Category Archives: Violence against women

Sara, Maggie, Shane, some internet asshats and a photo essay

Trigger warning- This post is about Domestic Violence.


So while wandering around the internet a little while ago I stumbled upon an article about Sara Naomi Lewkowicz, a photographer who did a photo story on the relationship of a couple with entrenched domestic violence. She then had the photos published as the US government was debating the reauthorisation of the Violence Against Women Act.

Some of the photos are very confronting showing 31 year old Shane throwing his 19 year old girlfriend Maggie into kitchen cabinets, choking her, using his body to box her up in a corner and they even feature the couples 2 year old child stamping her feet when she sees what is going on.

When these photos were published by Time they left some details out so people looking for someone to blame had an easy copout- Sara the photographer. And did they blame Sarah? You bet they did.

They say that she did nothing, she preferred to get some great shots instead of helping Maggie, not knowing the fact she rang 911 after having to retrieve her phone from Shane during the height of the violence. They say that she should have put the camera down and tried to help not knowing that during the argument Shane gave Maggie the option of continuing in front of the camera or leaving the room to ‘discuss’ the matter privately. Maggie didn’t hesitate and chose to stay in front of the camera as it provided some level of safety knowing that he would hold back a bit if there were witnesses. They said that Sara was despicable for taking photos of the 2 year old girl watching her mother get beaten by her father and that Sara shouldn’t have continued taking photos and got the child out of the room. How were they to know that as soon as Sara and the other 2 adults witnessing the violence saw she was there the child she was removed the photo was taken as the person closest to her was reaching to pick her up.

But of course it wasn’t just the photographer’s fault! Maggie had her part to play as well. The asshats who felt the need to comment said Maggie should have seen it coming, she stays because she likes it and of course she is not the victim but in fact the perpetrator.

So if these people are to be believed the only person in that house at that time who is blameless for the despicable show of violence was Shane.

Aw fuck off.

The more that I look into this story the more angry I get, with Time, with internet wankers, with people who can’t simply understand that the whole reason that this photo essay was done was to show how horrible domestic violence is, to make you feel uncomfortable thinking that this still occurs to millions of women around the world- but also that it is still happening right here. But also to make you want to do something about it so it never happens again.

I am also getting angry at myself because I have just gone on a 500 word rant about the photography and some moronic responses to it- which is not what Sara wanted her work to be an argument about her. She wanted  to show Maggie’s story and to get people talking about domestic violence and to raise the profile of the issue. She also wants people to acknowledge Maggie left, and the strength that takes.

‘But why confront our discomfort about images when we can instead confront the photographer? Why challenge the perpetrators who commit, and the structures that underpin, this violence when we can blame its victims – and, when the evidence of violence is still too powerful, its witnesses?’

You can find more out about the photo essay here

You can find the photo essay here

You can find out more on dealing with domestic violence here

You can find national domestic violence hotline services  here

You can take the white ribbon pledge here

Mikaela Wangmann

National Women’s Officer 2013

In my own voice: An open letter to men’s rights activists from a man

By Lucas Johnson,

First of all, let me outline that I am a man. I have at no point been involved in domestic abuse; I rely simply on the experiences of those around me. And it’s pretty clear that domestic violence is a huge issue in society.

Now let’s be clear, we’re talking about domestic violence here. We’re not talking about bar fights, or wars, but the violent acts committed in the home. In this case, statistics show that women are victims more often than men, and men are perpetrators more often than women.

At this point, I’ll introduce the concept of patriarchy. The patriarchy is the social structure that places men in positions of power. And in case you hadn’t noticed, we’re in one. In the home, men are seen to be the breadwinners, while women are expected to take on a more nurturing role. We see this extend workplaces where executive roles are overwhelmingly male-dominated, while nurturing roles such as nursing, teaching and social work are female-dominated. I could provide many more examples.

Patriarchy creates pressures on both sexes. Pretty much everybody agrees here. Men feel pressured to be strong, to not show emotion, and to succeed. This creates numerous health problems, as men are much less likely to report health scares to the doctor, are at higher risk of untreated mental illness, and yes, are unlikely to report domestic abuse.

However, compare this to the problems faced by women in a patriarchal society. Women still earn less money than men for doing the same amount of work. The burden of primary caregiving in most families is still given to the woman. Women in high-up roles are frequently ridiculed for external attributes, while men in these roles are almost never criticised in this way. Not to mention the obscene prevalence of sexual harassment and sexual assault.

These problems occur by virtue of women being women, and men being men, in a society where maleness and femaleness are given roles. Here is where power comes into play. In general, men are in a position of power over women, due to their societal roles.

A recent study asked members of a dating site what their biggest fear is about meeting a partner online. The most common answer for men was that the partner would be fat or ugly. The most common answer for women was that the partner would be violent and attack them. To put it simply, women are scared of men.

This is where organisations such as White Ribbon come in. The idea of openly pledging to end violence against women, just one single issue, is to help create a society where women no longer have reason to feel threatened by a man. Surely this is something we can all agree on?

For many women, their experience with male violence means that they have a fear of men. And it’s up to us to do something about it.

Now, at no point have I denied that violence by women against men is a problem. It is. At no point have I said it’s acceptable for women to hit men. It isn’t. It’s not acceptable for any person to be violent against any person.

However, I ask you this. Have you, at any point, felt threatened by the presence of a woman? If you’re alone at night, and a woman walks up to you, do you key in the emergency number on your phone? What sort of steps do you take to prevent violence from women?

Probably none.

Yet if you were to ask any woman alone at night the same question, they would probably give you a different answer.

The above situation is the truth for many women, particularly young women at universities. This is what the NUS Women’s Department’s main focus is. Have a read of the Talk About It Survey. These sort of statistics show that universities are an unsafe place for women, and this is overwhelmingly the fault of men.

But not you and not me. I’m not saying you’re a rapist no more than anybody is saying I’m a rapist. But it’s important, as a man, to try and do something about this saddening statistic. On a small scale, it’s about pledging to not be violent against women. It’s not about saying that half of the fault is women’s. That’s not constructive at all.

A Voice For Men, you are not doing our gender any favours by attacking people for trying to make the world a better place. You are personally victimising many people, particularly women, for pointing out a problem that they think is important, and trying to do something about it. In particular, there seems to be a blame placed on feminism. And you’re doing this representing men. You’re not representing me.

Remember when I mentioned the patriarchal structure that prevents men reporting violence against them? The way to bring down the patriarchy is through feminism. If you want violence against men to gain more legitimacy, you should do everything to increase the power given by society to women so that it is equal to that of men. Only then can both genders play on a level field. Only then can you report violence against men without fear of ridicule.

Until then, and until you stop continuing to harass and demean women, men, and this entire campaign, I ask you this:

Do you actually like women?

Because by the way you’re acting, it doesn’t look like it.

This is the first time we’ve had a man write for the blog. His identity has been changed to protect his anonymity and to keep from his being harassed by those who call themselves ‘A voice for men’.

A reminder that while they are likely to continue to harass us through social media, every time you feel a troll a fairy dies, so take that energy and funnel it into participating in our ‘In my own voice’ campaign. You can do so by heading here

Wait, What? Women have rights now?

Post by Freya Logan 

I’m sure that the advisors to GOP presidential candidates and other conservative politicians will have to break the news sometime soon as US elections are coming up in November. The news will probably seem quite shocking and they will have to review a lot of policies and things that they have said. They’ll probably be pretty surprised and they’ll probably feel a bit sheepish. But soon the day will come when they will be told this shocking news and I am pretty sure it will go something like this:

Advisor: So I need to tell you something pretty shocking.

Conservative politician: Mmm?

A: So I was reading the constitution…and under the 19th amendment it says that apparently women in the US can vote too and have been able to vote since 1920.

CP: WHAT? I only read up to the 2nd amendment you know the “right to bare arms”.

A: Yeah, so apparently women make up over 50% of the electorate too.

CP: Oh. Oh crap.
A: Yeah. Damn.

Currently in the USA there is in my opinion a definite a war on women and their rights. I have been watching the level of policy promoting women disintegrate to where our sisters in the USA are slowly having their rights stripped away.

Late last year when I heard of some of the submitted acts and laws I thought “surely, this has to stop, I mean this legislation being debated is ultra-conservative extremist views, they won’t get passed.”

But no, I was wrong. I seems that every week I read something going from bad to worse. From women in Virginia being forced to have an ultrasound before an abortion, to Arizona where women have been literally legislated into a permanent state of pregnancy and Wisconsin’s repeal of the Equal Pay Rights act justified for the reason that money more important to men and therefore are more deserving of it.

And all of this in 2012.

What is worrying about this huge backlash against women occurring overseas, especially in a country such as the US that has such a cultural influence on Australia – in which the media it produces saturates our market, there has got to be political consequences that flow on.

This horrifies me. With the entire east coast of Australia governed by the Coalition party and with the chance that Tony Abbott could be the next Prime Minister I am very concerned over the position this would leave my rights and all women’s rights in Australia.

Since the Baillieu government was elected, Victoria has already seen the backtracking of equal opportunity laws and a continued struggle for better working conditions and pay by public sector workers who fill occupations that are predominantly taken on by women, such as nurses and teachers.

I am angry that I have to be worried about my rights as a woman in society today and I really should not have to be.

The situation in the US has gone far from being one-off extremist attack on the rights of minorities to a point of traditional mainstream conservatism which only views women as baby carrying receptacles. Before this goes any further backwards than it already has it needs to stop. Right now.

Women in the US have not been silent on the issue and there is a growing campaign calling for all women to use their vote wisely and to call out their local representative to remind them of that pesky little 19th amendment thing. Check out this video about equal pay in the US:

and the “Unite Against the War on Women” campaign.

And they really need reminding that we, both here and worldwide,  have a right to be treated equally and not as lesser citizens unable to make our own decisions, so they do not continue to make them for us.

This entire situation over the Atlantic reminds me why I am a feminist and why feminism is still so, so important in this day and age.

I am angry and concerned about what might happen to my rights, and I really shouldn’t have to be and that is why I am a feminist and you should be too.

In sisterhood,

This post was written by Freya Logan, Secretary of the Monash Student Association. To get in touch or involved with the MSA please head over to their website or ‘like’ them on Facebook

Stop Being Dicks: A public service announcement

Recently there was significant attention given in the Western Australian press to the actions of a group of UWA students who thought it was appropriate to create an event, vaguely associated with a university club, that advertised women’s tickets to ‘sluts’ but not ‘crying sluts’.

Profound men that these were they also included a survey for prospective attendees which questioned the women’s bra size and their capability in the field of fellatio. Because, these women having achieved the goal of attending one of the most prestigious universities in the country, should count themselves lucky to be in the company of the kinds of men which sign on to these events.

To those involved I can only say, most emphatically, STOP BEING DICKS.

No, really, just stop being such unimaginative, misogynistic fucking pricks.

To them, and those that think of engaging in similar hilarity, I inform you of a fact which it would appear has escaped you. Women are people too!

They appear women in shape and size and not simply as walking orifices to be penetrated. They have faces, and eyes and noses and mouths and they all have brains too. Brains that have thoughts, thoughts that you are all just massive dicks.

I don’t even want to accuse these sorts of events of backlash, they’re not that profound or well thought out. These events are not about backlash against the theories and ideas which demand equality, they are just massive, underdeveloped dicks.

Stop being this way, no one really thinks it’s funny and I like to believe that we now live in a world where this sort of behaviour is no longer accepted by mainstream society. A society which has realised what these people have not. That women are not things but people, not orifices but individuals, not sluts but women.

There is, as with most things, a significant downside and danger to these sorts of events. Which is, that these sorts of ideas feed into a concept which says that women are worth less than men. These ideas and events translate into an acceptance and condoning of a society which allows violence against women to continue.

In the Talk About It survey of 2010/2011 86% of women reported being sexually harassed on campus. 67% reported having an unwanted sexual experience. The acceptance of these statistics is an acceptance of these sort of attitudes. To continue this behaviour is to state that women are some how worth less than men. That they  have some less intrinsic value. This is an attitude which must be rejected.

We as a society, as a community, need to stand up and say emphatically Women are people too- stop being such massive dicks.

I don’t think it’s funny, I think it’s harmful. And so does nearly everyone else.

As a group we need to stand up to these people. Until we do more than half of the women you go to uni with will experience unwanted sexual experiences. More than three quarters will be harassed on campus. They will be heckled, they will be abused and they will be raped.

Enough is e-fucking-nough .

Stop being dicks.

Introduction to Violence Submission: Safety on Campus

In 2010 NUS Women’s Department launched the Talk About It Survey, the survey ran from the end of 2010 through to the end of o-weeks in 2011. The report, released mid 2011, showed a worrying trend of violence against women on university campuses. The report is included as an appendix to this submission.

Any framework prepared surrounding Violence Against Women must include a consideration of the lived experience of women university students in Victoria. Universities are well placed to enact the focus on prevention and early intervention. An area which is in need of significant attention within the framework and universities is response, with many women, particularly in colleges, having the experience swept under the rug.

Reporting presented as a significant issue for female university students. With only 3% of those who stated they had had an unwanted sexual experience reporting it to their universities and only 2% reporting it to the police (Talk About It, 2011). Response can only work with increased reporting. Actions must be taken to ensure that young women feel safe reporting instances of violence on campus.

University campuses exist in a complex dichotomy, between State and Commonwealth assets, between public and private spaces and between public and private enterprises. This dichotomy cannot be seen as reason to ignore the violence which occurs against university students because it is ‘not this government’s problem. Those students who are victims of violence on Victorian university campuses must be included in this framework.

Students at university accommodation are particularly vulnerable to being victims of violence against women.  Quantitative evidence for this is difficult to attain, however there is significant evidence to suggest that colleges are unsafe places for women. There has been significant media attention to the issue, in particular following the release of ‘Talk About It’ in 2011.

Studies by NUS Australia, NUS UK and NUS NZ have all found varying degrees of problematic behavior within university accommodation. The UK research, entitled ‘Hidden Marks’ found that 25% of sexual assaults took place in public places, such as university colleges. In the NZ research ‘Are You OK?’ there was a particular focus on the importance of clear harassment policies.  However the Australian survey had a particular focus on women’s negative experience of university accommodation and sexual assault.

The NUS Women’s Department would like to stress the significant reported anecdotal evidence surrounding the risks associated with women and university accommodation. However, instances of sexual violence and assault are not contained within the university accommodation, instances of violence being reported across the university sector.