The Dawn Chorus

Fresh Australian Feminism

Violence Against Women Caused By…Booze Alone, Apparently

Posted by Leah on November 4, 2008

This piece in The Age caught my eye this fine Melbourne Cup Day morning. It’s good that violence against women is at least being discussed in the press, but I take issue with the writer’s assertion that ‘The combination of a public holiday, too much to drink, gambling and warm weather is a volatile cocktail that inevitably leads to an increase in domestic violence’.

Summer heat, booze, arguments and gambling losses are presented as the only causes of domestic violence – at no point is sexism or disrespect (and hatred) for women mentioned as a cause.

When a man hits his partner, at some level he thinks it is acceptable. Most men who hit their partners do not regularly hit other people – their boss or friends for example (obviously some do – I’m talking about ‘most’). They CAN control their anger when they choose to. Hitting their partner is a clear indication that, on some level, they think it’s an acceptable action. This incredible disrespect for the rights of their partners is completely ignored in the article.

I absolutely agree that booze, heat and gambling are contributing factors – BUT, disrespect for the rights of one’s partner is THE central cause which is sadly ignored by much mainstream media. This thinking is based on the misguided notion that men cannot control themselves – the same argument used to defend rape. And it’s bullshit – not to mention also insulting to men. Men control their negative desires all the time – like everyone else – and when they hit or rape someone, they choose to do it and should be held responsible for their actions, not have it excused because of the weather, gambling or alchohol.

4 Responses to “Violence Against Women Caused By…Booze Alone, Apparently”

  1. Scal said

    Um, no, they’re the only causes mentioned, they’re not presented as the only causes of domestic violence.

  2. Leah said

    Scal, I was trying to draw attention to the issue of the mainstream media only focusing on these kinds of causes – e.g. ‘He hit her because he was drunk’ or ‘He hit her because it was hot and he had lost money gambling’ whereas the central – and rarely mentioned – cause is ‘He hit her because he doesn’t respect her right to be safe from violence’.

    I think that every time other causes are focused on at the expense of this central cause, the myth of violent men as ‘not really to blame’ is perpetuated. To me it’s ridiculous and also insulting to men – it infers that men are primarily controlled by alcohol, the weather, the highs and lows of gambling, their dicks (in the case of rape) etc and cannot control themselves when obviously they can when they choose to.

    A great example illustrating the myth of men being controlled by their bodies was told to me by a colleague once. He painted the picture of a young couple making out at home while the boy’s parents are out at the movies. Things are getting passionate, buttons are undone etc, the boy is madly turned on. He thinks, ‘no way could I stop now’. Then he hears his parents coming in the front door – instant control.

    There’s no such thing as ‘I couldn’t stop’, there’s only ‘I chose not to stop because I didn’t want to’. Anyway, I know this response has gone from discussing domestic violence to rape, but my point is not so much about violence per se but about popular perceptions of men as not in control of their base ‘instincts’.

  3. Steven said

    Leah, but doesn’t that theme only hold true when the perpetrator of violence is calm and ‘in control’ of their emotions? (I’m not considering the serial partner-beater, that is different)(I’d also point out that violence between partners is very frequently females hitting males, but that is considered more socially aceptable for some reason)

    I don’t know if you have – but have you ever slapped your partner/ex-partner during an argument or some incident? At that time were you thinking about their right to a non-violent life? Or was it a snap? was it something you’d do if you were in a more emotionally stable state? hats not to say you aren’t to blame for the violence, it is solely your action – but I believe a lot of domestic violence occurs at a more primitive level than where parties consider each others rights.

  4. Leah said

    Steven, I agree that people are usually very worked up when they hit their partner, but I stand by my point that if they are actually violent, they’ve made a choice to do that. I have a foul temper, and have many times been raving with anger and presumably ‘out of control’ by some people’s standards. But, I know I should never hit my partner (and in answer to your question, no I’ve never hit my partner) and that’s a line I never cross because I respect him. I guess what I’m trying to say is that we all have lines in the sand we make for ourselves, and whether it’s a ‘decision’ made in an emotional or calm state, hitting your partner is still a decision. No one is forcing men (and women) to hit their partners.

    Thanks for raising the issue of women hitting men. Like men being raped I think it is often ignored or considered not a big deal. Another issue is domestic violence in same-sex couples. A friend of a friend is subjected to domestic violence by his boyfriend, and lesbian friends have told me similar stories. It’s hard for people in these situations to know where to go and how to get help, and sadly with support services already underfunded its not looking like these ‘untypical’ sufferers are going to get the assistance they need in the near future.

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