Friday, March 20, 2009

Domestic Violence, For Girls

I think Melissa is onto something here. The subtle, very subtle message behind this article in the New York Times about teenage girls siding with Chris in the debate over domestic abuse is that the onus is on the female sex to do something about this issue. Women are the disproportionately larger percentage of domestic violence victims. So the article in the Times seems to ask why young girls don't seem to identify with the victim in this case.

The answer is simple. Girls and women don't want to be the victims of domestic violence, but sometimes the end up being them. By staring in shock as girls line up to support Chris in this debate it really illuminates the underlying problem: we tend to think of domestic violence as a problem for women to solve, not for everyone to solve. Take this passage of the Times article:
This reaction has alarmed parents and professionals who work with teenagers, and Oprah Winfrey was prompted to address violence in teenage relationships on her show. Boys who condone Mr. Brown’s behavior disappoint, but don’t shock Marcyliena Morgan, executive director of Harvard’s hip-hop archive. “But it’s the girls!” she said. “Where have we gone wrong here?”
Morgan's attitude is common, the thought is that it is women should be at the forefront of fighting this fight against domestic violence, not men. Her quote, and I have no idea what the original context of the conversation was, suggests that we would almost understand if and when men line up on Chris' side, but we don't understand when women do. We're starting to ignore how complex and entrenched these problems actually are. It's not going to be women that stop domestic violence. It has to be all of us.

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