Why wait? Let’s discard out-of-date and abusive attitudes about gender now!

Why wait? Let’s discard out-of-date and abusive attitudes about gender now!

The battle of the sexes has become a world war. Domestic violence is currently headline news, publicly exposing for the first time in our long history the horrendous abuse that has been kept hidden behind the closed doors of our very own homes. The fact that this topic is news should in itself be headline news!

In the Australian media we have recently seen campaigner Rosie Batty standing up and saying it’s time to deal with domestic violence, the establishment of ‘white ribbon day,’ for men, by men, to take responsibility for ending domestic violence, the premiere of Sarah Ferguson’s TV documentary ‘Hitting Home’ and the deep and thought-provoking presentation by ex-Police Commissioner Ken Lay to the COAG advisory panel on reducing violence against women and children[1]. . . to name but a few newer developments.

The appalling news is that women every week die at the hands of their partner. The message that is being shouted from the rooftops is, "This has got to Stop!"

Ken Lay calls upon us as a society to consider that our lack of self-reflection and our collective complacency underly gendered violence. It is the cultural beliefs and attitudes we have not addressed in ourselves that we unwittingly pass down to our children. Lines like, "Boys will be boys"; "What did the girl do to provoke him?"; "What were you thinking, going out dressed like that?"; "The girl was asking for it" – show the deck is stacked against women who often go to a default position of blaming themselves, deferring to these cultural attitudes. These ingrained attitudes and the way we approach the genders with stereotyped mind-sets are something we all need to recognise and bring to our awareness, as they are fostered from a very early age and go largely unchallenged.

Men and women alike are living with a pressing degree of tension in life – the tension of the ever-increasing demands of daily living. Our relationships to each other are mirroring current world events as we choose to live in a way that is clearly out of sync, largely because of our undealt-with battles and hurts.

It is well to note that, as the greater universe expands around us, we as a race seem to contract under the weight of a way of life where we are constantly creating war, with ‘conquering’, ‘winning at all costs’ or ‘revenge’ as the name of the game: a world where ‘Love one another as you love yourself’ has no real place or credence. And when the tension gets too much, we blow a fuse and end up in out-and-out war. This begins in our homes, the domain of men and women, the place where we claim to love each other and where love should reign.

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Why peace is not enough

Harmony is what we are looking for and peace is actually an imposter and not what it is made out to be.

How can we collectively and practically bring a stop to this battle?

We are more than well aware when we are being treated badly by another, but are we equally aware of how we are treating ourselves?

We may be subtly and not so subtly abusing ourselves in:

  • How we think about ourselves
  • How we talk about ourselves
  • How we are with ourselves in the way we move in our own body
  • Frequently we doubt ourselves
  • We don't back ourselves
  • More importantly we don’t adore ourselves!
  • We often allow abuse from others and stay in abusive relationships as a normalised, ongoing way of life.

Abuse runs an extremely seductive cycle, like war and peace. In a relationship that has its battles, and the highs and lows which come with that, it can be extremely difficult to realise there is another way to live that is steady and loving, leaving abuse totally out of the equation.

The feminist movement in the sixties and seventies challenged antiquated cultural attitudes towards women – equal pay being one of many. Good move. Yet as women left the kitchen and the sewing circle for equal standing, and the new feminism entered the scene, it escalated into rampant competition between men and women.

How could competition between the sexes ever work?

How on earth could that ever endear us to one another . . . when all everyone ever wants at the end of the day is to love and be held in love?

Is it possible that in fighting against a perceived victimhood we reinforce abuse . . . on the one hand, women judging and rejecting men, holding them to ransom, and on the other, men resenting, denigrating and objectifying women? This attitude perpetuates the distance and the tension between men and women rather than closing the gap.

It is the abusive behaviour that we need to reject, not the men or women themselves. We have all been ‘educated’ by the legacy of accumulated denigrating thoughts created by our collective society which has formed a consciousness about who men and women are. It is the responsibility of each of us to break this consciousness within ourselves so that eventually this collective misconception can be laid to rest.

Looking behind those closed doors of our homes, we find that many of us have backed ourselves into some seriously confrontational situations that are potentially very violent.

If we all, men and women, took a step towards valuing ourselves, we could start to know how we can live in a way that no longer invites dangerous situations into our lives. We begin to develop in ourselves the real power to say ‘no’ to violence, ‘no’ to abuse of any kind. This in itself would make a difference to the ongoing battle of the sexes, with the attendant abuse that can leave families devastated with grief.

Could the antidote be as simple as saying ‘no’ to the behaviour, and ‘yes’ to appreciating, valuing, and accepting ourselves and all we have to offer?

This, combined with truly caring for ourselves in all the ways we ever dreamt of being cared for and loved by another, builds the love in our body that helps us to choose love, and lifts us out of the stranglehold of that destructive cycle of abuse.

Could it really be this simple? When we truly love ourselves there can be no enemy.

When we, one by one, and as a society, choose to live love, true harmony will prevail. The abuse cycle will be finished; the gap between men and women becomes a thing of the past, the war well and truly over with no casualties and no collateral damage.

Why wait?

Let’s discard our out-of-date and abusive attitudes about gender, and live love now.

  • [1]

    http://www.ourwatch.org.au/News-media/Latest-news/Ken-Lay-address-on-International-Day-for-the-Elimi

Filed under

AbuseSelf-worthAnti-social behaviourFeminismGender equalityHurtConflictRelationship problems

  • By Lyndy Summerhaze, PhD, BA (1st class hons; University medal) Dip.Mus.Ed, Practitioner of Universal Medicine Therapies, EPA Accredited

    Lyndy loves truth, people, and great conversation. She works as a tutor in English Literature and is a practitioner of the healing arts.

  • By Kathleen Baldwin

  • Photography: Leonne Sharkey, Bachelor of Communications

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