More than a third of all women worldwide – 35.6% – will experience physical or sexual violence in their lifetime, usually from a male partner, according to the first comprehensive study of its kind from the World Health Organisation (WHO).
The report reveals the shocking extent of attacks on women from the men with whom they share their lives, with 30% of women being attacked by partners. It also finds that a large proportion of murders of women – 38% – are carried out by intimate partners.
This new report is horrifying but unsurprising. Many of my female friends, of all ages, have been violently attacked by spouses or boyfriends. Some of them are still in abusive relationships.
Across all cultures, across all religious and ethnic boundaries, men hate women and display that hatred as viscerally as possible: with their fists and feet and knives and guns.
As a global community, we need to re-educate ourselves and, most importantly, our children to understand that this systematic, methodical misogyny is not acceptable in any way. And yet, on Facebook, I know if/when I post this article up, the comments I get will be from males deriding it and making “jokes” about a woman’s place. This is where the violence starts, in the ideological realm.
Without a culture of hatred towards women coupled with an objectification of them as solely sexual objects in service of male desire, the current situation of violence against women could not exist. If men truly saw women as people, as human beings and not merely a collection of convenient orifices, we could at least start to chip away at that enormous mountain of conflicted hate men have towards women.
I say conflicted because gynophilic men desire women sexually. And yet, the biggest religions in the world demonise women and sexual desire, rendering women as unclean vessels of corruption. So, what do you get if you take a beautiful, simple natural desire like that for sex and intimacy and then taint it with religion? You get the approach / retreat confusion of male attitudes towards women. Men want women but hate them for provoking / denying them. You get the ancient double standard of stud versus slut, a standard I see everyday on social networks where “lads” are lionised for their promiscuity and girls are shamed.
It all has to stop.
All it takes is for us, individually, to think about the choices we make. To think about the ideas and attitudes that we support, the “jokes” that we let slide because we don’t want to make a scene. Obviously, if you’re male and reading this, there is far more pressure on you to examine how you treat women in sexual relationships. But everyone can play a part in changing the anti-woman culture we live in. It won’t happen overnight but we can do it, person by person, word by word.