Posted by: Ophelia | July 14, 2008

Domestic violence

I was all set to post a blurb about demockratees.com that I wrote a while ago. Their shirts are interesting, politically conscious and worth knowing about. At the same time, as I looked at one of their shirts and the message attached, I felt a distinct twinge. Feminist bloggers know that twinge, the “…that doesn’t feel right”.

The blurb for the “Real men beat their meat, not their women and children” shirt reads:

Domestic Violence is major problem across the globe. A problem that most communities are unwilling to directly address publicly. It’s time for men to be men, for them to step up to the plate and be opponents of domestic violence. And women..ladies refuse to put up with that crap. Let the world know how you feel Real Men Beat Their Meat, Not Their Women and Children.

I’m torn. On the one hand, it’s pointing out that men also have a role in combating domestic violence. At the same time, it’s backhandedly blaming women for taking it. If only it were as simple as just refusing to put up with it. If only the answers were so easy. It makes me uncomfortable to see the victims of domestic violence being told to simply stand up for themselves–the old pull yourself up by your bootstraps trope. I’m sure if they could, they would–I don’t think anyone male (although they speak here only of female victims of domestic violence) or female wants to be in an abusive relationship or would be if they honestly felt they could help it. Further, I’m not liking the “real men” idea. What exactly are the standards for manhood besides an apparent choice between beating women or masturbating?

It reminds me of the tips well meaning people give to women to help them avoid rape. I’m sure they only want to be helpful, but they’re missing the part about how rapists and domestic abusers are what make you the most likely to be raped or domestically abused. I realize what they want to communicate is that women have control over their fate, that they don’t have to be victims but what is communicated is that you are somehow responsible for what someone else does to you. If only you fought more/didn’t wear that/didn’t go there alone. If only it were that easy. I’m not attributing this message to the shirt, it just made me think about these ideas.

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Responses

  1. Also, the possessive, “THEIR women and children” is a bit upsetting.

  2. You know, you’re absolutely right–totally blanked on that. I suppose I made the linguistic connection between “beat their meat” and “beat their women and children” so it didn’t make me feel weird–but now that you mention it, it does bug me.


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