National News

McGuire accused of trivialising violence

Eddie McGuire's remarks about drowning a journalist reinforce a culture of violence towards women and trivialise abuse, domestic violence specialists say.

After initially dismissing his comments as banter, McGuire apologised on Monday for saying he'd offer $50,000 if Fairfax journalist Caroline Wilson was held under water during a charity ice slide.

The high-profile Collingwood president has been roundly condemned, with domestic violence specialists saying his comments send a message that abuse and misogyny is OK.

"It's about an attitude and a culture and if we don't put an end to that we are going to keep affirming that culture and breeding that culture," Dr Deborah Walsh, a domestic violence specialist at the University of Queensland, told AAP.

McGuire initially refused to apologise for the comments, made on radio station TripleM a week ago.

By mid-morning on Monday he made a qualified apology, saying: "I would have thought equality was that we can joke with each other without fear or favour in that situation."

But treating such comments as a joke make it harder for women to speak out, says Diane Coleman, who chairs Men's Behaviour Change Network NSW.

"For women who do experience violence it seems to trivialise their experience even if people don't intend it in that way," she said.

"They're told, don't be silly, he's just having a joke and it's just a bit of fun. But it shuts her down from speaking about what's going on."

Anti-violence campaigner Rosie Batty said while she didn't believe McGuire's comments were meant to cause harm, they highlighted the need to be aware of sexist and derogatory language.

"I think we've moved past understanding racist jokes but clearly we haven't moved past sexist jokes and recognising they are harmful," she told reporters.

AFL boss Gillon McLachlan says football has an important role to play in changing attitudes.

"We are all learning that everyday comments cause harm, help create the environment for more mistreatment of women to occur without consequence," he told reporters.

"Footy has to be an increasing part of the solution."

McGuire's comments also drew fire from Network Ten host Jessica Rowe, who McGuire allegedly wanted to "bone" from the Nine Network in 2006.

"I'm really sick of these posturing blokes thinking they can get away with stuff because they think it's funny," she said.

"He is a leader, people know who he is, and he can do a whole lot better than that."

She challenged McGuire to donate $50,000 to White Ribbon, which tries to prevent male violence against women.

© AAP 2016

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