HUNDREDS of people walked in solidarity on November 26 to end domestic and family violence.
One step in front of the other, those who care deeply about making a difference to this nationally critical issue were making a personal statement. But has the conversation itself moved forward? Are we making a real and tangible difference?
Real change starts with each of us and our ability to self-reflect on our own behaviours. It takes each of us to recognise how we validate the harmful social norms that contribute to the existence of violence in our community and the shared cultural behaviours we may casually brush off because we believe they don’t have an impact.
Sexism, objectification, gender disparity and misogyny exists. It’s real and it’s everywhere. The first step in achieving real change is accepting this as fact and how you contribute to it.
This is not an issue just for women, or just for men. It’s for all of us and it takes real effort and courage and bravery to stand strong when what most of us accept as ‘normal’ is challenged.
That pushback comes in the form of power and control – the patriarchal systems that define ‘normal’ – and you need to stand up to it. You are not a ‘crazy feminist’ nor are you mentally unsound, you haven’t ‘asked for it’ nor are you a man-hating woman out for revenge or financial gain.
Similarly, the ‘boys will be boys’ attitude that dismisses bad behaviour does our young men of the future no favours – it limits their potential to be the best they can be.
All of these labels are designed to keep you quiet, to divert attention, keep the pack on the path of least resistance – because change is hard and exposes us to things about ourselves we may not like.
But change also opens us up to opportunity, to possibility. Just imagine what we can achieve if we all really do walk together and speak with the one voice that says equality matters.
You are brave. Stand up, speak out. And you won’t be alone.
Ask yourself this – why is gender equality, a community without violence, oppression, fear and disrespect, such a radical idea? Why would anyone not want to embrace that change?
When you take the time to understand how powerfully entrenched negative attitudes can be, why they continue to exist and the role they play in maintaining the cycle of inequality that feeds violence, we can move forward with solutions.
Be the change.