25 November 2005

Women’s Refuge

I was struck by a comment on David Farrar’s blog on his post about today being the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and his suggestion that it is an appropriate day to donate to Women’s Refuge. A comment was that “I'll donate to them when they drop their anti-male feminazi stance.”

Now it should be without question that anyone who initiates any violence against women, men and children, is an uncivilised barbarian. Violence is only ever legitimate in defence against violence – and the real issue in New Zealand are cases of domestic violence. Yes, men are victims of violence too, mostly from other men, occasionally by women. Children are also victims of violence from women, more often than is acknowledged given that women are still the primary caregivers of children (and women typically get lower sentences for any violent offences against children than men do).

Women's Refuge undoubtedly does a great deal of good – it provides a place for women in crisis to go if they fear violence, and take their children. It is somewhere where they can feel safe, and for that alone, Women's Refuge gets my support. I am unsure where men who fear violence should go, but Women's Refuge has no obligation to do anything about that – nor should it.

However, I thought I would take it upon myself to check out the claim that Women's Refuge has an “anti-male feminazi stance” by simply looking around the website. If this is true, then Women's Refuge deserves criticism for that – if not, then good people may be withholding support for what is just a rumour.

Feminist philosophy flows through the pages, but I found nothing that was blatantly “anti-male”. Certainly I’d question whether there are “systems in our society that blame the victim”, but much of what is said is arguably true. The “wheel of equality” (yes I know, this sort of thing isn’t my way of doing things either) certainly mentioned a lot about listening to “her” and respecting “her” opinions, when a good relationship has all of thing listed running both ways, but that is a minor error. The Lesbian Power and Control Wheel was interesting, particularly in a section called “using heterosexual privilege”, but there are issues of inter-lesbian violence and whatever they want to do to deal with it, is their concern. There is a sense of the world being a big patriarchal power structure, where men control everything and think in a “man like” way, and sustain structures that oppress women.

I don’t think Women's Refuge would agree with most of my politics or philosophy, but then again – that doesn’t really matter to me. Women's Refuge does not exist because a bunch of women hate men, but because some rather cowardly men beat up women – instead of being alone or treating people they profess to love with some respect, they use women and their kids as punchbags – and that in my mind is a far greater sin than being ideologically different from me.

Nowhere on the website did I see the hate filled venom of the true feminazis – Catherine Mackinnon and Andrea Dworkin – who have written about how heterosexual sex is like an invasion of a woman’s body, and that all penetrative sex is a form of colonisation. That sort of nonsense, written by the Hitlers of feminism – should be consigned to the dustbin, but nowhere on the Women's Refuge website is there any support for initiating violence against men. All men are potential rapists just as much as all women are potential child beaters – whoop de do – just because the occasional bitter twisted woman carries hatred towards men, the sort akin to the racism of the National Front, shouldn’t taint what good this service does.

Women's Refuge does a good service – and if you want it to disappear then ostracise everyone who initiates violence. In the meantime, donate and men, tell them what a good service they do. Remember, most of the women in these places largely deal with men who are abusive, they could do with seeing that in most cases, most men are peaceful and intolerant of violence.
Finally, it is important to acknowledge that almost everyone on the free market "right" and those who are libertarian, despise domestic violence or indeed any form of violent or sexual abuse. It is a construct of some on the fringes of the left who think that those on the "right" are conservative, United Future type family values supporters who want women chained to the kitchen sink and obeying their husbands - this is, with few exceptions, utter nonsense - but that belief helps keep them angry.


CD said...

Interestingly, I once wrote to Women's Refuge and asked if they thought it was appauling that basic, non-lethal defensive tools like pepper spray are illegal for citizens and if they would support their legalisation.

Unfortunately the answer was no on both counts.

Libertyscott said...

Oh I know, they are not libertarian and I doubt I would agree with the politics they espouse, but it does not take away from the service that is provided.

The Objectivist Womens' Refuge would be a great idea - encouraging women and children to be independent and promote self esteem and self defence, but until then...

David Farrar said...

Some years ago one or two fo the refuges did get a bit extreme with their views. The national collective though is effective at making sure that the primary focus remains on providing the shelters etc.

As with you I may not agree with everything they advocate but they sure as hell save lives by being there.