• Violence is a tool of oppression. It is used to enslave, degrade, dehumanize, punish and coerce. In a male supremacist society, men use these tools to subdue women. In a white supremacist society, white people have used them to subdue BIPOC. Everyone learns the “master’s tools” but not everyone has the ability to wield these weapons with the same backing of law, policy, and tradition.
• The proponents of what we call “de-gendering” intimate partner violence in effect removes men’s accountability for violence against women. What these proponents call “gender-based violence” is actually a gender-neutral model of domestic violence. De-gendering domestic violence uses false equivalence in saying that women are as violent as men, because it is factually not true, but also because women’s violence against men does not come from a place of power and entitlement. Women are not on equal footing with men in a patriarchy and do not have an equal ability to exercise power. To say that they do is a distortion of the systemic unequal power dynamics in gendered relationships. De-gendering violence is a method of making male dominance and power invisible. Equating men’s and women’s violence against partners in heterosexual relationships obfuscates the difference between male use of force for dominance/retribution and female self-protection.
• Furthermore, those who advocate a gender-neutral view of men’s violence against women (and women’s violence against men) posit that men’s violence is rooted in individual male trauma. We contend, however, that men’s violence against women is not a therapeutic or clinical issue. Rather, it is rooted in historical institutional male power and is pervasive. Using the trauma-informed model of violence negates systemic sexism and racism as endemic to White Patriarchy.
• De-gendering DV is a form of aggrieved male entitlement, where women are blamed for men’s violence. This is a standard excuse of male unaccountability: the “she made me do it” trope. Blaming the group most harmed by misogyny-based violence is used to excuse the male perpetration of that violence. Thus, in addition to denying the systemic nature of male violence, women victims are blamed for inciting the violence.
• De-gendering DV colludes with the maintenance of a power-over system: a system in which individual concerns outweigh systemic oppression; a system in which sexist and misogynistic violence that has kept women terrorized for millennia is denied, distorted or justified. In patriarchy, men and their male-identified enablers will not look at women’s plight as one of an experience of slavery or oppression. Women’s terror is not addressed. The systems and institutions of male supremacy falsely use the feminist movement as having equalized male and female power. The dominant group does not name its power as exploitative, but rather, it is normalized. Male power is made invisible, while the power of the marginalized is sensationalized.
• Removing men’s accountability for violence against women, by using specious “research” and anecdotal male-centered accounts, is part of a larger movement of collusion with a false therapeutic model of batterer programs, and collusion with the patriarchal, religious “freedom”, and “traditional family” agendas, to protect traditional male constructs as master/king of his home/castle and ruler of his domain, which reinforces the gendered social constructs of male ownership of “his” women and children.
• Last, conflating racial bias in the judicial system with domestic violence against women is a false equivalency that neglects and ignores one oppression, sexism, on behalf of righting the historical wrongs of another oppression, racism. Pitting one oppression against another fails to confront the dynamics of supremacy and puts yet another generation of women and children at greater risk.
Ending Men’s Violence Task Group 1/22