Violent men, victimized women
Walter S. De Keseredy, National Post Published: Friday, March 07, 2008
In her Feb. 27 article "On domestic violence, no one wants to hear the truth," National Post columnist Barbara Kay stated that people claiming women are as violent as men in intimate, heterosexual relationships are "truth-tellers," while those who challenge or reject the sexual symmetry of violence are "all reading from the same myth-riddled hymn book." However, by denouncing a gendered understanding of intimate partner violence and promoting the work of Erin Pizzey and Donald Dutton, Ms. Kay has engaged in a process of activism herself. She is trying to advance a political agenda instead of telling the whole truth.
One part of the truth Ms. Kay didn't tell is that sexual assault is violent behaviour committed primarily by men, especially by male dating partners and acquaintances. How many men do you know who have been raped by their spouses, ex-spouses or girlfriends? How often do we read newspaper stories about women stalking ex-husbands and then killing them and their children?
Sadly, in Canada, the risk of women being killed increases sixfold during the process of separation, which partially explains why so many women are afraid to leave abusive or controlling men. Ms. Kay selectively ignores other serious acts of male abuse, including strangulation, the destruction of women's prized possessions, threats to harm or take away children, and the mutilation of pets. No wonder Canadian battered women's shelters are filled every day and night.
Another part of the truth ignored in Ms. Kay's column is that we rarely see men seeking aid in hospital emergency rooms because they were beaten or raped by their female partners. On the other hand, male violence against women is the number-one injury to women treated by emergency room staff. It is painfully obvious, but worth stating again: The bulk of violence in intimate, heterosexual relationships is committed by men.
Why do men hit, rape or kill the women they love? Ms. Kay, psychologist Donald Dutton and many others claim that they are "sick." Large-scale surveys of the general population suggest that if violence is a function of mental illness, then close to a third (if not more) of the men in our society are sick.
Of course, some abusive men have clinical pathologies, but most do not. If violent husbands, cohabiting and estranged partners and boyfriends are in fact mentally ill, then why do they beat, rape or kill only female partners and not their bosses, friends or neighbours? If we are dealing with men who have terrible problems with self-control, how do they manage to keep from hitting people until they are at home alone with their loved ones?
These questions cannot be answered by psychological theories, primarily because these theories ignore the unequal distribution of power between men and women in Canadian society and in domestic contexts.
Ms. Kay incorrectly assumes that feminists have more influence over police officers, politicians, judges and other practitioners than people who claim that intimate violence is a gender-neutral problem. She also ignores the fact that -- despite federal and provincial directives to police to lay charges for all cases of domestic violence where reasonable and probable grounds exist -- charges are uncommon. The same can be said about sexual assault and stalking.
Ms. Kay quotes Erin Pizzey, who stated that for gender politics "Canada is the scariest country on the planet." Indeed, many Canadian women live in fear on a daily basis -- but not for the reason Ms. Pizzey suggests. As my friend and colleague Dr. Meda Chesney-Lind once stated, given the alarming amount of violence women suffer at male hands, the incredible story is that the number of female murderers is so low.
-Dr. Walter S. DeKeseredy is a professor of Criminology, Justice and Policy Studies at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology.
What Dr. DeKeserdy fails to mention, while he points out forms of violence that are commonly attributed to men, are the types of violence that are more often committed by women. I guess it's easy to disregard that women are more likely to not only abuse but murder their children then men. Apparently Dr. DeKeserdy does not think this type of violence rates mentioning.
I also like how he considered destruction of a woman's possessions and threats to keep away the children acts of violence. If that's so, women are just as guilty (in my opinion more so) of such acts, and, if we're expanding violence to such a broad definition, then surely we should include alienating children from their fathers and verbally maligning fathers in front of their children.
We should also include in our tally false accusations of rape and abuse. Even if he avoids jail time, a falsely accused man's career and life are typically ruined by such charges. Clearly these would also count as 'acts of violence' since destroying a life is surely a greater offense than the destruction of personal possessions.
Of course, this is to be expected. As soon as we see factions of society starting to accept that men do not have a monopoly on violence, the feminists and their supporters come out of the woodwork attempting to reaffirm that evil actions are committed solely by men.
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