Whoever said men and women are equal must be blind. Women have always taken a back seat to men in American society. There has always seemed to be one set of standards that apply to men, and another set of standards that apply to women. This is evident in the home, workplace, and all throughout society.
I would like to briefly discuss some of the differences that we learn about our gender, which will enable us to better understand men, women, and domestic violence in society today. Once we understand causation, we can then begin to understand effects and prevention.
Our supposed roles as men and women start at the hospital when we are born. Boys get blue blankets while girls get pink blankets. The toys we play with growing up are targeted at either males or females. Toys that are made for little boys include trucks, blocks, guns, soldiers, and action figures. While toys made for little girls include dolls, kitchen utensils, dress-up, and doll houses. Boys are raised to be aggressive, tough, dominant, and daring, while girls are raised to be passive, emotional, sweet, and subordinate. These patterns and thought processes continue on into our adulthood and begin to play out in our relationships with others, which include dating and marriage.
With these gender biases and stereotypes in mind, it is easy to see how domestic violence can exist in today’s society. More importantly, we begin to understand how these negative messages can effect us personally. Although domestic violence includes sibling abuse, elder abuse, and child abuse, the focus of my essay will be on spousal abuse. Domestic violence has many names such as family violence, battering, wife beating, and domestic abuse. However, as discussed in class, domestic violence is not limited to physical beatings alone. Domestic violence is any behavior that is intended to subjugate and control another human being through the use of humiliation, fear, and physical or verbal assaults.
So what makes an abuser? The goal of the abuser is power and control over their partner. Domestic violence can affect all, but more often it is the male inflicting the harm due to their physical advantage and also their societal taught dominating role. The abuser tends to conform to the stereotypical view of the man and women. The man goes out to make the money and support the family, while women stays home to cook, clean, and look after the kids. In knowing this, it is easy to understand why leaving an abusive relationship can be so difficult for the individual being abused, as leaving involves many needed changes and few solutions to the problems.
Domestic violence is a very important social problem that we must educate ourselves on because it has such a profound and negative effect on the individual(s) being abused. They are affected mentally, emotionally, physically, and I know from experience that the scars can run very deep. Being in an abusive relationship for three years was devastating to my self-image as a teenager, and because of these feelings of inadequacy, my decreasing esteem allowed me to stay in such a dangerous scenario. Healing from the negative effects of that relationship has been a difficult journey for me, and I can only imagine how much more difficult it must be for women abused for years on end. To this day, I struggle greatly with the ability to let go of my own “control” and trust others. I have a very difficult time believing that my significant other can truly have my best interest at heart. I have the intellectual ability to grasp the logical aspect of each situation, but when it comes to matters of the heart I tend to be very guarded. It is so important that we, as a whole, learn to extinguish domestic violence so that the healing process can begin for many and never even be needed for others.
Most people in today’s society agree that domestic violence is wrong and think that it should be stopped. As a society, we know that domestic violence is unacceptable, yet we do very little to become involved and prevent it. Victims of domestic violence are often reluctant to leave the abusive relationship because of their feelings of dependency. People who are abused tend to think that there is no way out because they are so dependent on their partner. They continue to put up with the abuse and learn ways to cope with it. Domestic violence has been acted out for thousands of years, so it is no wonder that there is still the acceptance and view from society that it is not a major problem, or more accurately, it is not “their problem”.
When domestic violence occurs there is several different types of abuse that take place. There is physical violence, emotional abuse, mental abuse, and sexual abuse, and although many people do not realize it, sexual abuse does not exclude married or dating couple.
Being aware of the different types of abuse that can and are taking place is important for us to know, because we can see this message being taught through the media, entertainment, magazines, etc. Time and again, we see the woman being taken advantage of or treated as an object by the man, and this negative portrayal of relationships seeps daily into our own lives.
Teaching our children that violence is inappropriate and teaching them better methods of problem solving, is the first step in ending domestic violence. One of the key components to making the teaching of our children work is leading by example and setting a positive model for them to follow. Educating society as a whole is also a very important key to ending domestic violence, and this can be accomplished through changes in public policy and practices. Greater consequences are needed since most abusers are only given a “slap on the wrist”, which impresses a message that domestic violence is something that people can get away with it. Only when communities establish mandatory arrest and prosecution policies, then will a message be sent out to the police and courts that domestic violence is a crime that society will not tolerate. In my opinion, it is not only the individual abusers, rather, society as a whole which needs great help. Domestic violence is still extensive and this needs to end. Our media and entertainment industries still glamorize and demean the seriousness of domestic violence, and they greatly influence our behavior by showing false examples of how we should act and react to one another.
In closing, I do believe that we are on the right track to ending domestic violence but our effort is just not strong enough because our message that domestic violence is a crime is not strong enough. This class has opened my eyes and made me aware of what is going on and what needs to be done. In the future, I will do what is needed to stop this violence around me, and I will accomplish this by simply using my voice and speaking out about what is wrong.