Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Violence against women is a men's issue

"What's going on with men? Why do so many men abuse - physically, emotionally, verbally? Why is that a common problem in our society and all over the world?"

Every day coming out of India, there is the news of violence against women - gang-rape, assault, domestic violence - and it has really made me question the roots of where this violence is coming from, deep within Indian society. In a land where people worship goddesses - Why is India considered to be a dangerous place to be a woman? Why is a woman treated unequally to a man? With every news story, there will be full-on victim blaming, always pointing the finger back at the woman for being victimized - and not one story focuses on the men. Especially with the Delhi gang-rape verdict - it was all about what Jyothi was wearing, why was she out at night - and nobody even got to the root of WHY the men did it. Two of the rapists were brothers, who were very close the their mothers. What the hell.

The latest news that came out of India was that a Malayalam actress Shweta Menon was publicly assaulted by a politician - and had to withdraw the complaint. Among the popular comments were, "she can go for all hot and bold scene on screen but made an issue of off screen" - because SHE made the issue? Not a single mention of the pervert who assaulted her, as if he and any other "uncontrollable" man are entitled to her as her body is an object and she is less of a person?

In my quest for insight, and constantly asking "why", I came across this fantastic video online about the roots of victim blaming in society, and why men are taken out of the equation in issues of violence against women - when it is clearly a MEN'S ISSUE to begin with.



"Gender violence issues have been seen as women's issues that some good men help out with. But I have a problem with that - and I don't accept it. These are men's issues. Calling gender violence a women's issue is part of the problem for a number of reasons. The first is that it gives men an excuse not to pay attention. A lot of men hear the term women's issues and we tend to tune it out."

He even goes in to a sentence structure/cognitive structure of how the victim-blaming shifts to the women - which was very interesting. For example, "John beat Mary" turns into "Mary is a battered woman" - which completely takes the abuser out of the equation and places a blame on the woman, and gives an an entire identity to the survivor as a victim.

"This isn't about individual perpetrators. That's a naive understanding of a much deeper and systematic social problem."

Then he questions what the role is of society that produces these violent men - he goes into the roots of social structure that have essentially failed boys/men - including family structure, economics, sports culture, pornography culture, socialization of boys, the definitions of manhood. He also talks about the terrible silence in male culture about the ongoing violence that is done by many men.

"A lot of women who have been trying to speak out against these issues often get shot down for their efforts. They get called nasty names like 'man-hater' or 'feminazi'. That's called 'kill the messenger'. The women that are speaking up and standing up for themselves and for other women; as well as for men and boys - it's a statement to them, to 'sit down and shut up' "

"Most male victims of violence are the victims of other men's violence. So that's something that women and men have in common - we are BOTH victims of men's violence."

"If we can get to a place where men who act sexist will lose status [in society] we will see a radical diminishing of the abuse. Because the typical perpetrator is not sick and twisted, he is a normal guy"

Things in India are changing, but it will take time. The women's rights movement has just embarked after Jyothi's death and is full-on steam ahead. It is becoming uncool to "eve-tease" and it is becoming "death penalty" to gang-rape. However, it still has a long way to go - traditional gender roles are some of the worst in the world (for example, why are there no stay-at-home dads in India, even though there are more women in the workforce than ever before?) Why does every woman in the news stories get victim-blamed? Because it is a culture of excusing the boys, which breeds male entitlement and male superiority - they can do what ever they want and are uncontrollable at the same time = a lethal combination. Because MORE strong men need to STAND UP and set the tone for their societies - "to break their SILENCE and challenge each other" - to redefine the constraints of traditional manhood - for their families and their sons.

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Dear readers, what did you think of the video? Do you think that gender violence should be equally a men's issue? What do you think the roots of gender violence is - family, society, etc? How does all this relate to what's going on in India right now?

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2 comments

  1. Women empowerment is strongly required to stop the violence against women. A Woman must be self employed and independent so that she can reply to everyone's quotes and stop any hand that raises against her. There are lots of movements like Sahara Q Saathi which are offering women empowerment and entrepreneurship, every women must take part in such a project.

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    1. I totally agree. Women must empower each other, and that in turn will empower their families, communities and children.

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