Wednesday, November 25, 2009
White Ribbon Day
Great article in the Age...
Today is White Ribbon Day, a perfect opportunity to ask ourselves what we can do. And the first step is to acknowledge that the poor behaviour towards women that seems so prevalent among our footy stars is a reflection of Australia's bad behaviour in general.
At least one in three Australian women at some stage experiences violence at the hands of a man. Violence outstrips obesity, smoking, drink-driving and breast cancer as the leading contributor to death, disability and illness for women in the prime of life. These women are our wives, our daughters, our sisters, our girlfriends, our colleagues and our friends. And whether we are aware of it or not, every one of us knows a woman who has suffered the appalling effects of violence.
By virtue of being raised a man in our society, most men will have contributed to the problem in some way over the years. I can think of countless times in my own life when I've laughed at sexist jokes, for example, even when I felt uncomfortable, just because I felt too small to speak up. Or when I've seen friends or colleagues disparage their partners and been too embarrassed to say anything.
I've known people who were living in situations of abuse and had no idea what to do, and consequently did very little. And I admit that at times in my life, I've behaved in ways that fell somewhere on the spectrum between insensitive and scurrilous, ways that have been hurtful to women I love, and excused that behaviour on the basis that, well, that's what men are like, and it didn't really mean anything anyway.
But it does mean something. Every time I behave that way, I am supporting the belief that men have rights and privileges greater than those of women, or that somehow men have a special place in the world that isn't shared by women. It doesn't mean that I beat my wife. But for many men, that belief is the basis of the notion that it's OK to beat your wife, that it's OK to run your partner down, or to treat women merely as objects of sex. Because those forms of abuse are all based on the notion of male power and privilege.
And it's that notion we need to change if we are ever to change the statistics. Until now, we have tended to deal with violence against women after the fact, through our police, our courts, our hospitals and women's refuges. It's a constant mop-up operation. read the rest