Men's violence against women

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The term “Men's violence against women” refers to something much bigger than individual cases of violence where the attacker happens to be male and the victim happens to be female. Actual instances of actual violence are done by individuals and by groups (in a narrow sense of the word “group”), not by categories. Yet the words “men” and “women” in the concept of “Men's violence against women” refers to the categories themselves.

In the model of conceptualizing categorism (including sexism) and kyriarchy (including patriarchy) as two separate (although intertwined) phenomena, we can understand the concept of “Men's violence against women” in two different ways: One is as a specific package of sexism and other categorism which upholds patriarchy, one is as a limiting dogma which among other things upholds homophobic structures by invisibilizing violence in same sex relationships. While these two ways are radically different from each other, they are not mutually exclusive. On the contrary, they can address different problems which not only are real but may also gain power from each other.

“Men's violence against women” as systemic dis-empowerment (mostly against women)

A case of domestic abuse or sexual abuse can reasonably be seen as a metaphorical weapon used by the attacker against the victim. This is true regardless of what genders (if any) the parties involved were assigned at birth or are currently identified as by themselves or by society in general. Several social norms can contribute to turning domestic abuse and sexual abuse into a patriarchal society's weapons against women in general:

1. Norms which encourage men to be more aggressive and “take what they want” at other people's expense.
2. Norms which encourage women to be passive, meek and compliant.
3. Norms which invisibilize and normalize domestic abuse and sexual abuse. In all individual cases, this hurts all victims of domestic abuse (regardless of their gender and regardless of their attacker's gender), but on a macro level of context it mostly hurt people of whatever gender is most often targeted for domestic abuse and/or sexual abuse. Note that the two previously mentioned norms contribute to women getting attacked more often and to men getting attacked less often.
4. Norms which use some men's violence against women as an excuse for demanding that women stay protected by submitting to other men.
5. Norms which use some men's violence against women as an excuse for demanding that women stay safe by staying at home.
6. Norms which condemn women who are involved in sexual acts as being “impure”, “tainted”, “a fallen women”, “a slut” or similar. Besides blaming the victim and protecting the rapist in cases of male-on-female sexual abuse, this norm also protect men from sexual abuse and unwanted sexual attention from any woman who has anything to lose by being branded by the mentioned labels.
7. Norms which condemn male homosexuality. While this homophobia mainly harms innocent homosexuals of both genders, it also protects heterosexual men from sexual abuse and unwanted sexual attention from any man who has anything to lose by being branded as homosexual.
8. Norms which excuse and encourage violence against homosexuals. A man can use such norms to get threatening or outright violent against any woman who refuse his advances, as well as against any man who does sexual advances against him.

Summary: A web of social norms which dis-empowers all women as well as gay men and timid men, while encouraging and enabling each heterosexual man to be “assertive” at other people's dire expense – or even outright violent and abusive. This does not empower or otherwise benefit all men, but it does empower and benefit those men who are willing to embrace the mentioned toxic norms.

Note that this package of norms doesn't have to be called “men's violence against women”, it can just be called “Heterosexist normativity” instead.

“Men's violence against women” as invisibilizing dogma

To conceptualize domestic abuse and sexual abuse as “men's violence against women” has several nasty side effects, whether intentionally or otherwise.

1. It invisibilizes and incomprehensionizes domestic abuse and sexual abuse in same-sex relationships, thus discouraging the victims from seeking help as well as discouraging others from helping them.
2. It invisibilizes and incomprehensionizes domestic abuse and sexual abuse in cases where the victim is male and the attacker is female.
3. It invisibilizes and incomprehensionizes domestic abuse and sexual abuse in all cases where at least one of the persons involved is transsexual, non-binary, intersexual or similar. It also invites everyone to categorize violent transwomen as “actually being men” and to categorize victimized transmen as “actually being women”.
4. It contributes to transforming historic and contemporary systemic misogyny in society into an idea of a gendered “category original sin” bestowed upon any person guilty of having been assigned male at birth.