Tag Archives: Rosie Batty

Part Two: Family violence and the middle class

1 Feb

Escape

 

Yesterday’s post on family violence and the middle class drew some criticism, in one instance culminating in me being described as a troll, and my point of view as “stupid, sigh” by the male who didn’t agree with it, or the fact that I wouldn’t back down from it. I find that patronising sigh interesting, given that we were discussing gender imbalance and middle class abuse. I’ve noticed lately on social media that if I politely persist in addressing areas of disagreement, abuse almost inevitably results: apparently there comes a point in discussion with some middle class men where if a woman doesn’t capitulate her position is stupid, sigh. A clever woman knows when to shut her mouth, perhaps?

I’ve used as my source for the argument against using class as a determinant in the family violence debate this government document titled Domestic, family and sexual violence in Australia: an overview of the issues, compiled in October 2014.

Quote:

In Australia, domestic, family and sexual violence is found across all cultures, ages and socio-economic groups, but the majority of those who experience these forms of violence are women. However, it is not possible to measure the true extent of the problem as most incidents of domestic, family and sexual violence go unreported.

Risk factors:

As discussed earlier, domestic, family and sexual violence occurs across all ages, cultures and socio-economic groups.[27] However, research shows that some women are at greater risk of experiencing these forms of violence than others.[28] For example, exposure to child abuse or violence as a child, alcohol or drug dependency issues, financial or personal stress and lack of social support are all strong correlates of violence against women.[29] Some women are also more vulnerable to violence, or less able to leave violent relationships, based on factors such as age, Indigenous status, location, disability, ethnicity, and English language ability.

None of these risk factors are peculiar to any particular class, yet it’s far from unusual for such risk factors to be presumed to be indicators of class.

The face of Australian family violence for the last twelve months was Rosie Batty, whose son, Luke, was horribly and publicly murdered by his father. Ms Batty is a middle class woman. Indeed, a woman who was unable to perform the middle class expectations of that role would never have been appointed in the first place.  I don’t recall Ms Batty framing family violence as a class issue: far from it, it seems to me she at all times focused on violence against women and children, regardless of class.

I suspect that a focus on class in the family violence debate draws attention away from the far more threatening perspective of  family violence as an issue of gender inequality. Far easier for the middle classes, males in particular, to distance themselves from gender inequality if its most violent manifestation is said to occur in demographics other than their own.

As long as family violence is associated with the shame and othering of what is perceived as *welfare class* behaviour, middle class women and children will continue to remain largely silent on what happens to them in their homes.

I also do not and will not accept the stigmatisation of low-income, poor and Indigenous people in the matter of family violence as a class issue.

As a woman explained to me today, her middle class status changed overnight when she reported some twenty-five years of family violence to police.  The consequences of reporting saw her lose that status, and become a member of the *underclass.* How would I be represented in the statistics, she asks. How indeed.

Women and children who leave violent relationships frequently suffer financially and socially, as well as running a high risk of further injury and even death at the hands of the perpetrator.

Assistance, protection, legal help and sanctuary should be available for every woman and child who is a victim of family violence, regardless of class and any other consideration. When services are being increasingly withdrawn by the LNP government, either directly or through reduced funding to the states, it seems rather ludicrous to be quarrelling about the class to which victims belong.

I don’t buy the argument that establishing the class of victims allows policy makers to best direct funding. As the cited overview states, those who experience family violence are predominantly women, and it is impossible to measure the true extent of the problem as most incidents go unreported. Were adequate services available, women would be enabled to report. We might then see what place class has in family violence.

What is indisputable is that it is women who are most urgently in need of assistance, and that the problem is at its source one of gender inequality and not class, though class certainly has an effect on reporting, and perception.

 

 

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Mansplaining domestic violence. The 2015 Award.

10 Feb

Mansplaining

 

It’s very early in the new year to be handing out awards for anything, however this piece by psychiatrist and White Ribbon ambassador Tanveer Ahmed on domestic violence earns the author the 2015 No Place for Sheep Order of Arrogant Ignorance for mansplaining violent domestic crimes against women and children perpetrated on them by the men in their lives.

Mansplaining, if you aren’t sure what it is, is defined in this timely piece in The Conversation by Monash academic Howard Manns.

I know. I know.

“Mansplain” has been declared the word of the year by the Macquarie Dictionary:

verb (t) Colloquial (humorous) (of a man) to explain (something) to a woman, in a way that is patronising because it assumes that a woman will be ignorant of the subject matter. MAN + (EX)PLAIN with s inserted to create a pronunciation link with explain.

Admittedly, Dr Ahmed was explaining his theories on domestic violence to everyone who reads the Australian and that’s not just women, nevertheless, in this writer’s opinion, he is still deserving of the Order.

Owing to the Murdoch press paywall which is sometimes by-passable and sometimes not, I’ve copied Dr Ahmed’s piece and you can read it at the end of this post.

Basically, Ahmed is claiming that “male disempowerment” caused by 1970’s radical feminism has led to a power inequality between the genders. One way some men address this imbalance is by beating the women and children in their lives, sometimes to death, or murdering them by other means.

In reaction to this male violence against them, women have formed a “cult of victimhood” that has so skewed society’s perceptions of male behaviour that beating women and children in acts of intimate violence and sometimes murdering them has led to a “psycho-prejudice…in which what men and boys do is seen as socially disruptive.”

If men and boys beat and murder anyone outside their families it is certainly seen as “socially disruptive.” Think king hits.

But that’s not all: “The growing social and economic disempowerment of men is increasingly the driver of family-based violence…[working class male work] has become “feminised.”

In other words, domestic violence occurs entirely in the working classes, “newly arrived ethnic groups,” and fatherless sons of single mothers are apparently particularly prone, says Ahmed.

This is drivel deserving of a hundred Orders of Arrogant Ignorance. It is well-estabished that domestic violence occurs in every demographic, and I can personally attest to that, the perpetrator in my family of origin being, like Ahmed, a doctor, and not at all economically disempowered, or disempowered in any other way either.

While it is true that there are male victims of domestic violence and they shouldn’t be neglected, drivel such as this is of no help to them or anybody else.

It’s also true that a particular view of gender relations can at times be less than helpful. However, domestic violence and murder are crimes, and those who perpetrate the crimes are criminals. Gender relations do not a beater and a murderer make, and men like Ahmed need to grasp that.

With mansplainers like White Ribbon Ambassador Ahmed as our “friend,” who needs enemies?

 

Men forgotten in violence debate

TANVEER AHMED

THE AUSTRALIAN FEBRUARY 09, 2015 12:00am

THERE is too little acknowledgment of the importance of male disempowerment in debates surrounding domestic violence. Gender relations have changed dramatically in the past few decades, but discussions about family violence are stuck in the mindset of 1970s radical feminism.

This emphasises power inequality in gender interactions and on perceived societal mess­ages that sanction a male’s use of violence and aggression. The focus is on male villainy, denial of biologically based sex differences and a cult of victimhood. This is part of a broader movement that defines normal maleness as a ­risible kind of fatuous and reactionary behaviour. As US anthropologist and masculinity expert Lionel Tiger, who coined the term “male bonding”, says: “We have a psycho-prejudice, in which the norm is the female norm and what boys (and men) do is seen as ­socially disruptive.”

The Prime Minister’s move to acknowledge the Australian of the Year award to Rosie Batty and community outpouring on domestic violence through a COAG committee is worthy, but it risks becoming dominated by ­radical feminists and a worldview around the powerlessness of women.

Just as women are now more likely than ever to enter university, be breadwinners and have affairs, they are also more likely to commit family violence against partners, children or relatives. But the anti-feminists who focus on female perpetrators of family violence, such as Michael Woods from male advocacy group Men’s Health Australia, forget the growing social and economic disempowerment of men is increasingly the driver of family based violence. Woods is a strong critic of what he says is a domestic violence industry and diluted measures of what constitutes violence.

The focus on female disempowerment alone will not achieve an improved existence, since they are often surrounded by disempowered men. Men for whom the security of unionised labour in the manufacturing industries is becoming a distant memory are experiencing a huge displacement from modern economic trends. It’s been replaced by casualised, service-oriented work with relatively low wages. In essence, their work has been feminised.

British social researcher Paul Thomas questioned British youths of different backgrounds for a study in 2010. He found white, working-class men feel they are the real outsiders and disenfranchised from opportunity.

Likewise, family violence within newly arrived ethnic groups is often related to the sudden dilution of traditional masculinity, leaving men lost and isolated, particularly as females enjoy greater autonomy and expectations. This is primarily positive, but a greater acknowledgment of the huge displacement such men endure from the cleavage of the institutions of family, clan and tradition in less than a generation may help alleviate their sense of humiliation.

Despite the cries of domestic violence being an epidemic, we should also consider that fatherlessness could fit such a category, with 40 per cent of Australian teenagers living without their biological fathers. It was Margaret Mead who said fatherhood was essentially a social invention. But as the Left increasingly dilutes the notion of biological differences in sex, amusingly illustrated by Greens senator Larissa Waters imploring parents not to buy gender-specific toys for Christmas, we are downplaying the notion that fathers are even desirable.

Statistics don’t lie. It is true one woman a week dies at the hands of a partner, current or former. As part of a broadbased strategy, it is critical that improving arrest and prosecution rates, establishing shelters and abuse hotlines, pushing for state provisions against stalking, and creating protections for immigrants all have the goal of getting victims out of abusive ­relationships.

But the broader movement that has long fought against violence towards women remains stuck in a view of gender relations from decades past, which will limit its effectiveness in stemming the problem in an inclusive way.

Tanveer Ahmed is a psychiatrist and White Ribbon Day ambassador.

 

Family Violence. Where’s THE MINISTER FOR WOMEN?

26 Jan

I can’t help wondering what Prime Minister Tony Abbott, also known as THE MINISTER FOR WOMEN, thought and felt when he announced as Australian of the Year the most outstanding advocate for women and children I’ve heard in a very long time, Rosie Batty.

Ms Batty’s son Luke was brutally murdered by his father, a man with history of serious violence towards his family. Their story is at the worst end of the family violence continuum, as are many others.

That we even have the phrase “family violence” in our lexicon, with the most appalling statistics to justify its existence, ought to be a matter of serious concern for THE MINISTER FOR WOMEN, whose responsibility it surely is to give political backup and practical support to people like Rosie Batty, who shouldn’t have to work as she has without a word of encouragement from the LEADER OF THIS GREAT NATION AND MINISTER FOR WOMEN, TONY ABBOTT.

Somehow, in the brief time since Luke was murdered by his father, Ms Batty has garnered the strength and courage to campaign with vigour and a resounding authenticity, against family violence. No voice could be more convincing than hers on this topic at this point in time.

While the “king hitting” of  a handful of young men brings out Abbott’s anger and righteous indignation, as does the threat of terrorism and the horrible, unspeakable, spine chilling crime of asylum seekers breaching the sovereignty of our borders; as the thrilling notion of going to war, some war, somewhere, anywhere, for whatever reason causes the bedraggled budgie in the Prime Minister’s rapidly fraying smugglers to sluggishly stir, the slaughter and suffering of women and children in our own backyard goes unaddressed  by THE MINISTER FOR WOMEN, in fact he NEVER EVEN MENTIONS IT! 

I can’t imagine any other minister NEVER EVEN MENTIONING the topic of his portfolio. Can you?

Rosie Batty. Woman of calibre. Salute.

Rosie and Luke

Rosie and Luke

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