Thursday 28 – Sun 31 March 2019 marks the annual national fundraising period for White Ribbon Australia. The stated aim of White Ribbon Australia is the ending of men’s violence towards women and children. Relationships Australia NT Counsellor, Barry, shares some reflections about the issue of men’s violence towards women and children
For many men, this is not an easy issue to reflect upon and to face up to, but it is vital to do this. Statistics in Australia to do with family and domestic violence, murder and sexual assault make for appalling reading when it comes to the involvement of men as offenders and women and children (and sometimes other men) as victims. It’s also important that we as men resist the invitation to dismiss violence as “Something that some few bad men do. Most of us are good men and would never behave violently”
The unfortunate reality is that we live in a culture which still promotes dominant or violent ways of being and behaving for men.
As long as the influence of this culture remains, there is unspoken ‘permission’ for men to speak and act in violent or abusive ways. We as men need to take collective responsibility for noticing attitudes and beliefs that promote dominant or violent ways of being and work to replace these with attitudes that promote respectful ways of being.
In my work as a relationships counsellor, I’ve heard reasonably frequently over the years men saying that their female partner ‘nags’ them. It would probably be useful for all men to reflect on questions such as:
- Where does this idea of ‘nagging’ come from?
- Is it a hangover from an outdated understanding that ‘the man is the boss’ and his female partner should not be questioning his words and actions?
- Does using or even thinking the term ‘nagging’ get in the way of equality, and also get in the way of a man being able to listen to a legitimate complaint from his partner?
- Could a more respectful idea be a willingness from all men to reflect upon the impacts of their words and actions on their female partners?
“Words matter”, as stated by a commentator on the recent terrible events in Christchurch
As indicated above, collective action by men is required if a stand is to be taken against dominant or violent beliefs and behaviours, and for respectful beliefs and behaviours. The ‘No More’ program in the Northern Territory is a good example of such collective action. Arising from consultation with male Aboriginal elders, ‘No More’ uses the popularity of ‘footy’ in the NT to invite the members of men’s teams to link arms to symbolise a commitment to No More Violence towards women and children. White Ribbon is another example of such collective action
Could we as men commit to the sort of individual and collective efforts outlined above to take a stand against Violence and for Respect?