John Roughan’s had enough of being a whipping boy


I’m tired of reading “a message to our men” and hearing an array of role models say things like, “As men we have to get our act together and stop this.” The implication is that violence to women is embedded in the male gene and we have to help each other control it.

As men know, that is simply not so. But it is not the misrepresentation of our sexuality that worries me, it’s the comfort this tender, inclusive message will be giving to deviants who think they’re normal.

Boys normally realise very early in life that they simply do not hit girls. Of course they’re told they shouldn’t fight at all but their father’s tone becomes more serious when he says, “You don’t hit girls. Not for any reason. There are no excuses. Never.”

The message goes deeper into our being than women possibly realise. It becomes part of our sexuality in the correct meaning of that word. It means we cannot hit a woman, and I’m not just talking morally, I mean physically. Our mental wiring makes it well nigh impossible to do. It’s like forcing a magnet to act against its poles.

This is why some women are so confident laying into men. ? Most men will actually just defend themselves and try to restrain the woman. ? Because Roughan’s right – by the time we’ve turned into adults, we’re just about hard wired not to hit girls.

Even on the subject of domestic violence, there is a tendency to deny the obvious. When David Cunliffe made his excruciating apology for being a man last year, one Auckland academic criticised him because some domestic violence is committed by women. It is hard to imagine a sillier moral equivalence, or one more dangerous to offer to deficient males.

Cunliffe’s apology went down well with the audience of women’s refuge organisers and in wider academic circles where social responsibility is considered the solution to all problems. There was genuine surprise in those places that Cunliffe looked so ridiculous to almost everyone else.

The reason his apology went down so badly was that most people, men and women, know that men are not predisposed to domestic violence and it does no good to put that myth in susceptible minds.

Most men are not violent. ?Even more men are not violent against women. ? But that’s not the message we are being presented with. ? Let’s just call it as it is: ?bad people are bad people, and domestic violence in any form isn’t done by good men, or good women.

Let’s not smear the rest of us with their behaviour then.


– John Roughan, A newspaper