Thursday, December 14, 2006

Opinions on December 6th.

On December 6th, an opinion piece by Barbara Kay ran in the National Post. Included in this piece were her views on the Montreal Massacre and 'male feminism'.

On December 8th Sarah Ghabrial and Laurel Mitchell from posted a well thought out response that is worth sharing (original article follows the response):
Violence against women: every day, constantly


Stephen McArthur said...

There are so many other people and actual organizations that are organized around the denial and minimization of male violence. It is especially disturbing when a woman talks about these issues this way. The media, of course, are also responsible for the kind of gender neutral coverage of male violence that helps keep the issue under wraps. If the media were actually to begin covering the edpdemic of male violence, it would be forced to hold itself accountable for both fostering it and hiding it at the same time.

By way of reference, I work as a hotline volunteer for Battered Women's Services and Shelter in Washington County, in central Vermont,USA, and I co-facilitate a program in junior and senior high schools about dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault, bullying and sexual harrassment.

I thought you might be interested in a commentary I just wrote recently and which has been accepted for publication. While it applies specifically to a murder in Vermont, it's applicability is universal around the country, especially as it relates to how media covers issues of domestic violence.

Minimizing Male Violence

October was National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. If you didn't know that, it wasn't your fault. For the most part, the media chose to ignore the issue.
In some of the press reports about the murder of the woman in Lyndonville by her boyfriend, this murder/suicide was described as a "domestic dispute." Think about it. She wanted to break up with him, and in an act of ultimate power and control, he kills her and then himself. If a man rapes a woman on a date, is this a "dating dispute?" If a man rapes his wife, is this a "marital dispute?" The "domestic dispute" characterization minimizes and normalizes what is actually an ongoing epidemic of male violence against women.
In the last ten years in Vermont, half of the murders of women by men were directly related to domestic violence. Every 15 seconds in America, a man beats his wife or girlfriend. Nationally, every 2.5 minutes, a man rapes or sexually assaults a woman or girl, most often one he knows. Women have led the way in America working to bring the issue of violence against women to the attention of our media, our community organizations, our governments, our schools, and our religious institutions. It’s time for men to stand up.
Most men in this country are not violent, most do not beat their wives and girlfriends. And yet, men commit 90 to 95 percent of domestic violence acts. Most men find it really hard to talk about male violence, much less do anything about it. Since he is not violent or it's not happening in his family, he needn't do anything. Most men believe it is a "woman's" issue. Aren’t there plenty of “women’s” organizations dealing with these issues?
Given the prevalence of male violence against women, why has this not been a very public men's issue. Isn't it really in men's self-interest to address gender violence? Don't men really care about the women and girls in our lives? How can we permit them to live in communities where they must constantly look over their shoulders? Violence against women has become so normal, we don’t even call it what it is – men’s violence against women. How can we empower men to learn more, stand up and be heard on these issues? Public acknowledgment can be a first step.
I co-facilitate, with Meg Kuhner of Battered Women’s Services and Shelter, a program in Washington County schools about domestic and dating violence issues. Some schools have invited us, some have not. It’s encouraging to see how some of them are relieved to be able to talk about it. Talking about some of the realities in their lives like bullying, violence at home, and dating and sexual violence, is a first step. How significant would it be if more men in the community began to talk to them about these issues?
The important institutions in our daily lives -- including our newspapers -- can be among the first places where we, as a society, begin to address men's violence issues. It’s time for men to stop being bystanders. Our shelter here in central Vermont is almost always full.

Donald D. Bement said...

Hello Stephen,
It is always so good to hear conscious men air their concern for the level of male violence against women. Personally, I have 4 sisters, all living in Canada, plenty nieces, aunts, etc and I had a wonderful Grandmother and mother. My daughter is now 22 years, my main claim to fame. Kay's article spoke importantly about male violence to males and the violence inflicted to and by men in war.
That level of spiritual growth is so refreshing, coming from women committed and focussed on their ideology.
When I interface with men and boys on the subject of Violence Against Women, my first graphic on the board is a solitary figure of a woman connected to 4 arrows, one circular and coming back to her, one going up above her head, one coming from her right side and one down from her feet.
These arrows are then developed to show the distinct biological formative parts of the woman in pain and how many people connected to this woman that is also being hurt.
A whole woman is formed equally from the sperm and egg of a man and woman. So that after and together with the individual woman's pain is the effect on the male and female contribution to the development of this woman.
The arrow up leads to the parents, grandparents, great grandparants etc. linked to her, whose pain in some instances is as great or greater than her,s The arrow across leads to siblings, cousins, nephews, aunts, uncles, etc. who will share her pain and the arrow from her feet points to the start of her own family, husband, sons and daughters and whoever else comes after. The level of hurt varies from a simple assualt to the murder of the woman.
This generally leaves an indelble impression on my audience and combined with my other delivery techniques from the "Toolbox of Violence Reduction Methodologies" achieves positive responses.
Keep up you good work Stephen and most importantyly, keep blogging.