Domestic Violence Essay, Research Paper
Women?s Studies 210
Analytic Response #2
Domestic violence and sexual assault are two difficult things to define. I define domestic violence as any unwanted physical contact from a significant other. Significant other being boyfriend, girlfriend, sexual partner, or spouse. I define sexual assault as any unwanted sexual contact. This could be rape or it could be an uninvited touch.
The article ?Domestic Violence: What?s Love Got to do With It?? is a personal account of one incident of domestic violence that changed the author?s life. She won?t even give her full name because of her fear. She points out in the article her feeling of disbelief as her significant other, she refers to him as X, slammed her head on the concrete. She also points out how the police were very unhelpful and uncompassionate to her. The officer did not take into account that she was stunned and confused as well as physically injured from the incident. He asked her questions in an angry tone of voice and even threatened to arrest her for disorderly conduct. After the incident her life was not the same. Her jaw became dislocated, she tried to press charges but they were reduced because she did not press them on the scene, and she could not even sit through a movie with her friend. Her friends don?t believe the incident is as serious as it is, and X is spreading rumors about her. It seems that everyone is on his side. She admits that she is afraid of men. Basically, this article shows how a single incident of domestic violence can ruin someone?s life.
The article ?Men Changing Men? highlights the Oakland Men?s Project, a group dedicated to stopping male violence, racism, and homophobia. Racism is the belief, attitude, action, or institutional structure that subordinates a person or group because of their race. Homophobia is the irrational fear of and hostility toward gay men, lesbians, or bisexuals. The group tries to show how society?s definition of masculinity leads men to violence. Masculinity is the set of cultural values, psychological attributes, and social activities that a society has defined as normative for men. One of the activities that they do is show an encounter between an angry father and his son to schoolchildren. When they asked the boys what they learned from the encounter, the reply was ? a man is tough, a man is in control, a man doesn?t cry.? These phrases are part of society?s definition of masculinity. They point out to the boys that it is very dangerous to live that way. The OMP also does another exercise. They ask a group of men various questions that fit society?s definition of masculinity, such as ?Have you ever been called a wimp?? or ?Have you ever made a comment in public about a woman?s body?? This gives men a chance to look at how dangerous society?s definition of masculinity really is.
There is a connection between this type of violence and sexism. Sexism is the belief, attitude, action, or institutional structure that subordinates a person or group because of their sex. As pointed out in the article, the belief that one sex is subordinate to the other allows for violence against the subordinate sex. Excuses such as violence against women is natural are used to justify the violence. Sexism must be eradicated in order to stop male violence.
The relationship between homophobia and violence is similar to the connection between violence and sexism. As I pointed out earlier, homophobia is the irrational fear of and hostility toward gay men, lesbians, or bisexuals. Words like ?gay? and ?queer? get very hostile reactions from homophobic men. This irrational hostility can lead to violence because that?s one of the ways men are taught to respond, as pointed out in the article.
Our current construction of masculinity impacts these connections. The exercise with the young boys shows that males are taught masculinity at a very young age. Their responses, ?Men are in control, Men don?t cry?, impact the way these boys live. Men are taught to hide emotions and only show anger. It should be no surprise that they sometimes act violently.