“It starts with words”: male violence and how to talk about it with your child
Violence against women & girls is so prevalent it has its own acronym: VAWG.
Actually we also like the term “violence against women & children”.
VAWG is also known as GBV, or gender-based violence. Sometimes it’s surprising to think that violence can include things like sexual comments, sending nudes without consent, victim blaming/slut shaming and sexual harassment as well as unwanted touch.
The good news is that we can make inroads into tackling, preventing and ending VAWG now, all of us, by raising awareness about it with our kids.
Start off with these things to read, watch and do that have come up lately in the news…
• WHAT CAN YOU SAY TO YOUR CHILD about Andrew Tate, the 35-year-old social media influencer whose violent and misogynistic TikTok clips, which by August had 13 billion views, have alarmed teachers? He presents himself as strong, successful, defiant, anti-woke, controlling his emotions, a player. And, says gender-equality charity Bold Voices, kids aged 11-18 want to discuss Tate and his messages and values.
We agree with them that:
It’s important to disrupt Tate’s ideas by naming them – for example: misogyny, hate speech, homophobia and racism
It’s important to help your child develop critical thinking skills and good decision-making about calling out and not taking part in this culture of gender-based violence
So consult the great Bold Voices toolkit How To Talk To Young People About Andrew Tate…
LISTEN TO Should I Be Worried My Son Likes Andrew Tate? – 21-minute Mamamia podcast (Help! I Have A Teenager with Dr Ginni Mansberg and Jo Lamble, 3/11/22)
• BE INSPIRED BY some of the thought-provoking content in the teachers’ toolkit Ending Gender-based Violence and Abuse in Young People’s Relationships from arts charity Tender and the Mayor of London. Could you bring up any of this with your child…
What do you think of common statements about violence like:
“If someone hit me, I’d just hit them back”
“Women often ‘cry rape’”
“They did it because they were drunk” “They must have done something to start it”
We are all responsible for stopping misogynistic behaviour
Misogynistic behaviour and sexual harassment are meant to intimidate and humiliate
About power: relationships with our friends and girl/boy/friends should be equal
Consent is about giving permission – it’s not the absence of “no”
Make a Temperature Line of what’s healthy and unhealthy in an intimate relationship. Write or print out these words. Cut them up. Put them in healthy-to-unhealthy order:
scratching pinching hugging hitting teasing kicking trust cheating sex crying pushing calling secrets kissing shouting slapping anger arguing laughing blame support lying listening control texting respect smiling jealousy sharing consent
READ Soma Sara: “We must act, because no woman or girl should be scared to walk home” (Glamour UK, 8/11/22)
• LOOK AT THEN SHOW YOUR TEENAGER the 2-minute video Have A Word (we found the end moving). It was made by the Mayor of London, whose site Have A Word With Yourself, Then With Your Mates explains what misogyny is, how to call out problematic behaviour and these common sexist phrases to challenge:
“Boys will be boys” “She’s asking for it dressed like that” “My ex-girlfriend is crazy” “She’s such a drama queen”
Male violence against women
& girls starts with words.
If you see it happening,
EXTRA CREDIT! READ Men are being encouraged to protect women in a new campaign – but it’s been met with a mixed response (Cosmopolitan, 15/3/22)
• ENCOURAGE YOUR SON (and/or your daughter) to sign the White Ribbon promise:
Its stance: all men can choose to be an ally. And because this year’s White Ribbon Day – it’s every 25 November – coincides with the FIFA World Cup, they’ve been rallying everyone to: “Join the team to end violence against women and girls (VAWG) – that’s #TheGoal.”
As White Ribbon points out:
We need to shift expectations that violent and abusive behaviour & attitudes are normal and can’t be changed
All men & boys can commit to equality so women and girls can live the lives they want to lead without fear of violence
• SHOW YOUR TEEN HOW TO Draw the Line – it’s a phone app with 49 case studies of UK teens’ experiences in harmful, toxic and abusive relationships.
On their phone screen your child literally draws a line through examples of abusive behaviour. Then they can see what other users and experts feel and why.
This app from domestic-violence charity SafeLives has helped thousands of young people to understand unhealthy relationships, support friends and feel more confident to seek help.
As parents we can learn from it too. Maybe it can give you ideas of things to bring up with your teen…
No one should live in fear of abuse. Let’s all be part of the change. Everyone can do something to challenge the abuse of women and girls
DISCUSS stats from the It’s Not OK: Preventing Sexism And Sexual Harassment In Schools campaign toolkit from the NEU (National Education Union), which includes a school pledge and posters outlining that at school girls experience:
sexual harassment (37%)
unwanted sexual touching (24%)
And these things happen to girls at school sometimes or a lot:
pressure to do sexual things they didn’t want to (68%)
sexual assault (79%)
pressure to provide sexual images of themselves (80%)
getting pictures or videos they didn’t want to see (88%)
Let’s start talking openly with our kids about these issues so we can take ending violence against women and girls into our own hands…
The campaign 16 Days of Activism to End Violence Against Women & Girls runs from 25 November (International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women) to 10 December (Human Rights Day)
READ WATCH DO images thanks to Lonni Sue Johnson, Ryan Johnson and Ashley Percival