One of WIRE’s founders Janet Horn turns 100!
In the early 80s, Janet and a group of women got together with a shared vision ...
Rigid ideas of masculinity and femininity are strong drivers of violence against women, non-binary and gender diverse people. Empowering the next generation with more gentle, respectful ways of being in the world will likely have transformative flow-on effects.
Some of it will just be modelling shared and respectful decision-making in your own life: switching up who does the housework, who works outside of the home, who is the primary caregiver for children and elders. Some of it will be talking about the structures that have resulted in your life being more traditionally gendered, but how that is changing. And of course, reading about feminist role models and watching TV shows and movies with strong female, nonbinary and gender-diverse characters!
Talking about consent and breaking down stereotypes about masculinity and femininity can start at any age. Very early on, it’s as simple as asking before you hug or kiss a child and modelling accepting a ‘no’. Later, it’s about more explicit conversations — whatever the gender of the child you’re raising.
(This fantastic article shows how you can model standing up for yourself: Fighting the patriarchy, one grandpa at a time)
We also need to watch our own language: too often, we excuse childhood roughhousing with ‘boys will be boys’ or tell girls that someone being mean to them means ‘he likes you’. We say ‘boys and girls’ when ‘children’ serves just as well. These phrases have long-term ramifications. There’s also some evidence that parents can interact with children differently based on gender without realising it, for example, by being more cautious about girls taking risks or encouraging boys to be more independent. Check yourself to see if you are doing this.
There are so many resources to share on this topic, it’s hard to know where to start.
Every year, between November 25 — the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women — and December 10 — International Human Rights Day — there are 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-based Violence.
This year we’ve created a series of posters for you to print out at work, home or your local library, and to put up in your kitchen, community hall, meeting room at work — wherever you like. Help create a world where women, nonbinary and gender-diverse people are safe, respected, empowered and able to make genuine choices in their lives.
Violence towards women, nonbinary and gender-diverse people is a community problem. Everyone in the community, from schools to sporting clubs, can play a role in changing the structures, norms and practices that lead to gender-based violence.
Some of these actions will be individual and some will be collective: gender-based violence is a structural issue that we all need to work together to address.