Blaming the man.

// 21 January 2008

Do you know what I’m sick of? Men complaining that they are somehow being victimised by feminists pointing out that male violence against women is a problem. Sarfraz Manzoor’s response to Abby’s last Comment is Free piece is a perfect illustration of this:

Let me begin with an admission: yes, it is true – I am a man. This is a dangerous admission to make on Cif, where it seems open season on men has been declared.

…Fear stalks this inhospitable country and the likes of Abby O’Reilly and Bidisha cannot step of outside their front doors without being accosted by leering men with malign intentions. In this terrifying place, Julie Bindel warns us, male violence against women is pandemic and all women must stand together to prevent men continuing to rape, beat and abuse.

…why is it that no man I know has ever behaved even remotely like the men in these articles?

…In all my 36 years I have never followed a girl or approached someone on the underground and I would not dream of making a lewd suggestion to someone I did not know. This does not make me some paragon of chivalry, it makes me normal.

What Safraz fails to note, is that if he isn’t one of the men who harrass or attack women, Abby and Julie Bindel clearly aren’t talking about him. What they are doing is pointing out that violence against women is a gendered crime, and a common one at that. This Home Office research study proves as much. It is based on the 2001 British Crime Survey, which is widely regarded as giving a more reliable picture of crime in the UK as it includes both reported and unreported incidents, and finds that:

1) Women are more likely to be the victims of domestic violence, sexual victimisation or stalking than men:

45 per cent of women and 26 per cent of men aged 16-59 could recall being subject to domestic violence (abuse, threats or force), sexual victimisation or stalking at least once in their lifetimes (domestic violence since 16; sexual victimisation or stalking at any point in a respondent’s lifetime).

2) Women are much more heavily abused than men:

Women are the overwhelming majority of the most heavily abused group. Among people subject to four or more incidents of domestic violence from the perpetrator of the worst incident (since age 16), 89 per cent were women.

and 3) The vast majority of perpetrators of this kind of crime are men:

It is well known from previous BCS studies that the majority of the perpetrators of interpersonal

violence are men who are known to their victim (Mirrlees-Black 1999; Budd,

Mattinson and Myhill 2000; Myhill and Allen 2002). This is obvious in the case of domestic

violence, but extends also to cases of sexual assault and stalking.

Feminists are not lying or exaggerating when we say that male violence against women and male harrassment of women is a huge problem; the evidence tells us as much. The fact that Safraz has never played a part in this does not mean it is not happening. The fact that he knows no men who have ever behaved ‘even remotely’ like the men described by feminists such as Julie Bindel and Abby O’Reilly does not mean it is not happening. (And does he really think his male friends would admit to this kind of behaviour anyway?)

Men are the problem here. This is not to say that the male sex is naturally, biologically prone to violence against women, but that the the patriarchal construction of masculinity and the power dynamics within a society where women have for centuries been oppressed by men leads to men committing acts of violence and harrassment against women. Not all men do this, sure, but they are doing it in sufficient numbers to ensure that 45% of the female UK population suffer stalking, domestic violence or sexual victimisation in their lifetime.

It’s high time that men like Safraz Manzoor started recognising this and, instead of complaining that they feel picked on by the big bad feminists, made an effort to speak out against those members of his sex who do victimise women, and against a social system that causes them to do so on such a devastatingly large scale.

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