Bullies are wrong, Superman is right, a true man knows how to protect
Unfortunately, violence against women and girls happens in all financial layers, and all ethnic, religious, and national groups of all societies. Murder of females is merely the tip of the vicious iceberg. While all violence against women must stop, the biggest extremes should not be ignored.
Let me try to spell out the basics as I see them:
- More men than women are killed, but for once, that’s not the issue.
- Most men will never harm a woman but here, that’s not the issue.
- The issue isn’t men or women but seeing women as second-class.
- Men are seldom killed because they are men. Women, when killed, were often killed because their lives were regarded as unimportant.
- Often women are killed by a close male relative, most often their male (ex-) partner, while they should be their biggest protectors.
- Women are murdered as an extreme consequence of sexism, not so most men, e.g. heterosexual, cis-gender (gender-normative) men.
- Spouse abuse is woefully underreported; murder is harder to hide.
- Most oppressions murder. Yet, when discussing femicide, we should not quickly move on to racism, etc., and again ignore women.
- Traditional Jewish Law has many rules intended to protect women. It was the first to acknowledge sexism and women’s preciousness.
- Women still didn’t have their George Floyd moment: most often, they are murdered in the home outside of anyone’s view, and their wounds are not mentioned because they are often too gruesome.
The Israel Observatory on Femicide is holding an international online conference. It will see speakers from Israel, Zimbabwe, Kosovo, New Zealand, South Africa, North Caucasus, and other places, especially conflict-ridden societies, including Ukraine and hopefully Russia.
It’s always the right time to talk about femicide. Logically, you want to tie such a conference to the actuality of the day. It is inevitable that men will be uncomfortable thinking about femicide, and that the organizers will make mistakes when blazing this new trail. That’s all fine.
I was unaware that Black women are being murdered in the US in large numbers, which then is silenced by the media. We need to learn the cases and numbers. When underdogs in a society are trapped in violence, their women and girls will get their unfair share. It shows that it takes ending all violence against minorities to stop murder of women. Sadly, the US, founded on genocide and slavery, is still a very aggressive society for all. Where murder is rampant, often, women are even less safe than men.
I don’t think we should talk about ‘Palestinian’ ‘honor killings,’ but rather speak of Muslim femicide, both by extremists (ISIS) and in regular society. ‘Israeli-Arab’ society, unfortunately, knows that this is not just a religious problem in the West Bank and Gaza. To avoid throwing oil on the fire of anti-Islam bigots, I would also speak of how traditional Islam may protect women, especially by acknowledging their special status and against the meat market Western society has created around sexuality.
I missed a mention of the rampant murder of female babies in Communist China when it had a one-child policy. The mass murder may be largely over, but the pain must still be there.
I’d also focus on institutionalized sexism making more women die in the health industry because their deadly diseases are not taken as seriously as men’s. In my book that’s femicide too. It took half a century longer to look for and find out the warning signs of heart attacks in women. In the US, twice as much is spent on research of prostate cancer than on ovarian cancer, while the first one seldom kills and the latter almost always.
I would include women driven to suicide (and even women not leaving a violent spouse) as that also comes from regarding women’s lives as trivial.
They mention the war in Ukraine. I think the women fleeing from there are mostly a stream of women and youth, so femicide will not be the problem. Russian troupes also seem unable to rape women in this violent conflict. The problem starts after the war when women return to Ukraine and men to Russia. Especially in the latter since, shockingly, five years ago, Putin, with the support of the church, decriminalized spouse abuse. Almost all ex-combats really try not to hurt the women and children around them but inevitably, the trauma of war and death will make them and society as a whole more violent and distant, though not necessarily physically.
I don’t know if this war would eventually result in more femicide. But, in any case, I would not talk about men ‘being pushed toward violence,’ as the founder of this Observatory does. It denies men’s responsibility to keep violence in check, to be protectors, and certainly not assailants.
Let us also celebrate successes on the way to eradicating this scourge.
Everyone being safe everywhere should be a human right and serious goal.
May the conference be a success and help us build a safe world for all.
“Violence is Not an Option”
Now we’re on the subject of male violence already, let’s briefly discuss what happened live on US television last night.
For all to see around the globe, the Oscars were awarded. A Black comedian made, in his happy acceptance speech a (probably oppressive) joke about the Black wife of a more famous than him Black actor. The latter first laughed, then saw that his wife had stopped laughing, got on stage, and smacked the joker in his face. While returning to his seat, he topped it with two angry shouts. And later, when he got a reward, he was full of remorse but not toward his victim. Here you have what I see:
1. The smack said: You’re trash. I can smack you. Sometimes, racism has the same message as sexism. But, he’s Black himself! Yes, so he’s also trash (according to racism), so he can do this. And, the aggressor is richer and older, so that comes with (imaginary) prominence and seniority.
2. The smack shows that he was confident he could get away with it. That is the same self-confidence that we see in men murdering their spouses. It’s not true that happens in a rage, that they ‘lose control.’ It happens from hatred. And, they know very well what they do. They feel entitled.
3. However, in his autobiography he has shared suffering seeing his father abuse his mother and not standing up against that. So, he snapped? He’s been not violent until now. “This story is very layered.” Still, he’s a role model and showed a lack of restraint. But, he just apologized. That counts.
Here is what he could have done:
Tell his wife: “Sorry I laughed.” Tell the joker: “That’s actually not funny. Please say sorry.” Say to the public: “He already regrets saying that.”
All men must learn that aggression is not an option. And after aggression via whatever reasoning or excuses comes expressing regret and listening.