In a recent article in the Brisbane Courier Mail “New age ‘medicine’ of Serge Benhayon leaves trail of broken families” written by Josh Robertson and Liam Walsh, there were a couple of references about women which on first reading I thought nothing of: “… which has 2000 mainly female followers”; “After breast massage, clients are told to use Universal Medicine cream to deter bad energy, and to not allow their partners to touch them without permission”. In all honesty I can say that it did not stir anything in me, it was like I could see the words and yet nothing moved.
Yes, I can admit that on first read it was like the lines were glossed out, foggy, I could not see the ‘truth for the lies’, so to speak. I then read more of the responses from others, all women with the same strong message that this was not acceptable and a denigration of women. I felt uncomfortable, awkward and part of something much bigger and more subtle than I could imagine.
I was then able to comment on the articles because I too could feel the harm, but not truly how menacing the words were. I asked the questions as much for myself as for others to ponder.
I went back to the original article and realised – actually baulked at the inference that women were somehow stupid and docile, like sheep who followed under the orders of a man’s wish. To me this displays an arrogance where women are regarded as secondary, without respect for what they choose; that they have rights; that they are our equals.
It was then that the depth of this started to unravel. Yes I was squirming, yes I got angry, and sad, and really did not know what to do with what I was feeling.
Had I been part of this for so very long? Was I party to it? Was I in my own way responsible too for the way that a woman is viewed, treated and lived with? The resounding YES reverberated around my body and I felt stunned, shocked and deeply upset.
I recognise that there is a lot worse behaviour out there in the world, but I have to admit that I too have been held by beliefs and ideals that put a woman second. The abuse you see here demonstrated is much more subtle and more refined than we really know. I have protested, mostly silently, that the washing is not my job. I have, like many others, chosen to hide in work to escape a share in the household chores. I have gotten angry and used my voice and physical presence to dominate and show force to get what I want. I have made it all about me – ‘I am the man’, ‘I am the most important’, ‘I bring home the bacon’.
Men: what mess are we truly in?
The way that men have treated women with utter disdain and disregard has been evident over centuries. It continues in all societies – even with the more recent “equality”. For a long time women were not eligible to vote, a ‘fight’ for equality was sought, and was one that resulted in a ‘victory’. But is it possible that in such an event, the control was always ever with the men? That there was an unconscious intention to bring about a challenge by women, resulting in women further succumbing to the wills of men; that they may be brought into the male world where you get what you fight for?
How utterly miserable that we as men have allowed such degrading of women the world over and that this continues unchecked, without remorse or a STOP.
Is it possible that in order to ‘play ball’ we allow women some surface freedom, but really deeply control them by the many beliefs that we subscribe to, including the ‘fact’ that men are ‘in charge, in control’.
The home I grew up in was one of those see-saw homes. One minute the sun was shining and you were soaring high into the clouds full of joy, laughing and loving everything – the next plunged into the shadows where reality struck hard and fast and made you cry for hours: domestic violence. For those that have experienced it first hand it is a ‘living hell’. Frightening and fearful it tears at every living membrane, terrifying every moment. As children you huddle together knowing deeply what is happening… but completely powerless. My father drank and abused alcohol. The punching and screaming was deafening and yet nothing was ever done to stop this. He was the man ‘in charge’, ‘in control’, ‘the provider’, ‘the breadwinner’. Neighbours would support through the bad times, until the sun started appearing through the clouds again and things felt settled, a little calmer. And then it would happen again. And it always did.
How is it possible that a whole extended family, neighbours and friends would never intervene?
How is it possible that the law would not pull this man aside and put an end to all that was done?
How is it possible that society turned a blind eye?
“…the man knows how to run his house…as long as he didn’t hurt her too much or kill her it will sort itself out…”
When my father beat my mother it was not one man against one woman. It was in fact the ‘whole of man’ forcefully seeking control over the ‘whole of women’.
Startling statistics exist on domestic violence and yet what appears to be happening is even more dangerous… the media are denigrating women everywhere with their insufficient research and sensationalist angles. In a recent topic paper published by the Australian Domestic and Family Violence Clearinghouse, titled ‘Australian Statistics on Domestic Violence’1, the following statistics were reported:
*23% of women who had ever been married or in a de-facto relationship, experienced violence by a partner at some time during the relationship.
42% of women who had been in a previous relationship reported violence by a previous partner.
Half of women, 1 in 2 experiencing violence by their current partner experienced more than one incident of violence. Injuries sustained were mainly bruises, cuts, and scratches, but also included stab or gunshot wounds, and other injuries.
12% of women who reported violence by their current partner at some stage during the relationship, said they were currently living in fear.
The above data cannot reflect the true picture of women’s experiences of domestic and family violence as it does not record other forms of abuse; emotional, social and financial etc. that often occur alongside the violence.
Denigrating women through words, as those seen in the Courier Mail article, cements certain beliefs that support physical and mental abuse against women; i.e., ‘what do they know’? It is not a big jump to domestic violence.
So what message gets passed on, and what does society allow when it says nothing – allows, then turns its ‘proverbial back’? ‘That it is fine… really, they are only women.’ It is appalling that the abuse continues at this level, and even more appalling is that it is not checked on any level. Now it seems that the media is happy to weigh in with their throwaway comments. IT IS NOT INNOCENT.
There is a line here that has been stood on for centuries, that is still being abused everywhere, even now in the western ‘more civilised’ nations it is very subtle and has far reaching effects. Is it possible that ‘the media’ no longer recognises that there is an equality of man and woman? That for all the words and hat-tipping to the ‘women’ it is just that, a show, a ruse with dire consequences that women have borne the brunt of for ages. The beliefs and ideals that have been so deftly hidden and tucked away are now spilling out for all to see and read.
What have we allowed into a world that ‘pretends’ at being equal?
Is it possible that as men we have a responsibility in everything that we do, write, say, touch, think?
Is it possible that when we are angry at the women we live with, that we are expressing anger towards all women?
Is it possible that fueling the abuse against women everywhere is that expressed anger and frustration?
I know for a fact I am not responsible for all of the abuse against women. Yet as a man I am learning that every action has a consequence. I just did not realise how big until today. It has gone unchecked for so long in our world it is time that we as men all stepped up and faced the truth that we are so far away from. Stop, take stock and start to walk back toward it.
by Lee Green, Perth, Australia
- Australian Domestic and Family Violence Clearinghouse Topic Paper: Australian Statistics on Domestic Violence: http://www.adfvc.unsw.edu.au/topic_papers.htm [Accessed 10 Sep 2012]