I will always remember the day in 2003 I took a leading UK feminist, Adrienne Burgess, to federal parliament in Canberra to meet with feminist parliamentarians in the Labor Party. Adrienne Burgess, whilst a former hard-line Trotskyist, had realised the deep need for a renewal of fatherhood in western society. She was so profoundly convinced of the problem of fatherlessness that she wrote a bestselling book called Fatherhood Reclaimed.
The reason I took Adrienne Burgess, a leading father-friendly feminist, to Parliament House was to work towards a cultural shift amongst feminists in both the Labor and Liberal parties. What surprised me were the first words she uttered as a greeting to her fellow feminists in the Parliament. “All men are bastards”. They nodded and smiled. I was a bit shocked and later Adrienne confided in me that this was the best way to win their support. Something inside me shuddered.
In the last thirty plus years in the men’s movement I had never heard men denigrate all women collectively, but the feminist movement seemed to be utterly united around the concept that all men are to be denigrated.
Bettina Arndt’s recent story in the Australian called, Fiona Richardson’s story fails the gender test gives us all more cause to shudder. Martin Luther King said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to injustice everywhere.” Camille Anna Paglia, who is herself a strong feminist, was right to say, “When an educated culture routinely denigrates masculinity and manhood, then women will be perpetually stuck with boys, who have no incentive to mature or to honour their commitments. And without strong men as models… women will never attain a centred and profound sense of themselves as women.”
I will let Bettina Arndt finish her story, “Daniel Andrews today responds to the report from Australia’s first Royal Commission into Family Violence. The Victorian Premier will be joined by Australia’s first Minister for the Prevention of Family Violence, Fiona Richardson, who exposed her own family’s violent history on the ABC’s Australian Story this week.
Ironically, the program was a classic example of the misleading, distorted way the issue of domestic violence is being dealt with in this country.
It’s hard to imagine a more striking illustration of our society’s determination to focus only on aggression by men and whitewash the role of women in family violence.
In graphic detail, Richardson revealed her family background at the hands of her violent father.
Almost the entire program focused on this chilling story: her brother hitting the floor “like a bag of spuds” after a punch from the drunken father, the family living in fear of the man’s violent attacks.
There was only the briefest mention of the other side of this story, the reason Richardson’s mother, Veronica Power, gave for her attraction to such an aggressive man. “I thought beating was normal because my mother always beat me,” she said.
That’s not all. She mentions in passing that her violent mother, who had five husbands, required her to “spend time” with a man who was her current partner’s son, a man 20 years older than Power, who was 14 at the time. He groomed her and took her virginity.
So the violent grandmother sets up her teenage daughter to be groomed for sex by this much older man — a man with whom the grandmother apparently also shared an intimate relationship, and the man who ultimately became Richardson’s father.
How come this extraordinary story of the sexual exploitation of a daughter by her violent mother rates only the briefest mention in a program in which the father’s behaviour is examined in endless detail?
Here we have a Minister of Family Violence whose own story illustrates the truth about family violence — namely that most families with a history of violence include female as well as male perpetrators. As one of the ministers responsible for implementing changes in response to the royal commission’s recommendations, one might have thought Richardson’s family history would prompt more enlightened, less gender-biased consideration.
That seems unlikely. Like almost all the major players in the domestic violence scene, Richardson seems determined to downplay the role of female violence and perpetuate many of the lies and distortions that dominate discussion of this issue in Australia.
“Family violence is the leading contributor to death, injury and disability in Victorian women,” reads the leading statistic in a report on a Family Violence Index released under her name last year.
As I pointed out last year in an article on dodgy domestic violence statistics (“Silent Victims”), this claim is totally wrong. Our best source of data on the subject, from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, shows the top five causes of death, disability and illness combined for Australian women aged 15-44 are anxiety and depression, migraine, type-2 diabetes, asthma and schizophrenia.
Domestic violence doesn’t even make the list.
Yet the same false statistic is endlessly trotted out by politicians, including Andrews on this week’s Australian Story. All of the key government bodies working on domestic violence and media sources such as the ABC have been presented with evidence they are using a wrong, misleading statistic — a truth they choose to ignore.
We’ll learn today whether the royal commission has been hoodwinked by the constant stream of lies and misinformation promoted in the current cultural dialogue, where the deliberate use of wrong statistics is used to promote men as the only villains. The reality is very different.
More than 1700 articles in peer-reviewed journals conclude domestic violence is not a gender issue; both women and men are actively involved in most violence in the home; women often initiate violence, and it isn’t simply self-defence.
Even though physical violence by women causes fewer injuries, it is by no means harmless, with women more likely to use weapons and men sustaining a third of the injuries from partner violence.
As Veronica Power could tell us, most children growing up in violent homes are cowering not just from their fathers, but their mothers as well — all available Australian data clearly shows women are the major abusers of children.
The royal commission was exposed to the truth about such matters by experts keen to correct some of the myths distorting the public debate.
Psychologist Peter Miller, professor of Violence Prevention and Addiction at Deakin University, argues for the need for evidence-based approaches that include addressing contributing factors such as alcohol, drugs and mental health — issues commonly downplayed by those determined to see domestic violence as simply related to gender inequality.
It was interesting to note that Richardson describes her father as “a good man” with “oodles of charm”. Yet with alcohol that all changed. “When he was drunk, he was a very different man”.
Alcohol-related violence is a factor in a third of domestic violence incidents reported to police and two-thirds in Aboriginal communities, reports Miller, who has encountered enormous resistance to doing proper research into alcohol-related domestic violence: key organisations with access to domestic violence victims have not allowed research to be conducted and he has had constant difficulty attracting research funding.
There’s a long way to go before the real causes of violence in the home are properly addressed in this country.
I should not have been surprised how many leading feminist politicians and academics greet each other by denigrating the male of the species. See the following quotes from feminist academics from the last fifty years. Almost all of them are highly respected professors and authors, many are house hold names. Some of these quotes make the “All men are Bastards” mantra look pretty tame.
- “I want to see a man beaten to a bloody pulp with a high-heel shoved in his mouth, like an apple in the mouth of a pig.” Andrea Dworkin, writer & lecturer.
- “I feel that ‘man-hating’ is an honourable and viable political act.” Professor Robin Morgan.
- “All men are rapists and that’s all they are.” – Assistant Professor Marilyn French.
- “Probably the only place where a man can feel really secure is in a maximum security prison, except for the imminent threat of release.” Professor Germaine Greer.
- “The nuclear family must be destroyed… Whatever its ultimate meaning, the break-up of families now is an objectively revolutionary process.” Professor Linda Gordon.
- “If life is to survive on this planet, there must be… a drastic reduction of the population of males.” Professor Mary Daly.
- “The proportion of men must be reduced to and maintained at approximately 10% of the human race.” — Professor Sally Miller Gearhart.
So what is the answer? Firstly we must heed the words of Martin Luther King. “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” Jesus was right to say we must “love our enemies and pray for those who despitefully use us.”
Secondly, we as men must ask the women in our lives to speak up for the male of the species as our gender is under intense attack. We as men must speak up as well as the politically correct discourse in our schools, universities and also in many of our governmental institutions is bent on the total destruction of gender. And guess who is first in the firing line?
Our children are brought into this world by a mother and a father and they are served best when brought up by the same. To advocate the denigration of either the masculine or the feminine by ideology or government decree is to destroy both genders and is tantamount to child abuse. Gender does matter.
We quote Camille Anna Paglia again. “When an educated culture routinely denigrates masculinity and manhood, then women will be perpetually stuck with boys, who have no incentive to mature or to honour their commitments. And without strong men as models… women will never attain a centred and profound sense of themselves as women.”
Show your wife, your mother, your girlfriend and your daughter this article and ask them for their help in this battle to out-love our enemies with the truth. Let’s take encouragement from Mahatma Gandhi, “When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love have always won.”
Make sure we thank the women in our lives when they write a letter to the editor or make a stand for the truth in the public square, it is not without cost. Mindless groupthink is often promoted as a coping mechanism by those who have been hurt by the male of the species and that hurt easily turns into hate. That is why love is our greatest friend.
This is the text my wife and I sent to Bettina Arndt to personally thank her. “Great article Bettina and so well-articulated. You are a living legend. Thank you for all you do for the children, women and men of Australia. Where would we be without you? Much Love W & A.
Yours for the Children, Women and Men of Australia
PS: Please forgive me. This is the longest article I have every compiled for the Dads4Kids weekly newsletter in 14 years. This is something I feel strongly about. We must make a stand for our children at this time because they will suffer unless we do. We must initiate the love revolution in our society by telling the truth. As George Orwell said, “In a time of deceit telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”