Written By: Francis Borrasso
Photo: Moscow Times
Conducting a Google image search for the word ‘violence’, I found the two photos above. What do they have in common? Each presents a male figure threatening violence against a female. If violence against women is so prevalent in representative forms, statistics, media etc. then why is it still such a prominent issue? It’s simple: policy and procedure is reactionary rather than preventative.
Domestic violence has a long history, its prevalence has led to many policies and standard operating procedures in the criminal justice system. More specifically, what needs to happen when the police answer a call concerning a domestic dispute. More often than not, someone is being taken in if the police have to address a situation. This has its flawed logic: if the abuser/perpetrator is taken in, the victim will be safe and further harm will be avoided. This can be problematic because in practice, it is usually the male who is taken in, regardless of guilt, and this can create more turmoil between the two. This is not only applicable to heterosexual relationships, but that is the example most often given with regards to these issues.
This practice is reactionary and borderline causative of future violence. It does nothing to prevent the violence from happening in the first place. Women’s shelters and other safe havens are technically support services. Beth Richie pointed out “social actors” who demand “the existing social order to be different; more oriented toward social justice than social services” (Richie, 67).
Where does violence stem from? Why are women victimized? Women have “named gender inequality and the subordination of women in both the public and the private spheres as the root cause of rape, battery, stalking, and harassment and called for an end to sexist oppression…[transforming the] understanding [of] violence against women as a personal problem to one that is rooted in the politics of patriarchy” (Richie, 67-68).
What Richie, and many other activists against violence, is getting at is there needs to be a preventative stance on violence against women, and men for that matter. We need to stop perpetuating this idea that women are soft, dainty, and easily broken; that only reinforces the inferiority complex and characterization of women as a whole. This logic makes women an easy target, just like the school bully never picks on the biggest, baddest kid on the playground; people are hardly violent towards those that are similar in stature, strength, and skill level.
Richie, Beth. Arrested Justice. 2012