It’s Women’s Equality Day
Let’s Talk About Men
By: Marnie Delaney
When people talk about “women’s issues” I feel a slight tightening of my jaw; somehow the phrase seems to imply women are at the core of certain problems. From where I sit, in most cases, women aren’t the problem, the core of the problem is with men. I’ve found that most men get that. However, too few of us actually do anything to change it.
Despite the love and trust I have experienced with men throughout my life, I’ve also experienced the other side of the coin: men who menace, rape or manipulate, those who use their positions of power to coerce or control, those who demean or diminish, those who consider women to be “less than”. I must say this is one of the reasons I don’t think our objective should be equality with men. It should perhaps be the other way around. We get all the rights and freedoms we deserve as humans and we all turn our attention to eliminating the violent tendencies of too many men.
While some of my (and others’) experiences happen in private, many happen in the light of day, in full view of other men and women. Donald Trump proved that what should be thoroughly unacceptable is sadly a matter of common practice, not worthy of censure or punishment – “Locker room talk” is now code for proud sexual predator.
The violence happening behind closed doors is, however, even more difficult to stop. Reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act in the U.S was welcome news but still has holes and it is still far more difficult to address intimate partner violence.
It is often said that domestic violence is a gateway to murder, to femicide. In fact, two women every day in the U.S. are murdered by their intimate partner, most often with a gun (the American way). In North America the numbers increased by 8% between 2019 and 2020. Perhaps we should also call “locker room talk” a gateway to rape and domestic violence.
Globally, 47,000 women were killed in 2020 by an intimate partner or other family member.
The numbers suggest we all know someone (or many ones) who are guilty of “minor” or major examples of violence against women. We may or may not suspect. We may or may not intervene when “bad behavior” occurs. But, it occurs and there is a cost, to the victims of that behavior and to the community at large – physical, mental, emotional, financial and in the quality of future experience.
The absence of an ERA, the disproportionately low numbers of women in elective office as well as in the top tiers of business are just some of the reasons for the perpetuation of patriarchal behavior.
Victims of sexual assault or domestic violence represent 35% of women globally. No one is immune. In our recent webinar with Dr. Valerie Hudson, we heard about the impact of violence on women to the safety and peace in the countries in which they live. She demonstrated how the overall status and security of women relates clearly (check her statistics) with individual state security and peace between countries. Yet there is no specific and binding international instrument (treaty, law, agreement…) on violence against women.
In 2019, a coalition of 1,700 women from 128 countries, after 7 years of research and discussion, published a call for a new global treaty to end violence against women.
This link is to a summary of their first draft proposal.
I ask you to read this treaty document and consider its worth and the urgency of its challenge - then consider sharing it with the men in your life to get their point of view. I welcome any input. Then consider joining the Violence Against Women team as we work to change a desperate situation.
The language of the treaty makes sense and, watching a senseless war and the rise of domestic terrorism (abetted by equally senseless Republicans), we must find a way to sanity, safety and an end to bullying of the highest magnitude.
The first thing we all MUST do is vote - we must snag two more Senate seats and we must hold the House (of course, preferably by a large margin). So, go register everyone you know and push them to vote, early and carefully. We can't afford to mess up one ballot.
Please consider joining the Violence Against Women team. We are looking at the many, complicated issues of violence and could use your help as we initiate plans to address them.
Come join us - all pronouns are welcome!