The people we're forgetting when we talk about domestic violence

I have always considered myself an advocate for women’s rights; I don’t support gender roles and I believe that women should have the same potential to earn in the work place. As mandated by the definition of feminism, I am a feminist. However, I believe the feminist movement is overlooking a double standard present in society. 

According to a national survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2014, one in four men were victims of "rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner" in their lifetimes. While about a third of women experience the same thing, the men's statistic is far more than one would expect considering all the attention given to women as victims of sexual violence.

The lack of programs available for men in abusive relationships is surprisingly high given the proportion. There are countless websites and funded programs available to women in abusive relationships, while very few exist for men.

This is not the only factor determining the difference between how men and women experience abuse at the hands of their partner. There is a double standard present. Women, as physically and emotionally inferior as some say they are, can't really inflict any real harm, right? In reality, it’s a two-way street. Men and women are both victims of domestic abuse, but the public won’t acknowledge that.

The Duluth Model, originating in 1981, suggests that men partake in domestic violence because they are culturally and historically wired to establish dominance over women. Essentially, it portrays women only as victims of abuse. Men are expected to defend themselves, while women are expected to be submissive. This model accordingly reinforces that women are powerless and cannot possibly partake in abuse. 

In 2014, a social experiment by DareLondon was conducted testing this concept in the streets of London. A couple demonstrates the different reactions elicited by the public when witnessing abuse. When the man pushed the women around, bystanders approached him, asking him “What’s wrong with you” and threatening to call the police; when the woman began to push the man around, no one intervened. In fact, many bystanders started to laugh.

This experiment was intended to spread awareness about the fact that men can be victims of abuse as well, and it accomplished this by unveiling the double standard of acceptable interaction between people of opposite genders. 

These gender roles don’t stop at domestic abuse cases. There are expectations for men, as there are for women. Men are still expected to be the breadwinners of the family, earning money to support wives and children.

There are men who are breaking this stigma, however. They do this by being stay-at-home dads, tending to the family’s home and caring for the children while women work to financially support the family. According to the Pew Research Center, the number of stay-at-home dads has doubled from 1989 to 2012, from 1.1 million to 2.0 million. While the focus remains on feminism, there's another movement taking place in which men are breaking down stigmas about what gender roles should be.

Parts of the feminist movement, though they have good intentions to break stigmas such as the age-old claim that women should stay home and care for the children, aren't always effective.

via GIPHY

Some of those who consider themselves feminists can be counterproductive because they focus only on one gender. To break this standard, these individuals would be well-advised to tackle this problem together instead of opposing each other in this fight.

Women’s rights are the not only issues that need to be addressed. Due to this focus on gender equality, a double standard is being promoted. 

Related Links:

Things to know about Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Feminism is just not for me


Reach the columnist at ghirneis@asu.edu or follow @ghirneise1 on Twitter.

Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.

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