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Spot the Patriarchy


Men do not seem to have a grasp of the meaning of patriarchy. Not all men, of course. But many men. When yet another woman was murdered — Melburnian Courtney Herron, who was homeless — the topic of male violence started trending on social media. In one of the most incisive comments on what is an all-too-frequent occurrence, Victoria's Police Commissioner Luke Cornelius said it was time for men to start taking responsibility for the violence. 'Violence against women is absolutely about men's behaviour,' he said. Men — not all men, but many men — took immediate umbrage.


The most high-profile of them, television commentator Joe Hildebrand, insisted that the tiny proportion of men who murder women couldn't possibly be extrapolated to the vast majority of 'good men'.


Others sought to locate an alternative for: homelessness, they said, had facilitated Herron's murder; or psychopathy, which is rare and unpreventable; or women, since they give birth to sons and so must assume responsibility for those who go on to kill.


In short, these men were distancing themselves from violence fomented by a patriarchal system that separates men from their caring attributes by invoking that now-famous clarion call 'not all men!' A response which affirms individual men's guiltlessness, while failing to address the broader structural problem in which their gender is complicit.


So while not all men are at fault, a great number of them are guilty of denying patriarchy exists or refusing to properly engage with it. If we are to prevent gender violence at the very least all men should acknowledge that they're inseparable from the patriarchy — and therefore have a greater capacity than women to address its shortcomings!

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