We see abuse of women in all sorts of ways in society, often violent or sexual in nature. We also see repression and disrespect of women associated with some religions and cultures. Women are sometimes trapped by domestic violence, both physically and psychologically. These cases are in the public consciousness so as examples of typical, overt abuse, let`s try to think about why this happens..
I think that it`s worth having a look at some of the factors that enable domestic violence. Of course not all causes apply and there will be a variety of factors involved, but the obvious one to look at first is the difference in physical size and strength between a man and a woman. Some men actually look for someone they can bully because of their own acquired behaviour: The bullied will often bully simply because that is how they have learned to behave from those around them.It is not always the case, though, that a man who bullies has been bullied in his earlier life, it can be that he has witnessed bullying, maybe his father bullied his mother, or even vice versa, and that this can become the mode of relationship that he knows best. It is also often the case that women can be drawn to men who are bullies, either having been bullied themselves, or they too having witnessed bullying at close hand. Many women, unwittingly, assume the role of the bullied one in a relationship.
Why should this happen? Well, just as children learn love or cooperation or compromise from the people around them in their early years, so, if they are exposed to hatred or disrespect or bullying, they can learn these instead. These traits can become the only expression of "love" that they know and children can confuse them as such. A man who assimilates the role of bully can still feel this role as an expression of "love", just as a woman who mistakes the pain and violence of abuse as part of the environment for a "loving" relationship, can experience a lovelessness without the presence of abuse. It is simply a matter of what we learn and what we experience in our adult lives. Some people, though, have exposure to bullying in their early life and adopt the passive persons role, rejecting the bullies position. Women too often have low self esteem, learned sometimes from their mother, a role-model victim, and reinforced through life.
Now of course, women are not "asking for it" when this scenario occurs, they just often get into abusive relationships because they mistake what is on offer for love. They are not conscious of what they are doing, neither, often, are the men who bully them. It is all hidden in their pasts and enacted without so very much control.
I really wonder whether women would ever get into an abusive relationship if it weren`t for one or other of the above reasons. Having witnessed, though, a friend being verbally disrespected and systematically undermined over a long period of time, maybe with no background of inflicted abuse and no witness of it, I still noted that this woman had low self esteem, and this coupled with a desire to exculpate her husband at every turn, prevented her from taking action to reclaim herself and her self-respect. The trouble is, where there is weakness anywhere in society there are people who want to take advantage.
Why should it serve men to undermine women? Well, a woman who is weakened will comply with sex or do what they are told to do. The psychology is simple, weaken her and you can dominate her. In this sense we can see that the inadequacies of the man will diminish in his own eyes if he can dominate his woman...but also, I think, that abusing someone kicks into gear the compartmental conscience (please see my previous blog about this devise) as the man struggles to off-load his guilt at treating a woman so badly. The compartmental conscience here will get him off the hook because it will see blameworthy characteristics in the woman that CAUSE him to HAVE to be abusive. The more he abuses her, the more the compartmentalising has to work ever harder to escape guilt and the more violent the man becomes. Because of this, the situation is almost beyond repair for the bully because the compartment in his mind that says the bullying is justifiable, because the woman is guilty/bad/unloving or whatever, is dependant upon the violence and abuse to justify itself. The compartmental tool isn`t without needs itself and wants a return for helping the man do his dirty work.(This happens in any such similar situation, of course.)The more the guilt incurred, the higher the stakes.)
I will need to think aloud about this some more in the near future as well as talking about covert abuse of women, so please tune into me next time.