I have come to accept the sad fact that our quest to awaken the broader community to the complete absence of empathy or compassion for the suffering of males will never resonate with any but a small number of individuals who are willing to read or listen with an open mind.
I also question my own attitude at times. There is not a day that passes where I do not mutter in suppressed anger as I turn the pages of a newspaper or listen to a news report. The source of this anger is always the same. Lies about female oppression or the complete invisibility of male suffering which is everywhere for those who are willing to look. Have I become a grumpy old man? Have my passionate views on men’s rights become twisted to the point where I am seeing injustice and double standards where they do not exist?
It is all very real. My response is simply out of step with the vast majority of those who either blindly wander through life swallowing the myths and lies they are fed on a daily basis or those who simply don’t give a shit even when the lies are exposed.
What prompted this little essay? A couple of tv shows here in Australia have underlined, albeit unintentionally, just how incredibly difficult it is for men (or women to advocate on behalf of males who are suffering in any form.
The first show is titled, “I’m a celebrity, get me out of here!”
I was watching this show one night last week. One of the celebrities, Kris Smith, a former rugby league professional and now model was having a conversation about personal relationships with a few of the females in the celebrity camp. He surprised them by saying he had been engaged to a woman but he had ended the relationship after his girlfriend assaulted him.
Kris explained how she became jealous and aggressive when she found him making a phone call. He was organizing a surprise dinner for his fiancée’s birthday. His girlfriend (who was a professional kickboxer) was enraged as she suspected he was being unfaithful. She punched him in the face, breaking his nose and splitting his lip. She also kicked him. Kris said the relationship ended there. He walked out the door never to return.
As Kris related this story a couple of the women seemed to find this very sad anecdote amusing. It was quite sickening to see this response to a man who was speaking about a traumatic moment of abuse in his life.
Of course, when the hosts of the show came back on camera in the next segment there were no anguished comments about the horrors of domestic violence. One can only imagine the media frenzy had a female celebrity spoken of a physically abusive relationship.
When the show ended, I thought that Smith’s courage in relating this story would at least open some viewers’ minds and encourage other men in similar relationships to feel they should not tolerate physical or emotional abuse at the hands of their female partner.
The sting in the tale came a few days later. Celebrities are voted off the show on a regular basis. Kris Smith was voted off the show and part of this departure involved an interview with the show’s hosts and a nomination of the charity the celebrity wished to promote. When Kris Smith was asked which charity he was supporting he proudly announced that it was the White Ribbon Foundation. He said it was important that all men took a stand on violence against women.
I sat and stared in disbelief. Then I uttered a roar of pure, justified anger.
Here was a man who had suffered a vicious assault at the hands of his female partner and instead of using his celebrity status to bring more awareness to the lack of support and recognition of male victims of domestic violence he chose to spit in their collective faces.
It really was incomprehensible. This man promoted a foundation which has been at the forefront of minimalizing and ignoring male victims of domestic violence. Not only does this foundation ignore males, it goes a step further and demonizes the entire male gender, something he happily endorsed by telling men to step up in the fight to end violence against women.
It is at moments like this that I sink into despondency as I realize what an uphill battle we have on our hands. When a man who has been bashed by his female partner cannot view himself as a victim of domestic violence and uses his power as a celebrity to support the very people who make it impossible for other males to get the support and compassion they deserve, what can one do but give a primal scream followed by a deep, helpless sigh?
When I read The White Ribbon Foundation’s response to Kris Smith’s story and support I felt sick to my stomach. These hypocrites make absolutely no mention of the fact that he was abused by a woman or the fact that their foundation explicitly states that ending violence against women is their only concern.
All in the name of charity and in the name of @whiteribbonaust to be exact…what a guy! To help build a future free from violence and abuse, text KRIS to 1995 10 10 and let’s get Kris walking out of the jungle at the very end along with $100,000 for this very worthy cause!
The second program which reinforced my observations about the lack of compassion for males in our society and societies around the world is titled. Boy to Man.
It features a journalist who travels around the world seeking out the cultures which still hold rights of initiation for their before they can be called a man.
These “initiations” are little more than torture and abuse. The boys have their skin lacerated by floggings, scared by knives……….. and they are expected to endure this horrific abuse without a murmur of protest or flicker of fear.
At no time as we observe these brutal rituals does the host of the program or anyone else involved refer to this tradition as a gender based form of torture or oppression. These young boys are simply living the traditional way of their indigenous ancestors and admiration for their toughness and courage is the response most frequently displayed.
Any such rituals inflicted upon girls would be universally condemned as gendered violence and the United Nations would be loudly denouncing such horrific abuse.
There is not a week that goes by without someone, somewhere on television, radio or online, loudly protesting the forced genital mutilation of girls. Others speak of the stoning of women for adultery and girls forced into marriage with older men. Those who hear these words, both male and female, shake their heads in disgust (rightly) at these statements and the women and men who make them are almost overcome with their own incredible virtue, compassion and concern for our females. I invariably feel a sense of revulsion for their incredibly selective compassion.
I read a story last week about the murder of a young man and woman. The two young lovers were murdered by local villagers when the girl (who had been promised to another man) eloped with the young male she loved.
The final words of the article reminded us of the oppression and violence meted out to women in the Middle East. There was no further reference to the young man who lay dead beside the girl. It talks of the “rate of violence against women” in Afghanistan and “the execution of women by anti- government groups such as the Taliban”.
The violence meted out to women in the Middle East is horrific. May I just add the fact that violence meted out to boys and men is also horrific and invariably perpetrated at a much higher rate than violence upon females.
I recently got involved in an argument with a family member on the issue of “gendered violence.” I asked her why this term is only used when women are the victims. She was on the right path when she referred to our tradition of chivalry.
I asked her what the headlines and focus of any news story would be had the many journalists who suffered the terrible fate of having their heads hacked from their bodies by ISIS fanatics (while being filmed) had all been female journalists.
My belief was that the focus would be firmly and loudly on the fact that it was women being targeted and brutally butchered. The issue of ISIS and terrorism would be secondary to the story of violence against women. But the fact that all of the journalists who have been subjected to this unimaginable death are males is simply not considered noteworthy.
Men have been literally butchered in their hundreds and thousands by ISIS and other terrorist groups throughout the world. You can see the photos and film clips of the males rounded up like cattle for the slaughter. This has never been referred to as gendered violence and the story has always been about terrorism, not the fact that the overwhelming majority of their victims are men and boys.
My sister seemed to accept this observation as a fair and accurate one.
So the fight goes on. We are pushing shit uphill …..but some of it might just stick.