Recent events offer us an opportunity to debate attitudes and approaches to the question of gender violence.
Over the past few decades, ‘gender violence’ has been defined as violence by men against women. Women’s violence against the male gender has been considered to be either non-existent, or the fault of men, or has been trivialised and justified in a variety of ways.
This interpretation further implies that women’s aggression is a reaction to men’s actions towards them, blaming the victim for his plight.
There are many factors contributing to this, but the most relevant and most important is the radical feminist philosophy which holds that the sexes are adversarially poised; that all forms of violence are derived from the power men have over women; and that men are a class of aggressors, from which arise individuals with greater or lesser aggressive capacity.
This perception resulted in a marked shift in relevant policies from a pro-male to a pro-female position, and a bias in favour of abused females and against abused males, who are being ignored, neglected and disbelieved.
So extreme are these views that they have become part of our public domain and constitute the basis of our policies. Hence the perception-men are powerful and women powerless, and therefore men are the violent gender and women the victims.
The validity of this perception, the relevance and efficiency of the policies that are informed by this paradigm have been seriously questioned by many writers including renowned psychologists John Archer, Martin S. Fiebert and sociologist Sotirios Sarantakos.
Using extensive empirical evidence, they have demonstrated that men and women are equally violent against each other, and that although males might on average be more aggressive towards the females, women’s violence is by no means harmless, but very destructive.
Although the findings are hard to refute, the question about the nature and structure of male violence is still being contested, and requires stronger and more convincing answers to overcome doubt and disbelief among critics of female violence.
This requires qualitative evidence that explains thoroughly and directly the internal structure of the male victim, that is, the way it is constructed, the extent to which males and females contribute to the problem, the system of power, the presence of female aggression prior to the violence against male and the response thereto by males.
The most commonly reported form of female violence against male is unreasonable and unprovoked verbal attacks (endless shouting, name calling, insults) which paralyse the male ego and defence system to breaking point.
On the physical side of the problem, most common reports are of males being kicked, scratched, groped and punched in the manhood, or having their hands and arms bitten while trying to protect themselves from injuries caused by projectiles hurled at them.
In addition, females do not hesitate to make false allegations of violence to achieve their goals.
Further, since victim-hood is associated with innocence, the alleged moral disparity between the sexes, as expounded in radical feminism, is given even greater credence because of women’s past perception as the weaker sex.
Taking the moral high ground has allowed women to act towards men in the roles of judge and executioner. Because of the shift in the perception of men and the prejudice against them in the public domain, women are now in a position of being able to exploit that power to the detriment of men.
Disempowerment has traditionally been seen as the result of an interaction between aggressor and victim groups. Men as victims do not fall within this definition.
There is no well-identified powerful female that oppresses men; it is the whole of society.
Why are men not challenging this culture as women did?’
The answer is that whereas women were fighting against something identifiable, male domination, men have no clearly defined enemy.
The perception is that men cannot be victims of violence when the culture has already identified them as the aggressors and when they see themselves that way.
This is why female gender activists, despite knowing very well that men can be victims, still portray them as the aggressor. The public image of women as victims of male aggression portrayed by media-driven feminist paradigms is incorrect, misleading and misrepresentative of reality.
Hatred of women
Hatred of men (misandry) and female aggression against males is a hard and indisputable reality, and it is no different from hatred of women (misogyny) and men’s aggression against females.
The question is no longer whether or not female aggression exists but to the sustenance of this privileged position of female in the context of the current and past social realities.
Let there be honest debate on the issue of gender violence vis-à-vis the aggressor and the causes thereof instead of approaching the issue from a biased premise.
The writer is Secretary/CEO Law Society of [email protected]
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