Updated: 10 August 2015
In the short clip below, a couple (portrayed by actors) are walking through a London park and begin to argue. In the first scenario, the argument becomes increasingly intense, until the man starts to manhandle the woman. Almost immediately, bystanders intervene, firmly, threatening to call the police. In the second scenario, the argument again becomes increasingly intense but, this time, the woman takes to abusing the man, including grabbing him by the head and pushing him into a lamppost. This time, the bystanders, well they just stand by, and even laugh at what they are witnessing.
This video highlights the deeply troubling double standard that society holds when it comes to domestic abuse – women, when victims, must be helped; men, when victims – well, they’re never really victims.
Relationships between men and women should be governed by covenants of mutual agreement and justice; no human being should be abused or humiliated by their spouse, regardless of gender. Domestic abuse, it goes without saying, is a degrading, painful, and traumatising experience – and it happens to men, too. Any cause for justice that is truly seeking remedy for victims of domestic abuse, and who seek prevention of this social ailment, must acknowledge that domestic abuse is not a gender-based problem and thus does not require a gender-based solution (such as feminism). Here are a few necessary myth busters that explain why.
Myth 1: “Domestic abuse is a thing men do to women”
Because the matter of ‘domestic abuse’ has largely been monopolised by women’s rights groups and feminists, it is almost always presumed that the victim is female.
Reality: more married men suffered from partner abuse in 2012 than married women (Source: British Crime Survey).
Reality: (at least) 40% of the victims of domestic violence are actually men (Source: Office for National Statistics).
Reality: in the US, an earlier study found that, in non-reciprocally violent relationships, women were the perpetrators in more than 70% of the cases (Source: American Journal of Public Health).
Yet, citing the reality that women strike almost just as much as men (sometimes more) is often met with outraged indignation from many quarters of society, including some feminists, as though acknowledging male victims’ injuries somehow invalidates a female victim’s injuries.
And if we put aside heterosexual couples, and look at domestic abuse between same-sex couples, we find yet another surprising reality: amongst same-sex couples, lesbian couples experienced more domestic abuse than gay men!
According to findings by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 44% of lesbians had been physically assaulted by a partner (more than two-thirds of them (i.e. 29%) only by women), compared to 35% of straight women, 26% of gay men, and 29% of straight men
One can only conclude that such feminists, and others who defend the above myth, have a stake in portraying the male as always being the aggressor, and the female as always being the victim, in order to perpetuate a bias against men that garners sympathy, license, and defences for women, and zero tolerance for men.
Myth 2: “Women cannot hurt men”
Some claim that the bystanders in the video laugh at the man’s predicament because he is physically stronger than the woman anyway so she cannot really hurt him, and he has the power to defend himself against her.
Reality: women can be just as hurtful as men. Whilst men have more physical power than women, female assailants are perfectly able to inflict physical harm on men (especially with use of objects), and also have far more psychological and legal power to silence them afterward.
The ManKind Initiative reported cases where men “have been laid out with iron bars, had glass put in their food and been set upon with a knife. Others have been stabbed, punched in the face and threatened with an axe.” Parity, another organisation, details that, from a sample of male victims, “[o]ver half had been threatened with a weapon and a significant proportion reported serious forms of injury. One third had been kicked in the genitals, and others burnt or scalded, stabbed, or hit with heavy objects.” Ergo, women can hurt men.
Not only this, but male victims were less likely than women to report what had happened to them. When they did, they were met with widespread prejudice or discrimination by the authorities, even the courts. Little action was taken by the police against female assailants unless the men had a visible and significant injury.
Parity further explained that “[z]ero tolerance and pro-arrest policies appeared to be directed mainly at men and offered little protection to genuine male victims and their children. […] A male victim appeared to be over twice as likely as a female assailant of being arrested when the police responded to an emergency call.” Approximately a fifth of male victims were themselves arrested.
So, not only can women hurt men, but they can even have their victim arrested when the police turn up – just because he is a man.
Myth 3: “”Gender Equality” will bring about harmony between men and women”
Movements like feminism that advocate “gender equality” seek to equalise the rights of men and women, so that women have the same “entitlements” as men do, putting them on a “level field” with men.
Reality: in the wake of feminism, and striving to become “equal” to men, patterns show that women are becoming increasingly violent. It was reported in The Independent, that female violent crime once rose by 12% in the space of only 5 years – that was four times the rate of increase among men. Offences involving women carrying out assault, robbery, murder and drug-related crimes had also increased by 250% since 1973. It was later reported that, by 2011, official figures showed that the number of women convicted of perpetrating domestic abuse had quadrupled in the past six years, from 806 in 2004-2005 to 3,494 in 2009-2010.
Movements like feminism that advocate “gender equality” seek to equalise the rights of men and women, so that women have the same “entitlements” as men do – but they do not always seek to equalise the responsibilities that justify having those entitlements in the first place.
When women are only seeking to obtain all of the “entitlements” that they perceive men to have, without the tempering responsibilities, they end up perpetrating the same injustices that they accuse men of perpetrating because it simply ends up being a wielding of power for its own sake.
In Islam, a woman is entitled to be provided for – but she has a matching duty to guard her husband’s property and is accountable for the actions and raising of the children; conversely, a husband is entitled to be the “head” of the household – but he is accountable for the wellbeing, and the actions of his wife and children. Thus, in current Muslim societies where “entitlements” are indulged in without the tempering duties being implemented, injustices such as domestic abuse occur.
In Western society, where neither men nor women tend to hold certainty or agreement as to what values to live by, frustration and anarchy between men and women is inevitable. Women can spend centuries trying to “equalise” with men – but they have not asked whether men’s entitlements represent correct values in the first place.
It is not “gender equality” that will bring about harmony between men and women in any society – but a clear understanding and agreement between a man and a woman as to what they expect from each other, and recourse to justice that does not disbelieve or mock at the injuries of either party, when those expectations are not fulfilled.
 See: http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pdf/cdc_nisvs_ipv_report_2013_v17_single_a.pdf table 3.4 and 3.5, and http://www.cdc.gov/ViolencePrevention/pdf/NISVS_SOfindings.pdf at p.27