Domestic Violence: NOT a "Woman's Problem"
So the violence enacted against Rihanna allegedly (not that I personally doubt the event's occurence) by Chris Brown has been splashed all over the internet, news outlets, and popular media at-large. While there are a thousand issues that come up in regards to this that get my activist and feminist self wanting to pull out the soap box, there is one that comes to mind most prominently.
While watching TV this morning, I saw several women discussing how to prevent domestic violence [definition here] against women and how to avoid having young girls and women engaged in violent and abusive relationships. This is a lovely conversation topic, and an important one.
The problem I saw was this: ALL of the proffered suggestions and points of view focused on what women and girls should do to avoid getting into or staying in these relationships -- how we need to change the behavior of these women.
No one suggested how we might address the fact that men and boys are ABUSING, but that women and girls are BEING ABUSED.
Something about this seems incredibly wrong to me, so much so that I feel compelled to address it.
There is a long history of victim-blaming, and this round of suggestions on how to avoid having women abused that focuses on the steps women should take to avoid it has that flavor. I am certainly not suggesting that women shouldn't take this advice and pay attention to the abusive actions of their partners, but I vehemently suggest that there should be just as strong of an outcry regarding what we should and can do as individuals and a society to re-educate our boys and men about violence.
We live in a society that values women for their bodies and their beauty above nearly anything else. This same society prizes men for their aggression and possessions. It should come as no great stretch then, that men are being given the message that women are possessions over which they should have control.
Clearly, however, not all men -- not nearly all -- treat women as objects and punching bags, but this is most often due to proper parenting and good role modeling of a male-female partnership relationship.
There should be a huge conversation in the media, in sociological circles, among men, among parents, and myriad other groups regarding how we address the epidemic of violence against women from the perspective of what we can do as a country, as a society, to stop giving men the message that this is ok...for any reason, under any circumstances.
I have no solution.
I have no magic cure, no special insight into how to perfectly change the situation overnight and that is not my point.
I want, however, to live in a place where when a man is violent against a woman, we talk FIRST about how he got to be the kind of person that does that and how we can prevent the creation of violence of this kind.
The attitude of "boys will be boys," is unacceptable and I entreat you to stand against this perception and talk about the creation of violent individuals above talking about the creation of women as vitcims.
One idea on how to prevent DV here.
Similarly, of interest.
**Again, I do know that talking about how women come to be in victimizing situations is important -- my point is that it should not be the only conversation.**
- Introduction - Domestic Violence
Domestic violence should not happen to anybody. Ever. Period. But it does - and when it does, there is help.
- Men can stop dating and domestic violence!
- Cornell Chronicle: Brochure urges men to stop violence
An ILR School program called 'Stand Up Guys' focuses on how men can help stop domestic violence against women.
- Emerge Homepage
Domestic violence resources for education and counseling.
- 10 Things Men Can Do to Prevent Gender Violence
Another helpful list on ways men can prevent violence.
- What can men do to help stop domestic violence
A short list of approaches men can take to help stop the violence.