We are warned not to generalise. We must always be specific about male violence. “Not all men”, we must say, in case someone gets upset. We must not connect the horrendous violence of war zones with anything nearer our own safe spaces, our homes and gardens. And, as well as that, we must not connect what happens in UK homes – two women murdered a week – to our own lives, because then we might realise that we cannot fully live in these conditions.
To be paralysed by the fear of what men do would shrink our world. Which, of course, is precisely what has been revealed by all the #MeToo accounts of assault and harassment that have been shared on social media, accounts that illustrate the myriad ways women live smaller lives in anticipation of male violence. It breaks my heart to see it is the same, and perhaps even worse, for younger women today. I would quite like a day off from all this, but so much fiction, TV, so many films, are about the murder of women. A real-life murderer of a woman – Bertrand Cantat, the musician who beat his girlfriend Marie Trintignant to death – is the cover star of a French magazine this week. The publishers say perhaps this was bad timing. Yet this is just one one-off occurrence, of course. It has no connection, we are told, to anything else.
I must not join the dots. God forbid I become “reductive” about male violence. No, I must be sophisticated and unknowing. I must play to the better angels: men who are nice. We have to get them on side.
Well no. Get real. This strategy has failed. Without an analysis of the “p” word, patriarchy, we remain powerless to change it. Either a) men are just naturally aggressive because of testosterone, women are passive breeders, and this is biologically determined, or b) there is a power structure in play here that can be challenged.
Source: @guardian: What connects rape in war, domestic violence and sexual harassment? Patriarchy (Suzanne Moore)