I’ve run a bit with Kirrily Dear in recent months and I hope you’ve been following her campaign and preparations for running 860km to support an end to violence against women. I used to think I didn’t have anything to say on the subject except ‘don’t f@cking do it’ however she’s brought up a couple of points that I can speak about, one that makes me look bad, so let’s (reluctantly) go…….
I’ve never directly experienced domestic violence, and I have pretty much the same attitude as you- any type of violence towards women should be eliminated. But to achieve this we’ve got to have the conversation. I mentioned to Kirrily that for some unknown reason the whole subject makes me feel uncomfortable, but her reply was that the only way we can fix these things is to expose them, bring them out into the light and get people to reason with themselves about their actions and those of their mates. YOU need to be involved.
Uncomfortable topic 1- I’d like to think that no woman who has slept with me has regretted it. OK I can think of one, but the feeling is pretty mutual, and that has nothing to do with sex and much more about screaming at each other constantly. There’s a very fine line where your pleading or forcefulness could become assault, and it’s not you who determines that. As a married man I could pretend that doesn’t affect me anymore but that negotiating phase never disappears. Got it? Good.
Uncomfortable topic 2- How many times does a man need to be told that his behaviour is unacceptable?
I challenged Kirrily on this one and she said something like ‘we imagine a lot of abusers to be poor and from the western suburbs but reality is that they are from all over and their behaviour is predicated on the fact that they don’t get called out for it. A huge proportion of these abusers can and will change their ways when they see that their mates and the rest of society are outraged by their behaviour’
I immediately thought of a personal example- not very flattering but here goes- about 10 years ago I was organising bike rides on the weekend and wanted to convince people not to pull out if the weather was bad. I said something like ‘don’t be a poof and pike out’. My good friend Jaycen Fletcher replied ‘and what’s bad about being a poof?’ and you know what? He was right, I was being an idiot.
So I sent around an apology and I’ve tried very hard ever since not to use these kinds of derogatory terms. I was called out in a very simple way, and that one email made me change my ways- hopefully forever. Those who know me also know that I swear like a sailor, so sometimes it’s really hard not to rely on cheap attempts at humour but I’m trying.
So there we go- I’ve avoided writing this for a month or two, but I do hope you’ll read it and have the conversation with your partner or mates. I also hope it’s more helpful than one of my female family members who recently called for all males over the age of 35 to die. I’ve changed the end of this story, it was originally a snipe at that family member. It wasn’t very nice and I do think that she’s quite smart but just comes to the wrong conclusions sometimes. We all should have a bit of leeway occasionally so I’ll sign off with a message of hope. Even with all the terrible things happening worldwide, we can all make a difference by doing very simple and repeatable actions. Make a difference. Have the conversation.