Some time prior to the first International Conference on Men’s Issues, which was held in Detroit, USA, in June 2014, the Australian Domestic & Family Violence Clearinghouse—a government-supported initiative implemented by the University of New South Wales (UNSW)—made the following announcement on its website:
The Australian Domestic & Family Violence Clearinghouse is completing its transition to Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety.
Going forward, UNSW … will build on the Clearinghouse’s achievements through the Gendered Violence Research Network (GVRN) and continue to carry out rigorous, multi-disciplinary research related to gendered violence, including domestic and family violence.
The transition, which became effective on July 1, 2014, symbolizes the fact that the Australian Government (AG) has eschewed any pretense of concern for male victims of female-perpetrated intimate partner violence (IPV) and has now adopted an exclusively gendered approach to this important social issue. Rendering male victims of IPV invisible and eradicating female perpetrators of IPV from existence do not count as “achievements” for those who believe that the AG’s approach to this issue should be gender-inclusive and comprehensive, as opposed to gender-bigoted, unethical, and intellectually dishonest.
An examination of the GVRN reveals that it is exactly what its name implies:
Members of GVRN aim to explore gendered violence—also known as gender-related or gender-based violence—as an expression of power and control over individuals or groups because of their gender.
The GVRN’s mission is to accumulate a body of academic research under the auspices of the UNSW, one of Australia’s most prestigious universities, that supports its contention that IPV is a gendered issue in which one gender (men) expresses its “power and control over individuals or groups” (women and children). The purpose of this body of academic research is to provide some of the so-called evidence that enables the AG to focus exclusively on women (children are invariably included, if at all, as an afterthought) as victims of IPV and lay the blame for it entirely on men.
It is on this basis that the AG justifies its funding and support for anti-domestic violence initiatives like the White Ribbon Campaign (WRC), upon which, as we shall see, it also relies heavily for data, information, and recommendations. This is just one component in a vast network of entities, including academia, the government, the media, and the judiciary, working in concert to define IPV in Australia as a gendered issue. It justifies the anti-male nature of implemented legislation and social policy, as well as the continued denial of adequate publicly funded support services for male victims of female-perpetrated IPV.
The media colludes in this gendered approach to IPV by relying heavily on misleading statistical data and information provided by this cabal, rarely undertaking any type of independent investigation that would reveal the increasing amount of readily available evidence-based research that challenges, contradicts, and frequently debunks official claims. The result is a plethora of articles in the mainstream media (MSM) that not only completely ignores men as victims of IPV but also presents the issue as a national emergency requiring immediate attention and action.
A recently published article “Domestic violence against women reflects national problem: Police” details “a night with Fairfield police officers in Sydney’s west to find out what it is like to deal with the sad and often violent reality of domestic abuse.”
It includes an account of an incident in which a husband is charged with domestic violence.
A report has come in that a man has hit a woman in the head…. Constable Easson explains what happened. “There was an argument over the TV channel. It was a minor that escalated into a verbal,” she says. “He [the husband] became aggressive and picked a water canister made of stainless steel and threw it at her. It made contact to the back of the head and caused a cut and bleeding.” … The husband was taken to Fairfield police station where he was charged with assaulting his wife.
A violent man has been rightfully apprehended for committing domestic violence against his wife that resulted in her being physically injured. At least, that is what the reader is meant to assume from the facts presented in the article.
Not so fast.
There are a few questions that inquiring minds would like answered before passing judgment on this incident.
Who instigated the argument? Who escalated the violence to the point where it became aggressive enough for objects to be thrown, and who threw the first one? Was the husband also bleeding as he was taken to Fairfield police station? Was the husband provided with an opportunity to present his account to the police? The article doesn’t mention it at all—only that the wife and a daughter (who was not present at the time of the alleged assault) are reported as providing police with their accounts. Was this a deliberate or accidental oversight on behalf of the reporters, or is failing to secure the male partner’s version of events deemed unnecessary and, therefore, not part of the standard police procedure regarding DV?
Unfortunately, inquiring minds will never know the answers to these questions because it either didn’t occur to the reporters to ask them or they chose not to include them in their article. One of the key problems of adopting a gendered approach to the issue of IPV is that, by definition, it ignores half of the story. It assumes, as Alison Tieman has observed, that men are always the actor and women are always acted upon. This is a deeply misogynistic, even paternalistic, attitude that robs women of the agency that MHRAs believe all women possess.
However, the most serious problem with adopting gendered approaches to IPV is that it is deeply unjust toward men, and not merely those engaged, willing or otherwise, in DV. The Australian Men’s Rights (AMR) organization explains some of the realities of IPV on its website. The AMR conducted its own research and reached the following conclusions:
Men were just as likely to report being physically assaulted by their partners as women. Further, women and men were about equally likely to admit being violent themselves.
Men and women report experiencing about the same levels of pain and need for medical attention resulting from domestic violence.
Violence runs in couples. In over 50% of partnerships in which violence occurred both partners struck each other.
People who had violent parents were significantly more likely than others to be violent to their own partners and to be victims of violence themselves….
It is fair to ask researchers how much confidence they have in their own findings.
Needless to say, the GVRN would not consider it as fair to ask such questions. It would probably consider it as impudent, label the AMR as a group of rape-enabling DV apologists, and point to the Australian Parliament’s official overview of DV in Australia to validate its bigoted, intellectually vapid, and predictably skewed “findings.”
The opening paragraph states that the overview is “intended as an update to previous Parliamentary Library publications on this topic.” The nature of this update is suspiciously similar to the one made by the Australian Domestic & Family Violence Clearinghouse when it transitioned to Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety, in which it also, theoretically at least, eliminated the existence of male victims of female-perpetrated IPV:
Yet for many women, home is a place of pain and humiliation … violence against women by their male partners is common, wide-spread and far-reaching in its impact. For too long hidden behind closed doors and avoided in public discourse, such violence can no longer be denied as part of everyday life for millions of women….
It also covers policy approaches designed to prevent domestic violence, a survey of current Australian Government programs and initiatives and a review of future directions in domestic violence prevention.
The overview begins by making the same brief pretense of using gender-neutral terms found in White Ribbon Campaign (WRC) literature. For example, it defines domestic violence as “acts of violence that occur between people who have, or have had, an intimate relationship in domestic settings.” Like the WRC, it quickly drops this pretense by presenting an entirely gendered approach to the issue of IPV in which all perpetrators are identified as men and all victims are identified as women—“millions of women,” according to the overview. Children are given the standard cursory glance of acknowledgment, presumably for the sake of appearances and for the purpose of squeezing out a few extra sympathy funding dollars.
What follows in the overview is a detailed summation of IPV, including the usual definitions of its various manifestations: emotional, verbal, social, economic, psychological, spiritual, physical, and sexual. The overview reveals that it has derived its information from among the following entities: the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) Personal Safety Survey 2005, the Australian component of the International Violence Against Women Survey (IVAWS) conducted in 2002–03, and the ABS Women’s Safety Survey 1996.
There is a revealing comparison of IPV data gathered before and after definitions of DV were expanded to include “controlling behaviours such as put downs and keeping track of whereabouts” that explains the dramatic statistical increase in violence toward women that the DV industry uses to justify the amount of funding it demands to combat this so-called epidemic. For a country with a population of 23.6 million, the amount of funding allocated to combat this aspect of the “war on women” is staggering. The overview proudly declares that the $44 million that taxpayers provided in 2010 alone included:
- $3.75 million over three years for Community Action Grants
- $8.8 million over three years to provide support for front-line workers, such as allied health, child care and paramedics, to better assist clients who have experienced violence
- $4.8 million over three years for projects to improve services for women with children who are experiencing domestic and family violence
- $6.9 million over four years to establish a National Centre of Excellence for the Prevention of Violence against Women and
- $14.5 million over four years to conduct the Personal Safety Survey and a National Community Attitudes Survey to ensure that there is accurate and up-to-date information about the prevalence of violence against women in the Australian community.
This overview makes it abundantly clear that as far as the Australian Parliament is concerned, women are the only victims of IPV it fully recognizes and the only victims it actually cares about. To emphasize this point, the overview identifies the following groups as being the most at risk: younger women, indigenous women, women living in rural and remote areas, disabled women, women with disabilities, and women from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.
It’s all about women, all of the time, in a way that is familiar to those who advocate on behalf of men and boys—and in a way that would convince the GVRN that it has achieved its goal of imposing its gendered approach to DV onto a powerful entity like the Australian Parliament. It is not until the overview reaches a section called “Engaging men and boys” does it become apparent that the Australian Parliament has been led to believe that men and boys are solely responsible for not only all IPV in Australia but also its prevention:
The increasing focus on men as targets of prevention efforts represents a significant shift; while men have long been seen as perpetrators, they are now also being seen as ‘partners’ in prevention. The White Ribbon Foundation asserts:
“It is a men’s issue because a minority of men treat women and girls with contempt and violence, and it is up to men to create a culture in which this is unacceptable.”…
Some advocate a role for men in educating other men. When conducting violence prevention work with all-male audiences, there are a number of good reasons to use men as facilitators and peer educators, including:
- men’s attitudes and behaviour are shaped by their male peers
- all-male groups can provide the space and the safety for men to talk
- male educators act as role models for other men by practising non-violent expressions of masculinity and demonstrating respect for women
- men are likely to be perceived by other men as more credible and persuasive, and
- when men work with men, they are demonstrating responsibility for action against men’s violence against women.
The Australian Parliament regards men who support the WRC’s initiatives as “demonstrating responsibility for action against men’s violence against women,” while others would regard it as accepting responsibility for IPV perpetrated by total strangers toward other total strangers and reject this offensively idiotic assertion with the contempt it deserves. They would also reject the entire notion of a gendered approach to DV as, at best, a misguided attempt to address only half of the problem and, at worst, an ideologically driven campaign to demonize all men and boys as default DV abusers—and that the Australian Parliament has no place colluding with any entity, such as the WRC, that promotes such an explicitly bigoted and demonstrably false agenda.
The Australian Government is funding Respectful Relationships education projects nationally.
The AG should start this process by educating itself on how to conduct a “respectful relationship” with the men and boys it is supposed to represent. It can begin with refusing to further marginalize the already vulnerable males who are, or have been, victims of female-perpetrated IPV by eliminating them from its published literature. The AG should avail itself of the resources available at the whiteribbon.org website to learn that IPV is not a gendered issue at all, despite what the credentialed academics affiliated with the GVRN claim.
By unquestioningly accepting data, information, and recommendations by those who insist on pretending that DV is a gendered issue, the AG is supporting a corrupt DV industry that actively engages in perpetuating myths in order to line its pockets with taxpayers’ money—coercing the AG to openly declare that Australian males, including male victims of female-perpetrated IPV, are responsible for all DV is just an added bonus for these misandrists. The AG has failed egregiously in its responsibility to ensure that Australia becomes the fair and egalitarian nation that most of its citizenry would like it to be.
The AG continues to betray Australian men and boys, and the women who love them. This time, it is eagerly assisted by the WRC, proving, yet again, that it should never be the go-to source of information regarding DV in Australia.