Recently I heard Phil Cleary on the radio. What he said was so right, I thought I should, if not expand on it, fully endorse it. His subject was the Royal Commission into Family Violence, which is happening in Melbourne, now.
We can argue the point as to whether the term “family violence” does justice to the subject, but I will just call it what it overwhelmingly is: male violence toward other, usually younger men, or women, and children.
Phil’s argument was that we were focussing on the wrong causes, which were seen to be predominantly substance abuse, and mental illness. He’s right. They are excuses. Excuses for bad behaviour, which feed into all the other excuses weak men use. Alcohol doesn’t make a man beat his partner. Smoking bongs doesn’t turn a man into a cruel abuser. His attitude to women and children does.
Look around you. Bad attitudes to women and children abound. When did it become acceptable to call women “bitches”? Women are half the population. They are mothers, sisters, daughters and aunts. It isn’t even necessary to argue their special contribution to life. They are human, they are half the story, and they make humanity whole. Thinking that women are lesser creatures is the problem. It is a problem so self-defeatingly stupid that it is difficult to believe. It is as dopey as thinking less of your left leg than you do of your right leg. And children are not possessions, or bargaining chips. They are your future, and they deserve your protection and guidance.
Family violence is always wrong. It is always used to bully and intimidate. This community needs to set itself a standard for civility. Similarly to the way we have made racism socially unacceptable, we need men to re-discover the wonder of family, of community, with no victims.