Neanderthal attitudes excusing violence against women

While proud of my country for so many achievements over the decades and centuries, there are a number of dark stains on our consciences.

One of these is violence against women.

In an age when women have been into space, are in Parliament and sometimes even in Cabinet, when women CEOs start to become a decent percentage (albeit at still perversely low levels, but better than at any time before) of overall senior corporate positions, there are a very large number of men out there who think violence against women can be justified.

Recent survey work done by VicHealth, found, for instance, that 1 in 5 Australian men think if a woman is raped while intoxicated, it is not entirely the fault of the rapist.

Almost the same number of men – and you’ll need to sit down for this – think that their own drinking or drug-taking can excuse their raping a woman.

And, in one of the saddest results, more women than men now think that a woman who is drunk and raped is somehow more deserving of her rape.

It’s an overall astounding set of results that speaks to why Australia is one of the few developed countries not going anywhere fast on gender equality.

Excuses for violence against women continue to disregard the rights of the victim in favour of an inappropriate claim to possession or access to women by men,

It’s got to stop.

And that starts with men speaking up against perpetrators. If 4 in 5 men are right-thinkling on this, then those 4 need to speak up, speak out, and help stop the problem.

And the all-important role to be played by women must surely be to make sure that as far as possible, women do not fall into the trap of minimising and excusing bad behaviour by men.

Let’s get the word out to the neanderthals in our societies that:

  • There is NO excuse for rape.
  • There is NO excuse for domestic violence.
  • There is NO excuse for violence against women.

For more, I commend this Guardian Australia article by Melissa Davey: http://gu.com/p/4xjen

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Not on Our Watch; it’s time to act against violence against women

Please take a look at this very interesting new campaign in Australia to raise awareness about domestic violence.

As one of those few OECD countries going nowhere on gender equality, and suffering appalling rates of gender-based violence, Australia needs to live up to its ‘free’ image and start freeing women from the violence that impacts so many Australian women every day.

Called “Our Watch”, it is clever, and delivers clear messages about violence against women.

Its thesis is, correctly, that no child intrinsically wants to grow up to be an abuser, or be abused; it comes from the way we raise our children. Violence against women starts with the way we shape our children to view women. Make it right.

Act now – intervene now – to stop it happening on our watch.

 

 

My take on men opening doors for women; a common-sense guide.

At a dinner party recently, in conversation with a friend (thanks, Mette Mikkelsen, for making me reflect on this a bit more), came the subject of men opening doors for women. I am a man, and the interlocutor a woman. Both of us, I think it is fair to say, qualify as feminists. But our takes were different on the question of a man opening a door for a woman.

I shall start this by admitting that I do it. I will open a door for a lady IF the situation is such that it makes sense for both of us. But in the same way as I would open the door for anyone. To be clear, in my younger years I opened doors for women because I was taught that a gentleman does. And a gentleman does BECAUSE he is a man, and she a woman.

Like so many things that are symptoms of patriarchal structures, the ‘why’ of it is the proof in this particular pudding.

The issue, as there certainly is one attached to a man opening a door for a lady, is about the intention.

It is nice, not rude, or sexist, to do something nice for someone because you respect them, because they are another person, and it’s the right thing to do, and it’s courteous. I would, and do, happily open doors for a wide range of people, and allow them to go first out of respect, courtesy, or just plain niceness.

That decision should (and I hope it mostly is although we are all fallable!), not about the sex of the recipient of the benevolent act. I would like to think my act is a gender non-specific one. At times, however, I find myself through my Aussie male (sexist) conditioning, forgetting myself and opening a door for a woman BECAUSE they are a woman. Nobody is perfect. 😦 The trick, like combating racism, is to catch yourself out and question yourself.

Where it becomes a problem is if the intention of the male opening a door for a woman is to be ‘correct’, according to his own idea about what is correct, to her as a woman.

Why is this a problem, I hear you ask? That’s a great question, and the subject of my dinner party conversation.

Because doing nice things for someone CHIEFLY because of their sex is, you guessed it, sexism, and is quite simply the flip side of doing something bad to someone for the same reason. It betrays an uneven power relationship.

The safest way as a guy to act on this question of ‘man opening door’ is to, before the situation occurs, reflect on your own intent. Do you act out of niceness and courtesy in a general, gender unaware sense, or do you do it out of ‘correctness’ and hold the door mostly for ladies because they are women?

if the latter, for the sake of promoting gender equality, then consider changing your perspective.

That starts with understanding that women are not the weaker or more decorative sex, and you can and should rather open the door equally for anyone whether man or woman, young or old, out of niceness; because you are a good guy.

Try this: I open the door for women other people, because I am a gentleman polite.