Men, What Will Your Legacy Be?
Tuesday 24 February 2015
I'm male. You may like to take that into consideration with the rest of what you read as, a) I'm part of the problem b) Whatever I say cannot, no matter how well intentioned, be in anyway able to represent women
I'm prompted to write this particular piece following on from the ABC's QandA session that aimed to look at the issue of Domestic Violence in Australia, and the many articles that have appeared today following that broadcast. I acknowledge that men can also be victims of domestic violence at the hands of a female partner and like all victims of abuse, need support. And the overwhelming number of victims both male and female, are victims of male violence in all its forms.
I didn't know that there was going to be a show looking at the issue of Domestic Violence until a person I follow on Twitter alerted me to the make up of the panelists. It became clear, as I'd suggest has been QandA's bent since its inception, that once again the male voices were positioned to dominate the discussion and the threat of Mansplaining loomed darkly. I risk the same problem here though aim this at men, not women.
QandA has for the most part, been a vehicle for getting otherwise reluctant politicians (and a handful too passionately non-reluctant) to blab on relentlessly on topics for which their understanding is ideologically tainted. These shows are less 'hypotheticals' than they are moderated you said-you said finger pointing debates without any of the humour seen during the comedy festival. Without any chance of argument, by far QandA's best shows are sans politicians and sans wolves in politician's clothing. Alas those offerings are few and far between.
Which brings me to last night's program, sans politicians (though one previous one) in which a victim of domestic violence Rosie Batty, mother of murdered son Luke was perhaps the main focal point, supported by Natasha Stott Despoja and then four other men. You can watch the program here if you missed it http://www.abc.net.au/tv/qanda/txt/s4173309.htm
I'll not say too much about the program other than in a strong break from tradition, a male's opinion wasn't called for for at least 9minutes into the program with the first two questions coming from women and both female panelists being given the floor. I'm not being tongue in cheek nor flippant here – the male dominated bias of all previous panels and airtime given to male speakers on QandA is significant. In the previous two shows, one male radio broadcaster was given virtual free reign to espouse personal views, whilst in the following week, another (politician) was deemed as having a more important opinion than anyone else. It's an issue rarely faced when Jenny Brockie does her usual excellent role at hosting Insight on the SBS
The pre QandA social media storm raged against the makeup of the panel. Whilst I didn't disagree with that sentiment, I felt that it distracted from the conversations we could have been having. The social media (and some mainstream media) have also discussed the show, as has social media since its broadcast last night. Watching both my twitter feed and the show at the same time is always enlightening. The proposed alternative hashtag #UnSaidQandA could have come to the fore but sat in the background for just a few tweeters. But so many pertinent questions were asked that the show was not really able to deal with and I put that mainly down to the show's format. It's a topic that would never be taken up on commerical TV and really the only other place where even part justice to the topic might emerge on a TV show is the aforementioned Insight on SBS.
Given that overview then, some key questions that emerged and remain unanswered are
- Why do men choose violence?
- Why it is a woman's responsibility to leave?
- Why can we so comprehensively respond to a pink batts program or a seige at a chocolate shop and yet choose to take no national action on an issue that leads to on average, one woman's death PER WEEK?
- How can politicians say they care about this issue whilst slashing the already threadbare funding to victims of domestic violence support agencies?
- Why is it that somehow we condone a man using violence because he feels ashamed or powerless? That some how that emotional state justifies his actions?
- I'd like everyone to acknoweldge that the statistics only deal with reported cases. It is highly likely that in the instances where a woman is murdered by their partner or ex partner, many incidences of abuse went unreported.
So men I ask you, what will your legacy be?
To men who resort to violence to get your own way, do you think your children don't realise you coerced their mothers with threats against her children?
Because that's your legacy
To men who resort to violence, do you think that your kids won't remember the cigarette burns, the welts from the horse whip, the petrol in their eyes, the windows being smashed, the screaming, the threats?
Because that's your legacy
To men who think they have the right to control, to demean, to diminish another human being because that's how things are or should be, where does the right come from and where does that take us?
Because that will be your legacy.
To men who think it is okay to cat call, to leer, to comment, to grope, to assault or harass someone walking home, sitting by themselves, or with their kids, or on their bikes, or on public transport, like the thousands of portrayals seen everyday on sites like EverydaySexism.co.uk in what mindset do you think your needs to act this way over-ride someone else's right to personal safety?
Because that is your legacy
Sure maybe you're not the violent type and might feel you have no part to play to fix this predominantly male problem. Maybe you feel it's a cultural thing, or a drugs thing or an alcohol thing, or you might think its a physical violence thing or a court's thing. Or it's a poor thing or an indigenous thing or a divorced family thing or... some other 'thing' but not your 'thing' right? But if you stay silent, if you do not actively assist in the breakdown of this disgraceful behaviour, then that too defines a view of the world
And that view is one where you feel that not everyone has the right to live safely, freely and equally
And if you do nothing then sadly, that legacy, is your thing
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