Positive Gender Relationships

I was swimming around the website of Queensland Education and came across a report with an interesting title “Promoting Positive Gender Relationships: A report of a study into the feasibility of developing and delivering curriculum through Queensland state schools to promote positive gender relationships” (Word file).

Well, that sounds like an interesting topic so I read more. It turns out the report is not about promoting positive gender relationships. It’s almost exclusively about preventing what it calls ‘gendered violence’. I didn’t read the whole report, but I couldn’t find a definition of ‘gendered violence’. There doesn’t seem to be much if any emphasis on the idea that most victims of violence in schools are (I presume) boys and the idea that it might be gendered (ie an expression of an impoverished, or just immature kind of masculinity) doesn’t seem to figure.

Now I think preventing violence against women and girls is a fine thing. Trying to ameliorate masculine cultures of violence of boys against boys would be very good too, though that seems to get short shrift.

But I’m trying to put my finger on what I dislike about what I read more definitively than that. And I reckon what I object to is the way in which things are reduced to ideology and of course a particular kind of ideology at that.

Here’s a quote from the outline.

Research undertaken for this project indicates that a crucial leadership role is fostering public awareness of:

  • the way the trauma of family and relationship violence impacts on students’ social and academic outcomes and life pathways
  • family and relationship violence as a public, rather than private, concern, with implications for the equity and citizenship goals of public schooling
  • the knowledge and skills required of teachers in countering gendered violence, and its relationship to other social justice concerns including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander issues, ethnicity, poverty, disability and sexuality and
  • the role of schools in modelling respectful gender relations and respect for human-rights; and developing students skills for, and commitment to, an active role in eliminating violence.
  • Now I’m afraid I don’t like that one little bit. Firstly it reads like a parody of itself. It’s full of the kind of grand and vague gobbledygook that I last had to wade through when attending interminable ‘retreats’ that set upon ‘mission’ and ‘vision’ statements before everyone returns to work and it fades from consciousness like a dream (good or bad depending on whether such retreats send you [like me] into the closest thing you’ve ever come to clinical depression or whether it tickled your sense of self importance).

    More importantly however, as I see it, while ideology has a role to play in this, so too does strength of character. That’s what you need to stand up to violence and to many of the social phenomena that produce it. That’s one of the things that schools are supposed to try to help foster. It isn’t an easy thing to do, but it can never be learned as an ideology. In fact ideology is an obstacle to learning it and understanding the limitations of ideology is one important route by which people grow in character.

    Strength of character is learned slowly and with difficulty through the totalitarian atmosphere of the adolescent peer group. But the document gives the impression that the problems are solved by handing out a bunch of loosely related ideological credit cards. I don’t think they are.

    And if we’re going to reduce it to ideology, then for me the ideology of non-violence scores way ahead of the grab bag of other stuff in there. Like gendered violence’s “relationship to other social justice concerns including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander issues, ethnicity, poverty, disability and sexuality”. Sorry guys, most if not all of those things are worthy enough, but they’re not foundational in the way that a commitment to non-violence is.

    I could go on. But perhaps others could tell me what they think.

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    Amanda
    2021 years ago

    If you do a search at the QLD Ed for “boys” or “bullying” (including how to stand up to it) plenty of material comes up. It doesn’t appear that those issues are being ignored.

    Paul Watson
    2021 years ago

    ” … with implications for the equity and citizenship goals of public schooling”

    WTF? Citizenship is not a goal, but a birthright for the great majority of public school students. And the gratuitous elision, which suggests that *private* schools may not be as devoted to “citizenship goals” (no one disagrees that they are less devoted to equity) compounds the creepiness of the patriotism, North Korea-style, sentiments.

    Otherwise, my take on the thing is that it reflects a further shift towards teachers becoming carers in lieu of

    derrida derider
    derrida derider
    2021 years ago

    The prose style is interesting. I read lots of bad English like this in my job, and I must say it always puts me in mind of “Politics and the English Language”.

    Elizabeth Duus
    Elizabeth Duus
    2021 years ago

    It seems clear that a thorough definition of “gendered violence” would have benefited the report. I suspect it refers to violence that is perpetuated against a particular gender??

    School bullying between boys is a different kettle of fish entirely, I can see. I would suggest it has its distinct reasons, and different solutions, and that this information would be readily available on the ED qld website as mentioned by another author. In comparison to gendered violence, or violence against women, I’m sure the issue is just as important but I don’t think it is what this research project by the Office for Women and the Curriculum branch of Ed QLD was addressing.

    Importantly, Although Strength of Character is an important personality trait, You cannot possibly boil down the solution to the complex issues of violence against women to a suggestion of building strength of character in students. Nor can you easily state, I believe, that standing up against and fighting the social phenomena that causes violence in various social settings in our world, requires merely strength of character. It is a widely understood and known fact that domestic violence is more prevalent in economically disadvantaged, rural and Indigenous areas. I’m just wondering how a young man or woman is going to use their strength of character to stand up to the complex problems of systemic poverty that pervade rural Indigenous communites? I’m also contemplating ways in which a young queer man is going to use his strength of character to fight the underlying homophobic cultures of mainstream Australia using his strength of character. Additionally I am confused as to how a young disabled woman is going to use her strength of character to abolish the discriminatory attitudes against people such as herself?

    At first glance though this project report does seem to rely heavily on the “grand and vague gobbledygook” you mention.

    Nonetheless ideology underlies much of the way we as adults live without many of us even realising. If a broad reaching ideology of non-violence (against humans etc.) was implemented and represented across Queensland curriculum, to me, it would include strength of character and the strength to stand up against violence.

    I might have a different picture of what ideology means, perhaps you mean the rhetoric or “fancy language” of the report?

    The statement regarding the equity and citizenship goals of public shooling is referring to the fact that violence is a public and state government concern similar to the protection of our citizen rights. Therefore our schooling system has a potential role in educating young people about the citizenship goals of our country and fulfilling them. The point here is that equity and citizenship are goals because fundamental aspects of equity and citizenship are not being met – i.e the fundamental right to not be subject to malicious bodily harm in the form of domestic violence. It would appear (according to statistics on domestic violence against women included in the report) that Women are not exercising full citizenship in this country because a large majority of them are subjected to this harm.

    Finally any committment to non-violence should also include and cannot possibly ignore a committment to fighting against the conditions and issuse that can at times create, perpetuate or intersect and affect it, including discrimination against, and broader issues associated with indigeniety, ethnicity, disability and sexuality.

    blank
    blank
    2021 years ago

    “Women are not exercising full citizenship in this country because a large majority of them are subjected to this harm.”

    The women selling white ribbons to-day had a sign claiming that one third of women were victims of violence. I find that figure hard to believe.

    That a “large majority” are subject to domestic violence, I find even harder to believe.

    suzie
    suzie
    2021 years ago

    Get an intervention order out on these kids.
    Obviously the teachers are not going to do anything so you need to start pulling your weight around.
    It is about time these bullies start to realize that this is serious stuff and they cannot continue to behave in this manner.
    If they were out in the adult world they would be charged with assault. If their own parents aren’t going to get tough with their bully children then other parents need to take legal action to protect their own children. One day it may not be a skipping rope hurting your child but a serious weapon.
    Parents with victims need to reunite and take a STAND!!!!!!!

    KC
    KC
    2021 years ago

    Oh please! Litigation is not the answer.
    Our children should be encouraged to stand up for themselves at school. This way they learn that they don’t have to “give in’ to bullies and bullies learn that other children will not easily be pushed around. It actually helps both the bullied and the bullies.

    If parents intervene and start talking “legal action” they take the power away from their own children who then learn to be victims, that someone else will manage life’s difficulties. Thus effectively crippling their capacity to develop into assertive adults resilient to the ebs and flows of adult life.

    In all but extreme cases,the best way to reduce bullying at schools is to allow and encourage children to show bullies that they will not tolerate such behaviour, they will stand up against it whenever it occurs. In this situation the school and parents should play a strong supportive role while allowing the children to take the lead.

    KC
    KC
    2021 years ago

    Nick

    Re your quote: I agree its a case of the old goobledygook strikes back. (A tactic often used to justify the cost of the research and to demonstrate that the subject is very important, sophisticated stuff)
    Hopefully not all the report is as bad as the bit your quoted because really, what is the point of doing all this research and then reporting on it in such a way that few will have the stamina to read it (especially if the language is vague and convoluted at first glance) and even fewer will understand what is being actually said.

    derrida derider
    derrida derider
    2021 years ago

    “what is the point of doing all this research and then reporting on it in such a way …”

    But of course there’s a point. It is an attempt to give the appearance of solidity to pure wind. “The words fall like soft snow, blurring the harsh outline of the facts”. If you haven’t done so already, try reading this:
    http://www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/intrel/orwell46.htm

    Suzie
    Suzie
    2021 years ago

    The point here “RC” is that some children do stick up for themselves and then get in trouble by their teachers for doing so.
    Also if these bullies are double the size of your own children they don’t have a chance.
    These bullies can be very intimadating to a very young child.As parents we are their to protect our children from such violence.
    AND that’s what it is down right, plain english VIOLENCE !!!!

    c8to
    c8to
    2021 years ago

    the children should be armed according to their size.

    big kids get nothing, slightly smaller childern get pistols, down to the really puny get assault rifles.

    that way everyone will be equal.

    Nicholas Gruen
    2021 years ago

    It has a certain appeal C8to I admit.

    (If only I could be sure you were joking I’d be positively impressed!)

    And why haven’t you made it to Iraq yet?

    DFXK
    DFXK
    2021 years ago

    “the role of schools in modelling respectful gender relations and respect for human-rights; and developing students skills for, and commitment to, an active role in eliminating violence”

    This worries me. Firstly, I dislike the use of the word “gender” rather than “sex”. Secondly, and far more importantly, the public school system has taken on itself the role of engineering society. They are not fit to do this at all.

    Independant schools have many reasons to want to change their students, many being religious schools, and others being based in certain enunciated ideals… they are often chosen by parents for the virtues for which they want their children to strive. Public schools are manned by teachers from a Teachers Federation which is controlled by neo-Marxist ideas. “The Disputed Curriculum” which appeared in Quadrant a few months back expressed the change in values associated with these theories in the Teachers Federation very well

    http://www.quadrant.org.au/php/article_view.php?article_id=1123

    “As late as January 1964 the Australian Teachers’ Federation reaffirmed the Great Tradition when it identified as “The Aims of Australian Education”

    c8to
    c8to
    2021 years ago

    no iraq because i havent been offered a job there yet…

    i’m with emerson on the tourist type travel…