Why I won’t be rising on Valentines Day

The day that is celebrated by lovers everywhere is upon us again. For too many men, however, instead of hearts and flowers, this day will be scarred by the images of Eve Ensler’s One Billion Rising movement, an initiative which to my mind, exemplifies the very worst of the poisonous rhetoric of the women’s rights lobby. Rather than celebrating the love between men and women on this special day, this movement attempts to whip up the gender war and steal away the joy. It’s nasty, it’s not telling us the truth and it’s probably arriving somewhere near you on February 14th.

For the uninitiated, One Billion Rising refers to a movement where people rise and dance against against violence against women and girls. A movement started by a woman who wrote the Vagina Monologues, a play in which the rape of a young girl by an older woman was referred to as a ‘good rape’. A movement which states that one in three women across the world will be raped and beaten in her lifetime. A movement which is outrageously promulgated upon half truths and stereotypes. This unpleasant and yet seductively powerful (for young women especially) narrative, revives the ‘all men are rapists’ stereotype and demands that our attention is given to the issues which, we are told, are fundamental to equality.

Far from being fundamental to equality however, the One Billion Rising mission is to reinforce the idea of women as victims and men as perpetrators which in the UK at least, completely ignores the 40% of victims of violence in the home who happen to be men (1). Goodness only knows how that feels, when all around are rising for justice for women and girls and not only does your experience not get heard but you are counted in with the perpetrators simply because you are a man. That’s not justice and its not equality either, it’s discrimination in action, but you won’t find many people talking about it.

Neither will you find many people being very concerned about it. The Violence Against Women and Girls movement is a singularly silent movement on the issue of violence against men and in fact, women’s violent behaviour in its entirety. According to many advocates, men cannot be victims simply because they are advantaged in a patriarchal society. This is the same patriarchal society, in which 40% of victims of violence in the home are men,  some of it severe (2). Try speaking up about this in any forum concerned with family violence, however, and you will be shouted down, often aggressively. The VAWG movement doesn’t like what they call ‘gender symmetry’ presumably because if we really treated violence in the home from an equalities perspective, 40% of the funding would go to the 40% of victims of this who are men, instead of the mere 2% in some areas and in others even less.

I won’t be rising on Valentines Day, unless its to make my husband breakfast in bed (listen out for the sharp intake of breath from the billion rising advocates on reading that one!) You see I love my husband. I love him because he is a man. I love him because he is, like me, full of strengths and weaknesses and I love him because he survived the worst that the eighties could throw at him in terms of feminist dismissal of who he is a person, of his position in the world and of the assertion that he is basically, at heart, a rapist. This horrible assertion, which demonised, demolished and devastated too many young men in that decade, was the result of second wave feminism gone, in my view, completely out of control. I could say more. I won’t. I was one of those feminists, I am not now.

I am however, still completely and irrevocably committed to equality, to fairness and justice and to the safety of all men as well as all women. I just don’t happen to believe that all men are batterers and rapists. I take statistics bandied around by hysterical movements with a pinch of salt and I believe that when we stop basing policy and practice on half truths and stereotypes we will get closer, much much closer, to delivering the kind of society in which mutual respect between men and women is the foundation upon which we build the next generations.

So tomorrow, when the rising begins. To everyone in need of healing and holding and hope know this.

Not everyone believes the hype out there.

Towards dignity, equality and the love between us.

Happy Valentines Day 2014.

(1) In 2011/12, 4% of women (675,000) and 3% of men (491,000) experienced partner abuse: a split of 57%-43%. For every seven victims, four will be female, three will be male.
SOURCE: Office for National Statistics: Crime Survey (Focus on Violent Crime and Sexual Offences, 2011/12 (Page 66 and table 4.03)

(2) 1.1% of men and 1.3% of women were victims of severe force at the hands of their partner during 2011/12.
SOURCE: Office for National Statistics: Crime Survey (Focus on Violent Crime and Sexual Offences, 2011/12 (Table 4.01)

22 comments

  1. Nick Langford · February 13, 2014

    And a very happy Valentine’s day to you and to Nick!

    Like

  2. woodman1959 · February 13, 2014

    Thank you for sharing the statistics.

    Recently my local Council paper did a 4 page special on a domestic abuse initiative featuring a grim-faced woman Councillor, bloodied images of females and interviews with women survivors.

    Not the slightest hint in the entire piece – that men could be the victims and women…the perpetrators.

    I used the 40% figure in a response to the editor but didn’t have any of the details to share.

    Like

  3. Rachel B · February 13, 2014

    A powerful reminder that only the voices of some victims are heard.

    Like

  4. karenwoodall · February 13, 2014

    Dolores, when the billion rising campaign is headed Justice for boys and girls, men and women, I will join you in your snowy streets and dance for equality.

    I am sure you love your husband and your children, as I do mine and I too come from a background where the men in my young life were abusive.

    However, I don’t need my husband and my kids to go dancing for justice for women and girls or carry banners telling other people how to behave. I don’t need to do that because a) my husband is a good man like many many other good men in the world and he doesn’t need to carry the weight of what happened to me, or make reparations for it and b) my children don’t need to be told or to spend their time telling other people, that kindness and love is what makes the world go around. They just know it, do it, live it. Not because of what happened to me, simply because they grew up being loved.

    And this space is a safe place, where feminist deconstructions and missuse of statistics to prove that women and girls are victims and men are not, are not welcome and so I will not be posting your comments.

    I think you should dance off and enjoy the patriarchal world that you live in, its not the one I recognise.

    With best wishes

    K

    Like

    • karenwoodall · February 13, 2014

      Dolores.

      I can see how you have misunderstood the data. You have assumed that the section titled ‘Nature of violence – offenders and locations’ is related to domestic violence and abuse; it isn’t.

      The section refers to the victims and offenders of all types of violent crime and compares these to the victims and offenders of all crime in general. It has no bearing whatsoever on domestic violence and abuse as domestic violence and abuse is simply a sub-set of all types of violent crime (which is what this report is about).

      You may be interested in the statistics on domestic violence in this Guardian article:
      http://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2013/may/07/men-gender-divide-feminism

      You may also be interested in this bibliography which examines 286 scholarly investigations: 221 empirical studies and 65 reviews and/or analyses, which demonstrate that women are as physically aggressive, or more aggressive, than men in their relationships with their spouses or male partners. The aggregate sample size in the reviewed studies exceeds 371,600.
      http://www.csulb.edu/~mfiebert/assault.htm

      When you do not misrepresent statistics and are prepared to discuss things without doing so, I will post your comments, until then, I am afraid this is a safe space where men and women work together, not a place for promulgating the same kind of nonsense I am writing about.

      And I send you my very best wishes for you and yours too, I have no interest in arguing with you, I simply do not want to waste my time arguing with people who deliberatly fog the reality of the world that we live in.

      Like

      • karenwoodall · February 13, 2014

        Dolores, I am just not interested in dialogue which slithers it way around reality and if you read my blog properly you would see that I have said that 40% of victims of violence in the home are men. I grant you that in the following para I have said that 40% of men are victims and that this could be misinterpreted as you have misinterpreted it. I will correct that now but it still doesn’t change the fact that 40% of victims of violence in the home are men and it still doesn’t change the stats I posted later, which you call gender symmetry (if ever there was a give away about which lens you are looking at this issue through those two words are it). And you are so right in thinking I do not want to have a dialogue with you about this, I don’t. I am tired of listening to the same old tripe that is trotted out by this hysterical movement. And anyway, why waste your time trying to persaude me when you have the billions rising around you funded by the billions pumped into the movement as a whole. No, I am sorry, as you say, its my blog, best you simply dance on by sister. K

        Like

    • karenwoodall · February 13, 2014

      Dolores, glad you got something. Suggest you stick to the billion rising sites from now on because we don’t really have anything in common and as for admitting that people like you exist in the movement, we know you do, there’s a billion of you, all singing from the same hymn sheet and dancing to the same tune. K

      Like

    • karenwoodall · February 13, 2014

      Dolores, you are not interested in helping men, you are only interested in making sure that men are kept in the place you are content to have them be, which is, like your sisterhood, where women think they should be. I am not interested in that kind of venom and I am not interested either in telling men what they should be thinking and feeling, so yes, frankly, my interest is not just about helping men, its about helping men outside of the feminist paradigm, which means respecting them, not telling them they should be dancing around against violence against women and girls in order to be good men. I am sure you will be much happier discussing your vision of the world in the bosom of your equally outraged companions come tomorrow. K

      Like

      • karenwoodall · February 13, 2014

        Dolores, your comment that the only people talking about violence are feminists says it all.

        Here’s where violence and respect and how to behave well towards each other are talked about in my community.

        http://equality4men.com

        and here

        http://www.mankind.org.uk

        Both run by men, both committed to ending violence against men and both interested in discussing violence against everyone outside of the gendered narrative.

        Feminism does not have a unique hold on the debate around violence in the home, it is discussed, debated and healthy attitudes towards men and women and between them are promoted outside of that paradigm.

        How do I teach my boys about violence between and against men and women? By example. I show them that respecting each other for the wonderful human beings that we are and the value that the differences between us brings is what really matters in the world. I show them that respecting each other starts by respecting ourselves and I don’t shame them into believing that there is something inherently wrong with them simply because they are boys.

        Feminism does not have the moral high ground and neither does it have all of the answers and it does not have the right to dictate that my committment to equality, justice and fairness for all is the wrong kind.

        And its not the only paradigm in which equality is achieved.

        K

        Like

      • karenwoodall · February 13, 2014

        and as for looking for the good in others Dolores, I think you are just a bit blinkered by your beliefs that anyone not dancing tomorrow is somehow for violence against women and girls not against it. There are many different tunes to dance to, I don’t need you to force yours onto me. That’s not judging you, its not making assumptions about you, its simply refusing to accept your idea of what constitutes the right way to do things. I am sure you are just as good as anyone else. I just don’t agree with your views and on this blog, which I consider a safe place, I don’t want to have the whole billion rising rhetoric paraded all over again. Because its tiring and for the men who read here, its somewhat offensive, discriminatory and unnnecessary. K

        Like

      • Dolores · February 13, 2014

        Now we’re getting somewhere. I did not mean to imply that feminism is the only paradigm talkingabout ending violence, but it is true that in my city in the US and in the city where I grew up, there are no other groups working on these issues. So I work with the opportunities that are available to me. I will carry a sign tomorrow that says, “Stop victim shaming! Support ALL survivors of abuse – male and female. We are stronger together!” I have noticed others with similar messages within the One Billion Rising movement, and will continue to try to reach out to people that seem to have similar ideals.

        I certainly don’t want my boys to think that there is anything inherently wrong with them because they are boys! Absolutely not! I also teach my sons to appreciate diversity and to celebrate their own uniqueness. I do want them to think critically about the messages they are hearing in our culture about how they are expected to behave towards others. (Or expected not to behave, as the case may be.)

        And I can’t help but to be deeply moved by seeing my 2.5 year-old son dancing and belting out “This is my body. My body’s holy. No more excuses. No more abuses. I feel alive, I feel so amazing!” Yes! So very different from the messages my siblings and I received as children.

        The websites you shared with me seem like they could be helpful. I have found one in the US http://www.malesurvivor.org/ but as far as people working locally, I don’t know of any groups that are working specifically to support male survivors. Looks like you across the pond may have a model we can learn from.

        Thanks for continuing to engage with me. I respect your choice not to be part of the 1Billion Rising. For my part, I will be out their dancing, with a message that all survivors deserve support.

        Like

      • karenwoodall · February 13, 2014

        and now that we are talking on terms that are about equality and justice and how to help children Dolores, I am happy to post your comment. I hear what you are saying about your children, I too look back and wish that those messages were available when I was a child and vulnerable and unsafe, but they were not and I have to find a way to live with that and cope with it. I do that differently, by facing what happened to me and understanding the culture in which I lived then. I am glad that our children are safer and I can hear how much you enjoy seeing your boys claiming their right to be safe, I think it is one of the the successes of the work done around child abuse that children can claim that right. What I don’t like is the way in which the shaming messages are a powerful part of the billion rising movement, just as they were when I was a young woman. I saw what shaming did to young men and how that has filtered through to the current day and I fear that this movement, with all of its gendered rhetoric, sets up boys and men in the same way. I know many men who feel deeply alone and who suffer because of this and I consider it a real injustice that a day in which the love between us should be co-opted by a movement which should and could be about equality and fairness and justice but is really just about gender war and the perpetuation of women as victims and men as perpetrators. There are many growing movements for equality, justice and fairness outside of the feminist paradigm, I am committed to finding a way of working with men respectfully and co-operatively in ways that celebrate and support the differences between us. I hope you enjoy dancing tomorrow and I am glad that you will be vocal against the shaming and i wish you and yours well. K

        Like

      • woodman1959 · February 14, 2014

        Not exactly dancing, Karen – but a little hilarious radio comedy for today!

        Erosia – written by Bill Dare in a feminist vein I think we CAN appreciate?

        http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00zlfh9

        Like

  5. Dwayne · February 13, 2014

    As much as feminists and “Women’s Rights” activists are loath to acknowledge that males can be beaten up by their women, if they DO admit males can be beaten up by women, they have that outdated attitude of “he deserved it” or “he started it”.

    Like

    • woodman1959 · February 13, 2014

      Yes, it’s the mirror image of what we should acknowledge often did happen to women in the past. But so often when I’m talking to sympathetic women these days…just about the first comment that they make – is “two wrongs don’t make a right”.

      Like

  6. Blake · February 15, 2014

    If there is any reason to violence, I can only think that it has to do with role modelling or the lack of it in single parent homes. I’ve always thought that the real violence is the removal of decent dads after separation, promoted by violent single parent charities (yes, the same ones that are always pointing fingers at the bad husband). This basically says to the children that treating people abusively is acceptable, as does the usual parental alienation that follows. Add to this the fact that all our political and business leaders are violent in their beliefs and behaviours, and you get a very violent society. But we fail to grasp the systemic problem when we just look at symptoms. The movement that Karen describes sounds like one of the most dangerous mobs on earth, analogous to those that went around lynching blacks not too long ago. When will this racism and sexism cease?

    Like

  7. Max · February 17, 2014

    *Applause for Karen*

    Like

  8. T · February 24, 2014

    Hey K,

    please keep up with your awesome work!

    T

    Like

  9. Max · February 13, 2016

    On February 13th, 2014, Max Wrote: “*Applause for Karen*”

    …And, two years later, I’m still clapping. Fantastic work, Karen.

    Also, if anybody wants more info about this – I encourage you to read C.H.S’s brilliant article “Sex, Lies, and the Vagina Monologues”: http://www.aei.org/article/society-and-culture/sex-lies-and-the-vagina-monologues/

    Like

    • woodman1959 · February 13, 2016

      Thanks Max – she’s already a hero, but I’m sure lots of us hadn’t read this incisive piece before.

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s