We must fight together to eradicate violence against everyone. (Pic: Mark Stewart)
We must fight together to eradicate violence against everyone. (Pic: Mark Stewart)

Being a boy isn’t something to apologise for

GOOD and bad coexist in this world and, in news which might which irritate some, these things are not gender specific.

We grieve for the brutality and the waste of young Eurydice Dixon's life, our fury piqued by the randomness of her rape and murder.

But when tragedies like this are viewed through the "men are to blame/no they're not to blame" prism, what do we learn?

Yes, Jill Meagher and Luke Batty were killed by violent men. But in the case of farmer Mathew Dunbar and young dad Jarred Castel, women have been charged with their deaths.

None of these crimes should be used to promote a cause, a point painfully flagged by Eurydice's family who want to be left in peace to grieve their loss.

And in a race to the ideological bottom where high profile deaths are often used to warn people off men, there is no doubt we are sending a dangerous and pervasive message to our younger males.

Feel guilty about being born a boy. Recognise that you are privileged. Apologise for having XY chromosomes. Girls struggle more than you so give them special dispensation.

Act like a man or even "man up" but we will micro criticise the elements that don't suit our current agenda. Case closed.

Earlier this week PM Malcolm Turnbull told parliament: "What we must do as we grieve is ensure that we change the hearts of men to respect women."

Eurydice Dixon was killed as she was walking home last week.
Eurydice Dixon was killed as she was walking home last week.

What about changing all our hearts so we respect our fellow humans? I don't want my teen son to think that "being a man" is such a narrow place in which to function.

We focus on empowering girls who are tutored from nappy stage that they can do anything but the message of "You go girl!" is political and not based on any reality.

We should be standing shoulder to shoulder, gender to gender with a placard that says simply Stop Violence. That means violence towards women, men, boys, girls, everyone.

What we need is not social media campaigns but social change to turn #StoptheViolence into a unified and relentless mission, devoid of politics and gender squabbles.

Violence is violence. And it has to stop, whether it is behind closed doors, in the cold dark of a football field, the alleyway or footpath of a pub or nightclub, in schools and universities, on public transport and in every corner of our world.

I asked my son, 14, this week to explain to me what is means to be a man.

After a bit of back and forth, he said this: "When things get hard, we're told to act like a man."

"Does that mean, for example, act tough or hide your feelings?" I asked

He replied: "No one explains what it actually means, least of all other men. Away from home, we just get told it."

No wonder they're confused. Together my son and I have previously tried to unravel the peer conundrum of "why feminists hate men", to use the vernacular of his friends.

And to think that his cohort as teens are only exposed to a fraction of the misandry that masquerades as feminist ideology.

But imagine a society where all people treated each other as people first.

We need to empower boys too: isn't that authentic feminism? First and foremost we are human.

Statistics are being used to whitewash decent young men and to cement a claim that men are almost always the perpetrators and that women are victims, when this is often not the case.

I have a friend Michael who is a single dad of seven children. His wife walked out on him when their youngest was still in nappies.

He could count on one hand the number of times his ex-wife has spent any measure of time with the children in 14 years.

A vigil was held at Princes Park in memory of Eurydice Dixon earlier this week. (Pic: Jason Edwards)
A vigil was held at Princes Park in memory of Eurydice Dixon earlier this week. (Pic: Jason Edwards)

Two of those children are now adults. He has been one of the most hands-on parents I have ever known, always helping at sports and school.

Michael has often encountered resistance to his presence from mums at his children's primary school.

Once he volunteered for canteen duty only for one of the mothers to ask Michael if he had his Working With Children check as he would need that in the canteen, if he was to be serving the children at recess and lunch.

If he didn't have it, he needed to stay in the kitchen and make sandwiches if he felt capable of doing that.

None of the women buttering bread in the background were quizzed the same.

As a regular football coach, Michael piped up and said he did indeed have the proper clearances but would happily do any task assigned to him.

He still ended up in the kitchen making cheese sandwiches, where he was peppered with observations that it was strange to see a dad on canteen duty. He never volunteered again.

As he said to me: "Maybe I'm wrong, but there is nothing female about being kind any more than there is anything inherently male about being strong."

Parents must not be afraid to raise their sons and daughters the same way.

We should not set out on a point scoring exercise where we start differentiating on what makes a victim more of a victim and inadvertently teaching a generation of men it's bad to be male.

We should not imply that a woman who was raped and murdered is more deserving of justice than a man who was attacked at gunpoint and killed in cold blood and left to die in a field. We have no right to make that call.

I have a son and a daughter, but why should either of them apologise for their gender? There are some cultures where it is considered shameful to bear a female child. In our society we condemn this.

So it is crucial to raise our boys to feel that they have nothing to be sorry about, simply because they are male.