Diary of a mothering worker
DR GABRIELLE JAMELA HOSEIN
IN THE WAKE of the murder of Naiee Singh, Gabriella Du Barry, Pollyann Khan (and her family) and Jizelle Philip, it’s important to counter misinformation.
First, men’s rights representatives have been spreading misguided analyses that create public confusion. Postings on their Facebook page repeatedly highlight videos of women physically beating men and loudly quarrelling with them to emphasise “the drama, the trauma, the stress, the pressure, the abuse, the patience exercised, the humility applied” by men, which – the argument goes – no one sees when focus is on femicide.
Amidst poverty and depression, men’s rights representatives’ position is that men turn to murder because “when they getting home is stress again.” Media portray the man as the “bad guy” and the woman the victim, but, according to them, it’s really the opposite – men’s killing of women is merely a “reaction” to the wrongs which broke their stability. Thus, men’s rights advocates’ essential message is that women are toxic and men behave as they do because they suffered silently and invisibly while women destroy them through abuse, infidelity and the courts.
Their key recommendation is that “better behaviour” by both wives and husbands needs to be created to stop the lethal stabbing, shooting and beating of women by their partners and ex-partners. This language echoes the AG’s statement a few weeks earlier that, “it’s true to say that both sexes have trouble with rejection.” It also reflects state agencies’ apolitical attention to “family violence,” an apparently gender-neutral problem perpetrated by both women and men with equivalent frequency and severity.
All these create a resounding lack of clarity. The murders of women this year alone show us why. In contrast to the argument of provocation being spuriously promoted, none of these women was having an argument, being violent or abusing the men who killed them. They were only attempting to get up in the morning, go to work and move on.
Posting videos of women being violent to their partners when women are being slain for the crime of merely wanting to live their lives not only shows disturbing lack of compassion, it also dangerously misleads. It excuses homicide by men on the basis of supposed relationship conflict between women and men. It fails to concede that women have no responsibility for a partner capable of premeditated killing in cold blood.
Second, it is statistically untrue to say that both sexes respond to “rejection” with deadly violence, so why erase the fact that homicidal responses are deeply connected to widely shared ideals of masculine authority, control and power? These very ideals fuel men’s killing of other men by the hundreds per year. Indeed, male suicide, male partner violence, and violence among men form a well-established “triad of violence” grounded in these ideals.
Therefore, men’s killing of women is not a response to relationship rejection. These women endured and escaped chronic treat and abuse, in forms which are criminal offences. They didn’t “jilt” a lover. They rejected terror and harm. They left a crime scene. Call it for what it is.
Women can be violent and both partners in relationships must choose to resolve conflict and communicate in non-violent ways, particularly if there are children who will suffer the inter-generational trauma of witnessing abuse between adults.
However, the killing of women, just like rape and sexual assault by male non-partners (affecting one in ten women) and like male sexual abuse of girls (affecting one in five women) will not end because of women’s improved behaviour. Express’ Tuesday headline, “She was the perfect wife,” should convince us of that. It should also remind us of the risks of public confusion such that, even in death, the media reckoned with the extent to which Naiee Singh was or was not at fault.
We need men in a broad national effort to stop men’s killing of women. We don’t need men to enter a well-informed, global movement to oppose, simplify or sound clever in ways which, somehow, women never thought of all this time. There’s a reason for the focus on perpetration rather than mainly telling victims to leave. There’s a reason for attention on transforming masculinity and power and not only addressing emotions and mental health. Poverty, depression and suicidal feelings are all triggers of men’s violence against women, but they are not the cause. There’s a reason martial arts isn’t a national solution. Such murder has no excuse. The AG, like all men, must simply unreservedly amplify women’s right to live and leave in peace.