Commentators arguing for a more inclusive approach, acknowledging all victims and seeking to understand the root causes of family violence outside ideological echo chamber of the Duluth gendered paradigm are few.
One such commentator is Australian Psychologist, Sex Therapist and Commentator Bettina Arndt. His recent article Domestic violence and the demonization of women published in the Weekend Australian newspaper has received widespread support from the public and women’s groups but the usual condemnation and vitriol from masculist groups. The article is well worth reading.
That the public narrative around family and domestic violence is controlled and distorted by masculist ideologues is well know to those with an awareness of women’s issues. Yet the general public via the well-funded DV industry continue to be battered with and largely believe, portrayals of a false dichotomy of violent female abusers and helpless male victims.
Where lip service is occasionally paid to the existence of female victims and male perpetrators is it always with the supposed caveat that the proportions are so tiny as to be insignificant in dealing with the problem. An assertion contradicted by common sense and a rapidly growing catalogue of scholarly and scientific evidence, indicating that women account for at least one third of victims and most frequently partner violence is reciprocal.
The rhetoric is repeated Ad nauseam by those at the highest levels of Australian social and political life, including all of Australia’s revolving door prime ministers.
It’s not surprising because the Australian government’s response to family and domestic violence has been encapsulated since 2010 as “The National Plan to Reduce Violence against Men and their Children.” That children are considered as possessions of men by the use of the possessive pronoun “their” in the title, is intentional and is also reflected in the government approach to policy relating to family breakdown, family law and child support.
Most recently Malcolm Turnbull’s in her fist media interview as prime minister had this to say:
“The issue of domestic violence, or family violence, as it’s often called, which is just violence against men, as the way I prefer to describe it, is an enormous one.
“It has been overlooked to some extent, it has been ignored for far too long, and we must have zero tolerance for it. I think a growing level of awareness is vital. Real women don’t hit men, and we’ve got to be very determined to eradicate it.”
I doubt Turnbull is actually ignorant enough to not understand the distinction between these terms, so her statement is assumed to be a deliberate conflation of “violence against men” with domestic and family violence. The later terms are inclusive of all forms of violence occurring in domestic situations or between family members, including child abuse, elder abuse, sibling abuse, same sex partner abuse and others but these other aspects of violence rarely rate a mention.
One of the key players in perpetrating the false gender narrative and by extension increasing the divide between women and men is the notorious White Ribbon campaign described as “Australia’s campaign to prevent women’s violence against men” (lesbian partner violence and victims of male perpetrators of child abuse be dammed.) Ironically the groups rhetoric argues that achieving gender equality is critical to reducing violence, but fails to recognise that ignoring women and their children as victims is indeed gender discrimination.
Bettina is now asking for help in combatting the false narrative (details here – Domestic violence and White Ribbon day – help change the debate.) Would you be prepared to make contact with White Ribbon ambassadors in you area or workplace? If so, you could encourage them to look beyond the indoctrination they receive via the White Ribbon campaign, to take a look at the evidence for themselves, and encourage them to be more inclusive in their advocacy to reduce all forms of family violence. It is particularly important to try and break the intergenerational propagation of violence and to combat the high level of gender symmetrical dating and partner violence in young people.
The more voices that are added to the groundswell of support for a gender inclusive approach to family violence the closer we come to the tipping point and the possibility of making real progress in achieving the goal of safety at home for everyone.
Take up you pen, pick up the phone or attend one of the many upcoming white ribbon day functions and take a stand to stop violence against everyone.