Is it not time to change?

Recently a woman by the name of Toyah was brutally murdered in Northern Queensland while walking her dog. She was walking along the beach on a sunny afternoon. This was just another woman that has died due to violence in 2018. This was just another woman who has died while going about a regular daytime task, a task that she should have been safe, but she wasn’t. Tonya’s death, her murder started the discussion and the standard disagreement over social media about men needing to change.

So before I begin this controversial post, I want to say a few things. Not all men are murders, not all men are violent, not all men rape women, not all men abuse women, but some men do.

I shared this post by Kon K on my facebook page. It was mostly well received, except for some upset comments from some men in my life.

Kon's post about Tonya

After posting this picture, I was sent an article by a friend about more men being murdered in Australia than women. This article was sent to me with the following comment “why are female deaths such an outrage, when in 2017 60 more males died to violent deaths than females did. 108 compared to 48.” All of these deaths were tragic and could have been prevented, and yes there were more male deaths, however, 82% of these deaths were alleged to perpetrated by men. I am not saying that all men are the problem, but what I am saying is that statistically more men commit violent crimes when directly compared to women.

However, I don’t think that all men are inherently more violent.  I believe that society and societies expectations of men force them to be. In 2018 gender roles still remain so prevalent, and masculinity still remains socially expected. With this in mind, men can’t help but react differently to women in social situations. Men aren’t supposed to show emotion or talk about their problems, and when they do it is seen as taboo. This needs to change. Gender roles, and a toxic level masculinity leads to so many issues and problems; without a change in the way we view men, a change in the way men view other men, we will never escape this cycle of violence.

Recently I watched two social experiment videos on youtube. Both videos were about leaving children without adult control in a house for 5 days. These two social experiments had one key difference; one had 10 boys, the other had 10 girls in the social experiment. The results of each experiment were interesting, in both experiments, there were cases of bullying, isolation and lots of sugar consumed. However, personally, the most memorable feature was that the boys absolutely and purposefully destroyed the house in which the social experiment took place. The girls while causing drama, mischieve, and accidental damage, did not necessarily cause purposeful harm or property damage.  Is this just boys being boys? Or is there an actual underlying issue here?

I personally believe that there is an underlying issue. Men are still taught that they cannot cry, they cannot show emotion as previously mentioned, also femininity is still used as an insult; ‘don’t be a sissy,’ ‘you throw like a girl,’ ‘be a man.’ This has implications on both the men and women of society. Men are taught that there is something inherently bad about being a woman, and women are taught that being a woman is inferior. Women are still taught to be gentle, and sweet and kind. Whereas men are taught to be strong and smart. In school, we were sat down at lunchtime and told that the way we were sitting in class (in our dresses that had to be longer than knee length) was distracting male students and teachers, the boys were never told to change anything they were doing. When I was attending a church summer camp the girls were told to be mindful of what we wore as our ‘brothers’ were built differently and we had to be respectful to their needs. Is this not problematic? As children, we were told to react and change to cater for the men in our lives but this was not taught to our male counterparts. Society seems to be raising boys and girls differently, and not in a progressive or productive manner. Yes, we are improving, yes times are changing but Australia still has one of the highest rates of sexual harassment and assault in the world, maybe this can be related to the lack of respect that is taught to us as children. Maybe we should be changing and speaking out against this. By we, I mean MEN and WOMEN, because we will never create meaningful change if only one half of society is speaking out for it.

Furthermore, I see a level of disrespect towards women so often in my everyday life. At university, I have been faced with male students talking over and interrupting me as I speak, as if their opinions and arguments are more important than mine. I have faced disrespect within the workforce, being called Sweety, and Princess by a male colleague, to which I confronted, and he didn’t see the problem. I have been involved in conversations with young men about women’s health, as they believe they have a say over what women do over their own bodies, and instead of having reasonable arguments they have informed me that I am obviously just not loved. I have seen women be physically abused on the streets in broad daylight and stood there shaking as I called the police. I have held my friends as they sobbed because they had been violated by men. I have been catcalled when walking in the middle of the day by groups of men driving past. I am also sure that many other women have experienced similar experiences because it happens every day.  Women deal with prejudice that I have not seen men have to deal with, but not only that, everything I have mentioned from my personal experience stems from a lack of respect towards women. I am not disregarding men’s struggles, young men are the most at risk category for suicide and are less likely to receive custody of their children, but I believe these are overarching social issues, they do not stem from a lack of respect towards men.

Why did I mention all of these issues? Why did I mention these examples? I mention them because they all have to do with how we raise our children. They all have to do with the respect towards women but also how men are taught to behave. Men are taught not to be feminine, they are taught to be strong and show no emotion, this leads to so many issues, that need to be solved. Boys need to be shown that it is okay to show emotion, and that it is okay to not always be strong. We all need to stop using feminity as an insult, and call out sexism and misogyny that we see in our society.

My call to action is this:

Men,

When you see your friends being sexist, catcalling, or violent. Call them out. Speak to them. When young men are playing sports, don’t tell them to man up, don’t tell them that they’re playing like a girl, because being a girl isn’t an insult. Being masculine isn’t necessarily better. When one of your mates, or yourself is struggling, talk about what is bothering you, find healthy ways to deal with your emotions, and ask your mates how they’re really doing. Join the discussion, ask the women in your lives what they face on a daily basis, ask them if they’ve ever been disrespected, and listen to them. Remember to be kind.

Women,

When men in your lives are being sexist, or disrespectful; speak up. If you’re being interrupted, speak up, ask to be able to finish your sentence, argument or idea. Remember to ask the men in your lives how they are really doing, and support them if they’re having a hard time. Start conversations with the men in your lives, tell them how your feeling, tell them about the issues you face, because they may not even realise. Let men join this fight for equality, and for safety because we will never create meaningful change if only one half of society is speaking out for it. Most of all remember to be kind.

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