intention that he is proposing, but has our society degraded so far that, in this day and age that we are living in, women have to have an app to say no?

What you really need is a basic acceptance and respect – and that, boys, is on all of us.

Boys, if a woman wants to say no, and she says no, we have to listen, understand and accept this.

This rape culture is so deeply ingrained into today’s world, and it needs to be addressed. As good as this message is coming from public speakers or staff, it’s up to us: the boys. They need to accept this injustice against women and stand up for what is right.

It makes me feel sick and it makes me feel embarrassed that out school is featured in the testimonials of young women who are victims of sexual assault. I feel so ashamed that this issue is a part of our history and our culture. I feed ashamed that the action of some reflects poorly on us all, but realistically it isn’t just those who are mentioned in the media.

If you have ever objectified a women based on her looks, talked about females in a misogynistic way, or taken advantage without consent, you are part of the problem.

Seemingly harmless comments can have such devastating effects.

Boys, don’t allow yourself to slip into complacent denial by disregarding the seriousness of this issue.

Let me tell you the numbers. Every single week a man kills his partner or former partner. Before the age of 16, one in five women experience some form of sexual abuse. And 97% of sexual offences are from men.

This is not solely an issue of protecting women but an issue of educating men. Stop being boys, be human.

Every person in this room must not just be an advocate for equality, but in our every action and deed we have to be proactive in stopping the abuse. This starts with putting an end to slurs and derogatory comments about women. It means standing up to any man, no matter how big they are, if we see it happening. And we have to keep our mates accountable, no matter where it may be.

Each and every on of us have an obligation to each other to not follow the ways of the past and to take our future on a new path – a path that uplifts and values women for who they are , appreciates their intelligence, strength and inner beauty, and most importantly empowers them to live a life where they can walk at night without fear, they can wear whatever they want without judgment, and they feel supported to be themselves, not change to be anyone different.

I am so fortunate to have grown up in a school where I have had strong female role models that have had such a positive influence on my life.

To all my friends that are girls, thank you for being so strong. To all the mother figures, especially in the boarding house, thank you for being there for me. And to all women, I am so inspired by you.

To Mum, I hope sharing your story helps boys understand how close this issue really is to home.

Love you always, Mason.  

Please share this speech. Mason Black has managed to articulate something that many others have struggled to do and we need this kind of constructive voice working for a more humane world and frankly a better planet. 

Image: Brisbane Boy's College

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