'Stop being boys, be human': School captain calls on his peers to stand up on sexual assault

Mason Black said he was sickened and embarassed to hear his school was named in the testimonies of young women who have recently come forward with allegations of sexual assault.

Brisbane Boys' College school captain Mason Black delivers a speech to classmates on Thursday.

Brisbane Boys' College school captain Mason Black delivers a speech to classmates on Thursday. Source: SBS

The school captain of Brisbane Boys' College has called on his peers to step up and stop the abuse of women, saying the narrative around sexual assault and harassment "needs to change". 

Mason Black delivered a moving speech to his classmates on Thursday, where he called on them to "accept this injustice against women and stand up for what is right". 

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

It comes amid a national conversation around the treatment of women in Australia, as a growing number of women come forward with allegations of sexual assault and harassment.

"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," Mr Black said. 

"The narrative needs 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?"

The school captain said the issue hits close to home, revealing his mother was sexually abused at the age of 10. 

"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," he said. 

"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."

On average, one woman a week 

According to 2017 data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, one in three women has experienced physical or sexual violence, perpetrated by a man they know. 

Women are more likely than men to experience violence by a partner, and more likely than men to experience sexual assault. 

'Sickened and ashamed'

Mr Black said it makes him feel sick and "ashamed" that Brisbane Boys' College was named in the testimonies of thousands of Australian students who have anonymously shared their accounts of rape and sexual assault.

Chanel Contos, 22, called for victims to share their testimonies after she launched a petition calling for more comprehensive sex education to be taught in schools. 

"I feel so ashamed that this issue is a part of our history and our culture," Mr Black said.

"I feel ashamed that the action of some reflects poorly on us all, but realistically it isn’t just those who are mentioned in the media."

'You are part of the problem'

Mr Black told his peers "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."

"Seemingly harmless comments can have such devastating effects," he said. 

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

He called on "every person in this room" to be not just an advocate for equality, but to be "proactive" in stopping abuse. 

"This starts with putting an end to slurs and derogatory comments about women," he said.

"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."

'Respect is on all of us'

The school captain questioned the NSW Police Commissioner Mike Fuller's proposal of a sexual consent app

"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?," he said. 

He called on his peers to demonstrate basic acceptance and respect. 

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

"This rape culture is so deeply ingrained into today’s world, and it needs to be addressed."

If you or someone you know is impacted by family and domestic violence or sexual assault, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit . In an emergency, call 000.

Readers seeking support with mental health can contact Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636. More information is available at supports people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.

4 min read
Published 19 March 2021 at 4:05pm
By Emma Brancatisano
Source: SBS