Yes. We Women Too.

Cunliffe Labour Mothering National Rape Culture Sexism

Having just caught up on the #yesallwomen and #notallmen discussions, I’m interested to see that something ostensibly helpful announced by one of our male leaders has been turned into a joke.

It’s election year of course, and politicians sometimes lose their minds in an effort to harness the undecided voter.  Maybe.

Over at Whaleoil, Cameron Slater asked that Cunliffe also apologise for Hitler for, you know, being a man.  Piss poor analogy – since an incredibly small percentage of men invade Poland and exterminate millions of Jews, but anyway – moving on.  Let’s not belittle every single thing in the whole world for the sake of blog readership statistics.

Labour targets women and minorities; Labour has a stronger welfare and inclusive education platform than say, National, who are interested in getting people to take responsibility for themselves, in housing, jobs, health and now it seems international law enforcement.

That aside, David Cunliffe’s confessional at the Women’s Refuge symposium attempted to confront the issue of domestic and sexual violence against women and to muster a collective approach to change in that all men needed to take responsibility for the issue.

Even the normal ones.  This I imagine, includes my son and my partner.

It is difficult for me to sit outside of this paradigm.  What about me?  What could I be doing, should be doing to effect this kind of change.

The #yesallmen discussion resounds loudly for me.  I’ve got the tools; I’ve got the skills as a human to join in and work this out, alongside men.  Alongside them.

How will I best include my son in this ongoing social shift?  How will I train him not to be an arsehole and to treat people respectfully and as equals?

By not being an arsehole myself.

It’s going to be hard.  At the point that I explain that girls and boys are biologically different, I will also have to explain that they are equal.  In the sense of human rights, both genders should have the same treatment in New Zealand society.  I’ll also want to explain that it doesn’t just stop at a Human Rights instrument, and that how we treat each other as part of the social contract is paramount.

How as a woman, can I accelerate and make simple this discussion about social change?

Well, I can examine how I talk to my son and how I talk to my daughters.

Are they treated with equality?  Does the equality we seek and the rights we expect to be granted as women in the external sense ring true in my own home?  How am I talking to my partner?  How do I speak to the world?

Do I laugh at men?  Do I circulate funny but ultimately sexist memes about men around the internet?  Do all my friends laugh in unison and nod, all-knowingly at how silly men are?  With the same finger that clicked the like button, am I also liking comments around the prevention of rape culture and inequality? Tut-tutting when I see a sexist advert but laughing when I see the one about hapless, useless old dad trying to DIY the fence?

How are we women, in non-violent, loving situations talking to our boys?

If we are going to join in this seismic shift to sectors of our violent, negative and destructive New Zealand culture, what are we women going to do about it?

Stop laughing at men. Stop turning on them.

Stop sharing in the vitriol around gender. The belittling, the scorn, the stereotyping about men.  Stop joining in to get ‘equal.’

When men stand up and stick their balls on the block for women, show support.  Don’t get cynical.  Don’t join the cackle on the sideline.

He’s not a REAL man.

Stop befriending ‘loveable’ arseholes.  Don’t bring arsehole men into your homes for your children to see and hear.  Don’t endorse arsehole behaviour in humans.   Stop excusing the behaviour.  How confusing for young boys!

Stop applying negative mantles of gender to men.  “Well, boys will be boys”, “That’s your father’s fault.  Typical male”.  What does that even mean?

If you want to effect change, start with your own language, your own biases and beliefs, women.

This is not just for All Men to solve.  It’s All Women too, and we need to get on with it.

Yes, there is desperate need for a change in our domestic violence and abuse culture.  Maybe it needs, actually, to start with a Yes.  We Women Too.

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