How to suppress feminist voices on domestic violence

With apologies to Joanna Russ.  Content note: domestic violence, sexism.

Domestic violence isn’t gendered. Shut up.

Domestic violence is gendered, but it’s biology – men are naturally stronger, bigger, and angrier, and women are naturally more attracted to violent men. It’s your fault.

Men aren’t more violent, but they have to act that way to attract women. It’s your fault.

Women are just as violent as men. Maybe she started it. It’s your fault.

 If she didn’t start it, she also didn’t leave before he got too violent. It’s your fault.

He got too violent, but couldn’t help it because feminists always blame men, so he had no other options. It’s your fault.

Domestic violence is gendered, and it’s feminists’ fault. Shut up.

Tony Veitch isn’t repentant, he’s making it worse

[Content note: discuss of intimate partner violence and apologism]

Tony Veitch, noted violent unremorseful dude, had a piece on his unremorse published in the Herald on Mother’s Day, for editorial reasons I cannot fathom. I haven’t read the piece. The reactions I saw online told me everything I needed to know and I wasn’t going to subject my brain to it, nor reward the Herald with a pageview.

There is only one thing I ever need to hear from Tony Veitch. It’s a simple enough thing: an acknowledgement of what he did, and a commitment to change. This piece doesn’t do that. It makes it worse.

When Tony Veitch “acknowledges what he’s done” but only to make it all about HIS suffering and HIS experience, he makes it worse.

When he pretends it was “just one time”, he makes it worse.

When he keeps demanding a second chance or a fair go but NEVER shows genuine, unqualified remorse for his abusiveness, he makes it worse.

When Tony Veitch as a famous dude in sports entertainment does NOTHING to educate men or challenge our culture of violence, HE MAKES IT WORSE.

There are things men can do to really challenge family violence in New Zealand. Tony Veitch has done none of these things. Because every single time, it’s all about Tony Veitch.

The reality is this: Tony Veitch was, and remains, a danger to women.

~

Steve Dunne, the father of Kristin Dunne-Powell, has also commented on the Herald piece.

If you have used violence and want to change, there’s a list of agencies who can help on the It’s Not OK website. There’s also ideas about how to work to stop violence in sports communities.

If you’re in Wellington and have engaged in sexually harmful behaviour and want to change, talk to WellStop.

Women of #nzpol Twitter roundup: THAT Tony Veitch post

The “Women of #nzpol Twitter roundup” is brought to you in the interests of amplifying women’s voices in the political debate and also because:

first wives you don't own me

I already posted yesterday on why Tony Veitch remains a danger to all women – because he directly, deliberately encourages a culture which doesn’t take violence seriously and erases his own horrific actions.

So here’s a perspective that – outside feministy Twitterati circles – we don’t get to hear a lot. There’s plenty of mainstream space for people like Tony Veitch to make excuses. There’s almost none for recognising exactly what personal impact this has on women.

And this post from the amazing Emily is recommended reading.

Women (and all oppressed people) have to live their lives with the constant background knowledge that they can be targets of violence. Not just from strangers in dark alleyways. From our family and partners and friends. And not only can we be targets of violence: the violence against us will be downplayed or completely erased. We will be gaslighted. Our abusers won’t just get let off the hook: they will be praised and promoted and guaranteed their old job back just as soon as the “fuss” dies down.

When we see “12 people you know follow Veitchy On Sport” it’s more than a simple fact. It’s an unconscious threat: these are people you know and love and trust, who you cannot rely on if someone hurts you.

It sounds ridiculous, if you’re not living with it. It sounds hysterical. It sounds paranoid. And we get to the heart of the issue: women are not trusted to tell the truth. Women are not trusted to report their own experience. So of course it doesn’t matter when women are hurt. How would you even know it really happened?

If Tony Veitch says he “had to rebuild his life after a horrible relationship”, who’s going to let facts get in the way? Not us.

Tony Veitch is a danger to women

[Content note: violence against women, intimate partner violence, graphic images]

Things you can see on Tony Veitch’s Facebook page right now

This image, shared by Tony Veitch himself:

veitch 1

This comment by Tony Veitch himself:

veitch 3

This image shared by a fan of the page, liked by 11 people, and not moderated or removed 12 hours after it was posted:

veitch 2

And this self-pitying tirade by Veitchy, referring to his struggles “rebuilding his life and career” after “what was a hideous relationship”:

veitch 4

Then there’s this post (now deleted; see below) accusing media who are reporting this story of just being jealous because he turned down a job offer.

veitch media attack

Things you can’t see on Tony Veitch’s Facebook page right now, or ever

  • Any kind of acknowledgement that he committed an act of violence which broke a woman’s back and put her temporarily in a wheelchair
  • The fact that the “hideous relationship” he’s claiming to be the victim in may have involved long-term abuse and physical violence committed by him.

This cannot surprise us. This is how our society treats violent men who have the privilege of whiteness and an association with the cult of sport.

Take this 2013 article about how awesome Tony Veitch’s year was. It never mentions that he broke a woman’s back. It talks about a “bombshell” – but only in reference to the hush money he tried to pay his ex partner. And only after 8 paragraphs painting him as a tragic hero, fighting so hard to rebuild his whole life after … well, nothing really, just “one charge of injuring with reckless intent.”

And check out this bio on the Newstalk ZB website:

veitch bio

Do you see the problem? I see the problem.

Maybe Tony Veitch is no longer the kind of guy who allegedly chases his partner through a house, pins her to beds and punches her. But he is a man who casually uses violent language. A man who is utterly, utterly unrepentant about his own violent history. A man who jokes about violence and encourages jokes about violence. A man who stands as an example of what you can get away with if you’re rich, famous and white enough.

Not only was his “apology” a litany of excuses. Not only was he almost immediately granted “a second chance”. He now, unapologetically, deliberately, defiantly encourages people to joke about violence, including domestic violence against women. He is an active creator of toxic masculinity.

He may not be a direct threat to the women in his life, now. But he’s a danger to every woman in society.

Important public message: a sense of entitlement isn’t love

There’s a hugely important message in this article from the Herald about people (most often men) who kill their partners (most often women).

“These are not crimes of love, these are crimes of ownership. It is relatively easy to understand the emotions of someone who loses a loved one because they just don’t want to be in a relationship, but there is no notion of love if the solution is then to kill her – that is totally selfish.”

Dr Robertson said the homicidal behaviour stemmed from a strong sense of entitlement and ownership, an “if I can’t have her, no one can,” mentality. “If you believe you are entitled to your partner’s undivided attention, if you believe you’re entitled to be the centre of their universe, at some point some of these guys, if their entitlements are threatened, are going to use violence to get what they want.”

Far too often these stories get framed as crimes of passion, where the headline isn’t “violent man kills ex” but “man kills ex after she takes his kids” or “man driven to murder after wife abandons him”.

This creates space in people’s heads for the idea that we should empathize with an abusive person – that they aren’t fully responsible for their actions because another person, who they think they’re entitled to control, has displeased them. It puts the violent person’s interests first and turns their victim into a faceless villain who brought their death on themselves.

It’s repugnant, and yet it’s well-entrenched in the ways we talk about relationships and violence in relationships. So it’s fantastic to see a news article which challenges that kind of thinking.