If I were a man right now I would be spewing. Contrary to the popular stereotype of feminists I am not a man-hater. I know a great number of really wonderful men, some of whom are regular readers of this blog (a big shout-out to my uncle Ian who reads every day). I am a feminist first because I believe in women, but I am also a feminist because I believe in men. I believe in the ability and power of men to play a supportive role in the fight for equality for women. I believe in men and I believe that men can do better.
Men can do better than 1 in 3 women being victims of sexual assault, 1 in 5 being the victims of domestic violence. Men can do better than tooting their horns as they drive by, they can do better than name calling and harassment, they can do better than turning their anger and pain into violence that they inflict upon their families, their partners and children.
As I say that I remind you all that I know a lot of men do do better. I know men who stop their friends from making jokes at the expense of the bruised and battered bodies of women at the hands of their partners. I know boys who don’t think that ‘rape’ is a term that should become a part of their vernacular. They don’t believe the intrusion and violation of a woman who did nothing to deserve it is comparable to a difficult exam or losing a game. These men take the White Ribbon Pledge, they speak to their friends and they stand up against violence against women. These men are good men, they deserve better.
These are the men who understand that the pursuit of equality is not something to be afraid of, it doesn’t present a threat to them. They don’t need to speak about men’s rights, they already have them, they speak about the rights of women and the rights of our society to strive for better.
Last week an organisation called ‘A voice for men’ postered Monash and Deakin university in the South East Suburbs of Melbourne, their most prominent poster was one which said ‘Domestic Violence: Women are Half the Problem’. They claim to stand up for the rights of men and represent their views. If these jokers were claiming to represent my rights, and the views of my gender I would be spewing.
First and foremost, I would like to point out that the posters have no basis in fact, women are not ‘half of the problem’ of domestic violence. That statement has no statistical nor anecdotal evidence behind it. This is not to say that men are not victims of domestic violence, there are some that are, just as men are victims of sexual assault and sexual harassment. However, instances of women’s violence against men are much rarer and have not got the same cultural beliefs at their core.
Violence against women occurs because of gender inequality. Men who perpetrate violence against women do it because they believe that women have some intrinsic lesser value than men. Violence against women is rarely about the violence itself, just as rape is almost never about sex, violence against women is an expression of power.
I suppose one of the greatest injustices in equating ‘men’s rights’ with domestic violence, is the knowledge that for this group the rights of men will always be synonymous with the violent oppression of women; which is a far greater indictment upon the gender than I would ever pass.
Since the posters went up women have been speaking out against the attitudes and lies that lie within them. The women who have spoken are being harassed by those who stand for this group, the personal facebook addresses and department facebook addresses are being attacked.
So I suppose I want this blog post to act as a rallying call to any men out there. If you believe these men do not speak for you then don’t let them, stand up for your own voice and the rights of those women around you.