“Violence Against Women (VAW)” referred to as VAW herein is a very commonly heard and most unchallenged social meme. Such high is its acceptance in society that we have 15 laws to protect women. The Government also spends Rs. 1200 crores annually to stop the violence. Most of the laws framed to prevent VAW are based on oral evidence of women. Which means only allegations are enough to punish the man – and ends of justice would be met?
There are some primary reasons for this:
- Over sensitization of VAW in the media.
- A belief that no woman will lie unless severely abused.
- The fact that men are, in general, physically stronger than women.
But the foremost fact that VAW is accepted by the society is because society wants to accept VAW. And when the society accepts VAW, it also accepts “Violence from Men” referred to as VFM henceforth.
However, a quick peek into history shows us that it is the men who have donned the role of the PROTECTOR, the UNPAID BODYGUARD, the KNIGHT IN SHINING ARMOR, and also have been expected to do so. Whenever there has been an external threat, it is the men who are supposed to be violent and save the community. And because men are expected to be violent, they are emotionally castrated since the age of 6, so that when they go out and fight they are not perplexed, flummoxed and perturbed by uncalled for emotional disturbances and weakened in their fights.
And the same men are accused of violence at homes and of domestic violence when they are unable to handle the emotional turmoil within the homes and react violently. VFM is expected from men when there is an external attack but condemned when the man does it to vent out his frustration at his inability to fight his emotional turmoil. This is unacceptable. Either the society stops expecting VFM for external attacks or accepts VFM as a gender trait of men. It cannot be selective that on one hand men are expected to risk their lives if there is an external attack and the same men are castrated when they do it inside homes or are presumed to be doing it inside homes.
In fact, because men are expected to violent outside home, it is easy for the society to accept that they are violent inside homes as well. However, perceptions are realties seldom. Had men been really that violent inside homes then the suicides by women would have been way higher than men in all age groups and all social strata – because by society’s logic a violent man outside home is also violent inside home. Actual and factual data is exactly opposite – suicides by men are way-way higher than women in all age groups and all social strata and across all social statuses.
Counter arguments to that can be,
- It’s a man’s world.
- More men are born than women.
The first argument has been reasonably neutralized at The Alpha Male Dominated Society. While for the second argument, suffice it to mention that suicide rates of men are increasing 6 times the rate they are born. As per latest census figures available population growth is 1.1% whereas suicide rate for men grows at 6.35%.
Data clearly mentions the rampant presence of “Violence against Men (VAM)” herein referred to as VAM. And the deepest concentration of suicides for men is in the married/separated social status which shows that “Violence from Women (VFW)” is rampant.
That means typically we have 4 categories of violence in the society:-
- Female to Male Violence.
- Female to Female Violence
- Male to Male Violence
- Male to Female Violence.
Currently only the fourth category of violence is considered addressable by the society and we have laws only for that category. However, the other three categories of violence are not even accepted by the society as forms of violence, let alone addressing it.
The very expectation of VFM because of their role of the PROTECTOR, the UNPAID BODYGUARD, the KNIGHT IN SHINING ARMOR, etc. invalidates the first three categories. Primarily due to expectation of VFM it is prima facie rejected by the society that females can be violent – a social meme which violent females take advantage of and rampantly do violence and yet go scot free. And again, due to expectation of VFM, male to male violence is accepted as social norm.
Even it is shown in the movies with seamless ease. It is not uncommon to see the hero and villain fighting for the heroine in the movie and out to kill each other and the worst paradox is that it is a source of entertainment for the society. One man killing another man for the woman is a source of entertainment for the society!!!
Due to undue subjugation of the first three forms of violence, the fourth form got extravagantly splurged hype whereas the first three forms suffocated in austerity. And in reality of VAW being hyped into extravagant proportions given the fact that women in India have been actually over-pampered and over-protected, it remains to be questioned how justified is the society in over-concentrating on only one form of violence and ignoring the other three and worst citing the first two forms as exceptions and the third one as accepted social behavior.
It is extremely hard to believe that men – who are expected to be violent to protect the females can be violent to them especially in the circumstances that it is an accepted fact that men are physically stronger than women and VFM to perpetrate VAW can be easily accepted and addressed to by the society.
Also, the parameters used to benchmark violence are incomplete when we define violence. Physical strength is the only parameter taken into account and that is why only VAW is addressed. First two categories get disqualified because of this reason only and the third category is justified due to the same reason – quintessentially leaving its victims as not only victims of violence but also victims of social injustice, a tragedy of double jeopardy for them.
However, sociologists and psychologists have hitherto not given prominence to a major catalyst of violence and that’s the emotional strength. As already explained that because of expectation of VFM due to their PROTECTOR, UNPAID BODYGUARD and KNIGHT IN SHINING ARMOR role, men are emotionally castrated from the age of 6 and this is also an accepted social behavior due to centuries old hardwiring.
This emotional castration leaves men highly incapable of dealing with emotional stresses and turmoil coupled with social discouragement of men over expressing themselves works as the dealing blow to men’s emotional heath. And this emotional inability of men leads to absence of communication channel for men – a vicious circle at play. Also, it is a psychological fact that women are emotionally smarter than men.
However, a lesser known psychological fact is that in violence, physical aggression is never the antecedent; rather it’s the emotional aggression that’s the antecedent which means it’s the emotional aggression that instigates violence and culminates with physical aggression. Quintessentially it boils down to the requirement of punishing the instigator first rather than the reactor. It boils down to punishing the emotionally violent and aggressive females who instigate violence rather than the physically aggressive and violent males who react to emotional instigations. But does that happen in reality? It does not happen. The instigator is compensated and the reactor is ostracized.
I recall an incident wherein a 10 year old male child is told by his mother to escort an able bodied 30 year old friend of hers across the street – which means the 10 year old male has to PROTECT an able bodied and well maintained 30 year old female and is also expected to be confronting dangers and be violent if needed and the same male when he grows up, he is condemned for being violent. Then why was violence expected out of him when he was a small and immature kid and his psyche was developing and now when he is grown up, his violence is not accepted. This is not acceptable. Either stop expecting violence from males or accept it.
A male who is lauded for being violent to protect his sister is condemned for being violent against his wife when his wife abuses his family and this is called as Domestic Violence by the fantastic laws created to protect women from VFM which is very much expected by the society.
And in wake of the above discussion it definitely remains a point of debate whether Violence against Women is a Perception or a Reality? Frankly speaking, in my entire life till now I have not seen a single instance of violence against a woman (only read about it), but have seen innumerable instances of violence against men.
Is it time we redefine our notions of gender based violence?
Is it time we revisit our notions of the violent gender?
Is it time we stop expecting males to be violent, put it other way round we stop expecting males to don the role of a protector?
Is it time we recognize and address all forms of violence rather than concentrating on the easily perceptible form?
Is it time we start punishing the instigator rather than the reactor?