In my early twenties I experienced a two-year, violent relationship, and despite male lovers after, never dated a violent man again. For four years now, aged 69, I have enjoyed the best ever relationship with a man, and while entertaining some opposing opinions and beliefs, we engage in civilised conversations without any violence.
Last year, acclaimed author of “Raising Boys”, psychologist Steve Biddulph, opined he could understand if Rosie Batty whose son, Luke, was killed by his father, never had another relationship with a man.
In 2015, the Victorian Government held a Royal Commission into Family Violence, highlighting men as the main perpetrators, later campaigning for men to respect women. In the past 18 months, many men have been alleged as sexual predators by the #MeToo movement, suggesting men are socially, if not psychologically, flawed as human beings.
Recently, male parliamentarians have been accused of bullying, the Liberals condemned for having a “women problem”. It seems some women disrespect men as much as they claim men disrespect them.
Permeating this perspective is a great generalisation that because some men manifest malevolent and malicious behaviours, all men are consequently tainted and to be perceived with suspicion, unequivocally dangerous, disturbed and disrespectful.
Indeed, many women lambast men as an enemy to be feared and avoided, on the streets, in our homes and at work. The Human Rights Commission is presently undertaking a national workplace sexual harassment survey, implying that many men are untrustworthy, endangering women’s safety in the office irrespective of their well-styled suits, their attire but a superficial diversion from their predatory indulgences.
Certainly, many men and women have retaliated, espousing the moral integrity and essential goodness of men despite the popular polemic against them. So how can women regard men and vice-versa too?
Some writers have penned there now exists a gender “war zone”, but this is a misunderstanding that only inflames hostility, inimical to resolving problems intrinsic to the human condition.
Perhaps the pertinent point is to eschew all generalisations that besmirch, belittle and bemoan men as universal culprits of crime. Instead one should encounter each man respectfully as an individual until his attitudes, possibly unconscious, contradict first impressions.
What should be significant is stopping generalisations that undermine not just men, but women too. As International Women’s Day celebrations last Friday applauded female achievement, maintaining faith in men to discuss contentious controversy without violence, verbal or physical for both partners, is integral for compatible relationships of honesty, trust and respect, be they at home, at work or at play.