[Pop culture depictions can advance the idea that] Both partners are equally to blame, both partners are equally abusive; women are strong enough to punch, women are not — or no longer — the only victims…
Are women really becoming “as violent as men”? And is that even the question we should be asking in the first place?
People who support women’s rights, and who have worked for decades to get male-on-female domestic violence taken seriously, may find this conversation not just eye-rolling, but deeply troubling. As expert Jill Murray, author, most recently, of “But He Never Hit Me,” puts it: Equating the scope, incidence and danger of male vs. female domestic violence “stands to negate everything we’ve been trying to fight for, all the work we’ve done…”
“We can’t ignore or deny that women can be violent to their partners, whether their partners are men or women,” says Jennifer L. Pozner, author of “Reality Bites Back: The Troubling Truth About Guilty Pleasure TV” and founder of Women in Media & News. “But by hyping inaccurate studies in news reports and creating salacious narratives on crime dramas, media have for decades tried to create a false equivalence, discussing the few women who have been violent and using those women’s stories as proof that A) there’s ‘just as much’ female-to-male domestic violence as male-to-female, and B) domestic violence isn’t a problem that women have to deal with as victims anymore…”
Experts say the raw, in-a-vacuum numbers don’t even start to tell the whole story of a given relationship, or of the complex dynamics of domestic violence. Other DOJ data shows men are more likely to be attacked with a knife or hit with a thrown object; women are more likely to be grabbed, held or tripped, raped, or sexually assaulted. Perhaps more to the point, females are more likely than males to sustain severe or injurious violence and to require medical treatment.
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