Dec 11

Two years ago a work colleague lost her life.  Which is a really stupid thing to say.  She didn’t lose it at all.  Her husband killed her.  He took her life.  He stabbed her.  She died.

Her children have had to deal with this, their families and friends and then people like me.

I had a drink with her the night before.  There was nothing I can remember that set any alarm bells off at the time.  In hindsight there are lots of “if only” and “I wish”.

The impact of family violence is much broader than family.  It has an impact on all in our community.

Today, we celebrated another year of great work at my work.  We acknowledged the important work that our teams do in family violence and men’s behavioural programs.  They make a difference to the lives of the people they work with.

It’s been a tough year.  While government change directions and shift funding, the need of people doesn’t change.  It’s still there.  We struggle to reach as many people as we would like to, the funding just isn’t there.

There is a great need in our community, and we can barely cope with the demand.

My heart breaks at the knowledge that we don’t have the resources to help.  My heart breaks that people are suffering and there is nothing that I can do.

When we asked today as part of an activity, “Why do you work here?” the answer was either “Because I want to make a difference” or “I want to help others”

As I listened today to the accolades of special mentions for our outstanding stars, I reflected on the work that my colleagues do.  I reflect on the senseless death of Cathy.  I know we need to do more.

I feel proud to work with such a dedicated group who strive to make a difference.

We have the evidence that the work we do makes a difference – you can help us.  You may not be able to fund the shortfall left by the changing funding models of government, if a few of us can help perhaps we can make a shift.


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Mar 06

It’s pretty hard for me to think about violence against women at the hands of men.  I find the notion of violence truly disturbing and that hit, beat, maim and kill women are detestable.

shoesI also have little time for those who seek to find justification for maintaining the patriarchal model in society.  The whole concept that women are somehow required to accept that the men are in control and they need to simply accept it, but it’s OK, because we men folk will look after you and respect you, that I find ugly and unnecessary.

I often find that fundamentalist religious people struggle with the whole equality notion. One in particular is David Ould, a fundamentalist Anglican Minister in charge of a small parish somewhere just outside of Sydney.  We’ve had dealings before.

He thinks that the ‘headship’ of a family is the right of a man.  That’s what the bible says, and his example is Jesus.  It was Jesus who sacrified all for his ‘bride’, that’s you and me, and we should follow that example.

Clearly David finds violence  against women abhorrent; that’s not in question here.  He says he does and will intervene as part of his work.  That’s commendable.

However, the patriarchal model is the cause of this scourge in our western society.  Christianity has a lot to answer for, from the biblical perspective, and David sums it up well in his recent blog post where he highlights this passage from his ‘gold standard’ book:

Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands

He explores a bit about the term ‘in the same way’ but in a nutshell this is referring to the previous chapter on slaves.

Slaves … submit yourselves to your masters, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh…  But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? … To this you were called,because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.

Read it to get the full context.

To any sane person the suggestion that a wife needs to submit to a husband and endure a beating is crazy talk and surely not appropriate.  But there it is, in the bible.  Of course, Christians like David insist that the man is to treat the woman with respect, based on this bit of text

Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.

These passages cause David to call into question the real meaning and he needs to do some verbal gymnastics to make it make sense in his world view:

I find this incredibly challenging. What do those of us who want ourselves to submit to the Scriptures make of it?…

But perhaps as we think these things through a little more we need to just stop and consider exactly what we’re saying and who we are seeking to please when we say it.

Again, you need to read it to get the full context of his writing.

I would have thought that the obvious answer to this is very straight forward.  The words in the bible are out of touch with a modern world and have no right to be used by modern thinking men.

The whole ‘headship’ ‘submission’ and notion that it’s all for Jesus is wrong.  If we can accept that a slavery is wrong and a ‘slave’ has rights and that this passage has fallen by the wayside, then surely it’s time to let go of the other ridiculous passages.

David doesn’t come out and say it, but makes the point that the wife needs to submit to her husband, as he is head of the house, like Jesus is head of the church.  He uses the oft used symbol of Jesus as the groom and the church as the bride.

This little gem is the most repulsive bit of justification that I’ve ever read:

None of this means we ought not seek to empower and help her if she chooses to remove herself from an abusive situation. But is it so wrong, was Piper so wrong, to suggest that her choice to submit might have a flavour of “in the same way” and that this might actually be a Godly wise choice?

How to balance that thinking with his earlier statement:

And I think it says something incredibly shocking to all of us.

Yes, it is incredibly shocking.  The problem for me is that after putting this all together, doing the verbal gymnastics, rather that decide to ditch the bible as an irrelevant book, he persists in maintaining it as the guide-book for how men and women should be.

By that justification fundamentalists get to maintain their power base of the patriarchy, women are not allowed to be priests, nor the head of the household, nor to tell their husbands what to do.  They can choose to stay in a violent situation and the fundamentalist won’t interfere and will probably just shrug their shoulders when death comes and say “What could I do?  At least she’s in a better place now”.

No matter how they try to read the words and give them meaning in a modern context, the words will be abused by others because at the end of the day the passage is quite clear.  It says you as a woman need to submit and if that means a beating, then your only hope is that it’s given with respect.

While the Christians trip themselves up trying to work out the meaning, they miss the obvious thing right in front of them.

God should have said, with no need to check translations or go back to the old testament or a different book, “It’s not OK to beat or kill your wife under any circumstances”.

Why isn’t that there in plain text for all the world to see?  Because the bible is not the word of god, but simply the made up words of a bunch of men written long before a modern understanding of the dignity of each person.  The words are either written or translated by men that think women are not equal and need to comply with the wishes of their husbands, because in their reality of 2,000 years ago (or whenever it was translated into English) the men with the dicks are in charge.



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Jun 01

Sometimes I think I live in a cocoon and I feel oblivious to what’s happening around me. I’ve always been good at railing against the world, in my 20’s I  fought city people for the rights of rural people.  City folk still have little comprehension of what its like over the Westgate bridge (and yes, I know some of you come from other directions)  In my 30’s I fought against the evils of religion, and in my 40’s I fought for the rights of gay people.

All these things are very dear to my heart and perhaps core to my being.

Being ‘homosexual’ I’m very aware of how awkward my sexuality makes me feel at times.  Last night a good friend had to remind me that I was in a safe place and it was OK to dance with Michael.  That was pretty amazing.  I think we were the only same-sex couple in the room, it happens a lot.  I am always self-conscious and careful about my actions and can feel quite uncomfortable when Michael wants to touch me or kiss me.

That fear is always there, I’ve heard the word ‘faggot’ more times than I care to recall.  Every time it scares the fuck out of me.  Australia is a pretty safe place and I can keep myself safe by not outwardly showing my sexuality, not touching my husband, not kissing him, not telling him how much I love him out loud.  I can suppress that.  I should, shouldn’t I?  I mean if I hold hands while walking down the St Kilda foreshore on a Sunday night and a bunch of guys follow along behind laughing, and I catch words like ‘homo’ and ‘faggot’ all I have to do is pretend not to be gay and I’ll be ok.

On the outside, if you see Michael and I getting around we just look like a couple of normal, regular blokes.  If you see me alone, you wouldn’t have any idea that I’m gay.  I don’t have any of the stereo-type traits.  Aren’t I lucky.

I am what appears to be to everyone else, a white, middle class Australian.  I fit in.  Mostly.

I continue the fight for equality however, because I’m still not fully fitting in.  I really just want what everyone else wants.  To be happy in my relationship and to express myself in a way that feels innate without living in fear.

Some of you have just read this and are supportive.  Thank you.  Please help me to continue to bring happiness and joy to all, we all have a right to live in an Australia, in a world, free of intolerance and abuse.

There’s another group of Australians that are constantly under threat.


Last year a work colleague was killed by her husband.  I don’t know the full story, a man killed a woman.  They were in a relationship.  It happens a lot more than we care to think about.

My daughter won’t walk home alone in the dark.

An American man goes on a killing spree because he’s a virgin at 22 and he’s going to make women ‘pay’.

Geoff Shaw in the Victorian state parliament wants to wind back abortion laws.

It feels a lot like misogyny.  It feels a lot like white male privilege.

Really, it doesn’t feel like that, it is misogyny based on white male privilege.

In her excellent article Clementine Ford said:

Why is it that one woman murdered every week in Australia by her partner or ex-partner is not considered a manifestation of the ongoing, ritualised hate crime that specifically targets women? Why must we be further insulted by having our anger explained away as irrational and misplaced? We know what pure, unadulterated misogyny is because we have felt its wrath; yet we’re once again being told our instincts are wrong by people for whom such hatred can never be anything more than theoretical.

Women should be angry and they should be outraged and they should fight back.  But wait – this isn’t just their problem.  It’s my problem.  It’s our problem and its your problem.

I am not a woman and I have no idea what it means to be a woman.  The thought however that women don’t feel safe means is unacceptable.

When I had a recent discussion with family about a taxi company running women only taxis, driven by women for women, some of the men folk thought this was a good idea.  It would keep them safe.  Keep them safe from men who might harm them.  Seriously?  This is our response to male violence?

One woman is murdered every week in Australia by her partner or ex-partner.

One a week.

Yep, violence happens against men too.

“where men were typically assaulted by a stranger, women most often experienced physical assault in the context of domestic violence.”

I’d like to stop all violent behaviour.  I don’t get the need to use violence to get something you want, and like it or not, it’s men who are doing the hitting.  (I should also point out that just because you want something doesn’t mean you get it – sometimes the answer is no and you simply have to respect that answer).

Victoria Police Minister Kim Wells is on to it.

Mr Wells backed the creation of more task forces targeting crimes such as family violence and organised crime, but disputed that this would result in fewer frontline police.

“When people say there’s going to be less police out on the frontline, that’s completely and utterly wrong,” he said.

“This is about putting more police out on the frontline dealing with crimes such as family violence.”

Dealing with…family violence.  Dealing with it?  Come on, it needs more than just dealing with.  Establishing a police task force is  great initiative, but it’s too little too late.  By the time the police are involved it’s already too late.  Ken Lay, Victoria’s Chief Commissioner of Police is on to it too:

Their multiple studies found that 1 in 3 women worldwide had been either physically or sexually assaulted. Linger on that statistic. It’s appalling. Violence against women everywhere is very, very common.

He goes on to say:

Now consider this: when we focus on the victim, there is an implicit suggestion that male violence is just something we should all put up with—that it’s some immovable cloud that hangs over society. Well, I don’t think so.

We’re never going to extinguish all violence. We can’t create a utopia. And I’m not suggesting that parents don’t talk to their children about safety. What I’m saying is that the emphasis on the victim is disproportionate and that’s damaging because men aren’t having hard conversations with each other.

Let me get this straight.  Violence is perpetrated  by men.  Men are causing harm to women because (some) men have a sense of entitlement to take what they want and expect women to provide it.  The top cop in the state says “Violence against women is very common” and “when we focus on the victim”.  We should have no doubt here, men are killing, hitting, bashing, causing harm, however you want to describe it.  One woman a week is dying because of a man.

Women live in fear.  Women have to put up with appalling behaviour of men because men have the privilege and they think they can get away with it, they think it is ok, society gives them approval.  We blame the victim.

Ever heard this sort of talk?

“she’s playing hard to get”

“she was begging for it”

“she started out saying it was ok and I couldn’t stop”

“she’s a bitch”

“she shouldn’t dress like that”

“what does she expect wearing that?”

I find it odd.  I don’t know if it’s because I’m gay, a SNAG (sensitive new age guy), a victim of childhood abuse or still reeling from the shock of my work mate’s violent death.  I think it’s more likely that I just see something in the world that’s not right and it’s gotta stop.

It doesn’t matter whether it’s an appalling statistic of death or someone like Geoff Shaw trying to wind back abortion laws, these are out-and-out attacks on the liberty of women in our society.  The attacks are based purely on their gender.  We are part of this society and we really shouldn’t stand back and watch it happen unchallenged.  This is not something that women alone need to deal with.  It’s something everyone needs to deal with. Its something that men need to address.

A few tweets, a few likes on Facebook or even writing a blog isn’t enough.  Places like my work are doing something positive to make a difference.  I’ll support the excellent work of Family Life.  Early intervention I think is the key.  Whether it’s through innovative programs or simply dads talking to their sons, we all have a role to play.  I’ll do more than write a blog post and re-tweet some words of others.

Just like not being gay makes it hard for people to understand how I feel or what they can do to help, so it is with the way women feel.  I just don’t know what that is like.  I do know that there is a real problem and I want to be part of the solution.  I do know that there are people, women and men, doing fantastic work and they need support.  My support, and your support.

It needs action, I don’t know what that means just now.  I do know that in my words, my conversations with others, I will not denigrate women, I will not explain behaviour based on gender.  Violence is unacceptable.

It needs to stop.



White Ribbon Australia’s campaign to stop violence against women

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