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Creating Non - Violent Societies and How Men Can Help


This Photo by Unknown Author is licensed under CC BY-SA

If it’s difficult for an individual to change long standing habits, it’s even more difficult to change a culture, especially if it has a long tradition behind it and is fairly consistent across a society. I have been thinking about how the change towards non -violence occurred in the West.

It began in the post -war period really when, seeking to prevent such horrors in future, people asked themselves, “How could people have become so unspeakably cruel” and why did they just “follow orders.” The upshot was that other ideas about child rearing which had been circulating just below the surface, such as Steiner’s views and that of psychologists such as Freud, Jung and others, began to gain wider attention, along with Piaget’s discoveries about how children learn. Broadly, the conclusion was that children who didn’t experience, trauma, violence and neglect, were less likely to become violent adults.


These ideas were widely disseminated through the work of Dr. Spock, a paediatrician who was greatly influenced by Freud and whose 1946 “The Commonsense Book of Baby and Childcare” sold 500,000 copies in the first six months -50 million copies in all, just in time to influence the parents of the ‘baby boomers’ who came along in large numbers after the war.  

This turned accepted forms of child rearing on its head. Previously, babies were subject to strict routines -. fed on the clock, not when they were hungry, and manuals warned against “excessive affection.”  They were not to be held or cuddled if they cried, but left to soothe themselves or cry themselves to sleep lest the child become “spoiled” and demanding. Spock recognised that each child was an individual and told mothers to trust their feelings. He even advocated that fathers should play a greater role in raising their children. 

These ideas influenced the education system as well, leading to an end to corporal punishment and other ways to manage bad behaviour. Reward for good behaviour was generally seen as a more effective way to encourage children to do the ‘right’ thing, than meting out endless punishment. If children did behave badly, then it was a question of Why did they behave that way? What do we need to change to make things better? The advent of television, film and other media and their increasingly global nature, along with travel and the experience of other cultures, helped to shape and propagate those ideas.


Eventually as these young people approached adulthood, they began to influence society too, demanding an end to the Vietnam war, opposing environmental destruction and changing the way women were traditionally seen and how they were to behave. They also raised their own children the same way. It was a period of great social change and creativity as this cohort questioned everything -big and small. Why for example should babies only be dressed in pink or blue, when orange, green or purple looked even better? Why should only boys be allowed to play with trucks and cars, and only girls be allowed to play with dolls and tea sets? These things did not always meet with enthusiastic applause from more conservative elements of society. Great strides were made in technology and communication and in music and the arts. Bob Geldorf and his band U2 for example, combined all three, by beaming the first international concert around the world to raise money to end hunger in Africa.


With easier access to birth control, women were more able to control their fertility and could therefore participate more fully in society. They could join the workforce, have extended education and even enter politics, without the barriers which faced earlier generations of women, though again, not all sections of society embraced the change and men sometimes felt threatened as women entered previously all male domains or earned higher incomes.

I have experienced and witnessed all this in my own lifetime, from the time women had to give up their jobs when they married and had to have men sign cheques and insurance contracts (1970s), through to the more recent wave of inclusion of allowing -even mandating, that women be included at the highest levels in government and business.


While the prospects for future growth and accommodation for all were assured, most men were reasonably happy to go along with this. Now the future looks less certain. Competition for housing and jobs has become more intense – even men are resorting to cosmetic enhancements. Now that people are no longer better off than their parents and almost every job has become less secure – threatened not so much by the rise of women as technological change, globalisation and even just the speed of change itself, there has been a considerable backlash. It’s little wonder that many are nostalgic for earlier, more stable times like the 50’s, when Mums stayed home, men had secure jobs for life and hardly anyone ever got divorced.

Indeed, it seems to me that the more insecure and powerless that people feel, the more they long for and cling to those older models of behaviour. This could also help to explain to increasing rates of violence generally, including domestic violence, as even the most egalitarian countries such as Sweden  and Norway are showing an increase, despite the fact other kinds of crime including homicides, are going down. In contrast to earlier friction with older generations, a recent survey of 35,000 people across 27 EU countries found that young men under 30 are more inclined to agree with statements that suggest that women’s rights have gone too far and limit opportunities for men and boys. 

However, the survey also found that those views were most strongly held in countries such as Sweden, where unemployment had increased, but in places where employment had increased such as Northern Italy, people felt far less threatened by women’s progress.


There is also a global movement afoot seeking to make political capital out that discontent, especially by more traditional organisations which fear losing their own power and influence. They fight against the Feminist Agenda, they deny the existence of Climate Change and consider all that “wokeness” - e.g. having to use gender neutral language and so on, a threat to their freedom. They even have their own influencers – ignorant people such as anti – feminist, racist, pro -violence Andrew Tate.

 Such movements always flourish in dark times, just as they did in pre – war Germany, but we won’t go into that here, other than to say that it makes it more important than ever that all good people, including men, stand up against this pushback against women and oppose all kinds of violence, especially against women and children.

HERE ARE SOME WAYS MEN CAN HELP [with a little help from Microsoft Bing AI]

·         They can challenge harmful beliefs and stereotypes, which perpetuate or condone violence against women, including calling for takedown of such material on the internet, in the media and on other platforms 

·         They can question their own upbringing and consciously choose how they'll behave in a conflict or disagreement, rather than just reacting in the heat of the moment or from accustomed habit. They can reject the notion of women as property or as merely being objects for their gratification. They can then be a good role model for their children, co workers and peers, and prevent negative ideas and actions from being reproduced by the next generation.

·         They can intervene and hold others to account if they make derogatory remarks or resort to violence. In this manner they can disrupt harmful patterns of behaviour and foster healthier relationships. Let me give you a real life example.
Our Dad had had a very hard life and came from a family that firmly believed in ”Spare the rod and spoil the child.“ He practised that often on his children and occasionally on Mum as well. As it happened, a neighbour heard the commotion one day and when things had calmed down, he called Dad over to the fence and quietly said, “ You're a good bloke, xxxx, but we don’t do that here.“

Nothing more was said. Dad was so ashamed at having been called out that the beatings virtually stopped. [Very likely Dad also suffered from PTSD, although that wasn’t recognised then either, nor was there any kind of help for women leaving violent homes]. I tell this story only to show how a few words from another man, at the right time, can stop such behaviour dead or at least cause people to think more about what they are doing. 

Please don't try intervene directly if it puts your own life at risk. Discreetly call police or others who are better equipped to deal with this type of crisis.

·         Learn to recognise the signs of abuse. Support victims, bring them to safety. Tell them what resources are available and encourage them to seek professional help.

·         Once men have educated themselves, they should go out and educate other men. They could talk about how giving women more rights makes things better for everyone, or better still, they can just show it in action. My older son really enjoys being with his children and I have met many new Dads in the park with him who look as if they are doing the same. They talk shop and technical problems  while they swing toddlers and drive the most amazing prams. Pram design has certainly picked up in consequence.
Son also shares the housework, not because he enjoys it, but because his wife also works and if he doesn’t want an exhausted wife at the end of the day, then it’s a good idea, because it means a bit more time and energy for each other later.
The extra income means that they don’t have to worry as much about every bill and can take the occasional holiday. More buying power presumably also helps the economy, though much of the extra money also flows on in the form of services – childcare, a night out, a new haircut and so on. 

Educating others can involve inviting speakers from a women’s group for example, or holding a fundraiser or a workshop. He for She - a global organisation which invites industry and business leaders, heads of Non -Profit -Organisations and academia, to make a difference regarding Gender - equality in their organisations, has excellent resources for this. Their Barbershop Toolkit is eminently suitable for mobilising the men and boys around you to help work for women’s rights.

·         Promote equality at work too.  Help women rise up in the ranks, be more flexible if a parent – Mum or Dad, needs time off to take a child to the doctor or some days off  during the school holidays. [Small note to US lawmakers, that, and fixing the economy is the way to make people want more children, not forcing them to bear children that they do not want].

·         Advocate for women politically. March with them. Support Women’s groups, help them to obtain Legal protections or other rights such as Gender Equity. You could also join other groups like   White Ribbon  - another international organisation which seeks to engage men in the fight against violence against women, through education and  creative campaigns.

·         You could also Volunteer on a Helpline or Donate to a Women’s Shelter. Sometimes all someone needs is someone to talk things over with.

 For inspiration let me finish by telling you about a great project started by two young men in Bangladesh, arguably one of the most repressive countries when it comes to women's rights. 

In 2020, outraged by a series of rapes, Shomy Hasan Chowdbury, a Global Citizen water and sanitation advocate, and youth activist  Rijve Arefin, got together and ran a 4 day Awareness 360 Hackathon, calling on students at fifty universities to come up with ways to address the root causes of rape.  Educational seminars were held, then students were divided into teams to brainstorm ideas. The top four teams were to be given a prize of seed money for their project and support to pitch it to government and policy makers.

 Issues raised by participants included the lack of of sex education, the objectification of women in the media and concerns about online exploitation.

Winners included one team which used the arts in various ways – for example, a TV ad campaign, a theatrical production, an animated series and an online platform where survivors could tell their stories. Another team ‘s winning entry was about recruiting mentors to teach children about sexual abuse and designing a safety watch which could send an alarm. The third group opted for a mobile app which alerted media and authorities in the event of an incident, while the fourth winning entry involved martial arts registration tools and an emergency button for use on buses, because that was where much harassment occurred. 

I particularly really like this project because it actively engaged large numbers of young people in a way that they enjoy. By helping to analyse the problems, they were in fact, also educating themselves just as they were about to embark on their adult lives and finally, it generated a whole lot of new ways to communicate and encourage them to protect others. 

Although women have long carried the burden of Domestic and Family Violence, making a safer society is everyone's business. More men are killed by other men in other settings - muggings, out in the street and so on, so let's all work together for a less violent society.

23/04/2024 2:38 AM 

In a sad Stoppress, another woman has just been found dead today, allegedly killed by an ex - partner, bringing this year's total to 30, according to Sherelle Moody, a journalist and researcher who's keeping track. This young woman, a mother of one, had already taken out an Apprehended Violence Order (AVO) which should have meant that the perpetrator could not go near her home. If you live in Australia, you should sign the petition calling for women to be allowed to carry pepper spray - currently banned, as weapon of last resort.
By the way, if son can get an alert and a visual 1500 km away when a stray cat skulks around his house, I don't see why we can't do better, given all the technology around. (Son just went "Shhhh!" into the phone and the cat looked up in alarm and promptly ran off the other way, and that's just one example). 

Why can't Google, Apple, Samsung and anyone else involved in making phones include a silent alarm button on every phone like they have in banks? Should probably have heavy fines for using them frivolously or there'd be too many false alarms, but they could be helpful in case of accidents or health emergencies too. At the very least, there should be one with geolocation in the phones of women at risk and those who have taken out AVOs. 

-Image by Deviantart under CC licence 3.00
In Australia, the Domestic Violence and family counselling Service is at 1800 RESPECT (1800 737732) Or for general crisis support call Lifeline  on 13 11 14. In the UK, Samaritans can be contacted on freephone 116 123 and the domestic abuse helpline is 0808 2000 247. In the US, the suicide prevention lifeline is 988 and the domestic violence hotline is 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). Other international helplines can be found via


RoelWijnants said…
Dear Veronika, I'm glad you used the photo. I worked in a women's shelter as a volunteer for ± 10 years, so I support the poster 100%
Best regards and good wishes,
Roel From Holland
RoelWijnants said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Veronika Wild said…
Many thanks Roel and same to you,
- Veronika from Tasmania

(Second post deleted due to duplication)