When it comes to genitals I’ve got the male set, an untidy cluster of appendages that when looking at the world both past and present generates a sense of embarrassed responsibility, being as how men have been, in general, total shits. Domestic violence is one of their ways of being. We’re talking controlling behaviour, financial dickery, manipulation, intimidation and threats, building to physical and sexual assault and murder. Women’s Aid reckons there are 13 million incidents of domestic violence every year, that one in four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime, that every week two are killed by their current or ex-partners. The place I’m working in has one of the highest rates of domestic violence in the country, and already it’s striking how often it comes up.

There are people helping. Women’s Aid, obviously, and Refuge and the National Domestic Violence Helpline and Rape Crisis and Broken Rainbow, all of which do good stuff for people going through it. Those people being overwhelmingly female. And their work’s all good and vital and necessary, but being a futurist type with an eye on how life could suck less hard in a generation or two, my mind’s drawn to a question I’m slightly embarrassed to ask because of my penis: what about men?

I’m not asking that in a Daily Mail/Jeremy Clarkson, “White, able-bodied, heterosexual men just can’t get a break” kind of way. Men make up a tiny percentage of domestic violence victims because domestic violence is part of the patriarchal power bollocks men have carved out for the world, and as bad as I feel for the few male victims there are they’re not symptomatic of a bigger pile of wrong. No, I’m asking more in the way of how working only with women on domestic violence is like working only with gay people on homophobia or black people on racism. If we’re going to move past domestic violence on our way to a half-decent society we have to stop the men doing the hitting from hitting people, change the way they think about this stuff and make sure the next generation of women aren’t saddled with this shit.

Women’s Aid’s does a spot of that. They run the Expect Respect campaign that tells teenagers how their relationships should be going down, and run the Real Men campaign that tells men how abusing women isn’t the way to come off butch, that abusive men are weak and prickish. The White Ribbon Campaign does a spot of that too but with deeper voices and more in the way of Adam’s apples. Set up by a group of men, they’re looking for other men to stand up and say, “Enough of this shit”. They’ve signed up big butch male celebrities, the likes of football and rugby players and boxer Amir Khan, who only beats the shit out of people if they’re the same gender as him, and only if loads of other people are cheering him on, and only if he’s getting paid a load of cash for it.

All of which brings us to the Zeroistic bit of do-gooding. The White Ribbon gang gets men to make a pledge to never “commit, condone, or remain silent about men’s violence against women in all its forms”. I did that, along with 7,000 other people. If you have the qualifying set of genitals you can pledge that yourself. And then there’s the Chazza of the Month, the recently reinstated feature that replaces its recent replacement. It’s Women’s Aid. Apologies, White Ribbon Campaign. I’d be too embarrassed to do this whole thing on patriarchy and then give to the chazza with the wang.

Photo credit: Women’s Aid