Elite school captain’s chilling speech
The captain of an elite Brisbane school has delivered a chilling and impassioned speech on sexual violence, imploring his classmates to "stop being boys, be human".
Brisbane Boys' College (BBC) student Mason Black addressed the scourge of Australia's rape culture being exposed through brave women across the country, highlighted by Australian of the Year Grace Tame, who was groomed by a teacher at 15, and former Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins, who was allegedly raped in Parliament House.
The horrific revelations have rocked federal and state political foundations, but the disturbing stories of victims from schools across the country were also exposed through testimonies from an online forum established by former Sydney student Chanel Contos.
Among the more than 3000 stories, a former Brisbane Girls Grammar School student claimed she was violently raped by a BBC contemporary.
Mason said his school being featured in this list of testimonies "makes me feel sick", urging his classmates on Thursday to take responsibility to address "rape culture (that) is so deeply ingrained in today's world".
"Boys, this speech today is different, and it is the hardest one I have ever had to write," he said. "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 Australia are victims of sexual assault.
"The narrative needs to change."
The school captain rubbished the concept proposed by NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller that a sex app be developed to record consent.
"I understand the good intention he is proposing," Mason said in his address to the school. "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.
"If a woman wants to say no, and she says no, we have to listen, understand and accept this."
The teenager drew on horrific abuse inflicted on his own mother and said changing the systemic violence begins with his generation "putting an end to slurs and derogatory comments about women".
"If you have ever objectified a woman based on her looks, talked about females in a misogynistic way, or taken advantage without consent, you are part of the problem," he said.
"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."
Mason pleaded for his contemporaries 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 and not change to be anyone different," he said.
"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."
Originally published as Elite school captain's chilling speech