I saw on twitter the other day the term “violence against women.” This is far from the first time I’ve seen it. It may have been the millionth for all I know. I am a domestic violence and sexual assault survivor, so it is nothing shocking or new for me. I know the statistics by heart, unfortunately. Sometimes they comfort me to know that I am not alone. The nightmares I still have and occasional anxiety attacks are not unique to me. There are many… many who have been through the same and are going through it now. There is a way to come out of it and find the light at the end of the tunnel. That is partly why I blog. I want people to know that they are not alone, but also that you can have a life after. Sure, you may have set backs and it never truly disappears from your past, but even survivors have multi-faceted lives. They can embrace family, sex, work, parenting, and everything else that makes us who we are even after going through so much.
However, this one time I saw “violence against women” or VAW, something occurred to me. It is a simplistic thought, but it was profound to me. You would never see someone saying let’s stop violence against men or against the middle class or against… almost any other population subgroup. There are of course exceptions, but never as something as general and all-embracing as violence. There is stop cruelty against animals, but even cruelty seems fairly specific. Like we all know, as good human beings, that to be cruel to animals is to be a bad person. And, there is stop discrimination, which could include violence. But, it is also a given that those who discriminate are bigots. They are wrong in society’s eyes. Child abuse is the same.
Violence against women though seems like this large unwieldy mass of incidents and events. Even I, who have been on the punching bag end of the spectrum, would never categorically think of someone as inhuman or a bad person, if they have participated in violence against women. Yes, I know, that’s awful. However, the reason I cannot is because it would include just such a large percentage of the population, especially the male population. Women, we are not supposed to be a victimized population, in these times of feminism and women excelling in all areas of our society. But, we are. The numbers are staggering. We are violated, trampled upon and demoralized. Yet, we are supposed to be successful. We are supposed to be a large voice of the American population. We are supposed to be strong and independent.
Is this true though? How can such juxtaposition exist? For how much longer can violence against women be ingrained in our society as an often overlooked norm. Can that reality coexist with the rise of powerful women? Something has got to give. It has been this way for quite a long time, and I am afraid, especially with the legislature’s refusal to renew the Violence Against Women Act that when this comes to a head, the societal norm will win out. It is what we are used to. It is the existence we were born into. It needs to stop now. This is the time where we can make a difference and change the lives of our daughters and granddaughters. It is now that we will be able to turn the tide in the favor of equality for women not just in the board room, but in the bedroom as well.
This seems like such a strange shift from the feminist rhetoric of the past, demanding equal pay for equal work. But, maybe it is time to start demanding equal value in the eyes of all the men in our lives – fathers, brothers, husbands, neighbors, and friends. It is those men who decide on our behalf the lives we will lead – if it will be one lived in fear or one lived in happiness. For, it is not the women who bring this upon themselves, but the men who decide to perpetrate such acts. It is time for many in our country to stop blaming women for what violence is done to them. If a car ran into a tree, you would blame the driver, not the branches. If a man beats his dog, you do not say the dog should have done something differently. So, why as a society do men and women alike still look to the victim for the answer as to why they were victimized? This is something we need to change.
What are you doing to change this? And, what are the men in your life doing to change this as well?