Channel Sevens Interview, hosted by Andrew Denton, carried an inspiring theme tonight, with two strong women with very different stories joining Denton for in-depth, personal conversations.
Rosie Batty was Dentons first guest, and she was greeted with a standing ovation as she took her seat on set, her well-documented resilience on full display. Batty opened up about the 2014 murder of her son Luke — who was killed by his own father when he was 11 years old — and spoke about Australias issues with domestic violence, saying its something that need to be “analysed”.
When Denton pointed out that Batty had faced a lot of criticism over the years for her aforementioned resilience — or for coming across as “weirdly strong” in TV interviews — Batty acknowledged that things are very different in her private life.
“What are you expected to behave like?” Batty asked. “I guess everyone thinks, Well, if that happened to me, I wouldnt be able to cope. And I can honestly say that I would have thought Id have been that same person. Behind closed doors, at different times of every day, there are tears. There is pain.”
Having become a staunch family violence campaigner in the years since her sons death, Batty has had more than her fair share of detractors.
One such person is Australian political commentator and former leader of the opposition, Mark Latham, who has previously suggested that violence is often just a defence mechanism for insecure men.
Batty told Denton she just sees that as an excuse. “At the end of the day, [Greg Anderson, Lukes father] chose to be violent. It is a choice. Not everybody, of course, seeks violence at low points in their life or when theyre drunk or drug-affected.”
When Denton asked Batty if she agrees with the argument that violence stems from mens fundamental hatred of women, she said she didnt see it that way.
“Men have a sense of privilege and entitlement and they can see women as a possession, and their children,” Batty said, explaining that in previous generations women had little choice but to put up with violence.
“I find it difficult to think that men hate women, but I do think its something we really have to analyse.”
Denton asked, “You said that Greg killed Luke so that he would win, and you would suffer for the rest of your life. Did he win?”
Batty nodded. “Yeah. [But] he hasnt ruined me.”
“What do you do with that realisation?” Denton asked.
“Its an ongoing battle. Because it does make you suffer. The way it makes you suffer is — I see my friends with their kids, growing up,” Batty said.
“Luke would be 15-and-a-half now. His friends are getting their learners. Theyre dating. Theyve got relationships. Its really hard. You dont just lose your son, you lose — its very difficult for people to have relationships with you. Your relationships are challenged. You never get over it.”
“Ultimately our statistics are telling us very, very clearly that one in three women will experience physical violence in their lifetime,” she told Denton.
“Thats one in three — and one in four children. And we have one woman a week being murdered. I keep repeating those statistics, because unless we keep talking about [them], they get lost.”
Dentons second guest for the evening was pop singer Lily Allen, who returns to the spotlight with a new album, No Shame, and, as usual, pulls no punches in her interview.
Allen, 33, chatted about her long career in the music industry, her children and recent marriage breakdown. But it was a story involving her mum and Harvey Weinstein that proved most captivating.
When Denton pointed out that Allens producer mother, Alison Owen, worked closely with Harvey Weinstein, Allen shared another disturbing allegation against the disgraced mogul.
“They were doing a movie together and they were looking at working with a particular director, I think it was Jane Campion,” Allen explained. “Shed just done a film called In the Cut with Meg Ryan and it was the first time Meg Ryan had done nudity.
“It was just my mum and Harvey in a screening room and just when Meg Ryan was getting her clothes off, she heard this sort of grunting noise from behind her and it was Harvey, you know, pleasuring himself in a dark room with my mum sitting in front of him.”
Allen said that despite it being a “scary and intimidating experience” for her mum, who was only in her 20s at the time, she kept working with Weinstein and didnt feel that she could say anything — which, Allen says, "goes to show how powerful he was".
Touching on Allens own experiences during her 16-year career, Denton asked what she thought of the way men treat women in her industry.
Though she wouldnt be drawn on details, Allen did say shed experienced the full spectrum of bad behaviour.
“Ive experienced a lot of things, some worse than others,” she said. “Im not going to go into any detail but just from misogynistic comments to inappropriate touching to harassment to… yeah, pretty much all of it.”
Genevieve Rota is the PM Digital Editor for Entertainment at Fairfax Media.
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