Everyday Victim Blaming

challenging institutional disbelief around domestic & sexual violence and abuse

An open letter to Owen Jones: What will you do?

Dear Owen,

I want to share my appreciation for your column about male violence against women  and the impact of the cuts to services for women. In your column you referred to male violence as domestic violence/abuse. I’m aware that Karen Ingala-Smith discussed with you the issue of erasing male violence with the umbrella term “domestic violence”.  It is vital that we name the problem – male violence against women.

I value any contributions that highlight the pervasive and entrenched culture of male violence against women. In the UK alone, 139 women were killed through suspected male violence in 2013. 1 in 3 women will experience male violence at some point in their lives. This is an abhorrence that needs to be highlighted everywhere, by everyone, at all times. However, it is not enough to just write about it. As a man who cares about male violence against women, you need to tell us what YOU are going to do to make this stop.

Much is discussed and written about allyship. To be an ally is an act, not a label. I am taking a leap here, but it seems to me that the levels of challenge you are receiving are not down to the fact that you are highlighting male violence and the cuts to women’s services, but that it is all you are doing. Many women, such as Karen – who is the CEO of nia and a campaigner, and such as survivors like myself write constantly about the impact of male violence  and the desire to ensure that it remains in the public consciousness. The truth is, we are saying this all of the time. Yet we are only heard by a few. It is clear that men’s views on male violence are more widely shared and this is of great concern. As I know you are aware, women are being erased: our voices,  our experiences, our lives. We need those with male privilege to recognise this and share their platform. It is our voices that need to be heard. It is true that the impact of the ConDem cuts to vital services are affecting women who experience male violence. And highlighting this is vital as we need to effect changes to governmental policy. We need to make them hear us. But this is not going to stop male violence. And this is what we need from you. From men.

This post is more than just a letter to you. This is a request. To maybe think differently when writing about an issue that oppresses a group you do not belong to. It is not enough for you to write that male violence exists. You need to do something about it. The role of men who care deeply about the violence that men as a class perpetrate against women is to not only highlight it but change it. If I read a media column written by someone who is middle-class, it is nowhere near enough for them to be writing about classism. There are many working class columnists who can do just that. What I want to see from middle-class columnists is not a mere analysis but a plan of action. HOW are they going to contribute to challenging their own classism and that of their social group?

Personally, I value your writing, your voice, your passion for social justice. I hope that you continue to use your column to highlight issues that affect women. But what I want is for that column to be meaningful. When it comes to male violence, we need you to do more than name the problem, we need you to do something about it. What are you and your class going to do about male violence, Owen?

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5 thoughts on “An open letter to Owen Jones: What will you do?

  • @mavisfraser 77 says:

    Excellent article,highlights the need to* walk * the talk, we (the people )
    know that abuse of women is out there, no-excuses no-looking the other way, the time for action is now!

  • Hecuba says:

    Exactly – men who claim to be allies of women must enact the ‘walk’ – men talking about pandemic male violence against women is not sufficient. These men need to hold other men to account and also challenge men about their misogynistic views/justifications for continued pandemic male oppression of women.

    We women don’t need men telling us what we already know because too much ink continues to be wasted on discussing the issue of male violence against women. Instead we demand action from the men who hold immense political/socio-economic power and this action means holding other men to account and not accepting their excuses such as ‘lessons have been learned.’ This is a meaningless male created platitude which does not change our male supremacist system or even challenge how it operates.

  • Red says:

    Hello All 🙂
    This is my first comment on your fantastic site, I am interested in how our language is used and also deeply interested in the eating disorder Anorexia. All that written, I clicked on the link to ‘nia’ that you have provided in the article (having not heard about it before this article)and I felt it very important to highlight just how badly written or possibly thought out and just plain non-thinking thoughtlessness (?) whoever is responsible for the editing of the nia website is.
    Two of the banners across the main body of the headings say, ‘delivering c*tting edge services to end violence’ followed by ‘66000 women in the UK have had their genitals mutilated’.
    This type of complete unawareness of context, influence, ignorance and thoughtlessness is one of several supporting and contributing factors towards why violence against women is maintained. If writers cannot be bothered to understand how their words affect their readers, please, please try and think more clearly about the words used if you are writing in support of stopping any violence.
    I completely recommend one of my favourite books ‘The Sexual Politics Of Meat’ by Carol Adams, as she highlights this type of influence from a completely different angle.

    • Admin says:

      Hello Red – thank you for commenting on our site.

      We have regular contact with Nia and the work they do is really good, considering the funding constraints that women’s services have to work under.

      I’ll ask one of the Nia team to review the comment and feed back to their web team, if that’s ok?

      • Red says:

        Hello 🙂
        I think that is a really good idea, and I would be greatly interested in their response! I was by no means suggesting that nia were not doing excellent work, just that as a first impression visiting their site, sadly that was what jumped out at me.
        In my opinion it is this lack of understanding and awareness (of word / print)that contributes enormously to the maintaining of the difficulties experienced in the domestic violence environment. I have more opinions… can you let me know where / how to do this? Please 🙂 lol