Cheese For Change
Equality. What a wonderful concept. That all people are worthy of the same amount of respect and regard solely due to the fact that they are human.
The concept of “The Other” is as old as mankind. In fact, without getting too caught up in psychological jargon, to be “The Self” requires “The Other”. Recently, we have seen two diametrically opposite sides of this playing out in both local and global politics. It seems that the advent of the internet, chatrooms and 24 hour media coverage is polarizing communities. It is easy to find people who will share your way of thinking in a manner that does not require actual thought. I may be being a bit romantic, but I wonder if 80 years ago, a trip to another culture or country would be viewed as an adventure and something to be wondered at. In another country, we become “The Other”. This is one of the reasons that The College’s Immersion Programs are such a wonderful opportunity for our students to experience being, “The Other”.
The heartbreaking events in Christchurch can only happen when “The Other” is seen as less than ourselves. Being immersed in another culture is an experience that develops empathy, awareness, connection and a recognition that when basic humanity is considered, we are not different. Abuse of power and privilege is possible only when empathy and understanding are absent. Those students fortunate enough to experience, will remember forever.
We are also seeing these factors play out in the debate surrounding gender equality. Many people feel that for someone else to gain, another must lose. This is not my experience. Violence against women is not the result of random, individual acts of misconduct, but rather is deeply rooted in structurally unequal relationships between women and men.
The most concerning manifestation of gender inequality in Australia is in the behaviours and attitudes towards, and negative stereotypes of, women and girls. A national survey by VicHealth in 2013 found there are still concerning levels of attitudes accepting of violence in the community. More than half surveyed agreed that women often fabricate cases of domestic violence in order to improve their prospects in family law cases; nearly two in five believed that a lot of times women who say they were raped led the man on and later had regrets; and up to one in five believe that there are circumstances in which women bear some responsibility for violence.
If we want an Australia free of violence against women and children we have to challenge the entrenched beliefs and behaviours that drive it, and the social, political and economic structures, practices and systems that support them. To this end, De La Salle is running the “Cheese for Change” fundraiser in support of The White Ribbon Foundation.
White Ribbon is a primary prevention organisation that works with men to change their attitudes to domestic and gender-based violence. This is an excellent vehicle to accomplish two important goals: to raise some much-needed funds for White Ribbon, and to raise awareness with our young men about the prevalence and causes of gender-based violence.
The College has again joined with Moondarra Cheese to supply wonderful quality, Australian-made cheese to our Community. At the Parent-Teacher interview this year, a stall will be run offering the opportunity to purchase cheese. $10 will purchase four flavoured cream cheeses or a waxed cheddar wheel. All money raised will go directly to White Ribbon and students will be encouraged to take the White Ribbon Oath. This is an online undertaking to call out gender inequality and gender violence.
The College is committed to raising young men who see that “Otherness” is a damaging construct that has no place in a caring, empathetic society. No one loses when everyone wins.
Mr Anthony Freeman
College Psychologist, Kinnoull Campus