Bravo to Michael Kaufman and the We Are Man Movement for challenging men to be accountable for violence against women.
Violence against women is an issue for men too
Boys look to men, and men look to other men to define what it means to be a man. Together we must challenge abuse.
For too long women have stood alone. When it comes to violence against women, too many of us still think it’s “just” a women’s issue. In particular, it is about time MPs took this seriously. Here’s why.
Sexual and physical violence at the hands of a man affects a staggering 45% of women in England and Wales sometime in their lives. That’s one-quarter of British voters. Voters. People who give our politicians their jobs.
Men’s violence against women hits people’s pockets, too: the direct costs to taxpayers of medical care, police responding to violence, courts, prisons, social workers, and refuges is £5.8bn per year. (The total cost to the economy of violence against women and girls including lost work time is estimated at £40bn per year.) Taxpayers can probably think of ways they’d rather spend that money.
Men’s violence against women exacts a terrible toll on the children of the nation. Contemporary research by neuroscientists shows us that the 750,000 children who witness such violence each year in the UK have marked and measurable deficits in the development of their brains, particularly when the abuse they witness (or directly suffer) is ongoing and when it happens when they are very young. If the job of MPs is to build a strong future for the country, these 3 million children during one term of office should be on their minds. There are few other issues that have such a profound effect on so many people in this country.
This is very much an issue for men. Not only for that sizeable minority of men who use violence in their relationships, but that majority of good men who don’t use violence, but who have remained silent. Why should that silence worry us? It’s because boys look to men, and men look to other men to define what it means to be a man. So if we’re silent in the face of rape jokes or demeaning images of women in the media, when a friend or brother abuses his wife, or when we see sexual harassment in our workplace or classroom, then boys and men will take our silence as consent. End Violence Against Women’s “We Are Man” short film is a nice example of an initiative to show young men they can, and must, challenge abuse.