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Monday, November 21, 2005

De-Politicisation of Violence against Women.

The personal is political. Many, many things come down to that.

The fact is that when women are harassed in the street, intimidated at work, beaten in their home and raped after a night out, it is all done within the context of a patriarchal, misogynist society. It is this society which allows it to continue, it downplays experiences and disbelieves women, it mocks and ridicules our tears, it denies, denies, denies everything.

The misogyny we live in allows misogyny itself to be perpetuated and keeps battering women down.

That girls are taking Playboy stationery to school, and that news today is that One in three Britons believes a woman who flirts is partly or totally responsible if she is raped are symptomatic of this culture, not to mention the rape conviction statistics of 5.6%. Yep, 5.6% of reported rapes end in a conviction. Outrageous.

So, when I saw this advert I was so, so disappointed and disillusioned...

It was a few years ago that it stopped being a Domestic Violence forum and became a Domestic Abuse forum. But this? Firstly, they do not specify whether they even want a woman for the job. A domestic violence forum really needs a committee of women. (Any questions, see above, below and all around you). Secondly, someone with experience of work on domestic abuse would be *useful*, not essential. Now, it is not just women who have worked in this field who have vital experience and knowledge. It is women who have lived through domestic violence also, in their own lives or their friends' and sisters'. Thirdly, in the ad there is no necessity at all that any kind of background to do with domestic violence (e.g. life experience, volunteering, researching, working...) is there. And fourthly, the advert doesn't even specify that the chair is required for the Domestic Abuse Forum. It could be for anyone at all! How far from feminism, from women's lives and work, is this?!

So, the domestic abuse forum is advertising for, potentially, a man with no knowledge of domestic violence or abuse at all. Anyone, it seems, with management and human resources experience. As that's what's important when you're dealing with women's lives. Of course.

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thermalsatsuma said...

Hippie, I think that I've mentioned this before, but men are victims of 'domestic' abuse too ... been there, done that, got the t-shirt ...

Professor Google said...

Sorry to jump in uninvited but although you're not wrong Neil, I think you're missing the point a little bit and by that I don't mean to trivialise the abuse of men in their homes which is awful and, like violence against women, something that deeply concerns me.

The thing is, victims of "domestic" violence are overwhelmingly women. This is reflected right across the board in just about all the heartbreaking statistics you could ever hope not to have to read. Because domestic violence is still perceived as a women's problem (and accordingly not a high priority), refuges, campaigns, forums etc are chronically underfunded. Women have fought hard for the provision of services in this area. Women are affected the most by the policy and resourcing decisions taken by domestic violence forums and therefore it is only right that women are involved in those bodies at the highest level. This doesn't detract in any way from the work that those bodies do to tackle domestic violence against men.

Part of the pattern of domestic violence in many many cases is the gradual disempowerment of the abused partner by the abuser - financially as well as emotionally. Allowing a man to make the executive decisions about the management of resources aimed at tackling domestic violence sends a huge, unhelpful message to service users and the world at large about what that organisation thinks about women. It isn't about the individual man (who would, I hope, be totally opposed to violence against women)-it's about what his gender represents in that particular position and how it serves to reinforce the structural inequalities that enables the problem of domestic violence to continue unabated across the planet.

Just as it would be (I think) pretty ridiculous to accept a white leader of the Commission for Racial Equality, I believe that it is absolutely vital for women to occupy the key decision making roles in bodies tackling domestic violence.

If you aren't happy with the provision of help for abused men I would strongly suggest that you organise to get more help, like women have to. Women would support you. So often women are forced to organise to get things done on "women's" issues because they are so called "women's issues". Actually they're issues of human rights but women aren't really valued as humans in this world - not to the same extent as men anyway.

So often, once organised, women are criticised for not explicitly including men. It drives me up the wall.

Anyway, that's my opinion..

TP said...

That is so true, women are forced to found their own organisations because their is no room or opportunity for their needs to be met in society. Then, once they've done this, people cry out, saying they're sexist and anti-men.

It pisses me off too.