Feminism Fodder

Feminism Friday: The victim is NOT responsible for violence

Feminism Friday

When I was returning home on the train on Wednesday night, I was scrolling through my Facebook feed. I saw that Kerri Sackville had shared an article she was outraged about. When I read it, I was appalled on so many levels.

In this article, clinical psychologist, Sallee McLaren asserts that women are partly responsible for domestic violence. Apparently, as women, we are trained to be submissive and the first time our male partner is aggressive at a 4/10, we tolerate it, thereby teaching him, aggression is ok. Because he thinks he can get away with it, he escalates it next time to a 6/10 and might call us a name this time. Once again, we tolerate it and submit teaching him aggression is ok. So the next time, he escalates even more and will swear at us and hit us. Voila! Ultimately, we are responsible for getting ourselves whacked shitless. Or well, killed.

As a psychologist {I’m a developmental psychologist, in case you wondered}, it terrifies me that this woman is practising and I wonder what she’s telling her vulnerable clients.

I understand when she says we have been socialised to be submissive. Yes, we have. But that’s about all I agree with. What McLaren forgets is that we have been socialised this way thanks to the patriarchal society we all live in. While she is trying to use behavioural principles of reward and punishment to her DV argument, she forgets that the perpetrator has been rewarded before. Most likely, he has learnt from a young age in this patriarchal society, that it is ok to be aggressive and violent towards women. He has probably had role models when he was a kid that showed him men who beat women are still revered by society. The many sports stars he has loved or the actors he has watched or maybe even his father or uncle have all gotten away with treating women badly and for bashing women up. When this is learnt, no matter how much a partner later tries to ‘train’ him, she will not be successful. Unlike Pavlov’s dog, this man has a brain.

If this man’s anger is a 4/10 and the woman does stand up to him, he is more than likely going to escalate to a straight 10/10 because of his previous learning. McLaren has forgotten that even in social learning theory, while environment (in this example, the woman) and behaviour (the reward) play a part, they are not mutually exclusive from personal factors of the individual. In other words, when there is a brain and thinking involved, the person can still make decisions for themselves. They are not passive.

So Ms McLaren, rather than blaming adult victims of domestic violence, how about blame the patriarchal system that teaches men it’s okay to be violent towards women? The only time we can realistically train men’s attitudes is when they are young boys. When they are still capable of learning consequences. Once they get to their teenage years and adulthood, it’s far too late.

This is exactly why I am livid at the government too for not providing any funding whatsoever this budget for family violence. They have billions to give to terrorism and border protection when 0 people have been killed in Australia in 2015. Yet, with 37 women currently dead in 2015, we have nothing there to show for it. Nothing there to prevent it.

It angers me.

***Linking with Grace for FYBF and Ann for Things I Know***

Until next time,

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  • Kirsty @ My Home Truths
    15 May 2015 at 7:42 pm

    I couldn’t agree more Sanch. I also believe that most social learning occurs when you are young and is shaped by your immediate role models. That’s why I try so hard to set a good example for my kids in everything that I do. I had seen the furore over this article but I did not read it – i didn’t want to give it more air. Thanks for writing this and for adding your measured and knowledgeable voice to the discussion.
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  • CookieCrumbsInc.
    15 May 2015 at 8:45 pm

    I don’t know whether or not she or you are theoretically right but I strongly agree with the title of your post and anyone who says otherwise, says that the victim is (even partly) to blame for some form of abuse she endured can go straight to Hell and stay there. ENOUGH with the “its her fault”. ENOUGH.
    CookieCrumbsInc. recently posted…Ma.My Profile

  • Vishal Bheeroo
    16 May 2015 at 12:16 am

    I agree with the points made Sanch and rather blaming the victim, it’s the ugly patriarchy who blames young boy and girls since a certain age to behave in a certain manner.

  • elly stornebrink
    16 May 2015 at 3:45 am

    Hear, hear Sanch! Spot on you are, not Sallee the clinical psychologist! Indeed it is the patriarchal society that teaches women to be a certain way, i.e., submissive and tolerate abuse even though she doesn’t deserve it NOR ask for it! <3
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  • kalpana solsi
    16 May 2015 at 5:43 pm

    Boys and men have to learn that its not okay to raise one’s hand on a lady and have to unlearn that many myths of the patriarchal system. Nothing will be changed in a day .

  • Inderpreet Kaur Uppal
    16 May 2015 at 6:59 pm

    As a woman and an educated one, your post gets me angry and sad at the same time. Thanks for sharing such an issue, it is much more rampant than we think. I have personally seen so many cases. It is disheartening.
    Always learn something from reading your posts Sanch.
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  • Am @ HandbagMafia
    17 May 2015 at 12:32 am

    Agree with every word, as usual!
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  • Parul
    17 May 2015 at 4:23 am

    Totally agree with you there. Most women are submissive cos of the society we live in. Today they say it’s training tomorrow, they will say it is deserved.
    Great post and informative read S! You have shared some valid points.
    Parul recently posted…An Open Letter to Dear MinisterMy Profile

  • Harini
    18 May 2015 at 6:36 pm

    I completely agree with you Sanch. I agree with the doctor that women have been taught to be submissive… especially in our Indian society. I have heard the older generations say things such as “He is a man, sometimes he gets angry”, “You are a girl, your whole life is meant to make your husband happy and listen to whatever he says”(this was the biggest advice I got when I was getting married) or the worst “Bear the domestic violence. If you leave him how will you survive or take care of the kids”. Unfortunately these are the things that even educated women believe.
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