Violence Against Women

Social Justice Policy Brief #149 | By: Abigail Hunt | October 11, 2023

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It should cause us all consternation when society rewards men for spouting dangerous rhetoric, while it chastises and punishes women for expressing the same sentiments. In 2017, comedian Kathy Griffin posed with a severed costume head of Trump. As soon as her photos went viral, society cancelled her.

The year before Griffin was cancelled, an audio recording of Trump proudly describing both his failed sexual assault of a woman – “I moved on her like a bitch…” – and his tactic for approaching women in general – “grab ‘em by the pussy” – had made the rounds in the press and helped elect him to the Presidency. It was an eye-opening message to send the women of the nation. Trump spoke a language of violence against women, and he was applauded for it. The underlying misogyny in our world is not in any way hidden. It is an ingrained dislike of women that is increasingly rampant.

For a young woman in the U.S. by her mid-twenties, the odds are one in four she will experience violence at the hands of an intimate partner. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports stark statistics – worldwide, one in three women suffer physical or sexual violence by an intimate partner or sexual violence from a non-partner. Victims, fearing blame or shame, will often fail to report an assault.

Considering the statistics – Women should be angry. Men are victims of simple assaults more often than women; according to Criminal Victimization Statistics from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, last updated July 2023. However, excluding simple assaults, women are more often victims of serious violent crime.

Women are not allowed to be angry, however. A 2015 Arizona State University small-scale study of 210 undergraduates showed that angry men gained credibility with the student participants later surveyed, while angry women lost it. In much of western society, parents, coaches, and teachers tell boys from an early age to “suck it up and be a man” when they are sad, cry, or show any vulnerability. Sports, by design, rewards aggressiveness. Many contact sports glorify violence.

In American society, male figures with anger issues are often portrayed sympathetically in the media. The Incredible Hulk and the X-Men’s Wolverine are two characters with undeniable anger issues which have generated multimillion – if not billion – dollar franchises. Conversely, women with anger issues are seen as unhinged.

This past summer, the Barbie movie smashed records with a female-directed, female-led, female-centric film bashing the patriarchy. So far, the movie has grossed $1.4 billion in the 10 weeks since its release in theaters, ranking it #14 in worldwide popularity ranking for movies of all time. The central message of the Barbie movie is clear – the patriarchy is bad, bad for women, bad for Barbie, and even bad for men. Once Ken learns the patriarchy is not all about horses, he loses interest because, as the movie shows, the stress of the men running everything made him unhappy and irritable. The takeaway viewers are left with is that either side having total control is not good. The message that men and women should work together to buoy their weaknesses with one another’s strengths is something our Presidents, Congress, and all politicians must learn if we ever hope to rebalance our nation’s gross inequities in wealth, health, education, and quality of life.

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