Do men need to hear domestic violence message from other men?

// 16 May 2008

New York has rethought its campaign to end domestic violence, passing the microphone from women to men, according to NYC24.

The poster showed a woman wearing a hospital gown and a bruise on her back. The bruise had a statistic written over it: one in 12 high school students was beaten by a boyfriend or girlfriend. The only other words on the poster said: “If you or someone you know is being abused, call 311. In emergencies, call 911.”

Today, the image is a bratty-looking kid* in an oversized orange hoodie that says, “Awaiting Instructions.” The poster reads: “Eat your vegetables. Finish your homework. Respect women.”

If this campaign works, that’s brilliant. If it changes one person’s attitudes, and prevents one instance of domestic violence, that’s a success in my book (although, to be frank, you’d hope for more than one).

I am also really glad that men are getting involved. It will take a massive shift in the way that men think in order to change the tide on male violence against women, because, as the description of this epidemic makes clear, it is overwhelmingly men being violent, and therefore it is men’s behaviour that will have to change.

Stories like this give me hope:

Daniel Jose Olderhas taken up this cause. After working as a Brooklyn paramedic for a year, Older joined Reflect Connect Move because he said he had to deal with violence against women every night.

“I had to stop and think, ‘why is it that so many of brothers do that? What’s going on with us as men?’”

Yes, it’s bad that Olderhas saw the results of domestic violence every night as a paramedic. But that should not surprise anyone familiar with the statistics on domestic and sexual violence. But it is good that his reaction is to go out there and try and do something about it.

Here’s where the story gets more complex:

“After about 25 years we started to recognize that we could build shelters on every corner of a community and still not reduce violence,” said Rita Smith, executive director of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, which will be turning 30 this summer. “As smart and eloquent as I am, men didn’t want to listen. But if a man came to them and said this is not appropriate behavior, then it was probably going to have a bigger impact.”

Yes, anything to get the job done. But… seriously? If men can only listen and respect the words of a man, the problem is not anywhere near solved. It is kind of heartbreaking to read that the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence in the US seems to have given up on using women’s voices to communicate, because sexism and lack of respect for women is so entrenched that no-one pays attention.

“What’s ironic is that men get paid more to say the same things,” Older said. “The problem is when we expect and receive higher acclaim for it than our sisters who have been doing the same work for years.”

(Hat tip to vlogger Irina Slutsky)

*Although the journalist uses the gender-neutral word ‘kid’, and the photo is ambiguous, the campaign info is clearly directed at boys.

Comments From You

Mark KH // Posted 16 May 2008 at 1:15 pm

“If men can only listen and respect the words of a man, the problem is not anywhere near solved.”

I think you’re being a little too provocative. You ought to have said, “If THESE SORTS OF men can only listen and respect the words of a man, the problem is not anywhere near solved.”

The thing is, many (most?) men do listen and respect what women say, but those men are probably not the ones hitting women. Sadly, men who will not listen to women probably DO need to hear the message from other men.

Jess McCabe // Posted 16 May 2008 at 1:32 pm

Mark KH, well, maybe I could have made it a bit clearer that not all men cannot fully-respect something said by a woman, or are violent, although I think that the quotes from male activists against male violence do this work better than me inserting “SOME” in front of every mention of men.

However, there is not a “type” of man who is violent towards women – the statistics on the prevelance of domestic violence demonstrate this, as does the experience of women being assaulted by “nice guys”. If you start to think of this problem in terms of those evil men, the wife-beaters, totally seperate from your friends and acquantainces then the problem will never be tackled properly.

JENNIFER DREW // Posted 16 May 2008 at 1:36 pm

There is a very real risk of patronisation occurring whenever men speak out against other men’s violence against women. White Ribbon Campaign for example, recognise and respect the immense work feminist women have undertaken in challenging MVAW. Speaking to other men about male violence against women is only one of the issues – the other central one is the embedded belief that men’s views are the only ones worth listening to. Men can work to challenge male violence against women but it must be in partnership with women’s organisations not sidelining or dismissing women’s experiences as irrelevant. This is what is meant by pro-feminist men working with feminists rather than presuming the only way men will listen is when they hear other men challenging their beliefs.

But since women as a group have been devalued for so many centuries it will take a very long time before both women”s and men’s voices and experiences are respected equally.

JonC // Posted 16 May 2008 at 1:43 pm

AHCV (Association of Men Against Violence [Against Women]) is a Nicaraguan organisation that has been talking as men to other men about domestic violence for 20-odd years. Domestic violence is taboo both here and there and their methods really work.

BareNakedLady // Posted 16 May 2008 at 1:58 pm

However, there is not a “type” of man who is violent towards women – the statistics on the prevelance of domestic violence demonstrate this, as does the experience of women being assaulted by “nice guys”.

True. But I think Mark’s point was probably more along the lines that if a man is violent towards women, then by definition he does not respect them, and hence is unlikely to listen to a message coming from a woman.

In any case, if your target group is ‘men-who-are-violent-towards-women’, I think that bemoaning the fact that they won’t listen to a woman is a bit of a moot point!

leigh // Posted 16 May 2008 at 4:00 pm

Do men need to hear domestic violence message from other men?

Absolutely. Men who beat their problems do it because at various levels they believe that they can use their male, personal strength to solve their problems. By employing that awful strategy they choose to disrespect women for being weak enough for them to dominate. For people of whatever class, personality or origin to adopt or develop that way of thinking only a voice that the can respect can change their minds. The perverse conflation of masculinity, dominance and power mean that a male voice has the best chance to make a difference.

yeomanpip // Posted 16 May 2008 at 4:33 pm

The thing is, many (most?) men do listen and respect what women say, but those men are probably not the ones hitting women. Sadly, men who will not listen to women probably DO need to hear the message from other men

Sorry to say this but most men do not respect women.

It may be true(r?) to say most men abhor violence towards women, but that in itself has a basis in male chauvinism.

How many fathers (and sometimes mothers) of boys have you heard say “you shouldn’t hit girls” yet actually promote violence against other boys, (I think of my father who would tell me I had to face up to bullys by returning the aggression – “smack them hard in the mouth, they won’t come back” – the only time I tried this they did come back, as my stay in hospital proved)

BTW, I also believe that Boys shouldn’t hit girls, but then I believe that Boys shouldn’t hit boys, or girls shouldn’t hit girls, If there is a problem they should debate or discuss it, and learn the reasons why the problem is there, but I digress a little, if any hitting is to be done it should only be in an absolute controlled environment, like a boxing ring…

I believe the problem stems from the whole chauvinistic way that society is, Men are taught by society that Women are beneath them, of course this is hardly ever actually said, but the attitude is there, all the time.

I work in a school and hear teachers say things that segregate male and female, boy and girl and it is accepted, sometimes statements such as “don’t act like a girl” are blatently sexist, but sometimes you just see a simple frown or look of astonishment because someone is acting outside of society’s given gender role.

However, there is not a “type” of man who is violent towards women

Well, there is, as BareNakedLady says ‘men-who-are-violent-towards-women’ being that type, unfortunately no other characteristic shows this, whether the man has a beard or clean shaven, is an executive in a major company or sweeps streets, there is no way of knowing whether they use violence against women, or, perhaps just as importantly will ever use violence against women.

So after all that, I’ll answer the question posed in the title…

Do men need to hear domestic violence message from other men?

Absolutely, but in addition Men NEED to inform other men that they are (usually) wrong in their general opinion of women.

Women are our equals.

Anne Onne // Posted 16 May 2008 at 8:15 pm


We need feminism because men don’t respect women, and value any opinion less coming from a woman. They write us off as hysterical, overly emotional and unable to reason (we had a prime example here a few days ago!), they get defensive, they insist that that’s just how they are, and how can you argue with biology/try to change them?

Most misogynist behaviour (apart from outright rape and abuse) doesn’t occur in front of women, but behind their backs, when men feel that with no women around, they can let rip with the objectification in a bid to impress their mates and reaffirm their heterosexual virility. Women can’t fight what they’re never a party to, and there is a part here for pro-feminists to play, a chance for them to refuse to take part in, or point out misogyny.

Also, it’s very important that the pro-feminists impress upon their fellow men that women are worth listening to, or challenging the notions we can’t fight against. If a man refuses to listen to my arguments because he writes off women, I’m not going to get through to his reasoning ability, but another man might, because men can get behind that ‘ignore women’ filter a lot of men have on.

But unfortunately, there is an element of that old onion piece (man takes over ailing feminism movement, achieves all goals in a second) in that allowing men to dominate the field could potentially silence women who have been working in it for years.

As usual, the answer is a complicated one, involving pro-feminist males/feminist men. Male violence against women is not a women’s problem, and the acknowledgement of that, and involvement of more men in actively combating it are an important step. Whilst all issues that affect women but are perpetrated by men are marked in the ‘wimmin’s stuff’ ghetto, we can’t make progress, because men are not taking responsibility for the part they play in this. So, a step in the right direction if done well, but there are things to watch out for, and it would be all too easy to forget the importance of listening to women, and encouraging men to not only not beat women, but listen to them.

james // Posted 16 May 2008 at 10:22 pm

“However, there is not a “type” of man who is violent towards women – the statistics on the prevelance of domestic violence demonstrate this…”

I would respectfully disagree. The feminist mantra is that there’s no “type” of man who is violent toward women. Jess and yeomanpip and BareNakedLady have all repeated it here. But it’s not true. There has been lots of serious criminology which has found type, one of the most notable findings is that a prior criminal history is strongly associated with domestic violence.

I know, that really is a shock isn’t it! Criminals are much more likely to beat their wives than previously law-abiding citizens. Wow. You’d have never have guessed it! Well, I think most people would have; but I really don’t understand the insistance by feminists that there’s no type, when there so obviously is. And plenty of reseach to demonstrate it. It does make me suspect that while there are people – like criminologists – who are serious researchers into this topic, lots of academic feminists aren’t, and are just ideologues and interested in trying to tar and get us to suspect men who are very unlikely to get involved in violent crime against a partner.

SnowdropExplodes // Posted 17 May 2008 at 1:37 am

“There is a very real risk of patronisation occurring whenever men speak out against other men’s violence against women.”


Sometimes, I think there is in “men talking to men about male violence against women”, a sense of othering or marginalising the women involved, as well.

When this article by Kevin Powell appeared, it got a positive reception from a number of feminist bloggers, but to me it had a very strong scent of “White Knight”-ism about it, as I explained at my own blog.

In terms of bringing about change, perhaps a better way of looking at it is, “do men need to be saying it’s not okay?” and on that count, the answer has to be an emphatic “YES!” I suspect that teaching men to respect women is a longer road than teaching men not to be violent towards women (and indeed, that violence is not an answer to most social situations).

Laura // Posted 17 May 2008 at 1:39 pm


1 in 4 women suffer domestic violence, the vast, vast majority of this being at the hands of men. That’s a hell of a lot of men, and a hell of a lot of different types of men. If you want us to believe that every single one of them has a serious criminal record (because we’re clearly not talking parking offences here, engaging in minor acts of breaking the law hardly constitutes a “type” of person) you should probably get citing some evidence, because I for one am really not buying it.

Anna // Posted 17 May 2008 at 1:56 pm

My ex was one of the nicest, quietest, sweetest people I ever knew – until one day we’d both had far too much to drink and we got in an argument and it ended up with violence.. My current partner has been a football hooligan in his time, some of the things he’s done are quite frankly appalling yet he’s never lifted a finger to me.. or ever would, I believe. *shrug*

Anne Onne // Posted 17 May 2008 at 6:49 pm

James, then you also hear about the rich, upper middle class professionals who get let off with fines for beating their wives:


Some rich men beat their wives, some poor men beat their wives. Some black men beat their wives, some white men beat their wives. Some criminals beat their wives, some ‘upstanding citizens’ beat their wives. Many, many different people beat their wives, the one common denominator being their gender.

Isn’t a criminal simply someone who’s been caught for a crime they commited? How’s that a good indicator of how much crime someone commits, when one can often commit crime and never be prosecuted? Rape would be an excellent example. No matter how high you believe the incidence, most rapists are never caught, and are therefore in your group of ‘non-criminal’ men, despite being both technically criminals, and likely to abuse women.

There is no type simply because abuse of women is an almost universal part of society, cutting accross social boundaries and cultural ones. Some groups hide it better (rich men can buy silence, and intimidate victims more, and are more likely to be overlooked by the judicial system), but when this is happening to so many different types of women, it is happening because it is a systemic thing, affecting many men.

It’s easy for men to get defensive and start to try and differentiate themselves from the others, or put abusers in a neat category all of their own, like rapists. A category only inhabited by shady individuals who look like they could do it. But this is the kind of thinking that leads to low convictions for abuse of women, and blaming the victim, because then people, especially men, don’t want to believe that abusers and rapists are everywhere, and don’t have a huge sign on their foreheads. That means that out of all the women you know, some of them will have been raped or abused, statistically speaking. They will probably never tell you, or even anyone, but it’s the truth. And it also means that at least some of the men you know and love are abusers or rapists. It’s impossible to know which ones, since there’s no handy tattoo on the forehead, but again, it’s statistically incredibly improbable that if you meet hundreds of people at work and socialising, that none of them are abusers. They exist, you just don’t know who they are. And nobody expects you to. We just ask that you don’t write off the possibility by saying ‘I don’t know anybody who looks like an abuser!’ because there is no type.

James, I know you think of yourself as a good person who respects women, or else you wouldn’t be here without trolling. But if you really want to help women, you can start by trying to accept that to us, every man has the slight potential to be an abuser, because in our experience, any kind of man can turn out to be one. If you insist that abusers only look like X group, it ends up with people saying ‘he can’t have done it, he doesn’t look anything like X’ and that’s why we have low conviction rates and victim-blaming.

Cara // Posted 18 May 2008 at 12:19 pm

Domestic violence and sexual violence are rooted in misogyny. Simple as that. It is NOT about class, “anger issues” or anything else. These misogynist crimes should be classified as hate crimes, in the same way as racially motivated crimes. Beat someone because they are black and it is clearly a racist crime, so beating someone because they are female is…?

Jack Leland // Posted 18 May 2008 at 4:06 pm

As a man, I have to say that having a man talk to me about domestic violence is patronizing and wholly ineffective. And if it’s on posters plastered all over the place, it is annoying and becomes harassment, which will create resentment and result in mockery and vandalism. That only weakens the message and makes resistance and skepticism fashionable. What would be more effective is strong women criticizing male behavior in the most brutal terms possible, because it offers men the opportunity to show their willingness to accept criticism from strong women with humility. That opportunity is lost if a man is delivering the message, both because men need to hear it from women and because women can articulate their own concerns and interests better than men. The message that all men have the potential to abuse women and should be ashamed will be laughed at if delivered by other men, but perhaps internalized if delivered by strong women.

Anne Onne // Posted 18 May 2008 at 6:17 pm

Jack, I really wish more men thought like you, or could actually accept criticism from women, but a lot of men can’t, especially the men targeted by campaigns like this.

Obviously, men should be able to listen to women articulate their needs and ideas, and men only taking a message seriously if addressed by other men is problematic. Because it’s misogynist, and we don’t want that situation either.

But this campaign isn’t aimed at you, or men who would honestly listen to us wimmins. It’s aimed at all the men who ignore all the current work being done by women themselves. It’s a supplement to the work being done by women, and as long as it stays that way, it might achieve something.

Women don’t get the kind of respect you look like you give them from everyone, or even the majority of men. We can’t even be taken seriously when politely asking not to be called ‘love’, getting called ‘uptight’.

To suggest women should be more assertive is something you can say because of privilege, the privilege of people listening to you, and your being asertive not being seen as a bad thing that means nobody could love you, or that you’re a bitch, or that you should be put in your place, or that you complain too much. Or that you give all your gender a bad name. Or that you’re irrational, don’t know what you’re talking about. Or that you must be hormonal, and you aren’t worth listening to.

If we don’t like street harassment, and make it known to the perpetrator, we get insulted or threatened. And that’s just a small act of being a bit assertive, not half as aggressive as what you suggest.

Even blogging online, whether it be about feminism, or in a male-dominated field, we run the risk of being abused, stalked or threatened. At the least, we get marginalised, called a ‘bitch’ any time we disagree with the male speaker, particularly if we hold an opinion fervently, and are accused of being hysterical and unreasonable. And this is on feminist sites, where men will come over to helpfully tell us we’re all wrong about things that affect women’s lives, not men’s, and that we should listen to them. Feminists don’t normally go trolling MRA sites, or conservative sites to pick fights.

A prime example occured on this very site recently. Some women spoke out about how violated they felt when medical professionals did not respect their withdrawal of consent for gynaecological procedures, and coined the term ‘medical rape’. The response from one notable male medical professional wasn’t to laud these strong women for bringing the suffering of patients to the fore, or talk about how the actions of some doctors/nurses affect people’s confidence in the system, even though most are good. No, instead he levelled a personal attack on them, deciding they weren’t real feminists, whined about how they thought all doctors were sadists, and tried to snow people with medical facts that had nothing to do with the simple fact that the clinician should not continue with a procedure if a patient refuses. Then he came around and accused everyone of being incapable of irrational discourse. So the reality is, much more often than not, women speaking out about misogyny is not met with men eagerly listening and willing to change, but with angry, defensive men who accuse them of being hysterical, or react with threats.

In the real world, strong women using brutal terms don’t get listened to. They get ignored, or a reputation for being ugly fat lesbian harpies who are too strident and shrill, and hate men, and think all men are rapists blah blah blah. You have only got to look at the press feminism gets to see how many people really view strong women.

Jack Leland // Posted 19 May 2008 at 3:39 pm

Your response presumes I can call on women to be more assertive or aggressive because I speak from a position of privilege in relation to women. But part of my point is that I speak from a position of superior knowledge about how men interact with each other when women aren’t around, and as a man who isn’t the perfect male that you make me out to be, I was confessing what actually works based on that knowledge.

You seem to think I am a man who honestly listens to women. I used to be one of the men you’re saying I’m not. I am telling you what has worked to make me more receptive.

You are right that women speaking out against misogyny is greeted by defensive, angry men who attack rather than eagerly listen and change, but my point is that is the best option and the most effective one, not that it is perfect or guaranteed to work in each and every case. It is further more effective than alternate strategies that appear to work by getting men to pretend to comply when women are around, but utterly reject the criticism when women are gone. When men are defensive and angry and so forth, that is actually proof that you have touched a nerve. It is an indication that you should continue, not that you should back off. Men who get defensive and angry are offended that they have been enlightened by a woman and want to “shake it off,” just like everyone who is caught committing a crime claims innocence. The purpose of their behavior is to discourage you from continuing because they do not want to internalize your message. I am saying that men do not start listening eagerly on their own without having their egos pierced. I am also saying that many men do not expect a second counterpunch, to use fighting terms. If you speak up with authority, they will try to put you down, and if you speak up again with authority, they will be shocked that you didn’t comply the first time. It is not so controversial to note that persistence and diligence pays off, and that people who try to put you in your place have to be put in theirs. I never disputed, nor am I unaware, of the catalog of irrational and horrible behaviors that men exhibit toward feminists. I am only pointing out that they are opportunities for teaching moments and true conversion.

The response to the male doctor who accused women of irrationality for complaining about rape should have been to criticize him publicly in the harshest terms possible, and to do it until he gave up. He would probably never forget it, and he would properly change his attitude.

Cara // Posted 19 May 2008 at 4:52 pm

Anne Onne – yes, that gets tiringly familiar after a while. “You hate men!” blah blah.

And if I hear one more time “What’s it to do with me? I don’t hit women, my mates don’t hit women, they’re decent blokes” I will get violent myself…something like 1 in 4 women experiences violence from a partner, no? So yes, chances are statistically that among the average guy’s friends, acquaintances, work colleagues…he DOES know someone who abuses women. (Unless a very small number of violent arseholes serially abuse loads of women each…but even taking into account multiple partners, pretty much most adults with normal social circles must know someone who is violent. Which is a depressing thought).

Yeah – I wish more men thought like you too, Jack – the fact is, they don’t. Too many men are actually incapable of listening to women. Not even about “feminist” issues – the number of times I have made a point at work and it is ignored, only when a guy says it…grrrrr.

The *way* some of these campaigns are done grates on me as it is a bit “Listen son, real men don’t hit women, ladies are smaller and weaker than us big men, ya gotta protect em, pick on someone ya own size” (OK, imagine this being said in a US accent by a John Wayne type, which is what’s in my head).

The lectures also piss me off because, well, you don’t get a cookie for being a normal decent human being.

Men should not NEED to be told not to hit women, because being a decent human being means not being violent to anyone. Yes, anyone – if we live in a culture where (some) men think a fight with another bloke who snarled “Watcha looking at?” is a fun way to end a Saturday night out, how the freak do we expect them not to be violent?

The fetishisation of women’s vulnerability and violence against women – you could barely distinguish some campaigns *against* violence from, well, fashion shoots, scenes from computer games or posters for violent movies that *glamourise* said violence. *That*, the general acceptance and glamourisation of violence, and dehumanisation of women is what needs to be tackled.

Jack Leland // Posted 19 May 2008 at 10:18 pm


As I am trying to explain, it is not that men are incapable of listening to women, it is that they are purposely not listening to you and intentionally shutting you down when you object. The only way they can be shut down is to let on that you know and not give up. I’m trying to suggest that you’re buying into the propaganda that men can’t understand. They do, they just aren’t compelled to admit it socially and are allowed to get away with pretending they don’t. Maybe men *should* not need to be told, but as a tactical matter they DO need to be told if you want to change social reality. I don’t know why you would base your tactics on the presumed morality of men or why you would take men at face value. That’s exactly how men trick women into doing all the chores at home or accepting a one-way oral sex regimen. Hey, but don’t listen to me…I’m just a man!

Cara // Posted 19 May 2008 at 11:02 pm

Jack – the reality is that many men can’t, or won’t, listen to women, no matter how persistent they are. That is the point made in the original post – “If men can only listen and respect the words of a man, the problem is not anywhere near solved.” (Although yes, in some cases, I agree that arguing back works – but in some cases, it doesn’t. Brick and wall spring to mind).

By “incapable” I meant that they *won’t* do so due to their conditioning, as I don’t think it is a conscious thing – in my experience, men are mainly thoughtless rather than deliberately being selfish/ bad.

I was not buying into the “Mars and Venus” crap – I don’t think men inherently have poorer communication skills.

As for not having to be told – I wasn’t denigrating anti-DV campaigns, but I often find them patronising, or imagine I would if I were a man – and can’t see why anyone would look at them and think “Hey, I should stop beating my partner! It’s bad!” They know it is.

We should be making it socially absolutely unacceptable, and unfortunately that is not going to happen, as I said, in a social climate that accepts violence. Not to mention as others have said, men getting away with fines for murdering their partners.

A mere campaign on its own won’t do anything. We need discussion, and both men and women need to be involved.

As for “the presumed morality of men” and what you are saying about “trickery” – sounds like you think men and women are two different species. We are essentially the same, with the same mental processes. Some men are moral, some aren’t; same for women.

Holly Combe // Posted 22 May 2008 at 5:55 pm

How depressing that, yet again, we’re back to pandering to misogynistic attitudes in order to combat misogynistic behaviour. Indeed, Olderhas’s comments remind me of a campaign that Bristol Domestic Abuse Forum did a while back.

On a different note: I think Cara’s comment about the fetishisation of women’s vulnerability and violence against women is also relevant to the discussion about Jennifer Drew’s piece about the use of the term “vulnerable” in relation to women and girls.

Cara // Posted 30 May 2008 at 12:32 pm

Holly, just noticed your comment – yes, I was thinking that linked to the “vulnerability” issue, too.

Rory Ridley-Duff (Dr) // Posted 22 June 2008 at 9:10 pm

Dear all,

Recent scholarly debate on the issue of domestic violence is summarised at

Hope this helps take the issue forward in a constructive way.

Best wishes


Amity // Posted 23 June 2008 at 8:09 am

No disrespect to you, Rory, and I don’t mean to single you out, but your title just made me wonder: why do so many men put their professional titles or educational qualifications in their names when leaving comments on websites and forums? I’ve noticed it rather a lot lately and it has me intrigued.

Anyone want to wager a guess? Any men care to enlighten us?

Rory Ridley-Duff // Posted 7 July 2008 at 8:16 am


No disrespect in return – on the door of the office in which I work there is a:

Professor Liz Doherty

Professor Jim Chandler

Dr Rory Ridley-Duff

I don’t see women not using their professional titles on their conference papers, government submissions, or pretty much anywhere where it might help people understand the expertise they have in a particular subject. I guess I’m just following the example of the successful professional women who led the feminist movement :)

The summary of scholarly research into male violence mentioned is based on work in a PhD study – probably helps people here to know that.

All the best


Louise Livesey // Posted 7 July 2008 at 10:26 am

Dear Amity and Rory, I don’t use my title (also a Dr) on the F Word because I’m not blogging in my professional role (I think that’s my reasoning anyway). However when I did raise it, here I had several comments, from men and women, telling me to “get over myself” (I paraphrase obviously).

Seems to me that there is a double-standard – women who use their professional titles are often (in my experience as an academic) described as “arrogant” or similar whilst it’s just expected for men. Of course institutions have to ensure gender parity – it’s part of their statutory duties and I doubt any University would risk the wrath of the Employment Tribunal over a door name-plate. But they do over academic pay (see here, here, here and here).

In the meantime I don’t think Amity’s comments were about what happens in the hallowed halls of academic but in the wider world. I do see professional, feminist women not using their titles at various things – sometimes because of resistance from non-feminists and sometimes because of resistance from feminists themselves.


Rory Ridley-Duff // Posted 3 January 2009 at 8:39 am


My experience is identical to yours – people attack anyone identifying their expertise in most public forums. My worst experiences were at Google. I’ve learnt never to use my title in music forums. In this context, however, I think it helps people to know that the contribution comes from doctoral research rather than idle chat, so I’m a little less forgiving about defending the use.

For me, on this subject, it is important to stress that I’m no less entitled to reveal my academic credentials than the many women whose credentials are respected in this field of study. Being accepted in public life is hard enough for any person regardless of the topic. For a man contributing to gender theory it is almost impossible (with our without credentials) so I’ll take all the help I can get :)

All the best


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