Female-on-male violence: it’s not something we’re accustomed to hearing about or talking about, let alone taking seriously.
Just take a look at what happened last week: the now infamous Solange and Jay Z brawl immediately went viral last Monday, with thousands across the country fleeing their offices and classrooms to tune into Twitter to speculate on what REALLY went down in that elevator. By lunchtime it was Twitter’s finest comedy hour, and the jokes were A PLENTY. The hashtag #WhatJayZSaidToSolange and all related memes can alone speak for themselves.
When this whole episode was brought to my attention, I thought to myself: why are we laughing about this? Why is it so funny when a woman hits a man? When we laugh at Jay-Z or any other man who has been hit, abused or sexually assaulted, we perpetuate the double standard that women committing violence against men is funny. Guess what? It’s not.
Trivializing violence against men is an insult to the 835,000 American men who are victims of partner violence every year. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, “men are less likely to report the violence and seek services due to: the stigma of being a male victim, the perceived failure to conform to the macho stereotype, the fear of being not believed, the denial of victim status, and the lack of support from society, family members, and friends.”
A patriarchal system takes no prisoners: it creates an environment in which both men and women are attributed very defined gendered roles. Men are aggressive, strong, and physical; women are conversely delicate, weak and emotional. These stereotypes perpetuate a system of violence for men, women and gender nonconforming individuals, especially when one does not fit into society’s expectations of appropriate gender roles.
We need to start deconstructing this line of thinking because violence against anyone anywhere is unacceptable, no matter who commits it. As individuals who identify as feminists, it is up to us to help change this discourse on violence against men. Look, no two feminists are alike: we all have different issues that spark our interests and speak to our calling. Whether it’s labor rights, racial justice, LGBT awareness, reproductive health, or immigration reform, you name an issue, and we’re most likely standing at the front with our sleeves rolled up and ready to put in some work.
An issue that seems to collectively bind our respective disciplines together is violence against women. Now more than ever, feminists are organizing and challenging patriarchal societies around the globe to address violence against women in all its forms (domestic violence, sexual assault on campuses, workplace discrimination, street harassment, human trafficking, labor worker violations, just to name a few). Though there is a lot more work to be done to combat violence against women, there is comfort in knowing that a global community of activists working to dismantle this form of oppression exists.
If we want to truly fight violence against women, we need to include violence against men and gender nonconforming people into our feminist-activist repertoire. Only then can we truly work towards a more feminist universe where violence is no longer tolerated, no matter who the victim may be.