Mates & Dates: ‘Men are the problem.’

This is part three of a series of four articles that will expose the ideology behind the New Zealand Mate & Dates programme. Whaleoil’s newest writer Jared Luke reveals what they don’t want New Zealand parents or the general public to know.

Mates & Dates Part 3: Social Construction & Male Violence

Mates & Dates is a secondary school program which claims to tackle the issues of sexual and dating violence.

Upon closer examination of the classroom content which could only be obtained after a protracted Official Information Act request, a very different picture emerges.

The intent of Mates & Dates is to alter the child’s perception of their own gender, or at least their gender expression, away from gender-stereotypical behaviour.

Children are asked to act out masculine and feminine stereotypical behaviours in an attempt to show them that anyone can act in any way they like, because their behaviours are socially constructed and not influenced by their biology.

Mates & Dates facilitators guide, Pg19, Year9

Mates & Dates Facilitators Guide, Page 105, Year 11

For the sake of brevity we won?t analyse every activity in the Mates & Dates curriculum, but in general terms, messages around safe use of alcohol and consent are always mixed with an awareness of gender stereotypes.

It?s a good thing to teach consent and safety with regard to alcohol use, but the message is repeated ad nauseam every year with advertisements, music videos and magazine analyses and always through the lens of gender identity and stereotyping.

The reason why they mix the two together is because the programme teaches that gender stereotypes, or the belief in rigid gender stereotypes, perpetuate and excuse violence.

The program is written from a pro-feminist viewpoint with a gender equity slant, and this means that men are the problem. Mates & Dates singles out men 3 times in the context of anger, anger being men’s most common excuse for violence. On the whole, the messages in the Mates & Dates content around control of anger are positive and useful.

Mates&Dates facilitators guide, Page 55, Year 10

Is it really true that traditional gender roles perpetuate and excuse violence?

The empirical scientific data to back this claim is scant at best. The few references the program uses either are very old studies or read more like conjecture rather than a full scientific study with controls.

The report referenced as justification by Mates & Dates says:

?Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (USA) found that in 2010, 28% of heterosexual US women, compared with 10% of heterosexual US men, had experienced intimate partner violence…”

The source of those statistics also includes a very small segment which notes bi-sexual and lesbian rates of Intimate Partner Violence as being significantly higher than heterosexual relationships.

?Bisexual women had a significantly higher prevalence of lifetime rape, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner (61.1%) compared to lesbian women (43.8%) and heterosexual women (35.0%).?

This study by the US Department of Justice also shows same-sex cohabiting couples have significantly higher rates of intimate partner violence.

?The survey found that same-sex cohabitants reported significantly more intimate partner violence than did opposite-sex cohabitants. Among women, 39.2 percent of the same-sex cohabitants and 21.7 percent of the oppositesex cohabitants reported being raped, physically assaulted, and/or stalked by a marital/cohabiting partner at some time in their lifetime. Among men, the comparable figures are 23.1 percent and 7.4 percent?

Another 2008 study of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender intimate relationships reveals a similar violence rates to the previous study.


I have not used these statistics for the purpose of vilification or denigration of same-sex attracted people. I have used them to show that the Mates & Dates programme is premised on the idea that rigid gender roles perpetuate violence even though, statistically, those who do not adhere to traditional gender stereotypes and roles have higher rates of intimate partner violence.

I am stating the obvious when I say that, if the program’s claim were true, LGBT people would have lower rates of intimate partner violence.

The same study is used to claim that men in traditional families are more violent even though it also indicates there are a variety of other confounding factors such as alcohol abuse, unemployment and living below the poverty line making them a much higher risk for domestic violence.

(Page 273-274)

Mates & Dates has ignored these factors. It blames gender stereotypes and traditional gender roles as the prime causes of violence against women. This conveniently ties in with the teaching of self-identification of gender and social constructionism.

This concept, that gender is entirely socially constructed and not rooted in biological function, is highly unscientific. There is some truth that there is a societal influence on behaviour but it is only part of the picture. Mates & Dates has been constructed on a purely social-constructionist platform and ignores biological differences. Nowhere in the Mates & Dates curriculum are biological causes ever mentioned.

A social constructionist would say boys play with trucks out of socialisation, whereas numerous studies have shown how even male monkeys, who are not subject to the same ?construct? of gender we are alleged to have, also prefer wheeled toys, and females prefer plush toys.

The gender stereotype that men are better at building things is likely due to men being significantly better at mental rotation.

The gender stereotype that girls talk more than boys is likely due to the fact that girls learn languages faster and younger than boys do, and have better long term memory.

“The results provide evidence that verbal and
spatial challenges are more lateralized in males than in
females, that females are more verbal than males, that
males are more spatial than females, that females verbalize
more interpretively than males and that males verbalize
more consequentially than females.”


Our differences are not socially constructed and they are not as flexible as Mates & Dates would have us believe. Gender is not infinitely malleable.

Gender stereotypes have largely biologically causes and this is why men have different vocational preferences, express their emotions differently and verbalise differently to women. Gender stereotypes are rooted in biological functions and not in social constructs as the Mates & Dates programme falsely teaches.

Part one.

Part two.