The increasing tension provoked by men participating in public discussions about family violence is serving only to distract us from our focus on the topic.
This excellent piece by Amy Gray in The Guardian in which she analyses the problematics of a dominantly male panel on ABC TV’s Qanda last night (unfortunately titled “Family Violence Special”) affirms my assertion and I urge you to read it.
Denying anyone a voice is not my thing, often to my own disadvantage and at times almost ruin, but on this topic, at this stage, I don’t think men on panels are doing us much good at all.
I speak only for myself, and when I see that a panel on family violence, perpetrated by far more men than women, is a panel actually dominated by men, my question is WTF?
Followed by, I’m tuning out because there is nothing men have to say on this topic that I am ready and willing to hear at this point. That doesn’t mean I don’t like you, respect you and in some instances, love you. It means you need to step away because we need our moment, like we need the air we breathe.
I want the issue handled publicly by women, and there are thousands of women in this country who have the most extraordinary insight, expertise and personal experience to keep a thousand panels going for a thousand and one nights.
If I was a man I can’t imagine fronting up to such a gig and thinking my point of view counted for very much at all in that setting.
Addressing reasons why men are violent towards women and children is of course fundamental to prevention. Perhaps this is a topic that could sustain a panel all of its own, and not be conflated with the rare opportunity for the primary victims and survivors of family violence and their advocates to speak publicly on the topic.
I am likely going to cop all kinds of shit for saying this, but what I ask of men is that you focus your attention on other men, and vacate the space, just quietly leave the space of public discussion such as last night’s Qanda, for women. This is what you can do for us.
I know not all men hit women and children, and I know it’s offensive to some men to be lumped in with the hitters. But what I say to you is your sense of offence is nothing compared to us being hit, so don’t ask us to deal with it, and don’t expect us to listen to it because we can’t, and there’s no reason why we should.
We cannot stop violent men making non violent men look and feel bad. You have to do that yourselves.
Women need our moment. We need it like the air we breathe. You can do this for us. Respect.