Australian News/Reading: Respectful Relationships Education

In local masculinity education  news, I’ve just heard about a Vichealth report to the Victorian Education Department on teaching boys about healthy gender roles and challenging attitudes that allow violence and silence around gendered violence. The only link I’ve got here is one to an article on the Herald Sun – it’s not very positive and the comments are horrible. But I highly recommend you read the embedded chat with the report’s author, Dr Michael Flood, where he more cogently expresses the aims and goals of the program.

Here’s an excerpt from that chat;

 I should stress that the Herald Sun’s initial reporting wasn’t very accurate. The report, and my work in general, recognises that most young men (like most men) treat women and girls with respect and care, and that most do not use violence. A minority do, while others sometimes stand by silently and let this happen. So part of this work is addressing the sexist and violence-supportive attitudes among a minority of young men which feed into physical and sexual violence in relationships. And building on the positive roles which many young men already play.

Awesome stuff.

Here is the article

And here is the report (PDF)

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5 Comments on “Australian News/Reading: Respectful Relationships Education”


  1. Thanks so much! Michael is an amazing scholar and feminist activist – I wish I could “be like Mike!”

  2. Daran Says:

    From the chat:

    Abe:

    What steps are being put in place to teach girls that violence against men is wrong?

    Flood:

    Abe, thanks. As I note above, healthy or respectful relationships education takes as given that *any* violence is wrong, whether against females or males.

    This is a truly disingenuous response. “Respectful relationships” education takes it as given that non-violence is not a given, but needs to be taught. That’s it’s raison d’etre.

    Later in response to a different question:

    addressing violence by females and by males is par for the course.

    I see no indication of that. The report states in its executive summary that “The report focuses on the prevention of forms of violence that occur in intimate and family relationships, including physical or sexual violence by boyfriends and girlfriends…”. I’ve read the Summary, part 1 and halfway through part 2 of the report, and I have yet to find any sign of such focus. Other than that fleeting allusion which passed in the blink of an eye, there has so far not been single reference to female perpetration or male victimisation to offset the multiple references to female victimisation, male perpetration and “violence against women”.

    Flood is paying lip-service, and the meagrest of that at best. The report adheres the the Victorian* idea of maleness as the font of all things violent. That’s a view of masculinity of which true progressives ought to be critical.

    *The era, not the Australian State

    • Wes Says:

      Sorry, but that’s completely ridiculous.

      Why does the report HAVE to focus on female-to-male violence as well? If M-F violence is a massive problem, and statistically the vast majority of adult violence is perpetrated by males, what sense does it make to have educating girls not to beat men weighted equally?

      Certainly, they’re both equally damaging, but the scale of their frequency is vastly different.

      • Daran Says:

        Hi, Wes. Thanks for responding.

        Why does the report HAVE to focus on female-to-male violence as well? If M-F violence is a massive problem, and statistically the vast majority of adult violence is perpetrated by males, what sense does it make to have educating girls not to beat men weighted equally?

        Firstly Flood does not suggest that it doesn’t make sense to educate girls about female-perpetrated violence. He disingenuously implies that “addressing” it “is par for the course” when in reality, ignoring it is par for the course. If he believes that it doesn’t make sense to educate girls, then he should have said so.

        Secondly it’s really not well established that “the vast majority of” intimate partner “violence is perpetrated by males”. (I presume you’re not suggesting that perpetration rates for adult violence other than between intimates are a relevant consideration here.) Studies using credible methodologies suggest that somewhere between half and three quarters of all IPV is male perpetrated. I’m not sure whether I’d call three quarters a “vast” majority. Half certainly isn’t.

        Thirdly would you take a similar line over those forms abuse perpetrated mostly by females or against men? Should we educate only girls about the evils of child-abuse, and talk about the subject as though male perpetrators don’t exist? Should we refer to prison and war related violence as “violence against men”, and erase the female victims from the discourse?

  3. Daran Says:

    And another thing:

    what sense does it make to have educating girls not to beat men weighted equally?

    Neither I, nor “Abe” whom I quoted, said anything about giving it equal weighting. so this is a straw man.


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