Domestic violence is about power, access, and enablement – all of which men have disproportionately. Women are overwhelmingly the disempowered recipients of intimate partner violence. Lets not argue statistics. Domestic violence is never okay, no matter the direction.
Patriarchal societies put power in the mens hands. Simply put – the men have the power and are triggered by the slightest threat to that power. Next, the data shows that men are more likely to hurt women they currently or previously had access to. As of 2013, 70% of women worldwide reported having experienced violence from intimate partners, compared to 35% from non-intimate partners. In 2017 alone, 30% of the women intentionally killed, were killed by current or former lovers. As for enablement, this is the cultural facilitation of domestic violence whereby men are not reprimanded for perpetuating it, and women are taught to internalize men’s violence towards them as self inflicted.
In the past years, women’s incremental participation in the labor force increased their bargaining power within their homes and was observed to reduce the likelihood for violence. However, enter COVID-19, shelter in place policies and employment/financial disruptions, and like gasoline to an already blazing fire, domestic violence has been seen to explode. Women laid off and relegated to dependency, are stuck indoors all day with their very abusers who have the power, increased access, and the society’s blessing to do as they please. Justified domestic violence is always a perceived ego bruise away. With weeks upon weeks of being in constant close quarters, as well as added stressors like the synchronized double burden, children, anxiety, financial uncertainty, and triggering news about the pandemic, irritability is rife and tempers flare. Egos are increasingly bruised over and over. So are women.
Like clockwork, during calamitous events, women’s bodies become battlefields as cultural entitlements and a lack of social order, produces a heady cocktail propelling those with power (typically men), to prey on those with needs sans agency (typically women and children). We must undo the ego-centered masculinity that teaches boys and men to try to control women at all costs, and empower girls and women to reject such dehumanization from anyone because their lives matter. COVID-19 offers yet another chance to see that we must take steps to shift the gender imbalances that persist even in non-crisis periods so they do not persist in the time of our greatest need.
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