Despite domestic abuse and assault on women receiving much attention today, our society is still reluctant to acknowledge male aggression. Various reports have suggested that women are neither safe on the streets, nor within the four walls of their homes. They are susceptible to facing aggression from men in various forms like domestic violence, sexual assault, honour killing and workplace harassment. While people are finally accepting that we need to make the world a safer place for half its population, where is the conversation on male aggression? It is amusing that we want to talk about the safety of women while circumventing the issue of tendency of violence among men. How does one expect that we will ever find a way to ensure women’s safety in all aspects then?
- Various reports have suggested that women are neither safe on the streets, nor within the four walls of their homes.
- The society has always protected aggressive tendencies among men. Labelling them as primal instincts, something which is part of their genetic code.
- We let men get away with aggression, while we also “commit” to making the world a safer place for women.
- Today, women are fed up with this social bias and demand that society removes its blinkers.
The conviction of multi-millionaire John Broadhurst, who was sentenced to less than four years for killing his girlfriend has netizens asking this same question.
According to Independent, Broadhurst had claimed that his then 26-year-old partner was hurt as a result of consensual sexual activity fueled by alcohol and drugs. He had claimed he found her “dead as a doughnut” at the bottom of the stairs. While he was initially charged with murder, he later admitted manslaughter by gross negligence. But the details of this 2016 case haven’t escaped public attention. The victim Natalie Connolly had suffered more than 40 separate injuries, including serious internal trauma, a fractured eye socket and facial wounds. However, the prosecution changed the charge to manslaughter during the trial due to a “realistic prospect of conviction”.
Which means that they thought it would be hard to get a conviction on charges of murder, despite all the evidence, and that says a lot. We would rather accept that a woman who died from internal bleeding with injuries like fractured eye socket liked rough sex, than say it out loud that a man had anger issues and violent tendencies. Even in death, Connolly’s pain and suffering is being passed on as her own doing. She liked rough sex. She asked for it. Surely she would have consented to her boyfriend to hit her so hard that she bled internally. But this is nothing new. The society has always protected aggressive tendencies among men. Labelling them as primal instincts, something which is part of their genetic code. It uses this excuse to justify the appalling global figures on domestic violence and sexual crimes. Men will be men.
Hence we let men get away with aggression, while we also “commit” to making world a safer place for women.
How? By enforcing more restriction and regulations on women. Don’t step outside alone, don’t go out after dark, don’t wear that and don’t say that. Also, if you are stuck in a relationship with a violent man, don’t say or do anything which may anger him. Spend your life in fear and tiptoe around a ticking time bomb which will blow up in your face at the slightest provocation, because the society disapproves if you leave him or call out violence publicly.
Actor Amber Heard, who levied charges of domestic violence against her ex-husband Johnny Depp, wrote in a column for The Washington Post how her career suffered setbacks after she spoke up. She said, her experience brought her face to face with the extent of male privilege in our society. “Friends and advisers told me I would never again work as an actress — that I would be blacklisted. A movie I was attached to recast my role. I had just shot a two-year campaign as the face of a global fashion brand, and the company dropped me. Questions arose as to whether I would be able to keep my role of Mera in the movies Justice League and Aquaman. I had the rare vantage point of seeing, in real-time, how institutions protect men accused of abuse.”
“I had the rare vantage point of seeing, in real-time, how institutions protect men accused of abuse.” – Amber Heard
Today, women are fed up with this social bias and demand that society removes its blinkers and acknowledges that the privilege it has granted men plays a big part in fueling their violent tendencies. Women bear the blame, earn social ridicule and face professional setbacks without being at fault. By allowing men like Depp and Broadhurst get away with violence, the system sends out a dangerous message. No matter what men do, the society is prepared to ignore it. That any threat of exposure of their violent tendencies will only earn women setbacks. Thus, no dialogue on women’s safety will be of any relevance until the society accepts that male aggression is a big problem and it is time to stop avoiding its existence. It will take time to rectify this reluctance in our society, but women have to take a firm and consistent stand now. There is just no way to end violence against women without ending violent tendencies among men.
Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section. The views expressed are the author’s own.