Respect for women now has a strong public focus, highlighting the critical need for women to be treated with dignity, fairness and equity, at home, at work and at play. Underpinning this social imperative demands understanding that self-respect is fundamental for respect from others.

A Victorian government media campaign exhorts men to respect women and call out disrespect. Hotlines to expose disrespect invites women and men to name names, friends, colleagues or those overheard in pubs and clubs as perpetrators to engender behavioural and attitudinal change.

This campaign certainly warrants celebration, yet reality reflects it is not just some men who can, and do, disrespect women. Unfortunately, some females also disrespect other females and men too, though the latter less overtly. Similarly, some males disrespect their fellow counterparts.

The Macquarie Dictionary defines respect as “esteem or deferential regard felt or shown” to another. Social media revels in displays of disrespect, be it about sexuality, race, religion, disability and/or any view contrary to one’s own. Accepting difference seems paramount for true respect, challenging the self-righteous arrogance of both men and women who broadcast their disrespect with bitchy abandon.

As many women pursue hectic lives, treating oneself with respect can be lost, orchestrating their days in second-class by putting their kids, partners and work before themselves. Today, valuable MeTime is a popular catch-cry of more and more women.

Indeed, women disparaging males as disrespectful can dismiss contemplating that some women have little self-respect, trying to be everything to everybody and then feeling like nothing to self. Without self-respect, it’s almost impossible to respect others, despite inherent difficulties.  

Many males’ appreciation of respect often seems embodied in all manner of material manifestations and superior status simply as men, however unconsciously. Ironically, some women entertain a corresponding mindset as women, feeling superior to others, gender irrelevant. This may be an inconvenient truth deemed too disquieting to confront in our society.

Respect is not just a 21st century fad, featuring in many biblical writings, with 1 Peter 2:17 inspiring others to “show proper respect to everyone”, while Matthew 7:12 sagely advises that “…however you want people to treat you, so treat them…”

With mental health issues, sexual abuse and family violence now more pervasive in the pandemic, maintaining faith in attaining respect is vital, with self-respect pertinent for us as human beings, imperfections notwithstanding.