Can a man write about a situation that concerns women in our society? I guess we are about to find out. The photo used to illustrate this article was chosen because it well represents, in my eyes, the amount of grit that is thrown the way of women … so on with the article.
I was simply having a chat with a female friend the other day, shooting the breeze, deciding whether to have fish and chips for lunch or not, and the subject of the treatment of women came up. Without any conscious pre-thought I blurted out that the treatment of women in modern Australia is toxic.
That kind of stopped me dead in my tracks for a bit. Gave me pause for thought. I suspect that my female friend was not all all surprised by the content of what I said, but where on earth did my statement come from? What was I basing such an assertion on? It all made me ponder a bit more over the fish and chips.
As a man self-raised in my younger years on at least some of the principles espoused by people like Gloria Steinem and Betty Friedan, even if I didn’t fully understand everything that they were saying at the time … I thought that things were on the rise for women in our society.
I admired the fact that women were standing up and out there with courage and saying that they had had enough of the inequality bullshit that they had endured since the day dot, and it opened my eyes to how pervading that bullshit actually was.
But all of that was back then, over almost half a century ago. And as I look around today I seriously question whether anything that has locked-in and enduring value has changed for women at all. Maybe I’m wrong with that but I’m flat out finding any evidence to convince me otherwise.
It is very easy as a man, who has fortuitously been surrounded by independent women throughout most of his adult life, to be so easily deluded into thinking that the fight for equality has gained and advanced across firm and non-regressive ground.
Nothing that I am about to say has not been said before, or said better before. Maybe many women and men have said these things so many times before it is not funny. Well, I’m quite happy to jump in and say it all again, and proffer an opinion.
No man alive has any sort of unique insight into the workings of a female human being, or into how a woman feels. But none of that should stop a man from being an effective acquaintance, friend, partner, listener, boss, random man met in the street, or even leader of a nation.
Lacking such insight does not stop many of us men from being those very positive things, good friends and partners etc. Yet sometimes other men choose another path to that and they choose to add-on and express and realise a brutal exhibition of violence towards women.
Women have no unique insight to the workings of a man either you have to, or may possibly like to, admit, and allowing for the occasional example to the contrary women generally appear to be more effective at fostering cordial inter-relationship from the personal through to the societal level. I don’t know why that is, to me it simply appears to be so.
If anybody reckons that they do have unique insights into the opposite gender then I reckon that they’d be a unique example of a unique first. It would be a wonderful gift to have.
It all leads me to the hard questions. All of this happens elsewhere, but I am talking about Australia.
Who denies equal pay to some women?
Who denies equality of representation to women in the workplace, and in places like our Parliaments?
Which gender voice swamps our national airwaves?
Which gender tells another to ram a sock down their throat?
Which gender tells an individual of the other that their social campaigning against violence towards women is unfair to men?
Who fears, and in some cases, hates women?
Who beats up, terrorises, rapes, and continually objectifies women?
Who follows women into parks at night and kills them?
Who, on average, kills one Australian woman each and every week of each and every year of each and every decade?
The answer is some men. Not all men by any means. Some men.
So what can the rest of us men do? Apart from wearing pretty ribbons of solidarity on our shirts or suit labels what can we do about it?
Maybe, we could stop preaching at women with such lines as … don’t walk around alone looking like a victim because you will be seen as same and predated upon. Really? Strong independent women with no carried sense of the victim about them are just as regularly killed.
In the past I’ve been guilty of waffling such silly preaching sorts of lines, but luckily my female friends didn’t disown me, they simply threw a bit of short sharp re-education my way. I’m glad they did, true friends and all that.
Perhaps a better response is to ask ourselves as men how can we contribute to a change in society that ensures that women can walk around alone in safety. We could also ask a woman that question and keep our ears open to hear the answer.
We could ensure that our legislators, and more importantly ourselves, call out domestic violence for the act of criminality and terrorism that it is. If the rate of female deaths in Australia due to domestic violence were down to the actions of a non-state rogue terrorist group then the full resources of the nation would be utilised to end it.
Excuse me for being so blunt about it, but the relatives of the women who have been killed have every right to ask why did you not utilise the full resources of this nation to end the horror that they experienced, the horror that ultimately took their lives? That is, and remains, the most plaintive and fair of questions.
I cannot help but think that we do not yet even closely have enough female representation at any level in our society where decisions about the realities of female inequality or violence towards women are seriously attended to, or rectified.
As an example at the most simplest of levels: equality of pay: payroll systems are automated and computerised, so to harmonise pay rates between the genders in the commercial work sphere … all it would take is the pressing of a few keyboard buttons. Who is stopping such a simple pressing of those buttons from happening? Why is all the hot air and dialogue on that issue still circulating about, after all these decades, without any concrete action occurring? How can the CEOs of private companies, and the owners of medium to small businesses, justify their inaction?
What is the thing in our society that we refuse to glare at and engage full on with? I don’t think it can be said any other way … it is the all pervasiveness and continued existence of the Doctrine of Male Dominance. After all the years of effort it has not been de-constructed.
Too many men, either through their fear of change, or their apathy towards change, or their outright support and fostering of The Doctrine, actively contribute towards its still present dominance over the workings of our society. It is a Doctrine that continues to kill women.
Life itself has led me to the following view of things, and as wobbly and as full of lessons and the re-learning of forgotten lessons as my weave through life and its experiences has been, there is no place for inequality or violence in that view.
As an over-arching statement … there is no place for inequality and violence in the world of men and men, or in the world of women and women, but it concerns me that there is still such a predominant amount of inequality and violence in the world that exists between men and women here in Australia. It is going to take all our combined efforts to stop it.
I don’t think that women are better than men, or that men are better than women. We are all here on a great planet, the only one we currently have until we get to Mars, and our genders swirl around each other with our intriguing differences continually interacting in a dance of unpredictable and joyous possibility.
Why would anybody want to hurt, or be allowed to hurt, an opposite gender who equally contributes to creating something as precious as the minutiae of that wonderful dance?
I, as a man, and my female friends, as women, might all be old invisible farts to the rest of society, we might well be seen as the dated children of the Age of Aquarius who never quite managed to achieve the lofty goals of gender fairness that we strived for way back then. But guess what? We are still here, and we are still striving for something that should not be elusive at all … equality, and an end to violence against women in our society!
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