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According to Barbour, between 2 and 4 million women regularly experience some form of gender-based violence (GBV) in the hands of their male partners (1). For most of these women, the conversation regarding gender-based violence evokes painful memories. In heterosexual relationships, the woman is usually the victim of GBV. Notwithstanding, in rare circumstances, the GBV may be directed against men. Also, some men are subject to gender-based violence to a limited extent, particularly those in same-sex relationships. As this paper reveals, rape is one of the commonest ways in which people with gender-based prejudices against others propagate it. Sadly, rape leaves the victim with bitter memories and self-hatred.
While GBV is mostly associated with women in heterosexual relationships, people in same-sex relationships experience similar, if not more harmful, forms of abuse by their partners.
Preview of Relevant Concepts and Theories about Rape
Rape is one of the regular forms of violence directed towards women. Insecure men perpetrate rape with an inherent need to hurt vulnerable women. Such behavior may arise if a man always feels threatened by women who he perceives to be more powerful compared to him, for instance, those who are more educated. Various theories attempt to explain why rape occurs. The biological theory suggests that rape is perpetrated as a means of increasing the perpetrator’s reproductive success (Eagly and Wood 759). By nature, men are motivated to spread their offspring over a large population of females. Some theorists believe that this genetic wiring may explain why some men choose to rape. The commodification theory for its part views sex as a property where rape is treated as theft. In other words, sex is a property, which a rapist seeks to steal from the woman.
Another theory, and probably the most accurate, argues that rape is a gender-based crime that is perpetrated by men who hate women and vice versa. Scholars who support this theory claim that rape has a gender motivation since it portrays certain disrespect for the victims who are usually of the opposite sex (Eagly and Wood 758). Such disrespect is bred by the male entitlement to obtain sex from women, regardless of their willingness/unwillingness to engage in sexual intercourse. Today, the Hate Crime Statistics Act creates a category of crimes known as “hate crimes against women” (Eagly and Wood 758). This Act must have been necessitated by the need to protect women from harm that may be caused to them by delusional men. It is not a surprise that rape is consistently classified as a crime under this Act. Shockingly, rape is also the misdemeanor with the highest prevalence in this category of crimes.
History of the Battered-Women’s Movement
Domestic violence against women has not always been illegal in the United States or anywhere for that matter. It was not until 1871 that Alabama and Massachusetts first illegalized wife-beating, hence making it a punishable offense. By 1920, all states had succeeded in enacting laws that criminalized wife battery. However, the Battered Women Movement (BWM) would begin years later, following the success of the civil rights and anti-war campaigns that challenged the existing status quos. By 1971, a rape center had begun in St. Paul Minnesota where victims of rape could report their ordeal (Htun and Weldon 548). Since then, numerous women across all professions have joined hands to condemn violence against women. Out of their efforts, the BWM was born and spread to afford a voice to millions of women across the world.
BMW and Intersectional Identities
BWM recognizes that gender-based violence is perpetrated to all women, regardless of their age, race, and social class. For this reason, the movement seeks to draw its membership across the board. The common enemy is recognized to be male supremacy. Hence, BWM does not seek to protect the men who are victims of abusive relationships. Rather, BWM appreciates that far more men than women are the victims of GBV. As such, they need special protection.
However, BWM is not representative of the interest of all women across racial and social divides. Various researchers have argued that the presumption that domestic violence affects women equally is simply erroneous. According to Olive, the BWM is informed by the experiences of the white middle-class woman, yet the marginalized women of color have unique experiences (4). As such, women in different cultures experience varied forms of domestic abuse. As such, their experiences differ considerably. To this end, researchers such as Olive call for adequate research that can capture and represent the interests of all women (4). Importantly, research must take into account the effect of culture on violence against women.
Jackson Katz, an activist against gender violence, has termed violence against women as a “men’s issue” (Katz et al. 700). Interestingly, men often view the debate as to the reserve of women, a view that has led most of them to believe they cannot be of help to the movement. What Katz et al. imply is that men should appreciate that they are part of the problem and hence work to ensure that a permanent solution is achieved (701). Luckily, times have changed and that numerous men have already joined the BWM and other similar movements to stop gender-based violence. These men can be in the light to lead other men toward embracing violence-free relations that are built on mutual respect.
Mobilizing Men in the Movement to end Rape and Domestic Violence
From its onset, the movement appreciated the potential positive impact of having “feminine allies” who could reach their fellow men more directly. Therefore, men who are members of the BWM are tasked with sensitizing other men on the importance of a gender violence-free society (Donnelly 34). Further, these men take it upon themselves to speak to their fellow men about the emotional and physical pain that battered women have to go through every day. It is the hope of the movement that men who perpetrate gender violence can hearken to the calls of their fellow men and end violence against women. Another way in which men can help the movement would involve listening to women who have experienced GBV. Also, men should develop the habit of speaking proudly of their women. This strategy will challenge other men to appreciate their women and hence cease from abusing them. Finally, men can choose to help by donating funds to the movement and other campaigns that seek to end violence against women.
Violence in Same-Sex Relationships
Gender violence in same-sex relationships is the most recent form of intimacy hostility. Unlike in traditional relationships where the victim is always a woman, here a victim is a man. Many complications arise regarding violence in same-sex relationships. First, due to the stigma associated with same-sex relationships, victims of violence may find it difficult to report their ordeal (Barbour 4). This situation exposes them to extended violence in the hands of their partners. Further, society is wired to believe that gender violence can only be perpetrated against women. Therefore, the idea of a man being abused is rather strange, a situation that again causes abused men to remain silent (Barbour 4).
In 2010, the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention found that violence in same-sex relationships occurred as frequently as in heterosexual affairs. Some researchers argue that same-sex violence is more prevalent. The failure to enact laws that recognize and protect men means that most cases go unreported. The absence of a form of deterrence when it comes to same-sex violence could be a cause for the high prevalence. While the BWM recognizes same-sex relationships as potential breeding grounds for domestic violence, little has been done to bring the victims onboard. As a result, many of the gay victims do not associate with the movement.
GBV has remained a painful issue for many women throughout human history. Rape is prevalent, yet a highly degrading form of violence perpetrated against women. In full realization of the need to create a gender violence-free world, many men have already joined the BWM. The involvement of men in the fight against women is expected to be beneficial to the organization and the fight against domestic violence in general. However, the fight against GBV cannot be won if stakeholders do not appreciate the occurrence of the same in same-sex relationships. Given the high prevalence of GBV in these relationships, the BWM must be more dedicated to confronting both the stigma and violence associated with gay relationships.
Barbour, Ericka. “An Ecological Analysis of Same-Sex Domestic Violence between Gay Men.” Kaleidoscope, vol. 10, no. 1, 2012, pp. 1-10.
Donnelly, Jack. Universal Human Rights in Theory and Practice. Cornell University Press, 2013.
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Eagle, Alice, and Wendy Wood. “Feminism and the Evolution of Sex Differences and Similarities.” Sex Roles, vol. 64, no. 9, 2011, pp. 758-767.
Htun, Mala, and Laurel Weldon. “The Civic Origins of Progressive Policy Change: Combating Violence against Women in Global Perspective, 1975–2005.” American Political Science Review, vol. 106, no. 3, 2012, pp. 548-569.
Katz, Jackson, Alan Heisterkamp, and Michael Fleming. “The Social Justice Roots of the Mentors in Violence Prevention Model and its Application in a High School Setting.” Violence against Women, vol. 17, no. 6, 2011, pp. 684-702.
Olive, Victoria. “Sexual Assault against Women of Color.” Journal of Student Research, vol. 1, no. 1, 2012, pp. 1-9.