8 Reasons We Need To Have a Discussion About Male Domestic Abuse
Feb 14, 2020   •   Tim Henares
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Feb 14, 2020   •   Tim Henares
You might not have heard, but until recently, Johnny Depp was all but canceled after being accused by his ex-wife, Amber Heard, of domestic abuse. That being said, things took a turn for the strange when it turns out that there is quite a bit of evidence that the reverse is true, and that it was actually Ms. Heard who was physically abusing Mr. Depp. Suddenly, the story seemed less important to discuss, even if both versions of the story were met with mostly equal levels of skepticism. But why is that?
In a machismo-dominated country like the Philippines, the conversation about male domestic abuse will inevitably be awkward and possibly unwanted. Here are 8 reasons why we still need to have that conversation, regardless.[TW: Abuse]
“Ander da saya” and “Takusa” are often jokes leveled at supposedly macho men who are terrified of their wives. And while we mostly take it seriously when a woman is physically abused by her male partner (as we should), we don’t seem to hold the reverse in the same regard, mostly because we think if push comes to shove, the man should be able to fight back. Except the minute they do, then society pounces on them for beating up on the woman, which perpetuates a vicious cycle of its own where fighting back simply isn’t an option.
Why this is a problem: When we make jokes about men who are afraid of their female partners, we make it seem like it’s funny or even adorable that they get abused for whatever reasons. We already know that no matter how “mataray” a woman is, that’s never grounds to hit her. So why should a man’s own follies suddenly make him fair game for a beating? Isn’t it ironic that it’s the need to “be a man” and all the toxic baggage that carries in society that makes it harder for men to be heard in this conversation?
The fact that it’s a joke is one thing. The fact that we think it’s so rare it doesn’t deserve to be discussed is another, especially since it’s not. In studies conducted in England and Wales, these numbers went as high as 14.9% of men across their lifetime experience male domestic violence, which is not an insignificant number.
Why this is a problem: Thinking it’s uncommon, therefore, not deserving of attention is very disingenuous, to say the least. After all, if woke culture is all about protecting minorities, well, isn’t this also a “minority” by literal definition? And even if we ignore that cheeky bit of wordplay, why should we be ignoring a real, painful, and demeaning situation just because it doesn’t happen often enough in our perception?
Do we need to cite a study to point out how unlikely it is for a man to come forward to the authorities and willingly admit that a woman beats him up regularly? No? Then we’re in agreement how difficult a topic this is, considering how difficult it already is for women in the same situation.
Why this is a problem: The less men open up to the reality that it too, could happen to them, the more they feel stigmatized when it happens to them. Imagine when women think it’s their fault they got hit by their abusive partners: men will find plenty of reasons to blame themselves for the abuse they receive before they open up to the possibility of even reporting it to the authorities. It’s almost like being emasculated twice: once, for letting your machismo be trampled upon, a second time for telling everyone all about it. Imagine the sheer difficulty of admitting to that to anyone, let alone to public record.
“Gaslighting” is the term used for the psychological technique used to make a person question their own sanity, usually leading people to question if something bad that happened to them really happened, or if it was simply something they misinterpreted. Essentially, it’s when you turn things around and make the victim wonder if they’re at fault. As we’ve seen in the case of Johnny Depp, it was much easier to believe he was guilty of domestic abuse than to accept the reverse: that he was the victim of domestic abuse.
Why this is a problem: Sure, let’s add psychological trauma to physical trauma and make them think they deserved what they got, why don’t we?
Imagine mustering up the courage to admit, in the middle of a society where machismo is cherished practically as a virtue, that, heaven forbid, a woman physically abused you. Imagine how difficult that is, only to have people look at you and laugh you off, and refuse to believe your story.
Why this is a problem: Women go through this often enough, and it’s good we are beginning to have people who support women who come forward, even though it results in awkward moments like Amber Heard. But what about men? We simply don’t have that, and it’s not exactly comforting when the only time men who are abused are mentioned is either as a punchline, or as a throwaway point for men’s rights “activists” who don’t actually care about the abuse survivor’s plight, so much as they care about scoring political points.
Equality between the sexes doesn’t mean we can punch each other and it’s all right. Equality means precisely that it doesn’t matter who commits violence on whom: it’s all wrong. For as long as we don’t understand this, male domestic abuse will remain a topic that people laugh at instead of commiserate with.
Why this is a problem: Woke culture isn’t perfect, and one of its blind spots is someone asking in all sincerity, “what about the men?” This is one of those times when that’s a valid question, and one that should actually be addressed better by a culture that claims to want to make things better for everyone.
Acknowledging there are men who get abused does not take away a thing from women who are abused. This is not a contest. This is not the oppression Olympics. There is room to be concerned with both.
Why this is a problem: Because people try to use a very real problem (male domestic abuse) as a way of shutting down discussion of another very real problem (female domestic abuse). The sooner we realize both exist and are not in competition with another (for what seems to be the lousiest prize ever), the sooner we can finally make strides in resolving these problems without stigmatizing the victims.
If woke culture ignores them, MRA’s only use them as props, and everyone else just views them as punchlines, then there is a very real sub-section of men who are being completely left to their own advices, to deal with the trauma of their ordeal without anyone so much as thinking their issues are worth giving a thought about.
Why this is a problem: It should go without saying that the best way to deal with trauma is to find people who support you as you process it. Male domestic abuse survivors find it difficult to find that support system precisely because they seem to fall through the cracks, being often neglected by everyone on all sides of the political and gender spectrum. And this needs to change, because removing Amber Heard from Aquaman 2 does so little to make up for what Johnny Depp has gone through in the last couple of years. And if a powerful A-List celebrity like him can’t get justice because his cause simply fell through the cracks, what more for us everyday folk?
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