Gender-based violence wounds us all, men have a key role in ending it

The behaviour which has to change is that of violent men, not of the women and girls who endure the consequences, says Scottish Green MSP Maggie Chapman, speaking ahead of a Scottish Parliament debate on Violence Against Women and Girls.

The debate falls during the United Nations 16 days of activism against gender-based violence.

Speaking in the debate, Maggie Chapman MSP said:

“The behaviour which has to change is that of violent men, not of the women and girls who endure the consequences. It isn’t a problem about how women look, where they go, how they act or dress or what they say. 

“Men need to take responsibility, and work to dismantle the patriarchy. Because violence isn’t only direct acts of individual physical force. It’s also the millennia of assumptions and messages and patterns of behaviour that are embedded in the way we think and feel and act. They manifest in structural violence, in economic and emotional abuse, in coercive control.

“There is much to be done, but we can do it together. We can recognise that vulnerability is not a characteristic solely of being female, but of being human. We can recognise that gender-based violence is not a matter of misogyny alone, but powered by multiple forms of oppression and prejudice including racism, homophobia, transphobia and the unspoken assumptions of privilege.

“Together we can take apart the myths and behaviours of patriarchy, learning, not only from our parents and siblings but from our children, paying attention to the language that we use and the myths, histories and misconceptions that so often lie behind it. We can explore ethics of care, remembering that, though fighting fire with fire makes for a good song, a blanket does a better job of putting out the flames. 

“Gender-based violence wounds us all, visibly or invisibly, as communities, families, and individuals, whatever our gender identity. But we can act to make change, with care, with determination, with vision and solidarity. Not because you are men or because we are women. But because we are human.”