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A New Year Surprise

Filed under: General — Downunder @ 10:48 am Wed 9th January 2019

This is published @Stuff.co.nz

Written by; Serafin Dillon (Couples and Family Therapist for Walk the Talk in Nelson)

You may not agree with its entirety and contructive comments I am sure, will attract some interest.

OPINION: Violence, in all its forms, is abhorrent, however, men alone cannot stop violence against women and men alone cannot stop what they cannot see. If it were that simple, we would not be in this position as a nation. 

Men who perpetrate violence against women are not the problem. Violence is the outcome of the problem, and the problem is shame. Men are ashamed, confused, and they are stuck. 

Violence is a systemic problem, and it is one that requires both men and women to do things differently to create social and cultural change. Asking men to solve the problem of violence is unhelpful, unfair, and it disempowers women. It is not just men who need to change their behaviour, it is also women.

Asking the men of New Zealand to ‘respect all women’ is a pointless appeal. Instead, ask the men of New Zealand to respect themselves because it is only when we respect ourselves that we can respect others.

Traditional patriarchy, or toxic masculinity, hurts everyone – including men. On one hand, New Zealand men are told to be staunch and stoic, not to talk about their feelings, needs, or experiences, and not to cry – especially not in public. They are asked to ‘man up’ and stand up. These men are allowed two experiences; pride and pursuit, and two emotions; anger and lust. 

On the other hand, they are expected to be gentle, loving, and protective fathers, partners, and family members. They are expected to talk about their feelings. Be strong! Be sensitive! Talk! Don’t talk! Don’t touch me! Push me up against the wall and just **** me! Men don’t know whether they’re coming or going, and they’re not sure whether other people want them to come or go either. 

The problem isn’t men’s violence against women, the problem is a society that finds the notion of men having feelings, needs, and their own experiences, simply irrelevant, inconvenient, and pathetic. Many men who feel harmful feelings and thoughts towards women harm themselves long before they ever harm a woman. Men are taught and socialised to believe that feminine characteristics (i.e. being vulnerable, talking about feelings) – idealised in principle but denied in fact – are for females and wimps. 

We need to make it safe for men to have needs and experiences, in every single place and space. (File photo)

Men who are violent towards women tend to hate themselves. They hate that they feel vulnerable, and most of all, they hate feeling ashamed. Men’s feelings of vulnerability and shame, in conjunction with feelings of strength and protection, when not adequately integrated (i.e. the idea that one can be both vulnerable and strong at the same time) are a lethal combination. 

Society ignores and shuts down men’s feelings and needs. When a person or a people is shut down, the result is shame. Moreover, it’s women and men who make men feel ashamed. A man who is ashamed is at risk of violence to himself or violence towards others.

The tragic reality is, self-medicating on violence buffers against feelings of shame, inferiority, and depression. If shame is the pain, then grandiosity is the quick fix. With all the vitriol against men and the responsibility that men must either stop hurting women or stop other men hurting women, no-one pauses to consider it is primarily women who raise and socialise men who hurt women.

Remember, we don’t live in a society where men are predominantly the primary caregivers of the family; it is women who have been – and are – raising boys. Therefore, the problem is equally women and men’s responsibility to address the needs and experiences of being a boy or a man in our society. 

Societal encouragement of individual empowerment has been an abysmal failure and does not create the social outcomes we so desperately need. Women and men do not need to become individually empowered; we need to become relationally empowered. To be relational by definition requires people to empathise with and listen to one another. 

We need to make it safe for men to have needs and experiences, in every single place and space. Men’s needs do not sit in mental health services, prisons, or human services, they sit right at the heart of where men are – in their family, in the community, and the workforce.

It’s important to support men to organise peer groups in schools, in all workplaces, peer groups in the community, in sports groups, in faith communities, everywhere. We should support men to feel safe and to mobilise these networks where they can go and talk about challenging experiences with other men and not feel like a “pussy”, “wimp”, or “less of a man”.

Men need to feel safe talking about challenging experiences such as the difficulties of being a new dad, how hard it is to watch a family member go through cancer treatment, or how devastating it is when you lose a child. As well as the demands of working long hours, how they just want to be a good dad, how much they value friendships, and how they want to fall in love.

Supported men who can be vulnerable and not told they’re less of a man for doing so, are empowered men who can respect themselves. 

Men who respect themselves respect women. 

Serafin Dillon is a Couples and Family Therapist for Walk the Talk in Nelson.

8 Responses to “A New Year Surprise”

  1. Murray Bacon says:

    Nicely put and constructive.
    In my opinion, in the black and white words, it somewhat neglects women’s contributions to these problems. Without that, substantive progress cannot be made.
    If read thoughtfully, then it does make sensible suggestions about women’s parts in making our society safer for both women and men, girls and boys.
    The main point is that we both stand to gain, by reducing destruction in our society.

  2. Ministry of Men's Affairs says:

    Ms Dillon has some good insights but maintains blindness to the real issues as she tries to walk a false line between enlightenment and obedience to feminism. Yes, it’s likely true that the more men’s experiences and feelings are ridiculed or treated as unimportant, the more violent they will become on average against their society and families. It’s likely true that if mothers and society generally improve in addressing the needs and experiences of boys and men, then male violence will reduce. It’s likely true that if men are disrespected and feel unsafe to raise their feelings and needs, then their frustration and sense of threat will be redirected more often through violence. It’s likely true that as men are shamed and feel vulnerable and confused about the many contradictory expectations of them by women (such as being told they need to be gentle, caring and non-sexist yet are sexually selected for their alpha male characteristics or for being bad boys), the more anti-social they will tend to become. Increases in criminal gang membership are but one indication of all this.

    But Ms Dillon fails to acknowledge the real issues facing men and contributing to violent outbursts by some. She doesn’t mention that men facing marital separation look down the barrel of laws that assist women to deprive fathers of meaningful, often all, paternal roles with their children while making those fathers pay over 30% of their take-home income to maintain the ex-partner’s lifestyle. And laws that legalize women’s plundering of assets those men earned long before ever meeting the woman. Ms Dillon doesn’t mention that our Family Court will strongly defend the woman’s right to behave immorally (e.g. by fucking other men or otherwise breaching the marital contract she agreed to) while punishing the man if he dares to raise his voice in complaining about this. She doesn’t mention the fact that men are routinely treated more harshly than are women in our criminal Courts for the same offending, or that our attitudes to men are typified by totally disproportionate imprisonment rates. She doesn’t mention any of the many areas of gender disadvantage tolerated by our society when it comes to men, such as homelessness, addiction, income deprivation, life span and suicide. These contribute greatly to the “shame, inferiority and depression” that Ms Dillon accurately notes will tend to increase men’s antisocial and violent behaviour.

    Ms Dillon’s main idea is that if only men become more like women regarding their sharing of feelings, if mothers raise boys to be ‘relationally empowered’, then male violence will reduce. This is doubtful. Although men tend to be more reserved about discussing their feelings and private matters they are quite capable of doing so when necessary. Human survival has relied on what tend to be male characteristics as much as on female ones, and this includes men’s staunch approach to challenges, their aggression, self-sacrifice and ability to put aside their own suffering and feelings in order to try to get the job done. Human survival will continue to rely on those things, and indeed the privileged lifestyle many humans now enjoy rely on those characteristics that enable men to work in highly dangerous, dirty, uncomfortable, painful, body-wrecking roles. Men becoming more like women is likely to reduce human security and well-being overall, and this in turn is likely to increase human violence.

    Ms Dillon’s feminist leanings are shown by several absolutist claims. One is “Traditional patriarchy, or toxic masculinity, hurts everyone – including men.” This is extreme feminist ideology. The term ‘toxic masculinity’ is disparaging of maleness itself and does exactly what Ms Dillon claims is increasing male violence. Patriarchy doesn’t necessarily hurt anyone but actually has been a very effective system over many millennia that has enabled humans to progress civilization to our current amazing achievement. It’s not the only system that might work but the test of time has not yet concluded on that one.

    Ms Dillon’s opening claim was “Violence, in all its forms, is abhorrent…”. More absolutist, feminist nonsense. Violence is basic to life. The violence of a virus invading another living being’s body, the violence of pulling a carrot out of the ground to eat it, the violence required to contain a murderous lunatic within a population or to repel a raping and pillaging force trying to invade the population. It’s nothing short of stupid to claim that violence in all its forms is abhorrent while at the same time demanding that agents of the state are given the right to use violence and demanding they do so when one wants protection for self or property. Violence and aggression are expected and desirable when needed, including in responding to natural disasters. Getting rid of violence is a non-starter; the realistic issue is to be clear about acceptable roles for violence and aggression and to contain people’s behaviour within that.

    Ms Dillon’s true feminist sexism is clear in her opening paragraphs when she refers only to men’s violence against women, implying that is the main or only problem around violence. Actually, violence towards males is statistically a bigger problem. A male victim hurts as much and dies as fully as a female victim. And men are not the only gender that uses harmful violence. Women may not commit as much of the most severe physical violence as men do but they do commit a significant proportion even of that. Regarding violence generally, women use various forms of it for control, vindictiveness or profit. An exact comparison with men’s proclivity for such violence is unclear but it’s not as different as the feminists including Ms Dillon seek to convince us of.

  3. JustCurious says:

    cops have the right to sue violence — if it is justified —
    a man has the right to use violence but not if threatened by a woman…
    Not if assaulted by the cops
    not when his rights are stolen from him and he is treated worse than an animal by the system
    not when his kids are taken from him on mere unsubstantiated allegations
    not when he is publicly shamed, defamed and ridiculed at first in his domestic relationship
    and then when he is prosecuted for finally reacting.

    men are lucky in this country… their only recognized right is suicide

    the right to disappear into the night, bush or at sea or to hang by a nail over a door way

  4. mama says:

    It was not that very long ago that aggression was a necessary attribute for Man…it was not that long ago that Women admitted to liking the BAD guy….
    Where have we come to now??
    I think Women have gotten lazy, uncommited, selfish, virtueless and cruel..sadder though is the nature of a young girl starting out motherly, empathetic and caring and learning that this is not what is required for her growing self.

  5. JustCurious says:

    @4

    SAME AS ALWAYS – business as usual

    frill and thrill go together

    safety and comfort leads to

    adventure and distraction

    the bad guy is still the good guy

    until the good guy ends up in the frying pan …

    certain women marry because it is a fad
    Looking for daddy, they find boys instead
    one day they grow out of it

    some women marry to build a family
    and there is no law that will come
    between her and her family.

  6. Pat Keane says:

    How much hope is there for young boys comming into or already in NZ; almost all male exposure has been removed from media outlets, fems dominate and slant info to printed media, absolutely dominate TV media (must not have male news readers etc) when use is made of Subject matter experts very rarely will a male be consulted, Rarely see boys on TV adds mainly girls and women, only women promote domestic product adverts, even though typically 50% of product will be used by men, TV programmes are mostly driven to female viewing, and so it goes on. Women must fill roles in Management even without skills, and other vocations, but no requirement for men to be given equal oppurtunities in female dominated vocations. The list goes on and on.
    We have a so called Government department to over see Equal rights, but seems its a one way road, oops forgot also dominated by women!!!!!so what chance is there in this world for them, more suicides?? funny this as these women bought us males into the world. What a sick country we now have, time for a new Government Department to be installed for Male related inequalities.

  7. Ministry of Men's Affairs says:

    Well spoken Pat Keane. More and more people are waking up to what you observe.

  8. mama says:

    #6,,,it is a sad fact that advertising media suck and swing to the tune of disposable income, it seems that they either believe women have the readies for the present time or that they are the ones with power, probably it is both.

    It really pisses me off to see men portrayed as the dumb arses in advertising, indiscriminate discrimination!!!
    Men have been stripped of natural rights, how dare ladies through away history like a wet wipe down an already clogged bloody drain!!
    After reading your post yesterday I went and hassled David Seymour and Simon Bridges and told them to campaign for Mens’ Rights…they each got back to me rah rah,,, but seriously if the guys of NZ are sick of this shit,,ie,,,the inequal times we are being served up,,, write to them copiously !!!,,,make them ban the email. We need patriotism here not screwing over or turning blind deaf and ignorant….f…cckkk!!!

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