Somewhere around Australia, behind a closed door in one of our suburbs, right now a woman is being beaten. There is no guarantee that she will not soon be dead.
I do not say that just to make you stand up and take notice. I say that to make me stand up and take notice of how appalling the level of violence directed at women within Australian society really is.
When I think about my daughter, when I think about the women in my life, when I think back over the years of my life, when I think about how when those women raised the issue of violence against women I was verbally supportive of their efforts to both highlight and then attempt to stem the tide of violence directed at women.
It made me realise that I am part of a large cohort of people who verbally oppose the level of violence against women. It also made me realise that as an individual human being, who happens to be a male, I had never translated my own supportive words into ‘action’.
When such realisation happens, it happens, and cannot be ignored. So, as an older man, with all of the wobbles and vulnerabilities that taking such a step would entail for any human being, I decided to take action.
A week or so ago I thought up a concept, created a Facebook page called The March of Decent Men, and sought to place an ‘idea’ out there for the public to discuss and think about, or even to improve upon.
The concept is uncomplicated. It accepts the premise that violence against women is wrong. It accepts that the majority of the violence against women occurs in our suburbs behind closed doors. It asks people to join me in doing something that addresses the issue on the very ground where it happens.
On Saturday the 28th March at 11 am I am going to stand in my own street in my own suburb (on the footpath for safety reasons) with a sign that says, and I’ve had to re-think my wording many times – VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN IS WRONG. PERIOD. NO EXCUSES. And I have invited everybody else, man or woman, to do the same with a sign of their own wording.
Doing such a thing as one person will change nothing. But imagine if the majority of us did it at the same time. Such a collective expression of will could not easily be ignored. Where is it written that we cannot all band together and make an effort to begin a process of positive change?
Support for the concept has been, in the majority, supportive. What is interesting though, perhaps in a sad way, is how some people respond to a clear and direct question. The question ‘Is violence against women wrong?’ cannot possibly draw in any sort of answer but yes it is wrong. Surely no human being could say that it is a good thing?
The range of answers to that so direct a question has educated me to the negative power of ‘Whataboutism’. Whataboutism happens when someone simply does not want to answer the question posed, because it does not directly address an issue that they feel heartfelt about, and they respond by saying ‘but what about’ violence against men, ‘but what about’ every other permutation of violence that human beings are capable of visiting upon each other. To someone who answers with ‘what about’ all I can do is encourage you to get out there yourself and do something about the issue that is of prime concern to you, you have the power to do that.
Is violence against women wrong? Yes it is. I invite everybody, man or woman, to stand up in their own suburb on 28th March at 11 am and say so. The perpetrators of such violence may just start to begin to get the message.
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