I don’t know why I ever listen to World Service Have Your Say.
Tonight for example, yet again, I was (mentally, anyway) shouting at the radio. The subject was a new Indian law relating to domestic violence.
As with all such debates (I managed to miss the one about the Muslim cleric and his pathetic apology) I am torn between wondering whether to be glad that women’s issues are being discussed and women’s voices are being heard or horrified by the idiocies I hear pouring out from apparently ordinary members of the global public.
In this debate many, many people said that the law was pointless because what was needed was to change views and mindsets, not mere laws. Fair enough, but the question is whether having a law against domestic violence is an appropriate mechanism to do so.
When asked what India should be doing to tackle domestic violence, the four last commenters – usually, the ones who are kept on the line because they are the most sensible and articulate on the subject – said:
- Don’t pass new laws, instead educate women about their rights.
- Protect women who speak out about domestic violence and report their abusers.
- Ensure the police and the courts take domestic violence seriously.
- Make sure the police and the courts are given the resources and the machinery they need to tackle domestic violence effectively when it occurs.
Now, guess which of those commenters was a man?
Bingo: the man is the one who thought that it is the women who should change, who should be changed, to solve the problem of male violence, and that the real problem is with women’s ignorance. They should not let men get away with it. They should know better.
The women, however, all seemed to think that the law is important, and that it should be enforced to protect the victims. The women know that even educated women get beaten, even educated women find it hard to report these offences, even educated women can be victimised when the system designed to protect them is antiquated and misogynistic. So the women know that there is more than education to be done.
Last night was a similar shouting-at-the-radio situation.
They were talking about whether or not women who work are bad mothers. (See also this Telegraph story, which is quite sick-making.)
Nobody, not ONE person suggested that fathers who work might make bad fathers. Nobody, not ONE of them suggested that there was any issue here about women getting dumped with all the work, all the responsibility and all the blame, with men getting off scot free.
And there is such a great emphasis on “the mummy wars” which could almost make one believe that every single working mother despises every idle “non-working” mother in the land; or that every mother who cares for her children full-time loathes every “selfish” mother who is in paid work. We mothers should not be so divided. Yes, let us talk about our choices and the reasons for them. But let’s not allow anyone to turn our conversation into some cute little war, to fuel their hypocrisy and to distract our attention from what our men should be doing!
So why do I listen? Oh, yes, it’s because it’s what’s always on after I get home and before I put Ariel to bed… And it reminds me what people are really like.