Tuesday, 30 June 2015


Recently I've been spending a lot of time on the 9th floor of Auckland City Hospital - Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) is currently the temporary home of my third child, born three weeks ago today.*  Even here, perhaps especially here given the stress of it all, there is violence against women perpetrated by men.

When Early first arrived I was admitted to Ward 96 and he was in nearby Ward 92.  There is a security door between the two wards, which requires a swipe card and only the mothers of babies in Ward 92, who are themselves in Ward 96, are allowed the cards.  Any visitors to my baby were only allowed in, one at a time, with me or the baby's father.  It seemed a bit over the top, until it became apparent that there was a mother and baby in the wards who had a father attempting to visit despite her strong desire for him not to do so.  To keep her safe, and the babies, hers and ours, it was necessary to be super vigilant about that door between Ward 96 and Ward 92, and no doubt at reception for NICU proper, because even here, even in the newborn ward of a hospital, there was a threat of violence.

Then there was this very sad sad story in Whangarei, unfolding at the same time that we were all guarding that door on the 9th floor:
Rachal, 20, died in Whangarei Hospital on June 10 after suffering a severe asthma attack at home. She was eight-and-a-half months pregnant. Her baby was delivered by caesarean section while she was in a coma, but he died in Starship the following day. He was named Robert....Rachal was in the care of the Dingwall Trust, a care and protection facility in Papatoetoe, South Auckland, from nine until she turned 17.The trust's director, Tracie Shipton, says staff had serious concerns about what would happen to Rachal if she returned home. It was also feared she wouldn't get the medical treatment she needed for her asthma and eczema.
The violence is real, the threat is real; it happens everywhere even if we don't see it.  There is a lot of talk about terrorism, focused on the international scene, but it seems to me that so much terror, so much fear and harm, is in everyday lives because of men who hate women, men who abuse women. 
 At the root of most of the recent mass murders we have seen has been a man (or a group of men) who do not see women as full humans; Dylann Roof (Charleston, USA) reckoned he was protecting white women from rape by black men, yet the people he shot dead were mostly black women, and his extreme racism seems to have been coupled with an incredibly patriarchal (at best) attitude to females; Man Haron Monis (Sydney, Australia) had a history of violence against women which, had it been addressed, may have averted the Lindt Cafe siege; Anders Breivik (Norway) blamed feminism for eroding the culture of Europe and advocated for a resurgence of patriarchy; Jody Hunt (West Virginia, USA) killed his ex-girlfriend first; Elliot Rodger (California, USA) specifically drove to a sorority house for his second batch of killings, to punish women in general for rejecting him.  
We cannot properly address and eliminate violence against women until we address and eliminate sexism.  Until we can create a society where women are equal, both in perception and reality, we will not stop all these deaths, assaults and rapes.  And we have to at least try.

*  Baby and I are both doing well thanks, just arrived v early for no discernable reason. 


Anne Else said...

Thank you, Julie, for an excellent post. I could not agree more. But the reality of male violence against women, so evident in the wide range of cases you outline, is routinely ignored - by the media, by many men and by some women. I heard recently of one woman at work, mentioning that she was going to the Women's Day breakfast at Parliament, being told by another woman that this information made her very uncomfortable and that she did not agree with "feminazis".

Lindsay Mitchell said...

Very glad that you and your baby are doing well.

I comment only because we (the readers) have no information about the circumstances of the father trying to visit his newborn. Perhaps you cannot provide it. You imply the father intended violence though I doubt you would be privy to case notes. Regardless, you've used this personal experience to advance the view that men's violence against women is "Everywhere".

I could argue using stats that show women are violent towards men: you can argue with stats that show men are more violent, and they do more physical damage because of their strength.

We will both be right.

But your cause - the reduction or elimination of male violence against women - is not aided by a constant, uncompromising, anti-male refrain.

Adele said...

Kia ora Koutou

This post is so limited in focus. The aim should be to reduce violence against people regardless of sex, gender, age, race, ethnicity, etc etc etc.

I have recently been in the company of male violence and there is a whole bunch of stuff going on there - sexism hardly rates as one of the reasons.

not a wild hera said...

Thank you for this post. Violence against women is such a pronounced phenomenon that thw World Health Organisation calls it a pandemic:

"Facts and Figures: Ending Violence against Women
A pandemic in diverse forms

According to a 2013 global review of available data, 35 per cent of women worldwide have experienced either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence. However, some national violence studies show that up to 70 per cent of women have experienced physical and/or sexual violence in their lifetime from an intimate partner [1].

It is estimated that of all women killed in 2012, almost half were killed by intimate partners or family members [2]."
- See more at: http://www.unwomen.org/en/what-we-do/ending-violence-against-women/facts-and-figures#sthash.YQbJ3e8Z.dpuf

I see no evidence in this post of anything approaching a "constant, uncompromising, anti-male refrain."

I find Jackson Katz' work helpful here:



1.Approach gender violence as a MEN'S issue involving men of all ages and socioeconomic, racial and ethnic backgrounds. View men not only as perpetrators or possible offenders, but as empowered bystanders who can confront abusive peers

2.If a brother, friend, classmate, or teammate is abusing his female partner -- or is disrespectful or abusive to girls and women in general -- don't look the other way. If you feel comfortable doing so, try to talk to him about it. Urge him to seek help. Or if you don't know what to do, consult a friend, a parent, a professor, or a counselor. DON'T REMAIN SILENT."