Posted 9 March 2015 1:40pm

#youdontspeakforme

This post is in response to a comment made on our Facebook page in which the author stated that CMC isn’t interested in Men’s issues because we support campaigns to reduce violence to women and don’t adopt the customary Men’s Rights Activist (MRA) agenda, which seems to consist mainly of complaining that men are victims too and attacking feminists and the feminist project.

CMC is familiar with the line MRA runs against feminism and its tactic of presenting domestic and sexual violence campaigns as saying ‘All men are…’, arguing that women are violent too, then referencing statistics which apparently support their position. These ‘statistics’ debates lead to more statistics laundering and more arguments, and do little to address intimate partner violence, let alone contribute anything positive to the world in which these complainants live.

I’ve worked in the community sector for nearly forty years, dealing with family breakdown and abuse and in that time I’ve seen women do serious harm to partners, and to children. Actual harm. Up close. Not just ‘women are as bad as men’ partisan use of statistics. But absolutely NOTHING of the order of sustained domination, social isolation, injury, hospitalisation and mental harm to both victims and children that many men are capable of.

Most intimate relationships are violence-free. Most men don’t hit their partners. Violence occurs in non-heterosexual relationships too. But women and children suffer more from the type and severity and frequency and duration of episodes when men are violent to women. Not all men. But enough of us to make changing our attitudes and behaviour around violence a men’s issue.

It’s my belief that a wholesale turnaround in men’s violence towards women will transform the rates of other forms of violence too, including the ones which the MRA complains are so pervasive yet invisible or deliberately ignored.

As for CMC not being interested in men’s issues, we’ve supported thousands of men in the last ten years in the areas of life that matter to them, not to the MRA. Social isolation, relationship issues, having better relationships with their children, mental health issues, disability, violence, homelessness, drug and alcohol issues, brain injury, unemployment and workplace issues, aging, ex-prisoners… We’ve had men who’ve reported violence and economic and psycholgical abuse from their wives, and men who were abused as children by men and sometimes by women, men who’ve been raped and sexually assaulted – again, mostly by other men. Anyone could say that men won’t disclose, but it’s our experience that they do, and our staff work hard to create an environment where men feel safe and supported and able to share what they’ve kept secret.

The MRA has no interest in men’s issues. They may demand a Minister for Men, but for what purpose? Outside of having portfoloio responsibility for dismantling the achievements of the women’s movement, all of which took decades of hard work and courage and organisation and deep personal sacrifice (none of which the MRA is willing to undertake, as it’s the government’s job to do it all, not theirs),  and declaring Minister Envy a medical complaint attracting Medicare rebate… Where are the men’s refuges run by MRA volunteers from secret locations where the men live in constant fear of being found by the women who beat them?  I could go on in this vein, but what’s the point?

The MRA community doesn’t exist to act for men. It exists to give its members moral support and open permission to attack the actions and activities of feminists. It runs no positive agenda for men or for social change on issues like men’s health or disproportionate representation in prison populations or appalling suicide rates. The MRA and its fellow travellers show up mostly in forums addressing women’s issues, interrupt proceedings to complain about what they consider to be persecution and disenfranchisement, undermine the work being done inside of those forums, attack feminism and show blatant disregard (if not contempt) for the participants.  It has no other interest, even when it pretends to be speaking for men. MRA, you guys don’t speak for the men I know.

And #youdontspeakforme

Greg Aldridge

Managing Director Men’s Centre Services

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