Justice for all

Justice+for+all

Cartoon courtesy of Tanya Nguyen

Alexandra Thompson, Managing Editor

A recent statistic from the British Crime Survey states that approximately 40% of victims of domestic violence are male.  This statistic was surprising to many people, because domestic violence is usually thought of as overwhelmingly male-on-female violence. So why do we pretend that violence against men does not occur? When female-on-male violence is witnessed, on television or in person, people usually laugh and dismiss it as nothing, even though it can be just as harmful and devastating. The reason why women are taken seriously as victims of domestic abuse or sexual assault is the same reason for a lot of gender discrimination—stereotypical gender roles.

Society teaches us to view men as strong, both physically and mentally, whereas women are often viewed as weak and emotional. This is certainly a societal expectation that primarily harms women, but it backfires on men as well. From childhood, boys are taught that they are not “real men” unless they are physically strong, emotionally distant and able to easily woo women. In the case of male victims of abuse or rape, males are ridiculed because they show vulnerability by being pushed around or dominated by other people, and “real men” are never vulnerable. Emotion and vulnerability are considered feminine traits and, in the eyes of our patriarchal society, the worst thing a man can do is have feminine characteristics. Men who express these characteristics are called sissies or girls, as if it’s a bad thing. The only way we can eliminate the stigma associated with male victims is to eliminate the ideals that keep both men and women confined to two neat little boxes labeled “masculine” and “feminine.”