We Expect Too Little of our Boys

Too often, responsibility for a boy’s behaviour falls on girls. in the playground this manifests as boys playing rougher than girls and the girls being held responsible should they get hurt. It manifests as ‘boys will be boys’.

At the adult level this manifests as a rape victim being blamed for tempting or teasing the man, or dressing like ‘she wanted to be raped’.

The lack of responsibility for our boys managing better their strength leads to a lifetime of blame avoidance for the impact of that strength. It also leads to the rape culture all-too prevalent in our society.

Sexual assault on women is not about sex; it is about power. Boys are taught that physical strength can be used to achieve ends, and that it is a positive thing to laud that power over others. Very often this means bullying girls and, later in life, women, through exercising physical power.

This article from the very clever Kasey Edwards articulates the feeling that, yes, we are indeed not raising our boys to take responsibility for their own behaviour, and often laying the blame for a man’s behaviour at the foot of the woman.

We see this in rape culture as a beaten woman ‘deserving it’, a raped woman ‘asking for it’. It even comes up (with thanks to the anonymity that cowards use on the internet) in the form of public figures – especially those espousing gender equality – who ‘need need to be raped’.


It is unacceptable.

And unforgivable.

Rape culture, the abuse of women, and women being to blame for men’s bad behaviour, has got to stop. It stops with us at the family level.

The way we raise our sons has everything to do with the way men treat women. Let’s revisit the way we raise our boys.

"If we don't create the 'gender issue', we certainly exacerbate it by maintaining such low expectations for boys."

(With credit to Kasey Edwards and Daily Life for the accompanying photo)


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

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.



Healthy Masculinity – Resources from ‘Men Can Stop Rape’

A great initiative, unfortunately not yet international in scope, is a programme in Washington DC called Men Can Stop Rape.

The programme seeks to help define healthy masculinity to create a culture that is free from sexual violence.

They offer a handful of really useful local advocacy materials to get the discussion started with men and boys around you.

With thanks to Men Can Stop Rape for their leadership and advocacy on this issue, please see the following links to their online resources:

1. What Young Men Can Do: An information sheet that offers high school age young men 10 ways they can help prevent bullying and harassment in their schools and neighborhoods.

2. Defining the Rules between Sex and Rape: We’re surrounded by TV shows, music, magazines, video games, and movies that blur the lines between sex and sexual violence. This information sheet helps to establish some clear and shared understandings of the differences.

3. Why men should care about rape?  This handout addresses men’s role in rape prevention.

4. What can men do? Learn what you can do to play a role in the prevention of gender-based violence from this handout.

5. Where do you stand? This guide will give you suggestions and ideas for implementing a WHERE DO YOU STAND? programme to mobilise men against rape in your school or university.

6. Male Athletes as men of strength: Learn from this handout about what you, as an athlete, can do to take a stand against rape.

7. Supporting Survivors: Learn how you can help support survivors with this information sheet.