Are battles never won?

// 18 January 2009

The law is about to be changed on provocation to murder, as Kit blogged about earlier this week.

The current set up, as Kit points out, has meant that (overwhelmingly) men who murdered their wives and girlfriends after finding out they were cheating often got off with reduced sentences, while (overwhelmingly) women who ended up killing their husbands and boyfriends, after years of domestic violence, were sentenced to full prison terms for murder.

I’d always thought that this was a glaring example of unfair operation of the criminal justice system, that anyone could spot.

In the Daily Mail, though, Melanie Phillips published a rabid defense of the status quo. That’s right, she really does. And she calls the proposals by Harriet Harman to at long-last change things for the better, “man bashing”.

As Rhetorically Speaking says:

You have to stand back quite a long way to fit Phillips’ supposed morality into view: that rage at infidelity should be treated as a justifiable defence for murdering someone because it’s mainly men who do it.

To do otherwise would be to unfairly benefit women (who have apparently made the mistake of not flying into “spontaneous” murderous rages more frequently). It would also turn morality “inside out” because it fails to privilege the solemn vows of marriage over, you know, the health and lives of women. This, in turn, is “man-bashing.”

Comments From You

JENNIFER DREW // Posted 18 January 2009 at 12:31 pm

Phillips is wrong – the proposed changes to the law of (male) provocation are hardly ‘male bashing.’ Instead as Kit has already written the changes concern how male-defined laws have effectively justified men who deliberately murder their female partnrs/ex partners and then claim they had been provoked.

Of course it is far easier to make sweeping claims such as ‘male bashing’ rather than systematically analyse how court cases in respect of women charged with murdering abusive and violent male partners are routinely convicted and sentenced to very long prison sentences.

A perusal of court records would show how common it is for men who claim ‘they were provoked’ are given either probation or a very small sentence. Remember the case of man who murdered his wife, dismembered her body and yet claimed the wife had provoked him to murder her. Men commonly claim the female partner constantly nagged them; she did not enact her ‘feminine role;’ she did not sexually service him etc. etc.

So, why did not these men leave their partners if they felt they had been unjustly treated instead of cold bloodedly murdering the women and then blaming the woman for being murdered.

But, as we know whenever there is a smidgen of change in respect of men’s power and domination we always have anti-feminists claiming such changes are ‘male bashing’ or will place women in a superior position to men. These detracters never accept or acknowledge the law itself is not equal with regards to how women and men are treated because masculine ideology of supposedly appropriate feminine behaviour defines whether or not men have committed crimes against women because of the women’s biological sex.

Qubit // Posted 19 January 2009 at 1:54 pm

It is intriguing the number of comments against the idea infidelity should not be grounds for murder. It seems that a solution that would keep people happy is to have the death penalty for infidelity as killing a woman who is unfaithful isn’t wrong. This seems a little extreme but I get the impression people are arguing killing a women for being unfaithful is perfectly normal and what women should expect.

It is odd infidelity is considered by a lot of people a lot worse than rape or violence in a relationship. I understand the idea that in some cases of a violent relationship the act of revenge may be premeditated therefore I can see why people would argue there should be no relaxation of the rules. I am not sure what the solution is because I imagine someone who is trapped and fears for their life will not be in their right mind and may not see another way out even if there is one. There are all too many stories of women who try to leave and are then killed that I can’t begin to imagine the fear.

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