Sunday, September 8, 2013

Let's end the rampant bias against... Men?

I know! As if there’s one group that does not need protection, it’s men; am I right, ladies? Everywhere you look, men are in charge. Men are Presidents, the majority of judges, and the vast majority of top corporate executives. Women in the United States earn seventy-seven cents for every dollar a male earns. Little boys are encouraged to grow up to be astronauts, engineers, scientists, and doctors, while little girls are told that “math is hard” and encouraged towards nursing, teaching, or full-time housewivery. In 2009, men were responsible for 81.2% of the violent crime in the US and 62.6% of the property crime. And we all know that all rape is committed by men and that domestic abuse is mainly comprised of men beating their wives or girlfriends and often their children or step-children. They just stick it in anything and then skip along on their merry way and leave women to pick up the pieces of their lives, whether it’s trying to put together money for an abortion or track down a deadbeat dad later.

Yes, clearly, it’s a still a man’s world out there.

Until you look closer.

Over the course of this blog, I’ll be taking a closer look at many of these assertions that we take for granted. Education, justice, reproductive rights, pop culture, employment, domestic abuse, rape— it turns out in each case, the issue is not nearly as clear cut as you may have thought.  And in many cases, the popular narrative is just flat out wrong.

Take, for example, the popular Violence Against Women Act of 1994 (VAWA), and its signature issue of domestic violence. Conventional wisdom holds that domestic violence is an issue of men beating women. To the extent women ever commit violence against men, it is only very rarely serious. However, as reported by Stop Abusive and Violent Environments (SAVE), intimate partner violence against men is both a serious problem and one that goes largely unaddressed. Respecting Accuracy in Domestic Abuse Reporting (RADAR) provides this analysis of VAWA’s flaws, and contends that VAWA, in practice, actually harms women.

A typical response to criticism of VAWA is, “How can you be against protecting women from violence? Are you for violence against women?” It’s this black-and-white framing of the issue that itself is much of the problem. No, of course I am not in favor of violence against women. I am a woman. I have a mother, a sister, a daughter. But I also have a father, a husband, and two sons. And I would want my male loved ones as protected from violence— including intimate partner violence— as much as my female ones.  

In short, I’m not against violence against women. I’m against violence, period.