This weekend’s shocking headline in The Observer reads:
Solange and Jay-Z: it’s simply not the same if a man is hit by a woman
The writer Barbara Ellen goes on to state:
“The differences in physical size and/or strength between the sexes mean that most men are simply not physically scared of most women.”
And later justifies female violence:
“What’s more, women tend to be aware of this, if only subliminally. Some females might have periods in their life when they get “slap-happy”, primarily when socialising, maybe when attention seeking, usually when drunk (guilty!).”
Which is missing the point entirely and shows the crassest possible misunderstanding of female on male violence. Women are still largely the victims of domestic violence, true but female on male violence is on the rise; research shows that women who abuse their partners are far more likely to use a weapon which does not make it less dangerous. The fact that a man can fight back doesn’t mean that he will and if she takes him by surprise (hitting him with a heavy object from behind for example) then he is not even able to defend himself.
So I put it to you – Barbara Ellen – if a woman launches herself at a man with a cricket bat in her hand and takes to connecting said sport’s item with his head, from behind where he cannot see her, is that somehow less worse than if he’d used his fists on her?
Many of the comments on the article seem to back up the notion of female on male violence using weapons and other tactics:
Yeah sure my mother was physically no match for my father in terms of a physical fight. That is why she resorted to pulling carving knifes and throwing hot ashes and believe me being around that as a child a terrifying.
A man may not know how to defend himself against a knife attack and his relative strength compared to hers becomes irrelevant at that point – just as it does when she strikes him with a heavy object from outside of his peripheral view.
A far bigger issue is how the media treats female on male domestic violence – often with derision and / or humour. When Eastenders actor Ross Kemp was reported to have been attacked by his ex-wife Rebekah Brooks (yes the same Brooks at the centre of the News of the World phone-hacking scandal), the media made light of it. Ross Kemp is a big, gruff looking man known for playing soap hard man Grant Mitchell. I’m sure they would not have made such light of the situation if she had killed him. 100 women die in the UK every year from domestic violence, for men it is around 35.
I personally have not suffered domestic violence but I know several male friends and family members that have. In one case, a family member spent a night in hospital on at least two occasions because an ex-girlfriend decided to use a large frying pan on his head. He is not with her any more, he is happily married to somebody else. He too is a big and stocky man and she was much smaller than him but because he was brought up to believe that there is never an excuse to hit a woman, he never fought back.
Any death from domestic abuse is a tragedy and we should do everything we can to stop it – however articles such as Barbara Ellen’s are incredibly unhelpful.
If you are a male living in the UK currently suffering domestic abuse, the Mankind Initiative is here to help you