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?
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