Domestic Violence and the Politics of Gender
I have long suspected that the time has come to treat domestic violence as a gender neutral issue, . Although official statistics still show that women are more commonly the victims, this must surely have something to do with the fact that women have had years of being encouraged to talk about the issue. Men have had no such thing, and are probably less inclined to talk about it. It does not exactly look 'masculine' to admit to having been beaten by one's wife. Yet a sizable number of men are beginning to speak out, and the issue can no longer be dismissed or ignored. One in six men are on the receiving end of violence at home.
To face this would, however, involve questioning the prevailing feminist orthodoxy - that domestic violence is a gender issue, that women are almost always the victims, and that DV is a result of women's oppression, or subordinate position. It could well be that as women gain more power in society generally they may feel more inclined to exercise it in other ways, as men have always done. But an article first published in the Scotsman seems to dispute that things were ever so clear cut as this. So do some 'Violent Reflections', along with numerous other sources online. The right leaning libertarian site 'i feminists' is one place to look. I quite like them for their controversial stance and their slaughtering of certain holy cows that are overdue for the kill.
Sadly, though, it tends only to be the right who cover the matter. The left does not question this particular feminist shibboleth, any more than it tends to with abortion lest it incites the wrath of this constituency it holds a fragile alliance with. I may run the risk of being labelled a misogynist, anti feminist, reactionary etc for publishing this but I've gotten beyond caring about such smears from people whose critical faculties have been dulled by political dogma. In truth the feminist movement cannot handle dissent on what it deems articles of faith. To question long held beliefs is deemed to be 'feeding the backlash'. Any questioning of the prevailing wisdom (for instance - that women never seek out or are attracted to violent partners, never have their own role to play in the dynamics of abusive relationships, and denial of their sado masochistic content) is said to be 'blaming the victim'.
However we look at it - facilities should be promoted for male victims of female violence. Shelters should be available for those who need it - be they men, women or children. Neither should children have to put up with violence from either parent while in the shelter. The physical abuse of children by some mothers (amounting to a form of domestic violence in itself) has also been underplayed by the feminist movement. This may well be because women tend to spend more time alone with children, often lacking power over anyone else. Yet men who batter their spouses often lack power elsewhere too. You can't have it both ways, making excuses for it in women while casting male offenders to eternal damnation.
The fact that there are more female casualties of violence at home is probably due to men's greater physical strength. Yet what of the cases when women do kill their husbands? 'Battered woman syndrome' is often invoked by the defence pretty easily. Yet a man would probably be laughed out of court were he to invoke a similiar defence.
I have had it said to me that perhaps we need a different analysis of women's violence than men's against women. But this is working on the assumption that the feminist one was true to begin with, which I have cause to doubt.
In many countries of the world women still are in a subordinate position. In such cultures it may well be the case that violence is seen as a legitimate way to punish unruly women. In the West gender inequities still come into play due to the low financial status of caring work, done predominately by women, which will account for the pay gap. Working mothers come under a lot of pressure, and it is often no longer possible for families to survive on one pay cheque. But we no longer live in the same world we did in the 1970s, even if the premises of feminists (and the acceptance of them by the left) were true. This being that domestic violence was the sole province of men against women. To rad fems it is a patriarchal conspiracy, and 'violence against women' a grand conspiracy of a male cabal to keep women in their place. It was no grand conspiracy - if anything it was as the Marxists have always said - a result of women's economic subordination. Just as children's dependence on adults can make them targets for oppression and violence at the hands of adults who cannot always be trusted not to abuse their power. But in our society we have gotten past the stage where women are in the same position as children - so let's stop infantilising them so. Let's embrace a mature feminism that treats women as adults, and fight against the sub adolescent posturing that views women always as victims.
To claim that an expression of rage (rage often being associated with weakness rather than actual strength) is a part of some grand patriarchal conspiracy is puerile and dumb.
In cultures where women are subordinate a patriarchal ideology may provide a rationale for male violence, but the idea that women can never be violent, are somewhat inherently purer, has long been discredited.