Quick hit: Men’s perceptions of violence against women

This year marks the twentieth anniversary of the White Ribbon Campaign, which was created in response to an act of horrific violence against women in Canada. The White Ribbon Campaign, which engages men and boys in the prevention of violence against women, now operates in over thirty countries. Australia is one of them, and this week, on the occasion of White Ribbon Day 2011, journalist Marcus Campbell called on Australian men to commit themselves to ending violence against women. One of the reasons men still refuse to make this commitment, Campbell writes, is that they don’t believe that the problem is as severe as it is:

While men’s attitudes are difficult to gauge, The VicHealth National Survey on Community Attitudes to Violence against Women 2009 found that 22% of men believed that rates of violence were equal between men and women and just under two-thirds of Australian men would describe violence against women as a “common” problem; alarming figures that hint at a wider scepticism about the clear contrasts between victimisation and perpetration rates in Australia.

Some simply do not trust the appalling national and state statistics that have either remained unchanged over the years or risen in some areas. Every time a journalist dares publish a figure that slightly widens the lens to better view the full horrifying scope of the issue, the internet comment backlash is merciless.

Some are still writing off instances of intimate partner homicide, rape and physical, psychological and sexual abuse as acts of individual irrationality or crimes of emotion or provocation. Men, along with wider society seem to shrug off the importance of the issue, like the way Facebook recently shrugged off calls to remove “rape joke” pages.

Some still do not believe the issue is as big as popular opinion would suggest, and that men are the “real” invisible victims of domestic violence. It is getting harder to avoid noticing some of the bizarre and often offensive claims in the numerous men’s rights websites out there.

Yes, some men honestly still believe that movements for nonviolence and women’s rights are part of a feminist project to undermine the rights of men.

Go read the whole thing. And if you’re a man and you haven’t already sworn the White Ribbon oath “to never commit, excuse or remain silent about violence against women,” do it today.

New York, NY

Chloe Angyal is a journalist and scholar of popular culture from Sydney, Australia. She joined the Feministing team in 2009. Her writing about politics and popular culture has been published in The Atlantic, The Guardian, New York magazine, Reuters, The LA Times and many other outlets in the US, Australia, UK, and France. She makes regular appearances on radio and television in the US and Australia. She has an AB in Sociology from Princeton University and a PhD in Arts and Media from the University of New South Wales. Her academic work focuses on Hollywood romantic comedies; her doctoral thesis was about how the genre depicts gender, sex, and power, and grew out of a series she wrote for Feministing, the Feministing Rom Com Review. Chloe is a Senior Facilitator at The OpEd Project and a Senior Advisor to The Harry Potter Alliance. You can read more of her writing at chloesangyal.com

Chloe Angyal is a journalist and scholar of popular culture from Sydney, Australia.

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