I’m so very sick of this.
Every morning I open my news alerts and wait for the headline about another dead woman. On a good day you can skim through the, breathe a sigh of relief and think “not today”.
But tomorrow, or the next day, will be the day there is no sigh of relief. Somewhere someone is grieving so much they can barely breathe at all, because another women has been murdered.
Yesterday it was a 12 year old girl murdered, allegedly by her stepfather. I cannot bring myself to image what her mother and brothers and sisters must be feeling right now.
The day before that it was Kirralee Dugo, stabbed to death in her home, her partner has been arrested.
And no matter how much is written or said on social media or shouted from the very rooftops, the media still reports these crimes like this:
No. These women, that poor child, were not killed by love or in a domestic incident like a dropped vase. They were murdered, by men, in violent terrifying circumstances. Soft peddling murder is abhorrent enough, but when it’s just another moment in a never ending series it looks like collusion in the idea that women’s lives are irrelevant and their violent murders meaningless.
Stop taking the perpetrators out of the story.
If you’ve not seen Jackson Katz’s TED talk on the how we talk about male violence, it’s worth taking the time to do so, but in case you can’t right now, this is one of the points he makes about the words we use to describe violence:
John beat Mary.
John is the subject and the focus of the sentence (John committed the beating), Mary is the object (the beating was done to her).
Mary was beaten by John.
John is still the subject, but now Mary is the focus.
Mary was beaten.
Mary is now the only subject and focus of the sentence; John isn’t even mentioned.
Mary is a domestic violence victim.
Mary is the only subject and focus of the sentence, and the violence done to her is part of her very identity. John, again, is not present.
Violence against women. Domestic Incident. Woman was killed.
Violence is the subject, women are the object, and no one else is mentioned. Regardless of how present the perpetrators are in the violence, they have been removed from the discussion.
The federal government has just announced $100 million funding commitment to combat family violence, it’s a great first step, but it’s only a step, it’s not a solution.
Fair Agenda, an independent lobby group campaigning for fairness and equality for women have responded to the announcement positively, but pointed out that it still doesn’t go far enough. The extra funding will help, but it’s not enough to answer every call, shelter every women desperate for help or advise every woman on the safest way to leave.
$30 million of the $100 million will be used for a national awareness campaign. We don’t yet know what that really means, but one thing it absolutely must do if it is to be at all effective is to put the focus where it belongs – on the men who commit the violence, not the women who are the victims of it.
If you are experiencing any issues to do with sexual assault or family violence, contact 1800 RESPECT, crisis line is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week: 1800 737 732