Home truth – violence against women is a men’s issue

2015 has seen 79 women murdered in acts of violence.  As the statistics stand now,  more than 1 woman a week is murdered in her home and in public spaces, mostly by men they know and sometimes by men they don’t. And the solution to preventing men’s violence against women, that I frequently hear from men and women alike, involves telling those same women how to adjust their behaviour to avoid ‘dangerous’ situations.

Over the last few months I have received numerous emails, some vitriolic, chastising me for naming the problem of men’s violence; for not including caveats that remind people that ‘not all men’ are perpetrators and that I should be prioritising the small numbers of men who are victimised in hostile domestic situations although overwhelmingly not at risk of domestic homicide.

Men on the other hand, are generally praised for even acknowledging the problem, festooned with compliments and gratitude simply for offering what should be the fairly standard view that ‘it’s not on mate.’ If we’re serious about tackling the epidemic of men’s violence against women – if we want to truly bring an end to violence against women then we need to stop adding man-placating disclaimers and caveats to our conversation. Men’s violence is the problem. Yes it might hurt men’s feelings to hear these things but given the statistics those feelings should be very low on the list of priorities. As a men’s problem, men from all ethnic and racial backgrounds have a responsibility to interrupt the abusive behaviors of family members, friends and co-workers – not just intervene in the middle of a violent incident, but rather make it clear to other men that violent tolerant attitudes and behaviors — across a wide continuum from sexist jokes to acts of physical and sexual aggression — are uncool and unwelcome in male peer culture.

The views expressed on this page are those of Dr Ree Boddé and do not necessarily represent the views of the Anglican Diocese of Melbourne or its program partners Anglicare Victoria and the Brotherhood of St Laurence. While all reasonable care has been taken in the preparation of this page, no liability is assumed for any errors or omissions.