Apparently men tend to only “seek help when the ship is sinking” and Relate believes a different approach for men in relationship difficulties may be more effective. In an interview on the Today programme Relate's chief executive Ruth Sutherland noted that men are less likely to discuss problems in their relationship with friends or work colleagues or use their “support networks.”
According to Sutherland the failure of a relationship is “just so much more devastating for men than it is for women” and there are “much higher rates of suicide and alcohol use” among men who experience a failed relationship.
When Montague asked if he thought it was right or appropriate for men to use the Relate service he explained how he found Relate to be a very “female oriented place”. He told Montague that “the waiting rooms with stacks of leaflets about the domestic violence, rape crisis, things like that... can be seen as very much anti-men...so it's quite a weird position to be in.”
Now, I struggle with this. I don't want men to feel unwelcome in spaces such as Relate that are intended for both men and women. However I'm concerned that are those leaflets can be really interpreted as anti-men, instead of anti-rape, anti-abuse and violence.
we have to rely on campaigns focusing on victims of crime coming forward instead.
But why do men so often see anti-rape and domestic violence or abuse literature as anti-men rather than anti-perpetrators. I find this very curious and it irks me, however we have to remember men who come into these spaces are themselves in vulnerable or sensitive positions. But I want to be clear to them why such messages are vital.
This interview took place on the same day it has emerged that Nick Clegg was aware (ish) of the allegations from women working in the Liberal Democrat party regarding former party chief Lord Rennard. The remarkably uncurious (acurious?) party leader admitted he'd been told of
“indirect and non-specific concerns” But we all know if there's one thing Clegg hates it's vagueness. Clegg's deputy Prime Minister, he's got no time to invite women members of the Lib Dem party to show on the doll where Rennard may or may not have touched them.
A number of women have been coming forward since 2008 alleging that Rennard groped or fondled them. The fact that that sentence is usually followed with the qualifier 'innappropriately' is telling, it is truly bizarre that always has to be added, it would make more sense to feel obliged to add 'in a fun way'.
Clegg stated that: “Chris Rennard categorically denied that he had behaved inappropriately and he continues to do so.” But such occurrences cannot rely on he-said she-said stories. It can't end with a denial, because whether or not the allegations prove to be false it needs to be made clear for anyone in the future that they will be taken seriously, else no-one comes forward. Harriet Harman has commented: “When are we ever going to learn that when allegations are made against people in top positions they must not be swept under the carpet. The organisation gathers around them, rather than really holds them to account.”
When the leader of a party that supposedly prides itself on its equality values can't be bothered to investigate serious allegations further, it demonstrates why campaigns that nudge victims or survivors to come forward are so necessary. They aren't anti-men, they are anti-silence.