What Barrett’s explicit videos say about family values

12 Jun



Northern Territory Sports Minister Nathan Barrett resigned his portfolio last week after the Northern Territory News revealed he’d sent two videos of himself masturbating “with his left hand” (this detail seems to have captured the NT News collective imagination for reasons I can’t fathom) in his bathroom at home while simultaneously filming the events and sending the videos via Facebook to a female constituent with whom he’d had an online relationship for several months.

One of Barrett’s mates later remarked on Facebook, apparently without any sense of irony, that the man is “very tech savvy.”

There is, in my opinion, no moral value at all attached to the consensual exchange of intimate images and it’s nobody’s business what two people consensually undertake.

The problems for Barrett are that he’s married, and has campaigned on the strength of his “family values” and his “deep commitment to his local church.” The woman involved states that although they’d developed a close online relationship, she did not invite videos of him masturbating. She also states that he’d promised her a job, though he denies this.

Obviously Barrett has some significant problems, and has committed himself to “counselling” in order to help him work through them. He’s also apologised to his boss, constituents, wife, family, and the woman with whom he formed an “inappropriate relationship.”

He deserves some respect for fully owning his behaviour, without minimisation, excuses and self-justification. It takes some courage to do that, and it’s not something we often see in such situations where the demon drink is frequently invoked as an explanation, or the serious impact of the behaviour is flat-out denied.

The figure of the outwardly moral and committed family man with a secret sexual life is a cliché, and like all clichés, it reveals much about the warped and hypocritical nature of our “values.”  Frequently, the most important consideration is maintaining the appearance of morality while concealing the transgression. The transgression itself is not as bad as others finding out about it. This has been the position of the churches, for example, in the matter of child sexual abuse, as well as the attitude of many families in which abuse of children is perpetrated.

The ideal of the morally intact family dominates the more common reality of the morally compromised family in which everyone involved agrees, consciously or otherwise, to live the lie.

Betraying a spouse is emotional, psychological and mental abuse. Spouses who live in relationships in which there is infidelity are living in an abusive relationship. It’s abusive to subject someone you claim to love to such pain, shock, trauma and stress as is caused by betrayal. When it’s done serially, it’s similar to the cycle of physical violence: discovery of betrayal, regret expressed, promises to never repeat, reconciliation and honeymoon period, then return to betrayal. Both parties are living a toxic life in a regressive relationship in which one enables the other to continue the abuse by continuing to “forgive.”

But hey. As long as no one knows and we’re looking ideal, who cares?

Perhaps nobody does care, however, problems arise when such situations are held up as those to which we should all aspire.  When Barrett became the current public face of treachery and betrayal he exposed the fragile moral high ground of heterosexual monogamous marriage. He crapped all over its presumed sanctity.  He confronted us with an unfortunate truth, which is that these circumstances are far from uncommon, and people lie about them all the time while continuing to promote heterosexual and monogamous family values as the aspirational ideal.

We should actually thank him, and everyone like him, for inadvertently pointing out that the emperor has fewer clothes than he thinks.










23 Responses to “What Barrett’s explicit videos say about family values”

  1. 8 Degrees of Latitude June 12, 2016 at 8:21 am #

    Nathan Barrett is either a challenged man or an idiot, or possibly both. That much, I think, we can say without fear of argument. I’m not sure that his behaviour is as representative of the collective mote in the eye as you suggest, however. There are many who espouse and practice what they choose to call traditional family values (and they’re entitled to do so) without having something in a closet about which they would desire no publicity.

    But – and it’s a big but – Barrett was in the class of those who in public life promote one set of behavioural values while they privately practise others. It’s the hypocrisy that sickens me most, not the moral, social or private danger this behaviour can pose.

    We have different views on fidelity (we’ve had that discussion before: I don’t necessarily see that sexual fidelity is paramount) and I’m not sure it’s possible to make the blanket statement that infidelity is always domestic abuse. It may well be, in many instances, of course, and a partner should be aware of the other party’s views on this commonplace human activity, and elect to forswear it if indeed it will or is likely to cause undue pain and distress.

    Part of the problem, as you invite us to infer, is that marriage or partnership is fraught with potential points of conflict. It is continually asserted that monogamy is a natural state. I’m not sure that outside limits and rules set by fairly ancient religious and social conventions, which themselves are badly fractured today, that this claim holds any water at all. It’s up to the individuals concerned, of course, and as you also say, private behaviour should not be the subject of prurient public notice.

    But making the judgements required to successfully nurture a till-death-us-do-part relationship is not something easily done by an idiot of the Barrett class.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Jennifer Wilson June 12, 2016 at 8:35 am #

      I don’t think we do disagree much on fidelity, 8 degrees. It’s the deception and betrayal by and of spouses that troubles me. Like you, I think monogamy is likely not a natural state, rather one imposed by cultural requirements that are fast becoming increasingly fractured.
      If partners agree to a non monogamous relationship of course it isn’t abusive: the abuse is in the trauma of betrayal and humiliating deception.

      Liked by 4 people

  2. doug quixote June 12, 2016 at 9:19 am #

    I couldn’t care less, except that it exposes the hypocrisy, an hypocrisy forced upon those who would seek public office.

    There really is no choice for those who want to exercise power, even when it would be for the greater good to let them do it. They are forced into hypocrisy.

    But only some are caught, red-handed so to speak.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. townsvilleblog June 12, 2016 at 10:04 am #

    So typical of so called “religious people” they constrain themselves to such a thin moral attitude it becomes impossible to discipline themselves to that standard. I don’t agree with people sending each other “sexting” images but, even less so if one has made the commitment of marriage to another person. Then again it is becoming even more apparent the the Liberal Party/LNP don’t seem to care all that much about “people” as they do about fat profits in the hands of giant corporations that they want to give $48 bn of the money that PAYE working taxpayers pay into receiving govt services for absolutely no benefit to working people.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Jennifer Wilson June 12, 2016 at 10:18 am #

      I’m very cynical about politicians and think they only *care* about people when there’s votes in it.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. townsvilleblog June 12, 2016 at 1:25 pm #

    I find the worst offenders are the religious fanatics who preach full time to others, people such as Scott Morrison who along with others in the LNP belong to the US culy, the assembly of god, who go by different names in different places such as Hillsong, Calvary and such…

    Liked by 1 person

    • paul walter June 12, 2016 at 3:00 pm #

      Eight degrees noticed that, too and someone else noted he was a church attender.

      But really, what a stupid thing for a politician to do, to send out incriminating evidence to someone and then beleive it wouldn’t turn up later to haunt him. Much too cute of him and now he comes the inevitable gutzer. Reminds me a little of the movie “Damage” with Jeremy Irons as a narcissistic politician who fooled with his son’s girlfiend, with tragic results for ll.

      I remember it being being big back in the nineteen sixties, consideration of the role of sexual repression in the construction of a bourgeois personality and its commodification, particularly after the sexual division of labor brought about by the industrial revolution and its segregating effect on individuals, families and communities. Sex was made a forbidden fruit and forbidden fruit is alluring.

      fn..have tried and can’t resist a comment re left handed- pervert!!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Jennifer Wilson June 12, 2016 at 5:26 pm #

        Even before the sixties, Freud with Civilisation and its discontents? Sexual repression essential to maintain civil society?
        Why have some humans always been so terrified of sex?
        Why can’t we do it in the road?

        Liked by 1 person

        • diannaart June 12, 2016 at 6:08 pm #

          “Why can’t we do it in the road?”

          Sometimes it’s the pits?

          Liked by 1 person

          • Jennifer Wilson June 12, 2016 at 6:51 pm #



          • paul walter June 12, 2016 at 8:46 pm #

            It’s a good answer, diannart. It is a powerful and marvellous thing sex, when it is worked right, but because it is such powerful experience, tensions are involved and it is frustrating and unnerving when the reality fails the expectation, if the timing is even a little bit off.

            Fear of failure, fear of giving offence, fear of disappointing your partner…so much can be disruptive.

            Liked by 1 person

            • Jennifer Wilson June 13, 2016 at 10:32 am #

              I was referencing the Beatle’s little song, no one will be watching us, why can’t we do it in the road?

              Nobody teaches us how to do it, I bought books for my offspring to guide them around a woman’s body, one read them one chucked them in the bin I have no idea how that part of their lives has turned out but really, we need to teach kids the practicalities of satisfactory sex and leave out the damn moralising.


              • diannaart June 13, 2016 at 11:24 am #

                “we need to teach kids the practicalities of satisfactory sex and leave out the damn moralising”

                Fuck yes.

                They are going to do what we did, the best we can do is ensure they are well informed.


            • diannaart June 13, 2016 at 11:22 am #


              I just don’t like gravel rash… 😛


              • paul walter June 13, 2016 at 12:14 pm #

                You could go on top.

                This anecdote of Jeennifer Wilson as to her kids and sex education has rung a bell. I do not know how tribal girls get an adolescence, but lads, Lord of the Flies-like, find previous loyalties dissolved as they congregate with peers and the subculture is not a forgiving one as to woman and girls.


  5. diannaart June 12, 2016 at 1:34 pm #

    “When Barrett became the current public face of treachery and betrayal he exposed the fragile moral high ground of heterosexual monogamous marriage.”

    This is the insulting hypocrisy, so much is flaunted by the uber-conservative/religious regarding the ‘superiority’ of heterosexual marriage to the point of nausea.

    This great lie of monogamy, missionary position (only) and sex-only-for-procreation…. one could be forgiven for thinking that such platitudes would be subject to an automatic response of derision, laughter and dismissal in 2016.

    Such great lies also have an exponential impact upon the cuckolded spouse, not only are they betrayed on a personal level, but also on a societal one.

    More honesty and acceptance of simply being human would go a long way towards limiting the heartbreak of expectations and not the least win the argument for advocates same sex marriage.

    As for Barrett, just sad, not only for his behaviour but his assumptions about women – not all women are gagging for images of masturbating men.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Moz of Yarramulla June 12, 2016 at 4:59 pm #

    I think it’s interesting to remind ourselves that this is the pure, holy state of god-blessed matrimony that is so terribly threatened by even such a close analogue as same-sex marriage. Or more accurately, that these types of embarrassments that turn up so frequently do not threaten said institution, apparently at all. Bob forbid that we allow marriages between any number of persons or any gender, provided only that they give informed consent and for only so long as they willingly commit to the marriage. That would cause unimaginable harm to the institution (I am quite unable to imagine the harm that would result).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jennifer Wilson June 12, 2016 at 5:34 pm #

      I know, Moz, entirely bewildering isn’t it that ssm threatens the entire institution whilst infidelity does not.

      Then of course we have bestiality, one of Bernardi’s core concerns. What on earth might that do to marriage, it doesn’t bear thinking about.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Moz of Yarramulla June 12, 2016 at 6:48 pm #

        Isn’t Bernardi the one that is obsessed with marrying his dog?


        • Jennifer Wilson June 12, 2016 at 6:53 pm #

          I’m not sure, that might have been Chris Kenny but you didn’t hear that from me, he’s litigious.


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