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Women and Violence

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Traditional stereotypes which cast women as the weaker, gentler sex have led to double standards that often cause acts of violence perpetrated by women, especially against men, to be trivialized. In today’s edition, we carry stories on both our front and back covers, in which women have acted violently, in one case against another woman and in the other, against a male domestic partner.{{more}}

It is a fact that men commit far more violent acts than women and that these acts are directed primarily at other males. This is why when women act out violently, it tends to raise eyebrows.

That being said, when women are violent, it tends to be not just in response to male aggression, but toward children, elders, female relatives and non-violent men, according to a published study. Violence by women usually causes less harm due to obvious differences in size and strength, but it is by no means harmless. Women may use weapons to neutralize their disadvantage and men sometimes hold back against using force against women, even in self-defence.

As a society it would be useful to reflect on how we respond when women are the perpetrators of violent crime. Of the two incidents we feature in today’s issue, only one has so far been reported and in that case, the aggressor was reprimanded and discharged by the court. The second case is unlikely to get to court, as the victim has made it clear that he has forgiven the woman who assaulted him, as is usual in matters of this sort.

If the feedback on our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/Searchlight1) is anything to go by, however, Vincentians seem unified in their outrage about the assault on an older man by a buxom, younger woman and have made calls for her to be charged.

This reaction by the public is encouraging for at least two reasons. Firstly, violence of all forms, no matter the perpetrator, must be condemned. Too many people in our society turn to violence instinctively, as a means of control. A good place to begin our work on turning this situation around is in our schools and many of our homes, where corporal punishment is far too freely dispensed.

We are also encouraged because if we want our culture to recognize women’s capacity for leadership and competition, it is hypocritical to deny or downplay women’s capacity for aggression and violence. We cannot have it both ways. We cannot argue that our women must be given equal opportunity for jobs in the police force and on construction sites for example, while treating them as harmless in domestic disputes.

It is time to do away with simplistic assumptions about male power and female oppression and the stereotypes that come with these and see both men and women as fully human, capable of both good and evil.

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