The Denial of a New Year’s Resolution

Resolution: (noun) a firm decision to do or not to do something.

Well it’s New Year’s Eve and that time when we reflect on a year gone by and make promises to ourselves for the year to come. The most popular resolutions are either to quit something (like smoking) or to lose something (like weight).

Age old research says it takes us an average of 21 days to either start or end a habit. That’s also the estimated time it will take for people to break their New Year’s resolution. So even before the year has completed its first month, we’ve already  moved on from our jovial – and drunken – promises.

Perhaps that’s why I’ve never made a New Year’s resolution. I don’t need an event like New Year’s Eve to be the catalyst to break a habit or improve my life. In fact my goal of quitting drinking, which I did this year, was made on Sunday 31st May. (With a very sore head I may add.)

Admittedly it was not an easy resolution to keep on my own and having a partner who hardly touches a drop did make it easier for me. And perhaps that’s why we struggle with resolutions, we’re doing them alone which makes it hard to call on help when you’re feeling weak. Whereas if you have someone going through it with you, you not only share those dark moments, but also give each other tips on how to get through it.

So instead of making an individual resolution why not harness the spirit of supporting each other and make resolutions we can all keep together?

Then comes the question what would we quit or lose?

For me I would say we quit this idea that you can put on a pin, make a statement, sign a petition or use a hashtag and everything is going to be ok.

Just this week I witnessed once again one of these moments of absolute hypocrisy with the resignation from the front bench of Liberal MP and Adelaide Member for Mayo Jamie Briggs.

Mr Briggs is a White Ribbon Ambassador and on the International Day to End Violence Against Women, November 25, he posted this on his Facebook page this.

Two days later he posted video of himself in Hong Kong where the incident occurred with a female public servant. This inappropriate behaviour in a nightclub was so severe it required him to resign from the front bench. In fact if it is what Channel 9 describes, it would be deemed as sexual harassment.

But that’s not the first time this year a White Ribbon Ambassador who had taken the pledge failed to follow through with his actions. In October ex-NRL player Hazem El Masri was charged with alleged domestic violence and the Northern Territory Attorney-General Northern Territory said he was “tempted to slap” a woman in Parliament.

Then there was the outing of Tanveer Ahmed by Clementine Ford. He argued that we need to shift our focus to the disempowerment and displacement of men as a cause of violence against women.

Of course these are the cases we know of. How many other men are out there taking the pledge yet still making sexist jokes? Or not promoting women because they want their less qualified mate to get the job? Or worse still enacting acts of violence against women and absolving their conscience by taking a hollow pledge?

In 2014-15 White Ribbon’s revenue was a comfortable $3.6m with 40% of that made up of donations which include partners and philanthropic oganisations. That’s pretty good sums for an NGO, but how effective have they been?

Throughout this year as we have reported more and more deaths of women by violence perpetrated by men White Ribbon has continued to talk up the work they do in schools. That’s great for our future generations, but what are they doing now for women and children who are in fear of their lives?

So if there was anything I’d like us to quit in 2016, it is this denial that violence against women will end when men take a pledge and put on a badge.