What's it like being a man fighting for male victims of domestic violence in a world dominated by people whose primary concern is keeping the spotlight on female victims? Glen Poole of insideMAN speaks to Tony Stott of Healing Men, who has been campaigning on the issue in Wales for several years.
I’ve been watching men trying to influence public policy on gender issues for 20 years. I’ve seen fathers fighting for dads to have an equal right to be part of their children’s lives when parents separate. I’ve seen men who say their genitals were mutilated without their consent as children, fighting to protect boys from medically unnecessary circumcision. And I’ve seen men fighting for male victims of domestic violence to have equal protection and support.
The gender political war around domestic violence, in particular, is one the most difficult gender battles to stomach as it puts anyone who attempts to advocate on behalf of male victims in direct conflict with those who work to help female victims---and nobody in their right mind would ordinarily choose to place them self in opposition to people speaking out for female victims.
Feminism has a problem with male victims
I have written elsewhere on the way the emergence of male victims and female perpetrators threatens the very existence of feminism and feminists who are the primary advocates of female victims. So it is a brave (or foolish) campaigner who attempts to tackle the status quo in a domestic violence sector that is dominated by feminists running services and programmes for female victims and male perpetrators.
One such man is Tony Stott of Healing Men who has been campaigning for male victims of domestic violence for many years, most recently in Wales, where he has been fighting the passage of a new Violence Against Women Bill---not because he supports violence against women, but because he believes it excludes male victims.
Last week Tony was at the Welsh Assembly watching the Bill being debated. He told me:
“I have been campaigning, pointlessly so far, against deeply sexist and unequal legislation being debated within the Welsh Assembly and wanted to see this at first hand in the Assembly chamber.”
Tony believes the Bill demonstrates that Wales has become a “Feminist One Party State”. He says the architects of The Bill have a gender political approach to domestic violence which can be characterised by the following passage from the book “Perceptions of Female Offenders” which describes the feminist view of the issue as:
“A result of patriarchal social systems where men are exclusively the batterers and females are exclusively the victims….This Neo-Marxian model posits the masculine (bourgeoisie) as occupying the upper rungs of privilege, authority, and power over the feminine (proletariat). Thus, domestic violence is the physical manifestation of his social dominance as it is forcibly imposed on her submissive feminine body. Conversely, female violence is initiated reactively, purely as a form of self-defence.”
Masculinity is seen as the problem
Tony is particularly incensed by a passage in the “Task And Finish Group Report” which informed The Bill:
“Masculinity is associated with violence in most cultures and Wales is no exception; thus, all preventative work and interventions must be designed to address men’s violent behaviour, while at the same time recognizing that both men and women may be the victims of violence that is overwhelmingly perpetrated by men.”
Tony believes this viewpoint is nothing short of discrimination against men. “Would such a gross and wholly stupid statement be tolerated against black or Muslim peoples?” he asks. “No! But this statement against men and boys is supported and uncritically welcomed by the Welsh Government. “
Tony is genuinely concerned that all victims of violence get the help and support they need. He has followed and engaged with every complex stage of The Bill since its inception in 2012 and even launched a epetition that gathered support from campaigners around the world.
Radical gender warriors
He feels that the entire process has been “hijacked by the radicalised gender warriors” in Wales and transformed from a project which could recognise the complexity of intimate human relationships (and the necessity of including mutual and female abuse and violence for the sake of children) to the Violence Against Women, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence (Wales) Bill.”
After spending 90 minutes listening intently to the Welsh Assembly debating the Bill last week, Tony told be he was in “despair for men in Wales and fearful for the boys and girls in Wales who will be left to learn violent and abusive behaviour at the hands of violent and abusive parents”.
“The main discussion,” he says “was around the question of how quickly the Welsh Government could get organised to teach seven year boys the “masculinity is associated with violence .. and all interventions must address men’s violent behaviour” theme."
"Some wanted this ‘education’ to be put in the Bill", he said, "but the Minister, rather chillingly I thought, sought to appease by stating that the charity Women’s Aid have volunteered to send in staff to teach ‘Healthy Relationships’ in schools."
Tony is deeply frustrated at what he sees as the refusal of the Welsh Government to give consideration to the needs of male victims, despite his constant hard work to bring the issue to the table. But he isn’t giving up and he has one message for those who share his concerns---do not be silent!
- It's men's responsibility to make gender work a reality (Dr Neil Wooding, ONS)
- Men in Wales face institutional sexism (Paul Apreda, FNF Both Parents Matter)
- Why can't men and women work together for equality (Anita Copley, National Assembly for Wales)
- Official thinking on equality and diversity in Wales excluding men (Glen Poole, insideMAN)