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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Domestic violence needs new ally

    Mike Morefield/columnist
    Mike Morefield/columnist

    Guys, it’s time we had a talk. Now, we all love women. We love to talk to them, hang out with and date them and even marry them. But sometimes our relationships go terribly wrong.

    I’m talking about abuse – physical and sexual abuse.

    We all appear to be upstanding, moral citizens, and it seems like we all know the meaning of “”no”” and why violence is wrong, yet 31 percent of women in the U.S. report being sexually or physically abused by a boyfriend or husband at some point in their lives. These men are our friends and peers, and they are destroying what we have worked generations to create – a culture of respect for women.

    Domestic abuse will affect almost all of us at some point in our lives – whether it’s knowing one of the 3 million women physically abused by her husband or boyfriend every year, losing a friend (spouses and ex-husbands are responsible for one in three murdered women in the U.S.) or treating a female patient in a hospital (a huge percentage of the women admitted to the emergency room are there because of domestic violence). It is now time to stand up; we are charged with the task of helping to stop domestic violence.

    Women’s groups have worked tirelessly to inform people about domestic abuse, spousal violence and sexual assault for decades, but why is it just women doing the work? Men are to blame for 85 percent of domestic abuse, but women’s advocacy groups have to clean up our mess and help women deal with the problems we caused. Men must form a partnership with these groups, because we are the problem, which places us in a prime position to be the solution.

    Don’t succumb to socially acceptable but morally unacceptable behavior. “”So that bitch is gonna come over tonight,”” “”God, someone needs to smack that girl around”” and other phrases of that caliber have permeated their way into the male lexicon. But they propagate the gender gap and mistreatment of women. By remaining silent when these things are uttered, we only validate them further because men see an absence of disagreement as a sign of agreement. Speaking up against these seemingly small instances helps the causes of women drastically.

    We are affected by hypermasculine standards in closed communities, like sports teams, fraternities and other close-knit groups that influence our values and allow their members to justify their disrespect for women. It starts at disrespect, but a flippant comment now has the ability to influence more escalated behavior in the future.

    “”No one is holding them accountable,”” said Tina Tarin, a violence prevention specialist at the OASIS Program for Sexual Assault and Relationship Violence. “”Responses like ‘no one told me otherwise’ or ‘this is what my friends say’ are common from men when they are addressed about how they talk about women.””

    However, Tarin said that when men are away from the group and comfortable, they aren’t truly that ignorant; they see women with much more respect.

    Not all men are criminals; not all men beat and hurt women. But some are, and there is only so much women can do in this battle. They can inform the public and help victims, but they are constantly fighting an uphill battle. As women, they deal with the aftermath, the horrible effects of the abuse. As men, the offenders in these crimes, we can deal with the prevention. A man who beats his wife will not listen to women he labels “”crazy feminists”” or “”man-haters,”” but he will listen to his best friends.

    Men, we have a unique tool in the movement against domestic violence – our position in the predominantly patriarchal society. Men hold more positions of authority in government and the private sector than women. The lawmakers, the media, the decision makers are usually men, and with these roles, we can proactively support the ongoing mission of helping women. Don’t label domestic violence a women’s issue or a fight for feminists; it as a societal issue, a fight for everyone. Women have fought this battle alone long enough; it’s time they had another ally.

    Mike Morefield is a political science senior. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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