Thursday, 22 August 2013

Are times (attitudes) a changing?

Long standing readers of my blog will know that I have been campaigning for gender equality in acceptance and awareness for victims of Domestic Violence for quite a period. 

During the last year the popular English soap opera, Coronation Street, ran a storyline where popular car mechanic Tyrone Dobbs was a victim of abuse perpetrated by his partner Kirsty.  Overall, I felt that the scriptwriters handled this well and helped raised this taboo subject into the public consciousness.  I did hope that attitudes will change as a result.  However, I are being to wonder whether times are changing?

Take, for example, two recent public fights between celebrity couples.  In one, the victim was found with a bloodied nose and bite marks after the alarm was raised in a hotel.  Photographs emerged of the other couple out dining with one party reaching over and appearing to grab the other party by the throat.

Without any shadow of doubt, both these incidents are serious violent assaults and the more serious injuries probably occurred in the first account ( bloodied nose /bite mark).
And yet, that crime passed with little comment.  

English readers will know that in the second attack I describe the victim was celebrity chef Nigella Lawson and her assailant was her husband, art dealer Charles Saatchi.  There then followed a media outcry.

What of the first attack?  This featured the actresses Emma Roberts who allegedly inflicted the damage on her boyfriend Evan Peters.  This was perhaps the more brutal of the two cases and yet, Mr. Peters refused to press charges so nothing more was said.  Rather ridiculously, this alleged attack was then described as a disturbance.  I suspect though, that had Emma Roberts been discovered with a bloodied nose and bite marks, disturbance would have been a far too weak word to describe the actions of an animalistic attack.

So are times a changing?   Hmmmm, maybe not.

I think that a token acknowledge that men can also be victims of domestic violence is being made, without recognising the seriousness of the issue.  Take, for example, my local regional newspaper, The Nottingham Post.  They have being running an effective Domestic Violence awareness campaign called Man Enough.  My only criticism of it is that it is Gender-biased.  I can’t blame the paper for this really, because the whole Domestic Violence support industry became Gender-biased after being highjacked by Misandrists.

The man Enough campaign is about encouraging men to stand up and pledge that they will not commit any form of violence against women.  Of course, I applaud this fully, but I feel that it falls short because (probably unintentionally) it perpetuates the myth that all men are potential attackers and it is only women that are abused by their intimate partners.

Despite a high-profile DV campaign, the Gender-biased approach was evident.  In May 2013, a report appeared of a local video that had gone viral of a couple where one partner began behaving in an aggressive manner by throwing shopping items such as canned goods at the other person.  However, because the person throwing the tins was female the report was written in  jokey fashion.

 Had the roles been reversed, again there would have been a great furore. In fact, the following film is well worth a watch to once again show how inconsistent attitudes are:

It shows how fickle people’s opinions may be.  When viewing a woman hit her male partner, it seems an acceptable attitude to assume that the man deserves it because he must have been cheating and that the man had it coming.  Conversely, if a man is viewed hitting a woman, there can be no valid excuse, as it’s wrong.  It doesn’t matter whether the woman has been cheating or not.  There is NO EXCUSE.  Let me state here and now, strong and loud, irrespective of gender, THERE IS NEVER ANY EXCUSE FOR DOMESTIC ABUSE.

The following month, a columnist took the Coronation Street story as her inspiration for her latest musings:

“…Obviously a lot of viewers agreed with me, as Coronation Street won best storyline with the ongoing domestic abuse story between Kirsty and Tyrone.

While it focused on Tyrone as a male victim of domestic abuse – and did a fantastic job in raising awareness on male victims of domestic abuse – Women's Aid reports that one in four women will experience violence from their partner at some point in their lives….”

I took issue with the way in which the article was written, commending  a TV programme for highlighting female-perpetrated abuse against men then using it to comment on violence against women.

“As a male victim of Domestic Violence I applaud anything that brings greater awareness to the issue and I was pleased overall the way in which the Coronation Street scriptwriters handled this sensitive issue. The soaps certainly fulfill a role in teaching society about what is actually happening out there. However, this article could have done with some better research. It focuses on the Male Victim of Domestic Violence storyline and then quotes a statistic from Women's Aid which bears no relevance whatsoever to the article. In writing about male victims of DV, why then quote '1 in 4 women will experience violence from their partner at some point in their lives." In the context of the article, a better quote would have been "1 in 6 men will experience violence from their partner at some point in their lives." If any reader wants to know more about the impact of domestic violence on me and my children, my blog is a worthy starting point.”

I must make it clear though, that this is not a criticism of the newspaper.  They are only reporting on the attitudes and perceptions that still exist.  To give the media its due, they recently ran an interview with myself allowing me to speak up for male victims:

Are attitudes / times a changing?  I’m not too sure yet, but slowly the message is beginning to filter though.  

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