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Domestic Violence: Is There A Sexist Double-Standard?

With all of the NFL suspensions of late, intimate partner violence is at the forefront of the national discussion. However it’s not just male football stars that have been charged with domestic violence lately, female soccer star (a nude picture leak victim) Hope Solo faces charges for allegedly assaulting her sister and nephew, according to The Washington Post. In a discussion on Morning Joe, ex-CNN contributor Roland Martin caused controversy by asking why there hasn’t been “similar outrage” over Solo’s assault, according to Mediaite.com.

Another guest on the show, Katty Kay, was shocked by the assertion saying “that’s one example of one woman beating another woman” compared to “countless examples of men beating women.” Yet, Kay’s analysis is both incredibly short-sighted and indicative of a larger problem about the disparity between how people react towards male-on-female domestic violence and it’s opposite.

A video released in late May from ThisIsDare.com showed a couple (portrayed by actors) in the midst of a fight. In the first bit, the man is arguing with the woman, grabbing her arm and swearing at her. Bystanders look over concerned, and when he pushes her against a fence a group of women and a man intercede and threaten to call the police. One woman even tells the female actor that she “doesn’t have to put up with that” and that the male actor “is a wanker.” However, when the roles are reversed and the woman is the aggressor, people still stare but laugh at them without interceding.

Check out the video (NSFW language) below.

So is there a double-standard about domestic violence? It’s a complex question that involves both an understanding of history and present-day statistics. A study from the UK found that about 40 percent of all domestic violence victims are men. Men’s Health found that 22 percent of American men are victims of intimate partner violence compared to 29 percent of women. Another study from the spring found that the rates in which men and women are sexually assault is comparable.

And while the cable channels and networks may be ignoring the Hope Solo case, other outlets (like this one!) aren’t. Hyper-feminist blog Jezebel.com wrote about it saying, “Hope Solo shouldn’t be playing professional sports, either.”

However, as Kay mentioned, the problems of IPV do seem to affect women in a disproportionate way. For example, women who are the victims of domestic abuse can legally be fired from their jobs, often under the guise of protecting the “safety” of the “other” employees, the implication being that her safety is up-for-grabs because she had the bad judgment to get involved with an abuser in the first place.

So while the genders of the victims and perpetrators of IPV are important to know, the driving focus of the campaign to raise awareness should be gender-neutral. As the Dare video put it: Violence is violence.


Image via Wikicommons

About the author

Joshua M. Patton is a father, veteran, and writer living in Pittsburgh, PA. Along with news and current events, he writes about parenting, art, and personal stories. His serial fiction story "The Prophet Hustle" is available at JukePop.com and a forthcoming independent ebook about the cam-modeling industry "Dirty Little Windows" will be available later this summer.