Stop. If you are man, watch the video before going any further.
One incident of domestic violence is reported to the police every minute. On average, 2 women a week are killed by a current or former male partner. 1 in 4 women will experience domestic violence in their lives.
There are many overlapping and exceptionally complicated reasons to why this problem remains so prevalent. A few thousand years of patriarchy probably doesn’t help; but I believe that the deep rooted stereotypes of gender also play a significant part in perpetuating this problem.
I have already had the experience of seeing people I care about being beaten and manipulated by partners that stated they loved them. It is totally unacceptable, and yet good, well meaning friends and family help to perpetuate the problem through their use of language and behaviour.
The video represents an extreme example, but it serves to highlight that fine line between banter amongst (normally male) mates and totally unacceptable comments. To understand this, you have to understand violence against women as more than simply physical violence. There are forms of emotional violence – from sexist joking, to sexual harassment at work, to other domineering forms of behaviour. By remaining silent about these things, we become complicit in creating both immediate conditions to allow this behaviour to persist but also the long term culture that fosters these views and actions.
We live in an age where 1 in 4 men believe a woman is partially responsible for being raped if she wears provocative clothing. A third of people believe women who flirt are partially responsible for being raped. There is an attitude that helps to dehumanise woman to such an extent, men can rationalise the most unacceptable behaviour. It is up to us to look and try and understand how we have ended up in a situation where so many hold such fundamentally unacceptable ideas.
I hope that by being quite funny and appealing to our “inner man” that this video will help us down the long and exceptionally slow road to tackling the social and cultural norms that allow these levels of violence to persist. Hopefully it will allow us to once more proudly proclaim that We are Man!
5 responses to “We are man!”
I think building the bridges starts with challenging a culture where it’s okay to dumb down and make fun of any subject as long as it’s “funny.”Rape jokes are on the rise and they are everywhere. Rather than the media portraying the facts about one of the grossest, vilest human rights violations that can happen to a person – instead it has created a culture where many think it’s okay to laugh about it in the name of “banter.”
Take for example the Unilad website last month: “If the girl you’ve taken for a drink… won’t spread for your head, think about this mathematical statistic, 85% of rape cases go unreported. That seems to be fairly good odds.” That’s funny right? I mean seriously- WTF. They did magnanimously apologise and retract the statement, but how did any of them think it was acceptable in the first place? The answer to that question may lie in Alison Saunders, chief crown prosecutor for CPS London, analysis of a society that demonises rape victims and where jokes on rape by popular comedians is the norm. The impact is has on the justice system, and the two recent examples she cites, quite frankly, beggars belief.
Not only are rape jokes a) constant reminder and b). extremely unfunny to anyone who has ever been raped, (every 9 minutes a woman in the UK is raped- that adds up to a lot of women- male rape is also on the rise) but they also contribute to a part of a society that believe a victim of rape is partially responsible if she is drunk, out late at night, showing parts of her body, has been promiscuous.
Close friends of mine have been raped, and I have seen first-hand just how unfunny it is. If violence and sexual violence are going to be tackled effectively, surely as a society, we need to see that some things just aren’t acceptable in the name of banter?
Second and (slightly) more constructive comment – reading your blog again, I feel a sense of disbelief because I (along with you, and I’m guessing all your readers) simply cannot comprehend genuine misogyny. Proper, old-fashioned woman-bashing. I find it impossible to put myself in the mindset of someone who does think that rape is perfectly justified if a woman is a bit flirty. The trouble is that, given that people like this sadly do exist, they are going to read stuff like this and go “fucking leftie poof, what does he know?” You and I and all right-thinking chaps the world over can all congratulate ourselves on how we’re not misogynist patriarchs, but how are we ever going to build a bridge to those whose actions we simply cannot fathom?
Russ, A really interesting point.
I think the first step is to break down the myth that there are those who are capable of hitting a woman and there those of us who are not. I have spoken to a few guys who have hit their partners and they have said how they never thought they were capable of it. We have to find a way of accepting that we are capable of these things without normalising it. Not an easy task.
Endless studies have shown that decent people can do really shit things. Decent people though do not want to believe this.
Equally, Amnesty did a study that said 25% of men (admitted to) believing that a women who was raped is at least partially responsible. In other words, this is not a minority view of some nutters – it is an entrenched aspect of our culture. To start we have to accept this – however unpleasant this reality.
Is Palestine at the moment there is a real strong problem of denial around domestic violence (when in reality 37% of women in Palestine suffered domestic violence last year alone!!!) http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=465909
So maybe the answer to your question is to accept your own potential for violence. Maybe…
I didn’t catch this blog the first time around – only just seen it. I agree broadly with what you’ve said, but I think you have to be very careful when you line up “sexist joking” with “emotional violence”. Especially given your views, with which I agree very strongly, on “the right to be rude”. I tell sexist jokes all the time, because they’re funny and they make me laugh – but they are not “emotionally violent” any more than calling my Welsh mates “sheepshaggers” is being racist and derogatory.
Thanks for this post Steve. The rising stats on violence against women is alarming and we need support from men if this problem is going to be solved. Thank you for being one of those men!