Friday, July 20, 2007

Collecting for Women's Refuge

This week is the annual women's refuge appeal week. Women's refuges are desperately under-funded, the Wellington refuge gets less than half its money from government (and the amount they get is less than what Clint Rickards got paid for doing nothing last year). So I spent a few hours on the streets of Wellington trying to get money out of people. I quite like collecting, but not as much as I like collecting money

Starbucks was offering free drinks to collectors - I feel the same way about this as I do about the clothing industry raising money for refuge:

But I still took my free tea.

I expected more women than men to give money, but I would have expected two-thirds, or three-quarters. I'm obviously a ridiculous optimist, because one in ten of the donors was a man, maybe even one in fifteen.

I started to wonder about the women giving money. Was it solidarity that made them give? Or someone they knew? An insurance policy? A down-payment? Or just imagination?

Why did so many men not have this imagination? Why weren't they putting money in the buckets for the women they knew? Their mothers, sisters, daughters, and friends who could need refuge?

I started muttering this at men who walked by without giving money - "You're the problem, not me, not her, you, and you won't even give me a dollar."

There were some good experiences. I noticed a young guy hanging out in a T-shirt that said "I'll show you mine, if you show me yours" and rolled my eyes. But twenty minutes later him and his friend came and both gave some money.

My friend told me a story from collecting last year. A man gave twenty dollars, he looked like he wanted to say something, but he didn't. Later he came back and asked her if she wanted a drink, because it was cold, and gave another ten dollars. Then he said "I just want you to know that not all sons turn out to be like their fathers."

That's where the hope is, I guess. The possibility of change.


  1. Maybe you saw my dad. He always gives money to Women's Refuge. He's been well-trained by his feminist daughter :)

  2. Shameless bit of advertising ahead ;)

    Katipo Books - - is donating 10% of all sales from July 18th to August 18th to a Christchurch refuge, the Battered Womens Trust.

  3. Anonymous8:04 pm

    I spent some time in my teenage years in a women's refuge.

    If they weren't there when I needed it, who can say whether I would have gotten my life together enough to have money to give?

  4. I saw a women's refuge collector at the supermarket on my lunch break and opened my purse, and surprised myself by nearly crying when I did it. I've never needed a refuge, and I hope I never will. But I hope they are always there.

  5. Anonymous2:35 pm

    in my two hours on the terrace i think i got at least as much from men as women. but that's probably because whenever i saw a man coming i shook my bucket a little harder, looked him in the eye and said good morning with an expectant kind of guilt-tripping look. my favourite comment was the middle aged guy who shook his head and said "some bloody men" as he put his money in the bucket.

  6. I hope that they disappear because of lack of need - unfortunately that will happen around the same time that anyone can walk the streets at night and not fear being set upon. However, I believe it will happen - zero tolerance for initiated violence should be the minimum moral standard.

  7. Anonymous7:35 pm

    I read the refuge (NZ WIDE) get a measly 5 million from government every year. When you think that most women are now full time workers and paying tax this is allmost illegal. Do women voters want more of their tax dollars to go to the refuge. I'll bet their would be a resounding YES. We need more women members in parliament to make sure women are getting their share of the tax they pay and are not subsidising americas cup syndicates.

  8. Anonymous8:29 pm

    Thats a nice dream dear but quite honestly violence against women will not disapear untill we can obtain finacial support for childbearing outside of marriage.
    In nature most of the resources of the planet were there for chilbearing. A female humanbeing must go into free domestic labour to maintain the current standards of domestic cleaness, 24hour childcare as demanded in law and she must pay. These conditions are a large part of the reason women are abused. With the marriage contract the way it stands and the domestic purposes benefit not nearly covering what a family needs the options for women are poor and this leads to men knowing even unconsiously that their partners really cannot afford to get out and will put up with differing levels and types of abuse.
    Religion and honor never stopped fighting and theiving. It has been the democratic system along with financial independance of workers and the development of a good system of law that has transformed the western world into a realtively peacful place. Women in childbearing are still dependant and unpaid so no matter what laws you bring in untill they have financial independance and are paid properly nothing will change. We have the vote but will never be paid untill we are fully represented in parliament. The men in parliament will not vote to pay mothers enough to live on independantly period! Instead they will use outdated religios doctrine that smears women as bludgers for asking for some of the worlds resources for doing what nature intended and also provided for.
    We are still living in the wild wild west with no conditions and half the house fast becomming a rarity. Get ready to beg in your old age girls. Get ready to complain even less so that you can get a roof over your head. Get ready to have manipulate men for money you have more than earned in free service.
    There are good men of course but would they like to remove their financial and legal protections and survive on the charity of their partner or on the honesty of employers. Lets get rid of their protections and pay for their work oh they wouldn't like it . Abuse would run rife in every unprotected area.

  9. Anonymous I'll ignore your patronising insult. The "marriage contract" varies from couple to couple, I've been married and funnily enough I didn't feel the need to ever assault my wife. I shouldn't be forced to pay because some men do - THEY should be forced to pay. That's why fathers should be forced to pay the entire costs of child maintenance until the child no longer needs 24 hour care.

    I've never felt the need to assault anyone, to blame it on money is a cop out, a great excuse by saying that it's "ok" to stay with abusive men for money. The same women who reject nice guys because it isn't "such a thrill", you might not ever have heard that one. I've heard that one more than once, not just women fearful of leaving (which is awful), but ones who like the rough and bad guys and tolerate the violence because the rest is a bigger thrill than someone who is gentle.

    There is an alternative to forcing people to pay for other people's children to be raised, and that is to have a culture that does not tolerate initiating violence, so that men who hit women (and men) are ostracised, so more women have the esteem to choose partners who don't hit them and reject those that do. There is a significant segment of men that don't tolerate it now. I have plenty of male friends absolutely disgusted at men hitting their wives, girlfriends etc.

    I don't have any financial protections, I have a job, if I don't perform (win work and do it to a good standard) it's over - it's the same for almost everyone keeping the state going so it can pay for those who don't. Pardon me if I don't want to fund the raising of kids fathered by men who are violent losers, when the state mollycoddles them. They should have to pay for it the rest of their lives directly.