Re: Stephen MacLeod’s letter “End the violence against everyone” (The Guardian, Dec. 1): I have studied and taught on the subject of gender and conflict, and it is in this capacity that I welcome Mr. MacLeod to the conversation about violence in our society. A goal of ending violence, no matter what the gender of the victim, is certainly one to be tasking our lawmakers, researchers, and citizens with. No argument.
However, in laying out his argument against the “Man Up” group (and, I assume, against other initiatives to tackle violence against women), Mr. MacLeod is arguing for a divisive approach to ending violence.
This is not a competition and I agree with him that we need to address not only the contributors to violence against women, but also that directed to all members of our society.
Mr. MacLeod does not report some important statistics that I feel are important to consider: According to Statistics Canada (statcan.gc.ca/pub/85-002-x/2014001/article/14114/tbl/tbl21-eng.htm), not only are women far more often the victims of intimate partner violence - about four in 10 female victims (41 per cent) were victimized by an intimate partner, a proportion which was 3.5 times higher than for men (12 per cent) - they are also far more often the victims of all forms of gender-based violence (GBV). GBV is violence perpetrated on a person for reasons directly related to their gender.
Equally important, for the purpose of understanding how to decrease violence in our society, statistics and police reports indicate that men are significantly more often the perpetrators of all types of violence – by partners or by strangers.
StatsCan reports that men were identified as perpetrators in 81 per cent of cases of violent victimization against women, and in 79 per cent of cases of violent victimization against men, whereas females accounted for 10 per cent of victimizations against women and men.
If we want to decrease the prevalence of violence in society we need to address the culture, underlying attitudes and beliefs that lead to violence and encourage more initiatives such as “Man Up” that are responding to the knowledge that men are overwhelmingly more often the perpetrators of violence than are women.
Susan Hartley, PhD, is a Rotary Scholar in peace and conflict studies and a clinical psychologist in Charlottetown. She is also the Green Party of P.E.I. shadow critic for Health and Wellness.