Stop with the “#notallmen” already!

I’m becoming more and more irritated by the “not all men” whiney rants that pop up whenever anything is written or discussed, particularly on social media, about violence against women.  Violence and murder is perpetrated on thousands of women and children in our country every day, and the #notallmen responses are infuriating.

“Not all men”/ #notallmen is dismissive and extremely unhelpful. And, if I hear another “I don’t know any men who do this sort of thing”, from a man or a woman, I shall scream. It’s confronting and uncomfortable to think that someone you might know, or know of, would do such things. But you know what, just because you may not know someone who uses violence to control and punish doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen! Not all rapists and domestic violence perpetrators actually tell you what they are doing; in fact, most don’t.  And they do their best to make sure their victims don’t tell either.

The sorts of serious criminal offences that are committed against women and children on a regular basis in Australia include rape, battery, assault, imprisonment, kidnapping, destroying property, harming family pets, and theft. Serious crimes. Add name-calling, putdowns, shouting, financial, emotional and verbal abuse and we have something ineptly named “domestic” or “family” violence. Feminist author Judith Hermann had it right when she called it “domestic terrorism” back in 1992.

“Not all men” is a galling interruption to important conversations about sexism, misogyny, women’s rights and abuse of children. “Not all men” redirects the discussion to “it’s not my (men’s) fault”. “It’s not my fault that women get raped, suffer violence, get killed”, etc, etc, etc.  #notallmen serves to shift the focus of the conversation, instead of getting people to engage with what is actually happening: an epidemic that is huge and seemingly unfuckingstoppable. An epidemic of murder, rape and abuse of hundreds of thousands of women and girls in Australia, every day.

Why are we (and I mean our government and our society, not the small number of underfunded services that try and assist victims of violence) doing so little about this terrible scourge that causes so much physical and psychological pain that then damages generations of us?

Ok already, we know it’s not all men. The majority of rapes are perpetrated by men; the majority of domestic violence is perpetrated by men; the majority of child sexual abuse is perpetrated by men; the majority of all violent crime is perpetrated by men. The statistics in Australia are horrible and unbearably sad. Two women a week are murdered, usually by men who are known to them. 87% of domestic violence victims are women whose perpetrators are known to them, usually their intimate male partner. One in three women has experienced some sort of violence since the age of 15 – that’s nearly 4 million Australian women. One in five women have been stalked, many by their current or previous male partner. Fathers, stepfathers and male relatives make up the majority of perpetrators of females under the age of 15. Two million women experience unwanted sexual touching, mostly by men, each year. The Australian Institute of Family Studies and the Australian Bureau of Statistics tell us that the available statistical data relating to sexual assault research is likely to be an underestimation.

I’m not denying that some women perpetrate violent and sexual crimes. This is of course far from acceptable.  However, what I, and many feminist writers more eloquent than I (and without the swearing) are saying is that the titanic majority of these crimes ARE COMMITTED BY MEN.  (Not sorry for yelling).

So stop being male apologists.  Stop with the #notallmen bullshit and engage in the discussion.  Be outraged that this epidemic goes on unchecked. Be furious that we are sentencing generations of women, girls and children to lifetimes of terror and despair. Do something. Get real. That puny, snivelling hashtag won’t save lives.

*I didn’t make up any of the stats I used in this post.  Given that most of the research I read said that the incidences of domestic and sexual violence appear to be increasing, the stats are probably higher in 2015.  Here’s where I got them from:

Australian Bureau of Statistics 2004 and 2012

Australian Institute of Family Studies 2012

Herman, J (1992) Trauma and Recovery, Basic Books: USA (Domestic Violence resource Centre Victoria) 2015

**Photo credit: Huffington Post UK