Thursday, 18 August 2022

Women And Abuse - Time For A Rethink

As some of you will know, I spent years in the feminist movement back in the day, where there was a lot of focus on things like rape, sexual assault and domestic violence. The prevailing ethos was ‘believe women’, take them seriously, take the charges seriously. And given the experiences of so many women, I still believe this was a necessary step, one that led, eventually, to the ‘MeToo’ movement, which I definitely support.

There was also however an attitude, sometimes explicit, sometimes not, that women were somehow the ‘better’ gender, were more compassionate, nicer, sharing, caring, etc, etc. I was never particularly comfortable with it, but said nothing. In retrospect, perhaps it was a necessary rebuttal of the previous attitude that women were ‘lesser than’ – less intelligent, less trustworthy, less capable, and so on. Or perhaps it was a weird kind of extension of the masculinist belief that women were the ‘gentle’ sex, making a virtue out of what had been seen as a flaw.

More recent experience has shown me that the real situation is, however, way more complicated. Women are far from ‘always better’ than men. Some women, just like some men, can be heartless, selfish, ruthless, controlling, manipulative, aggressive (or passive-aggressive), narcissistic, vicious and even outright abusive. They can attempt to destroy someone’s reputation out of sheer spite, as a means of control, because they were rejected, or simply because they enjoy doing so. (And yes, I am thinking of THAT court case, but not only that.)

In short, some women can be every bit as nasty as some men (while some men, obversely, are extremely good people). It’s likely that a lot of these people, no matter their gender, are the result of them having received similar abuse or other warped treatment themselves, as children, though the jury seems to be still out on how much is genetic and how much environment.

I’ve written before about having observed some very nasty behaviour from various women. I was writing about those with PDs, but the kind of women I’m talking about here don’t have to have, or qualify for, a diagnosis of a personality disorder, in order to be very unpleasant to be around. Even ‘Karens’ can be obnoxiously tiresome (and yes, I know there are male Karens too).

Now, historically (and still, within some cultures), I believe women haven’t had quite as much scope, sometimes not even within their own households, to exercise the worst aspects of their characters, for fear of beatings, divorce, losing their children, loss of income, or even being killed. Modern times and the feminist movement, ironically, have freed women to be both their best AND their worst.

By this point, I bet some are rolling their eyes and thinking ‘well DUH, Captain Obvious’, or ‘yeah, yeah, I know that’. But many, it seems, don’t know that, or refuse to acknowledge it. I still see too many ‘feminists’ and their followers slavishly embracing every word that drops from a woman’s lips as Pure Gold, and/or acting as though ‘women can be abused’ and ‘women can be abusers’ can’t both be true. Automatically believing the woman, even when there is absolutely no evidence to support her claims, and/or plenty of evidence of the opposite, should, you’d think, make at least some hesitate. But apparently not. But then again, the most fervent are rarely logical, no matter where on the political spectrum they lie. 

We need to be aware that there are always those who will happily corrupt and use any movements for their own egotistical needs, including #MeToo and feminism. Abuse *is* a feminist issue, just not quite in the way the earlier feminists thought.

We should not laud women as somehow ‘above what men do’, but recognise that women are just as capable of Bad Things as men. This is not a contradiction of feminism, but confirmation of its central tenet – ie that women and men truly ARE equal to each other – in both their worst and their best capabilities, and that all genders have the capacity to be all things. It’s a sad fact that a screwed-up world produces screwed-up people, and sometimes they hand that damage on to others. And that has little to do with gender, except as and when political/social systems allow one gender power over another to do more of that ‘screwing up’.