Barry Williams talks of his hunger strike for men’s issues in 1970’s

In the light of Dan Perrins’ hunger strike we think it timely to republish this classic interview between Dean Esmay and Australian Barry Williams who also went on a hunger strike for men’s issues back in the 1970s, which met with success in having those issues heard and acted upon.

Why should you find Barry Williams interesting? Well listen to this interview and you’ll see. We talk about his history of being a victim of domestic violence; being a single father raising multiple children without any support from the government or his violent alcoholic wife; and supporting his kids by himself even after sustaining a crippling injury.

We also talk about his improved relationships later on in life with his children’s mother, his history of doing a hunger strike in front of Parliament House in Canberra in the Australian Capital Territory, plus his interactions with multiple Australian Prime Ministers and other government ministers and opposition leaders over the last 40 years.

Barry Williams and son Michael start a Lone Father rally at Parliament house, Canberra 1977
Barry Williams and son Michael start a Lone Father rally at Parliament house, Canberra 1977

 He describes the organization he built called the Lone Fathers Association; his lifelong efforts to help battered men; his being the only registered Federal lobbyist in Australia who speaks to men’s issues; how the Australian government treats men and boys today versus decades ago; his work with various government ministers and opposition party leaders; his work with various court magistrates and officials, and more. His Lone Fathers Association may just be the largest and most successful men’s aid society in the world, even though they continue to struggle to find any recognition or support, and it is possibly the oldest still-running organization for fathers in the world.

But here, listen to our interview and see for yourself:

The funny thing about Barry is just how disarming he is. When you talk to him, he sort of comes off as a genial, slightly rambly, moderately incoherent guy who’s just a little out of his depth.

I said he comes off that way.

In reality, once you actually start listening to the man, he’s as smart as anyone you’ll ever come across who works on men’s and boys’ issues, and he has accomplished more in this area than anyone I have ever met. When you start listening to his story, and what he’s accomplished over the last four decades, and what he’s still doing, you’ll be completely humbled: it is entirely possible that no one in the world has done more to help men and boys than this one man. And no, I’m not exaggerating in the slightest.

Barry is so disarming and so offhand in his manner of speaking, I did not even notice just how much he was saying while I was talking to him. It was only in going back and editing the interview for clarity and reviewing it a second time that I noticed his amazing habit of making seemingly offhand comments, when he was actually rattling off four or five absolutely fascinating bits of history and factual information at once, in a virtual blizzard of information and insights. You could write a book about everything he says in this interview. Indeed, I recommend listening to this interview once, then, thinking about it a bit, and going back to listen to it again. You may even want to take notes. This is a man who’s known multiple Australian Prime Ministers, has received awards and recognition from the President of the United States and the heads of other governments, and he talks to you like he’s just some bloke having a beer and discussing the latest football match on television.

It is arguable that today’s men’s movement stands on the shoulders of giants like Barry Williams, and it is important that we recognize, honor, and yes, even revere them. We hope that Barry’s story brings inspiration to activists and to Dan Perrins as they continue to fight for the human rights of men.

Recommended Content

%d bloggers like this: