It's time for violent men to take accountability

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Attendees at a candlelight vigil for Eurydice Dixon. Tragedies like these need to end now. (Image via YouTube screenshot)

Men who harbour violent tendencies need to channel their energy into more productive areas and own responsibility, writes Rohan Indap.

THE SAFETY AND WELFARE of women in Australia is a contentious area of discussion in light of the horrific events surrounding Eurydice Dixon’s murder a little over two weeks ago.

However, this was not an isolated incident, as domestic violence (primarily against women) is an ongoing issue. The statistics speak for themselves, where one in six women have experienced physical or sexual violence by a current or previous partner since the age of 15, in contrast to one in 16 men (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare).

That does not mean society should disregard those men who are affected by domestic violence, however, to suggest that the proportion of men who suffer from abuse is equivalent to women is manifestly absurd. And whilst I denounce extreme left-wing views that aim to discredit the notion that “not all men are bad”, the perpetrators who commit these atrocities are indeed men — albeit, they are cowards.

So where does this leave us?

As a young man stepping into his future, what can I learn from events like these? To put it simply, men need to establish accountability for their own actions. No one “asks for it” because of what they wear. Instead of blaming the victim and suggesting that women should be careful at night, men should take responsibility and recognise they are in the wrong.

Too often, we see the detrimental effects of conforming to peer pressure and self-perpetuating ideas about masculinity. I believe society misconstrues the idea of “masculinity” as being a form of dominance, strength and power. While they are important traits, the context in which men embody these behaviours is an important consideration. Issues arise when “masculinity” infringes upon the rights and liberties of others. Some men cannot resist the urge to assert their assumed power, ultimately contributing to perverse sexual tendencies.

Unfortunately, in the worst-case scenario, individuals like Eurydice bear the brunt of this.

There are no valid justifications for this moral debauchery and it’s time we stop making excuses.

Some critics would argue that respect for all individuals, without the distinction of sex, is key. While I am a strong advocate of that belief, some men seem to forget basic humanity, which is why there is a large emphasis on respect for women.

However, respect extends beyond its rudimentary interpretation. It is not as simple as greeting a woman or making her feel welcome. Respect involves the promotion of women’s safety and wellbeing. Respect entails a swift and appropriate response when you see a woman (or man) subject to unwanted touching or harassment. Bystanders must intervene and criticise these perpetrators by saying “That’s not okay, champ” or “That’s disgusting behaviour, pull your head in”.

But peer pressure is extremely powerful, to the point where no one intervenes. By intervening, you or I may run the risk of severing friendship ties or circles. However, if we stop inappropriate behaviour to protect women I would not lose sleep over that lost friendship. Not for a second. On the flipside, your intervention may serve as a powerful lesson for your mates. It may reform their attitudes and behaviours.

The bottom line is this: don’t succumb to the skewed interpretation of masculinity that society has created. Your dominance and strength can be shown in other facets of life, but not at the expense of women’s safety and health. Understand that your behaviours have consequences, both intended and unintended. If we continue down the current treacherous path, then future generations will grow up into a world where respect for women has been neglected.

Alternatively, if we take action now, it can change an entire nation’s perspective. It’s the least we can do to avenge the death of Ms Dixon, amongst others.

Rohan Indap is a Commerce/Law student at the University of New South Wales.

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It's time for violent men to take accountability

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