24 May 2024

'If you're a brave, tough man, step up': Illawarra men call for action on gendered violence

| Zoe Cartwright
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Deputy chair of Healthier Illawarra Men, Toby Dawson

‘If you have courage, you will join this fight’ – deputy chair of Healthier Illawarra Men, Toby Dawson, calls for men to act to end gendered violence. Photo: Healthier Illawarra Men.

It’s time for blokes to take a good long look in the mirror, Healthier Illawarra Men deputy chair Toby Dawson says.

Toby will be one of the speakers at the Women Illawarra march to stop gender-based violence on Saturday 25 May.

He said it was a no-brainer for Healthier Illawarra Men to back the event.

“Our objective is to improve men’s health and have healthier, happier communities,” he said.

“We can’t do that if we don’t take an active stand against domestic, family and sexual violence.

“We know most of the perpetrators are men, and we know the impact on our community is massive.

“The time for turning a blind eye and relying on underfunded frontline services, mostly staffed and run by women, is over.

“That focus on the symptom ignores the cause – if men are the vast majority of perpetrators, that’s where we need to start.”

READ ALSO Illawarra called to action to stop national nightmare of violence against women

At least 30 women have been murdered in Australia in 2024, the majority killed by a partner or family member.

Women Illawarra have called on men, women and children of all backgrounds, to come together at Lang Park from 12:30 pm on Saturday and demand change.

There will also be a flower installation to honour all the women who have been killed by a current or former partner in the past three years.

“The statistics don’t lie,” Toby said.

“This is everywhere, and we need to activate all sections of the community to eradicate it.

“I think the biggest challenge for men is to reflect on when they’ve been less than perfect in their language, actions and attitudes towards women.

“We don’t like to acknowledge our imperfections, we feel like we have to be strong for our family or our community.

“I know I’ve been less than perfect in this space and we need to encourage each other to acknowledge these imperfections and do better.”

Toby said the rise of violent pornography and the “man-o-sphere” online encouraged men, particularly young men, to view women as things rather than people.

He said the best way to combat the toxic messaging was through real-life interactions.

READ ALSO Government commits $925 million to help women leave family violence

“These guys who say they have to fight for men’s rights by emphasising dominance and alpha-ness – it’s just ridiculous,” he said.

“Men have benefitted at the detriment of women for far too long.

“Women are people – it’s not rocket science. Reflect on your own behaviour. If you think you need help, talk to someone and learn how to do better.

“You don’t need to broadcast it to the world, but be honest with yourself.

“When you’re at work, at the footy, in the pub, be aware of language, behaviours and attitudes that are not appropriate.

“The standard you walk past is the standard you accept, and if you’re not happy to accept domestic, family and sexual violence as part of our community you need to call people out.

“It doesn’t have to be on the spot, you can have a quiet word with people later, but men need to start moderating ourselves, individually and collectively.

“Come down on Saturday. If you are a brave, tough man, step into this space. It takes a healthy amount of cowardice to ignore this issue.

“If you have courage, you will join this fight.”

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