- From: Herald Sun
- November 26, 2009
A few weeks ago we ran a column on The Punch website, examining their emergence. The piece documented
how even those columns with the most innocent subject matter, such as breast cancer, maternity leave, child care
or body image become a vehicle whereby crotchety men can bemoan the apparent neglect of men's health issues, the economic pressures faced by single dads and the raw deal they get from the courts.
The article had the unsurprising effect of attracting, well, an angry core of Australian men who use cyberspace as a forum to unload on how women have done them wrong.
There was a depressingly pertinent example of this mindset this week and it's worth pinging the perpetrators over it, as it demonstrated all the nonsensical self-pity of the men-are-victims-too brigade.
Bizarrely enough, the target of their anger this time was White Ribbon Day - you know, the wildly radical outfit that believes it's wrong to hit women, which argues that the overwhelming majority of victims of physical violence in the home are women, and that women are more likely to be sent to hospital or killed as a result of domestic violence.
Yes, the same apparently sinister organisation that believes it is appropriate that boys and young men should have their thinking challenged at a deliberately early age on the subject of how they treat girls and young women.
Let me be clear. The White Ribbon Day people argue those things because they are actually true. They advocate education programs for young blokes because the best way to address bad thinking is to nip it in the bud.
But it was White Ribbon Day that copped a clip over the ear from the Men's Rights Agency, which is the closest thing we have to an American-style woe-is-us men's movement in Australia.
I'm not sure how they do their sums but they claim that the domestic violence figures - official government statistics, no less - used by White Ribbon Day organisers have been exaggerated by 400 per cent and that one in every three victims of domestic violence is a man.
There is no evidence provided by the Men's Rights Agency to back up this claim of one in three, unless by domestic violence they are also counting psychological violence of the "For
God's sake, honey, will you stop watching the footy and just mow the bloody lawn" variety.
Their distortion of the stats is one thing. However, if they want to suggest that 33.3 per cent of domestic violence victims are called Nige and Bazza, and are hiding in the broom cupboard begging for mercy as the little lady gives them the rounds of the kitchen, sensible people will see it for the crock that it is.
But their continuing attempts to win a cheap headline and deter government from financing childhood education projects through White Ribbon Day should be deplored.
Parents are reporting their concerns when their sons come home wearing the WR wristband and then begin asking questions, which suggest the boys fear their future will be one of violence, the Men's Rights Agency said this week.
The MRA says there is no excuse for the intrusion of the White Ribbon message into our schools, particularly with their brand of over-exaggeration
of male violence and denial of violence by females.
Setting aside the fact that there's no such thing as an over-exaggeration, it would be nice if the Men's Rights people could line up this army of angry families who are appalled by this innocent educational gesture and, while they're at it, maybe they can also wheel out those long-suffering men for whom home is a place of terror.
Otherwise, we should just recognise it for the cant that it is.
David Penberthy is editor of The Punch website and a former editor of the Daily Telegraph newspaper