Men's Violence towards Women
(I know that there are cases of women who are violent towards men, but in comparison, they are rare. By far the most common form of gender violence comes from men.)
Domestic violence is just one example of male violence. Gender violence also includes leering, cat calling, sexual harassment, inappropriate touching, rape, sexual abuse of children of both sexes; in fact, any act which reinforces the idea that the victim is not a valuable human being, but an object to be used for the perpetrator's satisfaction and pleasure.
It's all about the aggressor having the power to force another person to be submissive to his will.
In our society, we define gender violence as a ‘women’s issue’. We need to understand how this came about, in order to begin to address the issue.
The language we use will help to explain how.
Consider the following sentences:
John beat Mary.
This is a clear statement of what John did. The subject of the sentence is John.
Mary was beaten by John.
This states the same activity in the passive case. John still beat Mary, but now Mary is the subject of the sentence. It states what happened to Mary. John’s involvement now seems less visible.
Mary was beaten.
You will notice that John’s actions have now disappeared from this scenario.
Mary was battered.
This is just a statement of what happened to Mary, with no mention at all of John’s involvement.
Mary is a battered woman.
Notice how we have moved from a statement about John and his actions, to a statement about Mary, describing who or what she is, without even considering the cause.
We have now moved into the area of ‘victim blame’, raising all sorts of judgements about Mary; about how she allowed this to happen.
Consider the following frequently heard statements:
She probably deserved it.
She probably asked for it.
She’s one of those women who always attract this type of guy.
If she left him, she would go for another guy who would do the same.
What does she expect when she dresses like that.
Why did she drink with those guys in the hotel room.
She’s just a ‘prick teaser’.
This even applies to sexual abuse of minors, young girls, and young boys. Our society frequently holds the view that the child was partly to blame. Most victims of violence and sexual abuse feel some responsibility for what happened, even though the responsibility is not theirs.
Women and children who are victims are seldom believed, even by the authorities. In many cases, children especially may be pressured to remain silent, so as not to bring shame on the family.
I could go on.
Gender violence is not a women's issue – it is a men's issue. Not only the responsibility of the perpetrators, but also of the bystanders, who observe this sort of behaviour, and do nothing. They, too, are responsible. Every victim is someone's mother, sister, daughter.
Also responsible are the institutions which turn a blind eye – the Church, especially the Catholic Church, and organisations such as the BBC. In all these cases, the men at the top either fail to see the problem, or pretend it doesn't exist, or actively cover it up.
Women who stand up and speak out are often labelled as anti-male (in some cases this accusation is true, but understandable), and because of this, remain unheard. Men must be prepared to stand up and say those things that need to be said.
It's not just about becoming more sensitive; it's about leadership. We need men who are in positions of power to make a stand. Men who are in charge of the media, and especially the pornography and prostitution industry. Yes I am aware that some women who work in these industries do so voluntarily, as a choice, but too many are forced into it through poverty, drug addiction, fear and physical violence.
We must also be aware that the typical mindset of young males is conditioned, a result of the culture into which they are born. In many cases they don't have a realistic choice.
You may ask: “What difference can I make?”
The only difference each of can make is to be an example, to our families, to other men, in the workplace, in social situations, in spreading the word that this is a men's issue.
The start of the process of change is awareness; the awareness that this is not a women's issue. Until we alter our perception, change cannot occur.