Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Denial, denial, denial

Article in the Guardian today by Julie Bindel - quite good (don't always agree word-for-word with Julie but I think she has a point) and worth reading.

I think it is true that more men than one would automatically think are perpetuating violence against women. I don't mean that they are waking up each morning with this aim in the forefront of their minds, but they are certainly doing it. I don't think the man who raped me considered himself as a man who would commit violence against women, but the fact is that he *did*. He didn't think of himself as a rapist but he did commit rape.

Whenever these articles get written, there is a backlash from indignant men who resent the assertion that more men than admit to it commit violence against women. I think one commenter on this article stated that he didn't like that fact that *all* men had to feel guilty about it - he pointed out that there aren't articles which expect all women to feel guilty about being gold-digging "whores" (nice choice of phrase there). Except that there are, almost weekly, in most mainstream newspapers - often written by women by the way, which makes them true. Of course.

What is it that they can't stomach? That human beings can behave badly? That we should all check our behaviour for things that sanction (either directly or indirectly) this kind of behaviour? Because, you know, if we actually focus on the fact that violence against women is a bad thing (rather than whether X in particular would do it) then we really lose sight of the point...

I think they're scared. I think they're scared to look back and think - well, that was a situation I could have handled differently. Or to look at a court case and think - my God, the fact I think she is to blame for her own rape is irrational. Because if they do that, then that makes them part of that "very small" group of people who perpetuate violence against women. And then they might have to change something about the way they think, behave or respond.

We can all behave badly - women, men - but what we need to do is get beyond the "but I don't do that so I don't need to hear it" mentality and actually think about ways to solve it. Refusing to engage in the process harms everybody - something which the overly defensive ought to think about.

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