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What to do with the whingeing men

  • 21 February 2019


Gillette's video tackling toxic masculinity provoked an uproar among a surprising number of men. As a woman of the baby boomer generation, a survivor of intimate partner violence and of rape and attempted rape as a young woman, I have been waiting for a long time for the issues conveyed in the video to be a focus of conversation.

I heard Tim Winton speak last year at the launch of his book The Shepherd's Hut. He spoke impressively on the topic of toxic masculinity. What he said about men, misogyny and patriarchy I feel I have carried in my female body for as long as I can remember. Many times I have tried to put my thoughts into words both publicly and privately.

Winton managed to capture everything I felt surrounding these issues in one evening. I was very encouraged that a man, who is a celebrated author, was finally speaking out about the huge problem of male violence, which terrorises those who are victims and involves physical, emotional, sexual and intellectual violence.

Women have tried to talk about these things over the years. Too often we've been dismissed as 'bloody feminists', or as being hysterical or too emotional. Or we are silenced with words like 'Why does she stay?' 'Why does she dress like that? She's asking for it.' Not often is the question asked, 'Why does he behave like that?'

Winton asked this important question and challenged his audience to think and reflect on it. Our boys and men are 'marinated in violence' by the Australian culture that surrounds them, he said. Men talking with and challenging other men is absolutely vital, instead of women trying to do all the political and emotional work required.

I wrote to Winton to express how encouraged I was by what he said, and he took the time out of his busy life to respond to me with a hand written letter. I was impressed.

One form of violence, intimate partner violence by a male partner, is still a mammoth issue worldwide. Latest statistics in Australia are that one woman a week dies at the hands of her intimate partner. There are 580 violent assaults a day in Australian homes. New Zealand, my home country, has the worst rate of intimate partner violence in the world.


"Patriarchy is bondage for boys too. It disfigures them." — Tim Winton


On average, police attend an intimate partner violence incident in New Zealand