Vawg – I hate how vawg has become a word.

Yesterday I went to a meeting about men’s violence against women and girls in London.  Access to the meeting room was initially difficult because when I entered the building and told the person on reception that I was here for the ‘Violence Against Women and Girls Meeting’ in Room X, she told me that the room was booked for something else. Eventually she told me that the room was booked for the ‘fourth meeting’.  Could someone have asked to book a room for a ‘vawg meeting’ and been misheard, I suggested. Yes, of course they could, it transpired.   I hate how vawg has become a word and this was an unwelcome reminder.  At the start of the meeting, I started doing a tally about how many times the word ‘vawg’ was used.  I almost immediately forgot because the actual subject matter demanded full attention and constructive engagement.

I hate how vawg has become a word because it allows users to disconnect from VIOLENCE against WOMEN and GIRLS.  It hides the violence. If we who are engaged in raising awareness about men’s violence against women and girls as a step towards ending men’s violence against women and girls, want to raise awareness, how are we doing this if we allow the very words to be erased? Never more so when even ‘vawg’ is misheard and becomes ‘fourth’.

I hate how vawg has become a word though I celebrate that as a concept it has entered the mainstream because it connects the different forms of men’s violence against women and girls under patriarchy: rape, sexual violence, domestic violence, femicide, FGM,  prostitution, pornography and other harmful practices.

I hate how vawg has become a word because I am not particularly fond of acronyms and jargon.  Lazy acronyms make important information inaccessible to the ‘not one of the club’ non-specialist.

I hate how vawg has become a word though I acknowledge that it is useful when we’re writing, especially when we’re tweeting and have restricted characters (Men’s Violence against women and girl is 37 characters) and in these situations I use VAWG or MVAWG myself. It really doesn’t take so long to say it: “violence against women and girls” though, does it?

I hate how vawg has become a word because it renders men – the perpetrators –  invisible. I know, I know, not all men. But saying that men as a class benefit under patriarchy and men’s violence against women and girls is an instrument of maintaining women’s subordination is not the same as saying ‘all men are violent and women never are’.  It really isn’t.  Maybe it would be more accurate to say patriarchal violence against women and girls but this also disguises the role and responsibility of men.

I hate how vawg has become a word.

8 thoughts on “Vawg – I hate how vawg has become a word.

  1. Pingback: We need to talk about men’s violence. | Ending Victimisation & Blame

  2. Pingback: We need to talk about men’s violence. | Ending Victimisation & Blame

  3. I think it would be helpful and simplify matters if we refered to dv and rape and other gendered crime as sexist attacks. Then people might begin to join up the dots between sexist attitudes and sexist violence. At the moment, the anti sexism war too often gets religated to discussions about wages rather than fatal and life debilitating violence as well.

  4. Hecuba – 100% with you on that – I too hate that we cannot name it as this is seen as anti male. Yes, I am anti male when those males are violent! And when discussing violence against women and girls it is very very frequently male violence.

    For example: “Ending violence against women and girls in the UK”
    makes no reference to men at all, and yet the ‘perpetrator’, ‘someone’, ‘anyone’ are clearly males due to what they describing! The only violence they refer to that is female perpetrated is FGM.

    Those men who do not engage in violence can still perpetuate its legitimacy with their denial of its existence, or minimisation, or continually referring to that small % of women who are consistently and persistently violent in their relationships.

  5. Reason why ‘violence against women’ is used is because we feminists must never ever name males as the perpetrators. However, racism is not seen as something which just happens to non-white women and men – oops should be non-white men because women don’t exist in the debate surrounding racism.

    Hiding male accountability is what men and their male supremacist system have enacted for centuries because men do not want to be named as the perpetrators since men believe they aren’t members of a group but are the default human species. However women’s sex is always identified by malestream media because it is essential women are seen as different to the default human species – aka men.

    Take a look at any malestream media headlines which focuses on reporting a crime a woman/women have supposedly committed and I guarantee the woman’s/womens’ sex is always stated. Such headlines never state ‘person/people stole a bottle of wine from supermarket’ but ‘woman stole bottle of wine from supermarket.’ Male perpetrators however never have their sex identified because they are always ‘people.’ Instead malestream headlines state ‘woman raped as she walked home’ or ‘woman mugged in her own home.’ Hmm wonder which sex committed the rape/mugging? No guesses it was a male but naming the male as perpetrator mustn’t be stated.

    Listen carefully when malestream media is reporting on the male military and I guarantee these male reporters will claim ‘people in the military are doing x work.’ Even when the subject matter is one which refers specifically to males the terms ‘men/males’ are never used because naming men as men is a big no no.

    Same male hiding applies whenever malestream media reports on ‘children raping other children’ – it is not ‘children’ but boys subjecting their female peers to male sexual violence but that fact must not be stated.

    So naming the sex of perpetrators is essential which means we must continue to use the correct terminology which is male violence against women and girls. But men will continue to ‘get their knickers’ in a twist because they refuse to accept it is males who are the ones committing violence against women with impunity.

    Not all white men are racists but this in itself does not mean racism does not exist.

  6. An excellent and important point. Acronyms do have a place but as you point out, the danger is that they hide the real meaning and intent. I used to work in the civil service and there were actual acronyms used where the original meaning had long been lost, so they had become words in themselves. Therefore, not just the title/wording had been lost but the original meaning/purpose/focus had mutated.

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