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Can we end gender-based violence?

From Heather Ryder

Friday, 18 November 2011

I would very much like to engage with the people of Hebden Bridge in a discussion about violence against women and girls. In particular, I would like to discuss whether we can imagine a world in which gender based violence- by which I mean any act or communication which can harm, threaten or undermine due to a person's real or perceived gender or sexual orientation. By gender, I mean roles or rules that are applied to us such as girl= pink/soft and boy=blue/tough rather than sex which relates to biological differences. Therefore, gender based violence could range from a relatively small act of discrimination through to murder. Can we envisage a world where there is no sexism, homophobia or transphobia? What would such a world be like and how can we make it a reality?

From David Telford

Sunday, 20 November 2011

I notice you attack violence of men on women but don't mention violence by women on men.

I do agree that all that can be done to address violence should be done, a man being violent to a woman is cowardly but a woman being violent to a man knowing he will not in principle retaliate is just as bad.

From Eli F

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Firstly, David Telford, one of the most common ways that men silence women's voices around violence is to try to claim that men 'have it just as bad'. Men do not have it just as bad. our society is built almost entirely around our needs, David, we do not have it just as bad.

Another common thing men do when women talk about gender-based violence is to assert that violence towards men from women is just the same as men's violence towards women. It's an entirely different subject, and this claim is generally used to deflect the attention away from talk of women's experiences of violence and towards talk about men and how awful it is for us. Well, it's not as awful for men, David. If my female partner hits me it might be awful but it doesn't come with centuries of domination and violence and state-endorsed oppression attached to it, backing it up and cheering it along. It's not as bad as it is for us, whether you agree with that or not.

Men are always thinking that our opinion about a matter is the only and absolute truth about that matter. In this instance, whatever our opinion is is completely irrelevant. Really, the more you try to claim that these two kinds of violence are the same and just as awful, the more you'll just be changing the subject and trying to detract from what this thread is about, which is men's violence towards women.

If you want to talk about women's violence towards men perhaps you should start a different thread and let this one stay on track.

And in response to the original post, can I envisage a world without gender based violence, a world without sexism, homophobia, bi and transphobia?
Personally, no. I can't imagine such a world. I think that pretty much every institution in our culture is based on inequality and the subjugation of women and that as long as there's a man who'll claim till his last breath that We Had It Just As Bad, then there's a world with sexism in it. and as long as we have a sexist world we have a homo/bi/transphobic world.

As long as men just presume that our needs come first, which most guys unthinkingly believe most of the time, then I don't see how as 'a group' we'll ever let go of our huge demand for power. Most men are so heavily invested in inequality, and violence toward women in its many forms is beneficial to most men. Whether they believe it or not.

I do think, though, that we can do things to change the culture that surrounds us rather than The World. I think that changing The World is impossible because the human world is just countless communities, but changing smaller versions of the world is perfectly do-able, changing our own communities.

I think if more men opened themselves up to the idea that patriarchy is bad, and started learning to re-programme themselves and let go of some of their power then that would have quite profound effects on our communities. I think it's our responsibilty to fix the mess that was made before us, not just the responsibilty of women. We're the ones with the power that ?causes the problem. So, it's our problem.

From Jonathan Timbers

Monday, 21 November 2011

Eli and Heather, thanks for raising this issue. I think violence against women and girls (VAWG) is one of the most important issues in this town, or in any other.

The UK has a deep-seated problem and much more work needs to be done on:

  • more PHSE education in schools on VAWG
  • more educational challenge to gender stereotypes
  • more action to end occupational segregation in work experience/careers choices
  • much more recognition and action on VAWG in schools (where girls are subject to lots of sexual harassment, both in and on the way to and from school)
  • continue to improve maternity and paternity leave and promote equal co-caring of children by men and women
  • much more recognition of girls' views and interests in youth provision in town, amd generally.

As a school governor, I do try to raise some of these issues where I can - but it's hard making progress. The more pressure there is from people generally, the better. So I welcome your comments.

I'm sure there's more I could/ should add so if there is anything else you'd like to raise I'd love to hear from you. I suspect that I have a lot I can learn from you. Perhaps what we need is a community manifesto about the steps we want people, public authorities and businesses to take to tackle VAWG.

I agree entirely with what Eli said about David's comments. She put it with much more authority than I ever could.

From David Telford

Monday, 21 November 2011

I find it a little sad that I'm being criticised for denouncing violence, surely it's all violence that should be avoided not just violence of men against women, incidently, how much violence against women has been instigated by women on men?

I reject the idea that violence of men against Women is a by-product of "centuries of domination and violence and state-endorsed oppression"

Where is the state endorsed oppression now? It's not been there for generations.

Violence comes from observed behaviour in childhood. Witnessing a parent being violent in any way creates learnt behaviour. It has very little to do with the way the family unit operated centuries ago.

Jonathan, I can't believe that Violence Against Girls In the Neighborhood & Area is particular to this area. Violence is a general thing that affects males over females only in that males do not communicate as effectively as females and aggression is a natural trate in a male.

As I said before, it comes down to parenting, if either parent is aggressive in the home, it's likely the child will be violent whatever the gender.

From Emma H

Monday, 21 November 2011

Reading this thread I have to say that violence of any sort should not ever be tolerated. However, as a woman I find the comment that 'men do not have it as bad' quite offensive and sexist in itself.

Comments about state endorsed oppression, domination and a culture of inequality are more degrading to women than the actual act of these. I certainly do not feel oppressed and I'm quite happy not to be 'equal' I enjoy being a 'lady' and being treated as such.

It is attitudes like this that make women in violent relationships feel that they can't do anything about it - when they can . . . but often don't (and yes I have had very close encounters within my family of this - closely followed by the 'oh they're sorry, I'll give them another chance') Get a grip and get out! it's not a problem of men v's women just nasty people v's nice people.

From David Telford

Monday, 21 November 2011

Thanks Emma, you put that far better than I could which may be down to your natural female ability to communicate better!

From Jonathan Timbers

Monday, 21 November 2011

Emma, according to the coalition government, which has openly committed itself to ending VAWG, 'it is estimated that up to 9 in 10 cases of rape go unreported and 38 per cent of serious sexual assault victims tell no one about their experience' (Govt response to the Stern review). The commitment was made by Home secretary Theresa May, a 'lady' famous for her love of female accessories, especially shoes. Commitment to ending VAWG and being a lady are not mutually exclusive; in fact, some might see these interests as complementary.

Although men are sometimes raped by women, it is relatively rare. 'Domestic abuse' is more common but not as common as it is for women. That is because women are still preceived in sexist ways and have less economic and social power than men. That is why there is a need for refuges for women but not for men.

That doesn't mean that men who are subject to domestic abuse don't need help and support (particularly as our absurd notions about gender make it difficult for them to admit to abuse). It's just it's a different question, and not as prevalent.

This is why VAWG is a central concern of the United Nations, which has been critical of the UK in its lack of response to the issue. Our government has responded to that criticism. It would assist it, if local communities did as well.

From Emma H

Monday, 21 November 2011

Jonathan, those statistics are shocking and very sad - If I had my way anyone committing those types of offenses would have their 'bits' cut off.

The point that I was trying to make maybe not very eloquently is that there are some females who constantly talk about how we are oppressed etc and I think that this only serves to strengthen the incorrect perception about women having less power than men.

PS regarding the comment earlier about men just presume that needs come first...too darn right they do!

From Chris Barnett

Monday, 21 November 2011

Is it only me that spotted David Telford's rather sad little 'joke' in his posting? Not very clever, and not very funny.

And Jonathan, I think Eli F might just be a bloke, not a woman.

From David Telford

Monday, 21 November 2011

Jonathan, I don't know what the relevence of Theresa May's accessories has to do with anything and it perhaps hints at your own unhealthy attitude to women, women in authority and women's freedoms.

I think rape is a separate debate, yes of course something must be done about the under-reporting or rape and how rape is dealt with and I think Ken Clarke's approach on the subject is refreshing, whether he'll be allowed to push that through (he does have heavyweight support from IDS) is another question altogether.

As the title of the thread is "Can we end gender-based violence?" I think we must include violence of women against men. The truth of gender violence is about half of all domestic violence occurs with both partners abusing each other. 25% occurs with only men assaulting women and the other 25% occurs with only women assaulting men. Given men under report the abuse, that statistic could well very much mean that men are the biggest victims in domestic violence.

Putting that aside, what is the solution? The majority of perpetrators of domestic violence come from a broken home. Is this connected with seeing violence at home or the lack of a positive male role-model.

Have we got it wrong in the way the state assists families? THe state encourages people financially to have children who are neither emotionally, financially off in terms of maturity - ready to bring up a family. Does this have an influence?

From Chris Barnett

Monday, 21 November 2011

I didn't really want to get dragged into this one, but I think we could do with some references to back up the rather bizarre statistics in the last post.

I would be very interested (and surprised) to see them justified.

From Graham Barker

Monday, 21 November 2011

Home Office and other statistics about domestic violence are here . And they overwhelmingly confirm that it's women who suffer far more than men. Two sample quotes:

"45% women and 26% men had experienced at least one incident of inter-personal violence in their lifetimes. However when there were more than 4 incidents (i.e. ongoing domestic or sexual abuse) 89% of victims were women.

"On average 2 women a week are killed by a male partner or former partner: this constitutes around one-third of all female homicide victims."

All that said, I think this started out as a pretty half-arsed thread. It couldn't possibly achieve anything useful except flush out (as it has done) two predictable categories of male: those who fall over themselves to be right-on with women; and the misogynists who can't cope with the notion that women are getting more than their fair share of something, even if it happens to be violence and murder.

From David Telford

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Graham Barker, I wonder if you can identify the misogynists who "can't cope with the notion that women are getting more than their fair share of something, even if it happens to be violence and murder." I don't think I've seen a post on this thread which in anyway supports that claim.

In terms of feminism, I think we can all do well to take on the words of Paul Calf, in that we all have to be radical feminists these days.


From Ian M

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

If we are to consider gender based violence as including relatively small acts of discrimination, I would like to throw in the current trend of media advertising that presents men as idiotic morons who cannot function without a woman stepping in to save them from themselves.

The current advert with two women with colds discussing how busy their day is whilst their equally ill husbands malinger at home is a case in point!
The main premise of these adverts is to demean and belittle men.

From Emma Romanowicz

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Just a quick response to Jonathan Timbers earlier comment. Interesting point in relation to young people and working with them, I totally agree.

I just wanted to let you know that I am involved in addressing & raising awareness about the problem street harassment against women & girls in West Yorkhshire (e.g shouting comments, following, touching, exposure).

If you wanted to drop us an email we could let you have some more info on what we do. Or have a look at our website.

We are currently undertaking a survey on the problem in West Yorkshire as we have no UK stats as to the level of this problem in the UK but USA stats and information suggests that it affects between 90%-100% of women & girls and in relation to your commentstarts at an early age normally about 13 years.

We have only been running since August 2011 but have been doing some workshops about the issue to a positive response and in 2012 we are looking at getting something designed to do with school / colleges so let us know if its something you would be interested in.

From Jonathan Timbers

Thursday, 24 November 2011

I'll certainly take a close look at your group's website, Emma, and, where relevant, make sure that anyone I'm in contact with locally knows about it too. In particular, local councillors and Heads and governors need to be aware of it when they are making decisions about community safety, transport and education (in fact, they have a legal duty to have due regard to this and other equality matters when making decisions). Janet Battye, James Baker, Sue Press etc. Are you listening?

You may be interested to know that YouGov has just released UK figures for sexual harassment of teenage girls at school

A recent poll of 788 16-18-year-olds around the UK conducted by YouGov has found that almost a third (29%) of 16-18-year-old girls say they have been subjected to unwanted sexual touching at school. Nearly three-quarters (71%) of all 16-18-year-olds (ie boys and girls) say they hear sexual name-calling with terms such as "slut" or "slag" used towards girls at schools on a daily basis or a few times a week.

I can't find a link at the moment but there should be something on the 'End Violence Against Women Coalition' website or the YouGov one. However, accurate Calderdale figures would be an extremely useful tool in forcing decision-makers to pay a proper amount of attention to this issue.

The government are currently running what I think is a good campaign on teenage relationship abuse as well.


Abuse and psychological cruelty is also counted as a form of violence nowadays.

And Eli, my apologies!!!!

From Chris Green

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Tomorrow, November 25th, is White Ribbon Day - the United Nations Day to Eradicate Violence against Women, the first of 16 days of action to end violence against women.

I want to live in a world free from all violence, and the vast majority of gender based violence is done by men to women. We would encourage everyone to Swear (pledge to end violence on our website) Wear, (a ribbon or badge ) and Share (a discussion of the issues with friends and at workplaces during the 16 days of action).

For facts about the issues you can go to our website. The Home Office estimates that 1 in 4 women will suffer domestic abuse, 1 in 5 women will suffer sexual assault, and 1 in 5 women will suffer from stalking in their lifetime. One of the men who pledged on our website recently said "I have two daughters and want to make sure it never happens to them. It has happened to too many of my friends and it needs to stop. Another wrote, "Violence will only cease when men challenge violent attitudes and beliefs. Silence is not an option. Silence colludes with domestic violence, trafficking, pornography, the sex trade, female genital mutilation so called honour based violence and rape."

White Ribbon Campaign is heavily dependent upon volunteer labour and funding so we are always interested in offers of support.

From David Telford

Thursday, 24 November 2011

I think we all would like to live in a world free from all violence but it's a sweeping claim to say "the vast majority of gender based violence is done by men to women." The truth of gender violence is about half of all domestic violence occurs with both partners abusing each other, 25% occurs with only men assaulting women and the other 25% occurs with only women assaulting men. Given men under report the abuse, that statistic could well very much mean that men are the biggest victims in domestic violence. Whilst I abhor violence against woment, I think to only approach the problem from one side is daft, violence against gentlement is not allowed either.

Jonathan, the state can't do everything, I can't see the point of your comment "(in fact, they have a legal duty to have due regard to this and other equality matters when making decisions). Janet Battye, James Baker, Sue Press etc. Are you listening?"

Kids have called each other names since forever, for most of us it was character building and for others it really affected them. It's a horrible thing and for every girl called a "slut" there is a boy called a "w*n*er" and I don't mean a winner. The state has never condoned it, I very much doubt Janet Battye, James Baker, Sue Press etc ever encouraged such behaviour in adulthood. I'm sure teachers tell the kids not to call each other names now as they did when i was at school.

From Chris Barnett

Thursday, 24 November 2011

David Telford: I'm sorry, I can't let these 'facts' be trotted out again without challenging their accuracy.

If what you say is 'the truth', then let's hear where these statistics come from.

Time to put up or shut up.

From David Telford

Friday, 25 November 2011

Chris Barnett, I must say I object to your tone. It's from work of the University of New Hampshire's family research laboritory with Prof. Murray Straus.

From Chris Barnett

Friday, 25 November 2011

David: I'm sorry if my tone upsets you, but I don't like to see controversial statistics quoted without any justification, especially when they seem to fly in the face of well researched and referenced statistics such as those in Graham Barker's post.

Thank you for quoting references for your statistics: I will read them with interest . . .

From Chris Barnett

Friday, 25 November 2011

Just one more post, then I promise I'll go away and leave you all to it.

I've had a (very) quick look at Prof Straus's work. He has done a lot of well respected work on the subject of violence within the family, including corporal punishment of children (he's against it), but his work on gender violence is quite controversial (he has been criticised for not taking account of repeated violence and the fact that men generally cause more injuries than women).

His views seem to have been adopted by people who believe that "battered men" should be taken more seriously, whereas most people of a feminist persuasion seem to prefer the NVAW Survey studies (Tjaden & Thoenne 1998), or the various studies referenced in Graham Barker's post.

At least we all now know where to go to get information on this subject, which has to be a good thing.

From Christopher Reason

Saturday, 26 November 2011

This thread seems to re-emphasise the idea that we all tend to look for (and support) the evidence that upholds our already established view of the world. (That we're in thrall to our prejudices basically.)

The fact is that all violence within the family or within relationships is destructive. Its origins are as varied and complicated as the individuals concerned. To reduce the problem to it being men's fault or women's fault feels facile.

As long as we hold onto the notion of 'blame' we're just perpetuating the problem aren't we? What's required is compassion, understanding and education. I look forward to a time when the very idea of violence becomes anathema.

From Billy Frugal

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

I'm afraid that David Telford has to get a resounding "Fail" for extrapolating the view that "The truth of gender violence is about half of all domestic violence occurs with both partners abusing each other, 25% occurs with only men assaulting women and the other 25% occurs with only women assaulting men" from the studies by Murray Straus.

In truth, even a casual glimpse of this important work will make clear that Straus was looking at a very specific population (college students) and used a very broad definition of "assault". To somehow twist that study to try to "prove" something about "all domestic violence" is either stupid or purposefully misleading. The vast majority of assaults in the Straus studies were minor events such as slapping - In effect, David Telford is excusing the tide of violence committed against women in our society on the basis that either sex is capable of delivering a slap.

Studies looking at wider populations, and with tighter definitions of domestic violence, consistently support the views expressed by Graham Barker.

This is fact, not a half-baked opinion based on an inappropriate use of statistics.

From David Telford

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Billy Frugal, I'm surprised that you feel I'm excusing the tide of violence committed against women and perhaps it's telling where your own prejudice lies where you dismiss womens violence towards their partner as the "delivering a slap". As Christopher R makes very clear, all violence within the family or within relationships is destructive. If you really think the way to deal with the issue is to just take one side and further victimise men does nothing positive. Again Christopher puts it ver well in saying domestic violence is as varied and complicated as the individuals concerned. To reduce the problem to it being men's fault or women's fault is facile.

From Billy Frugal

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Did I say that? You seem to be putting words in my mouth David!

From Jade P

Sunday, 4 December 2011

I find it interesting that whilst this thread was initiated by a woman it has become dominated by men discussing definitions and academic studies.

Surely violence in and of itself is not gendered?

My observation of violence both from individuals and at the level of nation state is that it emerges from a place of unexpressed feelings. Often those who feel unable to speak use violence as their means of expression. How the violence is deployed is what is shaped by gender, family history or the journey of a nation state - but the violence in and of itself is neutral.