One thing my advanced years have taught me is you can never underestimate the gob-smacking stupidity and general hideousness of a good chunk of the human race.
Early last week, I and pretty much every other clear-thinking person was genuinely horrified at the revelation of utterly vile content on a Facebook page called "Blokes Advice".
Some 200,000 Australian men have joined "Blokes Advice" since May. It has since been taken down as a direct result of the publicity it has received, but its disgrace remains writ large in the form of a series of horrific screenshots that have been shared and publicised.
The horrific evidence
Here's just a taste of what these guys were sending to each other via their so-called 'safe space': "If it weren't for their vaginas, a*******, mouths and cooking and cleaning skills that they are born with then there would be no need for the woman kind … I personally feel dirty just being around those sausage wallets … They should be a rule they can't come with in a meter radius of they aren't performing sexual acts upon us."
Then – just to put an exclamation mark on a forgettable week for sexual relations - came a nice young chap by the name of Zane Alchin, who was . Basically, he wrote abusive and threatening comments on a young woman's Facebook page, involving the usual anti-feminist troll subject combination of rape and feminism.
He may not have gone to jail but he pleaded guilty and his case was a test of cyber-bullying laws. He whined he didn't know threatening rape online was a crime. Well, guess what. It is.
That's something the 200,000 husbands, sons, fathers, brothers or boyfriends who joined Blokes Advice - where apparently gang-banging a woman until she cries is funny - might like to keep in mind.
“I gangbanged her. She cried. I won.” Pretty hard to take that out of context— Our Watch (@OurWatchAus)
How do we respond to this?
How on earth are we supposed to respond to something so pervasive, entrenched and downright evil?
On one hand, one woman a week is killed in Australia by a partner or former partner. One in three Australian women has experienced physical violence and one in five have experienced sexual violence.
And on the other hand is a bunch of stupid boys condoning, encouraging and cajoling each other to systemically disrespect women from the comfortable anonymity of their keyboards. For shame.
There can only be one response - to call out this behaviour with as much strength, and in as many numbers, as possible. Every action can be stopped by an equal and opposite reaction.
Lift up the slimy rock
As unpleasant as it might be, more and more of us need to lift up the slimy rock and shine a light on the creatures in the muck beneath.
Seriously, did the pretty girls not talk to you in school? Are you angry at women because they expose your personal limitations as human beings? Perhaps the fact you're busy sending Snapchats of yourself ejaculating on your own chest says a little something ... like why are you alone with your phone in one hand and your inadequacies in the other?
That's why warriors like feminist writer Clementine Ford - who endures a torrent of digital filth, threats and abuse every day for simply taking the position men should respect women as equals and violence against women is bad - are so damn angry.
The fact of the existence of Blokes Advice and other forums like it shows she is right to speak out.
Real impact on victims
is simply intellectually and ethically bereft, an offence to critical thinking. This kind on online aggression has very real impact on its victims, and it spreads. It's assault, it's a crime and the Alchin case shows legislation is catching up. More dickheads will hopefully get locked up for being dickheads. It'll save millions in government anti-domestic violence spending,
What kind of man thinks it's OK to share a woman's phone number in a public forum and implore his brave anonymous brothers to bombard her with abuse because "I need a hand putting this minga in her place". Something's broken in this scenario.
ultimately got the site taken down and I suspect there may be some decent blokes who joined up and are now taking a long, hard look at themselves. The more people uncomfortable about what they rubbed up against,, the better.
is a vile rape-inciting group. Please help get to shut it down!❤️— RED HEART (@campaign_rh)
Call them out
Here's what has to happen. Every time sad little gangs of angry boys get together and encourage abuse, shaming and violence against women, they have to understand eventually they'll get called out. And charged for a crime.
They have to know they will be exposed as the anti-men they are. Because every time they try it, there'll be more and more of us – men and women alike ready - to call it for the disrespectful filth that it is.
With more than 25 years in Australian media, Phil Barker has edited NW and Woman's Day magazines, and published such titles as Vogue, GQ, Delicious, InsideOut and Donna Hay. He is owner of a creative events and activations agency and is a regular commentator on the life and style of Australian men.