Thursday, July 3, 2014

Apologizing is the least you can do

Labour has released it's policy to provide for "$60 million over 4 years for family and sexual violence to support front-line services, primary prevention and education". So it's going to be $15 million per year. Hopefully it will go some ways to addressing the horrifying domestic violence situation in New Zealand. Just today it was reported that New Zealand is one of the worst countries for domestic violence in the OECD. But of course the focus isn't on that. David Cunliffe has rightly pointed out that family and sexual violence is perpetrated overwhelmingly by men against women and children. 

What did David Cunliffe say? 

"I'm sorry for being a man right now, family and sexual violence is perpetrated overwhelmingly by men against women and children. It cannot continue that women and children are the victims of this kind of awful madness."

What did the media report? 

That Cunliffe apologised for being a man. I have screenshots of many of the tweets that went out below. Queue #notAllmen malarkey. Including the Prime Minister. Our Prime Minister actually responded with essentially - well not all men. How absolutely disgraceful.

After the #yesallwomen movement on Twitter, one would have thought, that our eyes and minds would have somewhat opened to the real situation plaguing women everywhere. We are not safe anywhere at anytime. It is not about dark allies after midnight. It is happening in our homes by our families - the very place where we are supposed to be the safest, in the company of the very people (men) we should, trust the most. But it is an election year and David Cunliffe is our favorite person to hate. 

An apology? 

To the men - yes, you should be sorry. All of you. 
  • How many times did you hear women being degraded by your friends and have said nothing? 
  • How many times did you see women being abused and said nothing? 
  • How many times did you see that article "35 practical steps men can take to support women" on your social media and you read it? Shared it? 
  • How many times have you felt "entitled" to physical intimacy with a woman or to her body because you took her out on a date? Because you bought her a drink? Because of whatever reason?
  • How many times have you worried about the pay disparity? About the effects of childbirth?
  • How many times have you treated your daughter dating a guy differently to your son dating a girl? How many times did you warn your daughter about young guys "because I was once a young guy"?  
  • How many times have you wondered whether you got a job just because you were a man? 
  • How many times have you trivialized a woman's opinion? Talked over a woman in a discussion? 
  • How many times have you called your friend a "pussy" or accused him of doing something "like a girl"? 
  • How many times have you taken emotional responsibility in a relationship? 
  • How many times have you used PMS-ing as an insult? 

This is not even a comprehensive list. In every way, men have controlled every aspect of women's lives. Their public lives, their private lives, their body, their autonomy and in exercising that power they have enjoyed a privilege in society that will never be compensated for. 

So yes, you should apologize. And no it isn't for being a man - it is for the things you have stood by and allowed as a man. It isn't for something other men have done. It is for things that you are responsible for. Men are part of our society and part of the culture. Saying 'not all men' does not mean you get to abrogate that responsibility.  

This right here is a disgrace. The media actively and collectively decided to take the conversation there and not where it should have been. Disappointed, sad, and angry. 

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