why it’ll never be #MenToo for me

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there is a reason I have imposed the rule on myself ‘no twitter before my self-esteem kicks in‘.

because when I see this hashtag it irks me some, but that’s OK we’re all different and we have different ways of communicating things. and when I see the “what about the men?” posts it causes me a fair bit of discomfort because to me this isn’t a competition, but that’s OK there will always be a need for the more inflammatory discourses to create attention. but when I see a post saying that if people don’t retweet or donate or mobilise around the “#MenToo movement” then that’s sexist, and demonstrates abandonment of men who’ve survived sexual trauma, well I find myself compelled to defend myself as an involuntary member of that group.

but before I do that, I’d like to remind readers that there are countless women who’ve written about this in different ways from perspectives other than mine to whom I credit how mine has developed, and if you click on their names you can – nay should – read their hard work, both written and lived. Van Badham. Clementine FordEmily Reynolds. Lea Rose Emery. Elizabeth Brico. Laura Hartnell. and of course the movement’s founder Tarana Burke.

Now, back to bullshit.

To me, #MenToo will always represent a society-wide need for men to wrestle women’s liberation from their grip and assume ownership in their initiatives of self-empowerment. That impression is mostly derived from many such posts and advocate accounts always feeling the need to pitch their purpose in opposition to the experience of women, “men get abused too!”, “why don’t men get”, “where’s the men’s movement?!”, “it’s harder for men to disclose”. I believe to pitch men in this homogenised way is the same as #NotAllMen – talking about men as an idea, as a collective noun, as a supreme incorporation.

I recently heard Tracey Spicer speak about how #MeToo affected her career and conviction to investigate sexual harassment and abuse in the media industry that so drew her in as an aspiration, only to dash her dream by demeaning her and exhausting her until finally turfing her out when she had the nerve to become a mother. That hero of a human woman stood up to some of the most powerful people in the world, and now helps other people do the same. Men and our allies need to be energised by that, not alienated by it because Tracey is a woman and we are not. Tracey being a woman is not an excuse for us not to tread the path she and many women before her wore in for us to follow. Men deserve the joy of following, of supporting, and women deserve the power of being followed, and supported. And not just white women like Tracey we can relate to, but women we can learn from and grow by the influence of. Women like Nakkiah Lui, Carly Findlay, Sally Goldner, Nayuka Gorrie, Emele Ugavele, Ayeesha Ash, Mama Alto, Ilana Charnelle, and Phoenix.

Tracey spoke about something else that irks me: the idea that is often woven in to delineate men’s and women’s experiences that acts of sexual violence are on a spectrum, and some behaviors are worse than others. There’s even a pyramid that did the rounds recently, and though I agree with it to a certain extent, I am wary of anything that affords any ground to the argument that some behaviors aren’t as bad as others. The act is relative to the person whose body and mind that act is committed upon, and how they respond based on their experiences past and present is no less valid regardless of the act. This pyramid lends itself to stigma that would mean someone feels enough shame to believe that when their family member grabbed them “all in fun”, they should suppress their feelings because being gang-raped would feel worse. If the pyramid is suggesting that being asked to show a car full of men pleasuring themselves in a car “the lips your mother never kissed” is as damaging and as harmful and as reprehensible as if those men pulled you into that car to force you to do what they had demanded, then I personally see that as valid.

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Coming back to the topic at hand, I’d like to tip my hat to Terry Crews. A physically powerful man of color who has worked through unimaginable prejudice already to enjoy reasonable cultural capital. At an event he attended with his wife, a man who believed himself to be more powerful than Terry in terms of industry clout, decided to molest him in public. Terry Crews recently testified to the US Congress about this! His story will make massive positive change to how this conversation involves men, and it will also do good things for women. He’s a personal hero of mine. Here’s the best bit: to my knowledge he has made no mention of his manhood qualifying him differently, nor has he called for a “#MeToo for Men”, and when he tweeted out his story he didn’t even feel the need to use the hashtag!

Men don’t need a movement, because in general everyone already moves for men.

I don’t agree with the idea that because the attention is focused on women (for now), men have a hard time of it – I do believe men feel harder done by when it happens because our experiences contrast so starkly to the freedom of movement we unwittingly enjoy everywhere else. The idea that men are suffering from neglect at the hands of women who’re occupying the resources that support their own suffering infuriates me no end. It is heartbreaking to see survivors pitted against one another, and taking their pain out on each other when the community of survivors is all we have when it comes to empathy, and being believed, and moving forward. Women have worked – are still working – 24/7 to receive the bare minimum of care and recognition we now have available, and male survivors should be thanking them for it, not bitterly complaining about how they feel ineligible to get in on the action. I’m reminded of when, being an eldest child, I had to ask, and remind, and plead, and work and proves myself worthy of an allowance, and the instant I got it my younger siblings were insistent they receive it too, and in the name of equality they did. I was furious – they were half my age, hadn’t had to do any of the work I did to implement an economic system of domestic reward, and yet here they were reaping that reward and, naturally, squandering it on lollies while I invested mine in my flair for scrap-booking. Which conveniently brings me around to how being gay figures in all of this.

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The trouble with the “not all men” argument is of course that it absolves us of responsibility. In the same way that if we blame the victim, we’re condoning the rape of someone else who fits the behavioral bill, when we other the men who rape, we acquit and even endorse the men who don’t look the part. Harvey Weinstein became the fall guy because he was powerful, and rich, and also slimy, and behind-the-scenes and in-the-shadows and no-one liked him. No-one was invested in him being “a good guy”. Spacey was a tougher case, people did like him, and if he hadn’t thrown the entire gay community under the bus to save his neck he might’ve got away with child molestation and statutory abuse – but still a lot of the narrative was “I always thought he was a bit weird”. Then they came for Morgan Freeman. The guy who we trust so much he gets to play God. We’ll see how that plays out. Gay men don’t fit the mold of the man we think of who assaults or harasses or rapes women, but for all we may be exempt from the stereotype, that doesn’t mean we should remain naive or indifferent about leading by example, and continuing the message that sexual violence isn’t about desire, it’s about power.

When Eurydice Dixon was walking home from her job as a comedian, a young man attacked, raped and murdered her. Afterward, police felt it pertinent to remind women to be aware of their surroundings, have their phone on them, and a whole lot of other advice that isn’t what I hope we see more of. And yet Larissa Bielby, Katherine Haley, Alicia Little, and no such statement – their murders dismissed as “misadventures” and “incidents”. I want to see those police looking unwavering right into the lens of the camera and saying “whoever you are, we will find you and you will be punished to the full extent of the law, and if you’re a man out there who believes themselves capable of sexual violence, or has considered violence against a woman in their life, seek help immediately”. That’s certainly the message I have.

We’re all fighting the same battle here, and it’s a battle against human nature itself, which is why it’s a battle we will fight our entire lives; and fight we must.

B.

if you have concerns for the safety of people around you, or ever considered yourself seriously capable of abusing anyone imminently, please contact 1800 Respect, White Ribbon, or Lifeline 13 11 14. or 000 if an emergency.

 

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this is me begging.

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this blog comes with a trigger warning. 

this is me begging. for what it’s worth.

Eurydice Dixon is a person. And at the same time, she is not. She is more than a person. She is now a meaning. She is an impact.

I work not ten minutes’ walk for where this woman was found. And as people came in that day she was the unnamed name on everyone’s lips. The found woman. The dead woman. And she was  a whisper around my office that I could not give my full attention to. Because so long as she was a whisper? So long as she was a rumour? Then she was not real, then she was a story. Then she was a cautionary tale. She represented a horror I could hide from, ashamed and ignorant.

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Now she has a name. Eurydice Dixon. Now she has a face. And the minute I saw it, and heard it, my heart broke. Because she’s one of us. One of us weirdos. One of us artistic humans trying to change the world with laughter and enterprise. One of us promising, potential, pure people who could have been more someone than the someone they were. As a friend of hers cripplingly said “she had time on her side”. Another has confirmed her last text before enduring the unimaginable was to report she was almost home. She might’ve been a lot of things, but the thing she was that really mattered was that she was alive. She was one of our team. She remains one of our team. And in that pain I discovered how I had become desensitized, because no woman is just any woman; every woman who we lose in endemic proportions matters equally when their lives are lost at men’s violent hands.

I did what I think any reasonable person would do after they hear about someone they might have met, might have had the joy of seeing really change the world for the better be struck down by rape and murder.

I got roaring drunk.

I’m a man. I’m a man who doesn’t understand men. I’m a man who cannot comprehend why men would force their penis inside another human being and then kill them. Earlier tonight I sat in a bathtub moaning in pain, confused and spitting out bile onto my own penis because I cannot bear the truth. I seek no pity. I’m just making clear where I’m at because I’m hoping men might read this and feel sick. I’m placing all my bets right now on men one by one realising that you cannot blame autism or mental illness for the way we’re manipulated to perceive women’s worth. I’m telling all men that this is on you, because I’m a man and it’s on me.  I’m desperate to say the thing that will stop men in their tracks. I’ll say whatever it takes.

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My fellow men. This is me begging. Begging you to imagine how it would feel if it were done to you, and then – knowing how horrific it would be to feel and remember for the rest of your life – don’t joke about it, don’t consider it, don’t fantasize about it, and DON’T DO IT to someone else. If it’s about needing to be sexually gratified then there are other ways to access that than hurting and forcing someone. If it’s about the perverse excitement of forcing someone then please don’t take that pornography seriously because it’s not real. If it’s about hurting someone on purpose then you need to seek help and insight from a medical professional and there’s no shame in doing that, seek counsel. If it’s about being an incel then I don’t know what to tell you except if you refuse to see woman and non-heterosexual human beings as human then I challenge you to remove all bitterness and shame from your thoughts and actions before you think or act. If it’s about power, then I assure you there is no crime considered more cowardly than that which you are considering committing.

And if you’re sitting there reading this thinking “I’m a man too and I would never do that to someone”, that’s not the end of it. Tell your friends off, call strangers out, report the content, unsubscribe from the channel, call the watchdog, attend the vigil, listen to the experience, acknowledge that there are things you don’t know and seek educating. There is never nothing you can do.

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https://au.gofundme.com/princes-park-victim-fund

Women shouldn’t have to live a life where their whereabouts are policed by needing to check in with friends. Women shouldn’t live in fear. Men shouldn’t live in privilege.

There’s that part of the comic book, where Batman or Wonder Woman or Black Panther or Chalice goes home and think about those who did not survive. Those they could not save. That’s how I know I’m feeling right now. Like we weren’t fast enough, or strong enough, or loud enough. Like there was something we missed, and now we’ve lost an innocent human being who was just walking home from work. We failed. Eurydice was and remains part of that battle to make this world safe. And that moment Batman or Wonder Woman or Black Panther or Chalice go home and realise they’re not a superhero at all? That’s how it feels. That’s what it feels like to cry in your bathtub with the shower running, making inhumane drunken sounds from the depths of your soul in agony. That’s what it feels like to cancel your comedy show in honour. That’s what it feels like to fight the urge to call every woman you know to make sure she’s safe right now.

But at some point we will get up. And we will dry off. And we will put the suit back on in the morning. And be Batman, or Wonder Woman, or Black Panther, or Chalice.

Because we know Eurydice Dixon means far more than giving up now.

A vigil will be held Monday 18th 5.30pm.

If you are a man with concerns for the safety of the women in your life, please connect with support through a service like White Ribbon or Mensline. I’m begging you.

I would do anything for love (but I won’t do that)

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I’m mad at you.
I’m mad that you’re back at that square you swore over and over you had left behind, took my love and confidence, my advice and my gambling of our friendship to tell you the harshest truth.
I’m mad that my heart breaks for your pain all the same, to see you march back to the start knowing all you know, believing the lie you tell yourself that you’re doing everything you can.

High school is over, so it’s no longer of any value to inject drama into each other’s lives. As for our own lives, contemporary society provides plenty of drama without any self-amplification. Yet when it comes to the pursuit of true love, we thrive on raw nerves and will stop at nothing short of complete decimation of spirit and stability before we relinquish our partner to rebuilding and searching again. But heartbreak is not compulsory to qualification of a meaningful connection between people.

People who hurt you can change, but not always for you. The capability for a person to hurt you, is a remark on the relationship you have, not just what one person does to another. Very few people set out to be malicious, they just do what comes naturally to them based on how they respond to you. And the longer you let them because they swear they’ll change, the harder it becomes to divert from their nature. They might be different, but you have to be different too so they’ve got some understanding of something else to reflect from.

Making it work should feel like salvation, not suffering. Further to the above, many people succeed in solving their relationship’s problems by making the effort and altering their behaviour. But if you can’t articulate what you really need, or if you’re afraid or ashamed to identify what you need because you know the other person can’t provide it? Then all you’re doing is punishing them, and yourself, and turning a healing journey into scar tissue. Fearing being alone, or unliked, and avoiding that fear by maintaining a manipulative or negative relationship is nothing but selfish.

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Just because it hurts to see them go, doesn’t mean it won’t hurt if they stay or return
. We don’t live in binary world. Nor do we live in one where we don’t understand the value of pain and mistake in our lives. Our willingness to compromise on certain things is bound to change, I know I have had to challenge myself on my pretty harsh views of tattoos, recreational drugs, casual sex, improper workplace conduct because they were isolating me from those around me and from my own empathy for people who had made errors in judgement as I have in other scenarios. That being said, don’t assume that the resolution to the agony of someone leaving your life is to replace them, or bring them back. We call that a Band-Aid. If you cannot find the resolution inside of you, then that’s worth the time finding and experimenting to reach. Elsewise you are bound to repeat history.

Your relationship should improve life, not consume life, and definitely not destroy it. There is a difference between growth and change.  The fulfilment of your relationship, in my mind, should not equate to foregoing previous fulfilment. Is that love, or martyrdom? When you connect with someone of course the most rewarding component is the discovery of how you relate to each other, how you are magnetised. But when other relationships are impacted negatively by that rerouting of energy and commitment, it is worthwhile recalibrating ALL components to achieve balance, accept the losses, and hold fast to the one relationship imperative to survival: the one you have with yourself.

Don’t lie. Don’t lie. That’s it, don’t lie. Just don’t.

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Final note. You can only give so much of yourself to the healing of others, and beyond that it is your power to forgive that matters most. If the actions of others hurts you too much to bear, then that’s on you because their choices are their own to make based on the life they were dealt, just as you want to see the outcomes of your bad choices for yourself. No-one can really tell you, you have to live it. So if you love someone so much that it hurts you to see them saunter right toward suffering? Sort your own struggle, dispense with the drama, and unless it’s going to compromise your very nature, when they need you, be there. Every time. For no other reason than love. Of them, of yourself, of life. Love alone. Love together.

B.

 

All images intellectual property of Marina Abramovic and Ulay. Please report any concerns to brodiejpk@yahoo.com.au

#TBT: Anti-domestic abuse campaigns aren’t working. It’s probably because they’re crap.

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Sorry. But Australian campaigns to stop domestic violence are ineffective, pussyfooting, and some I’d say are even misogynistic. I’m a man, converted to the cause, haven’t touched anyone in anger ever except my brother and sister when we were kids, and sometimes when they take the last Tim Tam. I see these attempts we’re making to stem the entrenched inequality experienced by women in our society, and I think they’re all but useless. They’re not good enough.

Case in point: what family-abusing man is put off his anger issues and routine beatings by nail polish? What does this even mean? I presume the idea is to create an identifiable community of men to activate some sort of peer pressure to not hit women or children.

Here’s an idea: keep the photo of Matt Cooper or Jarryd Hayne, but instead of the manicure, perhaps offer the phrase “If you beat your child you’re a cunt of a human/imbecile/wantwit and don’t come to my games”? Feature Malcolm Turnbull in there with a “If you hit your wife you’re a cunt of a human/piece of shit/danger to society and if you’re found guilty in court we’re suspending your right to vote”? Chuck the Australian Federal Police Commissioner in there for good measure with the quote “If you murder your ex-partner in breach of a restraining order you’re a cunt of a human/asshat/waste of skin and you’re going to prison, and then you won’t come out again”. Who are we protecting here?

Another case for your submission: definitely more on track, and yet still far more focused on how terrible a boy’s going to feel if he starts his reign of terror over his relationships early. No point showing how things turn out for the victims of domestic violence: the likelihood of unstable employability, serious psychological problems, perpetuation of violent behaviour in children, and the list goes on.

How about you show clips of a kid in juvenile detention, and how seriously uncool life is in there. Show more clips of disappointed family coming to visit. Show uncomfortable situations with future girlfriends having the talk with your concerned mates? Maybe a quick grab of a high security prison, because re-offending is REALLY a thing.

Bizarrely enough, the best advertisement against domestic violence I’ve seen is, is a commercial for better conditions for battery hens. How obscenely ironic.

If you’re looking for satire in my point, you’ll have to look awful hard, because although the tone of this blog is sardonic, I am deadly serious. Get it together. We all need to fight back against the offenders, their friends, the environments in which their prejudice is bred, and any party neutralising the cause with their “PR”. When the blood of women drenches our lives and stains our newspapers, there’s no applause for participation.

For those of you thinking my ideas are a molotov cocktail that might spark more problems, or they haven’t shown enough compassion for what men go through before they become violent, or any other #notallmen-esque evasive maneuver you’ve come up with, at least I thought of some kind of solution. How about you human up?

If you do know of a group spreading positive, proactive and effective messages, PLEASE put their name, hyperlink, initiative below. We need to know where they are.

 Author’s note: this article has been edited to include alternatives to ‘the c word’ at the polite request of some women and women’s support groups, the opinions of which I respected and were affirmed by in my choice to include not replace. Thanks to Mamamia for posting it.