A piece in yesterday’s Telegraph by Celia Walden, Piers Morgan’s wife. She gets some major things wrong but it’s good to see a mention of Mark Brooks towards the end:
On the day the Caroline Flack story broke in December, I sat around a pub table listening to a group of male friends discuss the issue of domestic violence by women. As someone passed around a picture of petite Flack besides the 6ft 4in tennis coach boyfriend whom the former Love Island host has been charged with assaulting, my friends unanimously declared the alleged incident “embarrassing.” Which struck me as an odd way to describe any event that left a man in need of medical attention.
Then something still more surprising happened: one by one, these men began admitting to their own experiences at the hands of women. And although each played it down – it was only “a slap”, “a shove” and “a Coke can thrown at my head” – I left that pub stunned by the following real life statistic: three out of four men I knew had suffered some form, however mild, of female abuse.
New data published by the Sunday Telegraph, revealing that domestic violence by women has trebled in the past decade, [J4MB: Nonsense. Reporting has trebled.] confirmed how commonplace this is becoming. According to figures this paper obtained, female perpetrators now account for 28 per cent of domestic violence cases, compared with 19 per cent in 2009, with 92,409 attacks reported in 2018. Add to that, the fact that the vast majority of domestic violence by women still goes unreported, [J4MB: Men under-report being the victims of domestic violence at far higher rates than women.] and we’ve got a problem that can no longer be ignored.
I can already hear the exclamations of outrage: we’ve turned a blind eye to domestic violence against women for centuries! Today, two women a week are still being killed by a current or former partner in England and Wales alone. [J4MB: Untrue. An old feminist myth, and even if it were true, it would tell us nothing. The likelihood of a woman NOT being killed by a current partner in a given year in England and Wales is about 99.99998%. The likelihood of a man NOT being killed by a current partner in a given year in England and Wales is about 99.99999%. These stats are supposed to tell us something about the proness to lethal violence of men and women?] In the year ending March 2019, 1.6 million women experienced domestic abuse, and almost one in three women aged between 16 and 59 is likely to experience some form of it in her lifetime.
As someone who has written about domestic violence against women before and will sadly feel the need to write about it again: I share that outrage. But whataboutery only ever paralyses discussion on and around any subject, and my aim today isn’t to question “who are the bigger victims here?” We know that the vast majority anywhere in the world are female. [J4MB: We do NOT know that, because it’s a myth. What we DO know is that in the 30% of heterosexual couples where violence is one-way, the perpetor is twice as likely to be the woman as the man.] No, I’m more interested in what has prompted this rise in female violence against men.
Is it possible that the ‘kick-ass female’ narrative it’s now hard to escape is making violence against men feel more “acceptable” – even “deserved”? At a time when we’re all being urged to be strong, dominant females, could some women be mistaking violence and aggression for a show of strength, in exactly the same way men have long been cautioned against?
There’s certainly been a lot of gratuitous male ‘ass-kicking’ in books and on screen over the past decade. From Chloe Moretz’s 11-year-old hellcat in Kick Ass and Angelina Jolie’s Evelyn Salt to The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo books and films, and Netflix’s Queen of the South – in which two female drug barons go about their blood-thirsty business – female violence has increasingly been glamorised.
As I watched Julianne Moore put a man through a meat grinder and serve him up to another as a human hamburger in Kingsman: The Golden Circle a few years back, I’ll never forget the young women behind me laughing and clapping. And as ITV’s hit series, Doctor Foster – born of the Shakespearian premise “hell hath no fury like a woman scorned” – concluded, you’ll remember that women took to Twitter to complain that Suranne Jones’s character, Gemma Foster, hadn’t killed her cheating partner in a dramatic bloodbath.
“V mad about how Doctor Foster ended,” tweeted one, “I wanted her to kill at least Simon.” While another said: “Would’ve liked to see Simon dead tho.” Those women will be reassured by newly-released pictures of Killing Eve’s Villanelle crouching over yet another man’s body, as the third season of the BBC series started filming in London last week.
Yes, we tend to suspend disbelief with fiction, but a disturbed woman could buy into this bloodthirsty form of ‘girl power.’ And yet as the chairman of the Mankind Initiative, Mark Brooks, said on Sunday, despite the rising number of female perpetrators in real life, “we still struggle to see women as violent.”
I don’t envy Brooks the task of ‘de-gendering’ the domestic violence debate. Given the male and female percentages, many find the idea of that offensive in itself. But any time and energy spent on what’s essentially victim in-fighting is surely wasted, when the real fight to be fought is one and the same, whatever your sex. Because if there were less stigma, there would be more cases reported. And if more cases were reported, one hopes there would be more police funding, and a greater conviction rate.
After all, violence is violence, and as Brooks points out: “it’s not a gendered thing anymore.”
On 17 May we’ll be hosting the first National Conference on Men’s Issues in Manchester, the event title is Domestic abuse is a men’s issue, too. Details here, we urge you to order your ticket(s) by 7 March at the latest.
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