15 Nov 2020

Campaign aims to counter 'shocking' views on violence towards women

8:37 pm on 15 November 2020

Forty percent of young Australian men do not think that punching a partner is domestic violence, new statistics from an anti-domestic violence organisation show.

Young sad woman sitting alone on the floor in an empty room

There are fears that the views of some young Australian men about family violence would be mirrored within New Zealand society. Photo: 123RF

White Ribbon, a campaign to end violence against women, said these figures are "shocking" and likely reflected in New Zealand young men, as evidenced by our "appallingly high" rates of family violence.

Its manager Rob McCann said while this is from research that the organisation's Australian arm undertook, it's likely this is broadly the case in New Zealand.

"It highlights that a significant proportion of Australian young men have a real problem with understanding what family violence or family harm looks like. We know that must be the case in New Zealand as well; we have some of the highest rates of family violence in the western world," McCann said.

The research suggested only 58 percent of 18 to 34- year-old men thought hitting, punching or restraining would be considered a type of family violence.

Just over half (54 percent) of the 18 to 34-year-old men surveyed thought non-consensual sexual activity would also be considered family violence. Frightening, humiliating, degrading or punishing a person was agreed as a form of violence by 57 percent.

Older age groups tended to agree far more strongly that the behaviours constituted family violence. Of men 65 and older, 98 percent considered hitting or punching was violence, and 90 percent to non-consensual sexual activity.

"One of the things that we know is that we have actually got to do something about changing the attitudes that drive this family violence. That's attitudes about power and control, dominating women, having them as something you control and own," McCann said.

'Promoting healthy masculinity'

White Ribbon is launching a campaign called "Challenge the Outdated".

"[This] is undermining those parts of masculinity which can support violence, and promoting healthy masculinity.

"Thinking about some of the things that we've been taught to grow up and understand as part of masculinity - being stoic, not showing emotion.

"For a parent, as I am, the important thing is not just talking the talk but walking the walk, because our children learn from our behaviour. If we use these tools in our relationships, then our children are going to learn from that, so it's really important to model that behaviour."

McCann said with the survey showing violent and derogatory attitudes more common among young men, visibly refusing to accept or go along with behaviours or comments can help change what some men deem to be acceptable.

"There are obvious times when it's a good place to challenge [someone], and an unsafe place. If you're in a reasonably safe place - so that's probably not drinking in a pub - then you could say 'mate, that's not ok' or shake your head, to indicate that what you're hearing is actually disrespectful and you don't agree with it," McCann said.

"The reality is that if we laugh or don't respond, then the person who's talking about perhaps women in a derogatory fashion takes that as your agreement, that you agree with those ideas, and it helps perpetrate these ideas over and over again.

"It's really just saying 'mate, that's not ok' - it's as simple as that."

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