The Real Reasons Behind Violence Against Women
Whenever someone says that women have reached equality in today’s modern society, remind them that 1 in 3 women worldwide have experienced violence perpetrated by a male in their lifetime. That oughta shut them up.
Maybe you’ve never experienced violence perpetrated by a male. Maybe you’re not aware of the connection between violence and equal pay for equal work, or the right to make decisions for your body. No worries. The connection is about as clear as a morning after taking tequila shots. But I got you, girl.
The truth is, violence a way to keep the gender status quo. To keep men in charge and women subordinate. Similar to slaves in the American south, men who commit violence against women do so in order to control us. They do it because of –and to sustain– the manufactured gap in human value. To sustain the rationale that you deserve to earn less money for the same work. To sustain the institutions that believe you’re nothing more than a baby vessel. To root ideas that women and men are not equal and therefore undeserving of equal opportunities, including the opportunity for safety.
The problem is an enormous one, and it’s not one-size-fits-all. Women in every country experience violence in different ways, from genital mutilation in parts of Africa, Asia, and the Middle East (and even certain western countries… you know who you are) to domestic violence in, well, every corner of the world.
The most extreme form of violence against women, of course, is femicide. The World Health Organization defines femicide as the “intentional murder of women because they are women,” but they also mention that broader definitions include any killings of women or girls. The Guatemalan Human Rights Commission takes the definition further, calling it an “act of terrorism that functions to define gender lines, enact and bolster male dominance, and to render women chronically and profoundly unsafe.”
But it’s not just murder we have to worry about. Violence committed by men against women is a multi-tiered, multi-faceted, multi-nuanced issue because of the surrounding factors that make violence against women acceptable. In the United States, we call this rape culture. Rape culture is when female victims of violence and sexual assault are blamed, while the violence perpetrated by men is normalized. You see it in the way female rape victims are blamed because they were drinking, or the clothes they were wearing were “too revealing”. In the way that people joke about how the victim was “asking for it”. In the manner that world leaders *cough cough* are allowed to “grab women by the pussy” and brush it off as locker room chit chat.
Learning about rape culture is like waking up in the morning and seeing Donald Trump naked, looming over you. Once you see it, it can’t be unseen.
To combat inequality and violence, UN Women puts on 16 days of awareness every year, known as the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence Campaign. The campaign spans from November 25th (Elimination of Violence against Women Day) to December 10th (Human Rights Day) each year. Because, you know… women’s rights are human rights and all that.
Every country and city will be trumpeting these 16 days in their own way, so go to the UN Women website, find your city, and find out how you can participate in spreading awareness about violence against women.
The only way to end violence against women is to change the concepts that deem women as lesser than men. Violence against women by men is often a show of dominance, intended to keep women in their place. Thus, changing the normalized concepts of inequality between men and women is the most powerful way to eliminate the violence, and even get that promotion you’ve been salivating over.