Eamonn Kelly: What Can Men Do?

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From top: A ROSA organised event in Smithfield, Dublin 7 yesterday to remember Ashling Murphy who was fatally assaulted in Tullamore last week; Eamonn Kelly.

The week that was

It had been my hope to keep these pieces light and amusing, but sometimes you can’t ignore events without seeming out of touch or grossly insensitive. The week was blighted by the horrific murder of teacher and sometime musician, Aisling Murphy, on a towpath in Tullamore, while out for a jog in the late afternoon. It goes without saying that this is a shocking event for any culture to bear.

Reaction

Some women TDs reacted by calling for education for men and boys on abusive sexism in the culture, which is a good idea, education is always a good idea, but the reflex of generalizing such an event to suggest that all males of all ages are somehow implicated, by virtue of their sex, really does a disservice, not only to decent men and boys, but also to the hope of arriving at a more nuanced understanding of violence in the culture.

This idea of “not all men” featured strongly in the discussions on social media and in the press. In the Examiner, Eve McDowell, founder of Stalking Ireland, said it was time men became “more active” in changing the reality of women’s experience, but offered no tangible suggestions.

This question, what tangible actions can men take, was also posed by Mark O’Halloran, actor/writer on Twitter, the answers generally coming down to an appeal to “men” in general to be mindful of the spectrum of violence that begins with cat-calling, and to not contribute to this mild end of the spectrum behaviour that creates a climate of disregard for the safety of women.

In the IT Jennifer O’Connell acknowledged the mistaken reflex taken by some women to label all men as “predators”, when she wrote that while all men are not predators, “…all women know that they are potentially prey. This knowledge permeates many of our lives and curtails our choices in ways that may be difficult for men to understand.”

And that really is an insight and a target for education.

Clarity

An article in the IT by Professor of Psychology at Limerick University, Orla Muldoon, shed light on the problem and offered real insights into what men can do.

Firstly, it appears that men who go on to commit crimes against women first commit what the professor calls “entry level” violence.

She writes:

“Men who perpetrate life-threatening violence against women tend to build up to this point of their criminal careers. Perpetrators usually start with jeering, street harassment, exposure, groping. Yet we rarely intervene when men perpetrate entry-level violence.”

She cites an incident of such entry-level violence when a male student in a school took to exposing himself to female students. When the teacher went to report this, a male colleague laughingly described the student as “a legend”.

So, the answer to “what can men do” to alleviate this ongoing pressure on women is a very simple one. Stop being “thick” as a way of looking clever. In fact, that would be a valuable contribution across a range of social issues. Feigned thickness as a “clever” pose is not as cute as its practitioners seem to think it is, and it does untold harm in undermining the seriousness of certain social issues.

Patterns

Orla Muldoon cites four general patterns of behaviour that create a climate in which violence against women takes place.

The first pattern is that it is almost always men who kill women.

The second pattern is entry level violence, referred to above.

The third pattern is that low level violence and harassment is a real problem for women, and barely a problem at all for men, to the extent that most ordinary men are likely to think that women are exaggerating the problem, since they themselves never experience anything approaching the level of intrusion and harassment that women experience.

Policy

The fourth and final pattern appears to arise from the fact that politics is male-dominated, and so the neglect of the seriousness of the levels of harassment endured by women is reflected in a dismal policy response, mainly due, it is supposed, since the majority of policy-makers are male, to a combination of not taking the problem seriously, as in the third pattern, reinforced by a generous dollop of thickness, the presence of which in the political fraternity few would deny.

Muldoon writes:

Not only has there been no policy response to the many concerns expressed, sometimes there is a systematic refusal to acknowledge there is even an issue.”

On Saturday, Michael Healy Rae suggested that pepper spray be legalised. But this idea was rejected by many women on the grounds that it put the onus on women to deal with what was essentially a male problem. Healy-Rae’s suggestion seemed kind of thick, actually, but seemed to arise from a genuine desire to help.

The Mad/Bad Men Delusion

Orla Muldoon warns that until men see the role of these patterns in creating a climate that appears to encourage violence against women, while men cop-out on the assumption that the acts of violence are perpetrated by lone “mad” or “bad” men only, the problem of violence against women will continue, since the politically male-dominated society, by its failure to act or even see the problem, lends its tacit approval to the climate of misogyny that its neglect of the issue creates.

Spectrums

One of the more useful ideas that emerged from the discussions following Ashling Murphy’s terrible end, was the general acceptance of the idea of a spectrum of violence, from the supposedly innocent “joke” to actual violence.

Many people really don’t get this concept, and it is gratifying to see that this is now an accepted model, at least as used to describe the spectrum of violence against women. But the idea of spectrums of escalation can be applied across all issues.

Condolences

Talking all this theory around such a tragedy may sound callous. To offset that I would like to offer my sincere condolences to the family and friends of Aishling Murphy for their loss. I do know, through personal experience, that bereavement is a kind of life sentence of loss, where passing time itself, far from being a healer, can itself be a source of recurring sorrow.

To forgive an act that would cause such suffering is beyond the capacity of most people, when vengeance seems like a more natural response. This is where acts of violence demean and distort everyone, creating a climate where violence answering violence may seem like the only credible reality.

Eamonn Kelly is a Galway-based  freelance Writer and Playwright.

Previously: Eamonn Kelly on Broadsheet

Sam Boal/RollingNews

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71 thoughts on “Eamonn Kelly: What Can Men Do?

  1. Gabby

    The philosophical Problem of Evil also arises: what causes evil in the world? Is human nature basically flawed? Could social engineering eliminate the flaws? Is a crime-free society possible?

  2. Truthy

    Thanks Eamonn, this needs to be tackled from an early age, perhaps in early secondary school, when children start on their journeys towards adulthood and a lot of ideas, good and bad, tend to take formation. I think it should include education on conflict resolution, anger management principles, how alcohol and drug use can cause lethal changes in the psyche of an otherwise normal person, talks from victims of domestic/or any other kind of abuse, and so on, I’m not an expert and it is a problem that requires expert evaluation and steering. I just hope this is not just forgotten about until the next heart-wrenching tragedy and maybe we should all be writing to our representatives about this. I know I will be.

    1. Cian

      I would say at an even earlier age, and not in relation with drink/drugs.

      I think the concepts of “boundaries” and “consent” needs to be taught, and reinforced, from a young age.

  3. SOQ

    OK just picking up on Orla Muldoon’s point and this is solely from personal experience.

    There is a group of straight women on the gay scene called fag hags. They are the exact opposite of their title, usually very good looking, some even models. They prefer the gay scene because they can have craic and don’t get hassled.

    A friend of mine is one such and occasionally we go to a straight bar or club. The manner in which some men approach her is so aggressive and downright rude that at times I have to step in and pretend to be the other half. So when we going out, SHE suggests a gay venue because of this sort of behaviour.

    I know this is the very thin edge of the wedge but nobody should have to put up with that sort of BS- even worse when the groping starts. Some straight fellas need to just cop the fluck on, and be a bit more considerate. You don’t have a right to ruin other people’s nights in such a manner.

    1. Truthy

      It’s sad and disheartening that that is the case, but also try being a straight man at a gay bar and you’ll soon discover that all men need to cop the fluck on.

      1. SOQ

        I agree to a point but I think the dynamic between gay men is different- there isn’t a power game at play, which is actually the core issue.

          1. johnny-ny

            …there,fixed it,update.
            …., usually very good looking, some even models,some even non binary and sexually fluid.

          2. SOQ

            A gaggle of queens are the most un-pc group you will ever meet- anything that figuratively sticks out will be used.

            Thankfully that woke American nonsense has not permutated, and hopefully it never will.

          3. johnny-ny

            nit picking-where do i even start.

            -There is a group of straight women on the gay scene called fag hags-

            NO
            NO
            SOQ
            in YOUR gay scene
            not
            THE
            SCENE

            ( no one in any ‘scene’ except yours uses Fag Hag)

          4. SOQ

            Oh so you know all about the Irish gay scene then do you?

            You do realise that there is not a single commentator on this site you haven’t fought with? Maybe you might consider the possibility that the problem is actually with you?

            No? Didn’t think so.

          5. johnny-ny

            ….no im most certainly am NO expert on whatever ‘gay scene’ you belong to,whereby its normal refer straight women,models even,as FAG HAGS,is it a NI/Belfast gay scene thing,its not Dublin,its just not.

            “There is a group of straight women on the gay scene called fag hags”

        1. Truthy

          Indeed, it is different, but I just think men, generally, could all have a bit more respect for the wishes of others, even if they are the object of our desires, in any social situation. No matter who you are, it’s a horrible to feel harassed, sexually or otherwise.

    2. Janet, dreams of all the cake

      I’d ONLY go dancing in gay venues,
      it’s the only way you can relax and actually dance without fencing off hands and hip thrusts

      1. johnny

        …i only go clubs specifically say in Paris,when im on THE list and have bottle service in a roped off area:)

        1. Janet, dreams of all the cake

          I’m so unimpressed,
          I spent my life there on the lists, full of pretentious no craics self pleasures,
          I’d rather be out in the action

          1. johnny-ny

            ….it’s the only way you can relax and actually dance without fencing off hands and hip thrusts..
            Johnny
            OMG
            (you got any that weed:)
            JOHNNY
            table is ready
            if you need ANYTHING
            after party is at….
            JOHNNY
            …each to their own.

          2. johnny-ny

            (guess,ah gwan,what LOADS doormen,promoters,DJ’s,club owners,like to smoke…ah gwan…..not mention those ‘in the action” )
            im not in distribution,cultivation.

          3. Janet, dreams of all the cake

            what you’re in is a very private special rather hazy virtual universe,
            now tell me more about how people like weed…. fascinating

          4. Janet, dreams of all the cake

            good thanks :)
            sun is shining, baby is asleep, dinner in the oven, minder booked in for my run later …peachy

        1. Janet, dreams of all the cake

          YOKES …ya don’t care ( actually in Paris pretty good DJS )
          well back in the day

        2. SOQ

          Bars yes, all pop- but clubs are different.

          IMO the best would be have been Euphoria, but who knows what state anything will be on once the venues really open again.

    3. Cian

      +1 SOQ;

      The way many men treat women out and about is shocking. I was vaguely aware of these sorts of things, but for me, the last week has made me realise the scale of it. *Every* woman has *multiple* stories of crappy things that have happened directly to *her*.

  4. Rosette of Sirius

    What can men do? Yes stop being thick and for forks sake stop this ‘not all men’ nonsense. We’re not the victims here and does nothing but perpetuate a victim mindset in men and amplify the problem for women. Instead, think of it as ‘it could be any man’ from a woman’s perspective. This was something that was instilled in me by a very progressively minded father. If men understand this, then we might see change. Though with the huge amount of idiotic adult baby-men on our planet, I won’t hold my breath

    1. AssPants

      Yes, aren’t men just the most idiotic beings on the planet; it must be so refreshing for you to be able to identify all these idiotic men which are so beneath you and navigate yourself to beings of intelligence like yours..

    2. Micko

      I know this isn’t going to be popular and it’s not a comment on the murder of this poor young girl, but more about the “anti-male” narrative that has exploded online, particularly by people who have a stake in pushing that agenda.

      Anyway, my point is that let’s not forget that men are victims of abuse too and we need to keep this as a conversation about the abuse and murder of PEOPLE, and not let it devolve into a “men vs women” fight.

      On that:

      Mensaid have seen a massive increase in calls.
      1 in 7 Men in Ireland subject to abuse.
      Not a single refuge in Ireland for men.
      Men stick around in toxic relationships as they don’t want to lose access to their children.
      Men are embarrassed to admit they are abused by their partners.
      Funding for Men’s services is less than 1% that of Women’s services.

      https://dublingazette.com/news/mens-aid-refuge-56423/

      1. Janet, dreams of all the cake

        that’s all true too Micko,
        I fupping love men and with a few exceptions prefer their company,
        despite being ( I won’t use the word the victim of being) chased by men down dark streets, gropped by men, felt up on trains and taxis, held up by the neck against a wall and two attempted rapes, I don’t walk in fear, I refuse to, but many many wemon do and it’s important to listen to them.
        There’s a lot of pent up frustration from years of Hassel and not being listened too, I think that explains the narrative to a certain extent.

        1. Micko

          I don’t know what the solution is though Janet. (And while I have ya – happy birthday) ;-)

          The simple fact is that yes, some people are deviants and will abuse and murder others – be they male or female.

          Short of locking up all men after hours, what could we do?

          Actually, once a female friend of mine was attacked and almost raped and two “rough around the edges” lads saved her. Beat the living sh*#e out of the bloke and stayed until the guards arrived.

          I’m her own words “these two heroes were guys she would normally cross the street to avoid”.

          Anyway, the way that it has been co-opted by some people online is just disturbing to me.

          As I said the other day, there was a father of two shot in his front garden the other day and they’ve just arrested a woman and a man for it.

          There’s no outcry for him…

          1. Janet, dreams of all the cake

            I got a few lads from the legion to demolish one of the lads I managed to fight off, bit rough around the edges themselves…but my heros that night.
            That’s one dose who will never bother a woman again I hope.
            Yes there are deviants in both sexes but I think you have to agree that for the most part the majority of men aren’t frightened in every day life or looking over their shoulders and while I don’t feel that way it’s the reality for lots of ladies and a conversation about why and what to do about it is a good thing, it’s a start.
            There’s much less daily abuse here than my experience in either Paris or India or North Africa where it’s easy to point out the cultural reasons and education behind it, imo the culture here is quieter and less obvious and the ladies expect better which is a better base to start.

          2. Janet, dreams of all the cake

            I’d like to add it’s not all abuse, I like being stopped in the street just to be told I’m beautiful or getting the eye from a fit fella in the veg section, I love flirting and a bit of banter, the sad thing is some ladies are so fed up they don’t even enjoy that anymore and that’s a loss for everyone. That’s part of the effect of bad behavior too. Spoils the healthy interactions too.

          3. Micko

            Absolutely, and I’m all for having sensible mature conversations about it.

            I honestly don’t know how to make women feel safer. Perhaps the media hyping up the (statistically very rare) murder of women to such levels is causing women to feel more anxious about it. I don’t know tbh.

            It’s when people start floating ideas about curfews for men and re-educating men that I get freaked out.

            Men and women are very different and we are both brilliant and horrific at the same time.

          4. Janet, dreams of all the cake

            yeah that curfew crap is just offensive,
            it boils down to respect, ideally you are taught it as a child, for yourself and the world around you.

          5. SOQ

            There is all sorts of weird dials and settings on women Micko- way too complicated for me. Men have an on/off switch- keeps life simple.

          6. Janet, dreams of all the cake

            +1
            and they don’t hold a grudge and just tell you straight when you pee them off instead of expecting you to read their minds…* massive generalisation * based on my interactions that probably say more about me than anything about men or women ;)

          7. Oro

            “There’s no outcry for him”

            The difference M is that this guy wasn’t killed because of his sex. Whereas violence against women is almost always done with that as a component. I don’t know how that’s not clear. Unsurprised you have the MRA-lite list ready to go but this thread is really not the place for it.

            My sisters and all (all) of my women-friends also have similarly depressing lists of events (like Janet listed – sorry J and good for you for being so frank about it) and I’ll bet that you don’t even the slightest thing that would compare. It’s shocking the amount of women that have experienced rape or attempted rape, derailing it to talk about “but men suffer too” is a bit tone deaf.

          8. Micko

            “ I’ll bet that you don’t even the slightest thing that would compare.”

            When I was 16 I was coming home from the cinema in Coolock and I was stabbed and had a brick smashed over my head.

            But because the lads didn’t try to rape me, it doesn’t count.

            You absolute clown.

          9. Oro

            I was talking about violence against you by women. Which I’m guessing there is either none or very little, and nothing that would compare with Janet’s (or your typical woman’s) list.

            Your (terrible btw that must have been awful) story just emphasizes the problem of violence enacted by men in society. And chill out with the insults pls.

      2. Fergalito

        While true, it’s not the point nor what the conversation needs to be about at the moment. For now it’s about women, the aptly described assertion by Orla Muldoon that women are prey. Having discussed this with the women in my life I’m slowly starting to get it into my thick head.

        My better half should be able to walk the dog without some wankers in a souped up motor jeering at her or calling her names. “You’ll be ready for a bra soon” remarked by a randomer to a friends pre teen daughter.

        Women and girls have to put up with another level of abuse and harassment that men can be oblivious too.

        Talking about men and abuse inflicted on them is a completely different conversation. It dilutes the message that women need to communicate.

        We need to look out for each other and try not to restrain our better instincts by calling idiots out.

        1. Janet, dreams of all the cake

          yep there’s a lot of people that need heard,
          it’s not an us versus all man bad boo his issue

          1. Fergalito

            Yer right, it’s not – those talking about social media circuses, lack of outcries for other victims etc. are way off the mark. There’s a conversation happening now, that’s the main thing. One or a series of historical injustices doesn’t negate the catalyst that this terrible tragedy has sparked. I understand that the peripheral noise and commandeering of an issue to bleat around the margins about what people believe are related can be distracting and blur the line to the truths that are out there and need to be spoken. Not a reason to give up or throw your flailing arms in the air.

            Happy birthday by the way – hope you get the bumps !

  5. Boe_Jiden

    A brown Brazilian woman was butchered in her apartment by a male about 2 months ago, it quickly and quietly left the news cycle.

      1. Nigel

        It’s almost like this is an outburst of anger and frustration after an accumulation of incidents.

      2. Doxxy Chainsaw

        If you were so outraged, why couldn’t you have been the one to organise it, rather than expecting someone else to do your virtue signalling for you?

  6. Ellie Campbell

    If anyone, male or female, think that Irishmen can bring an end to the abuse/rape/murder of women they are deluded. NOWHERE in the world has achieved this. And the Irish feminist brigade need to stop jumping on the graves of victims for likes, retweets and hot takes. It is most distasteful. There is no solution to murder, that’s the awful truth of the matter.

    1. Cian

      We may not be able to “bring an end to the abuse/rape/murder of women.” But imagine if we reduced it by 5%? or 20% or 80%? Surely *that* is worth doing?

      Ireland, for women, has improved hugely over the last 50 years – let’s keep making it better.

  7. Reasonable Commenter

    Embarrassing at this stage. If it was a special needs kid who needs autism support no-one would give one.

    1. Doxxy Chainsaw

      You honestly believe if a special needs kid was murdered at any time of the day, never mind during the dayt time nobody would care?

      Seriously?

  8. Verbatim

    Mothers need to be looked at more closely on how they rear their boys. Some women take out their hatred of men on their sons.

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