The Daily Mail have published a story entitled “Why I Loathe Feminism…and believe it will ultimately destroy the family”. Which is just fine and dandy. Except that the article isn’t about feminism at all. Save a few cursory references, such as the one below:
“Thirty years later, when feminism exploded onto the scene, I was often mistaken for a supporter of the movement. But I have never been a feminist, because, having experienced my mother's violence, I always knew that women can be as vicious and irresponsible as men.”
The article doesn’t expand on this, but goes on to tell the story of Erin Pizzey’s abusive childhood at the hands of her mother. An awful story, yes, and it sounds as if Pizzey’s mother was an awful person (and a racist to boot. Are you listening, Daily Mail?) Her hatred of feminism is built on a singular foundation: that women are as vicious as men and that feminists deny this.
Well, yes and no. I think you’ll be hard pressed to find a feminist who denies that women can be violent and cruel. We’re not fantasists; we know that women aren’t perfect. But we are acutely aware of the fact the perpetrators of domestic violence are still far more likely to be male. Amnesty International figures state that in the USA, women accounted for 85% of the victims of domestic violence in 1999 (671,110 compared to 120,100 men). That’s a hell of a majority. These findings are backed up by a study by the United States Bureau of Justice, which estimates that women are six times more likely than men to be victims of domestic violence. Amnesty International also estimate that domestic violence accounts for nearly a quarter of all recorded violent crime in England and Wales - one in four women will be a victim of domestic violence in their lifetime.
These are worrying statistics. We shouldn’t ignore the reality of female-initiated domestic violence, we certainly shouldn't pretend it's not as serious. But we also mustn’t be cowed by sensationalist journalism which attempts to turn this issue on its head. “What about the men?” should never be an excuse to pretend that male-on-female domestic violence doesn’t make up the majority of recorded incidents. It shouldn’t sweep under the carpet that nearly half of all female murder victims in the UK are killed by a current or former partner. And it definitely shouldn’t attempt to justify the prevalence of male violence against women by suggesting that men are lashing out on the counter attack – that women bring violence upon themselves by verbally abusing their partners. This is not justification. No woman deserves to be hit or beaten because she spoke out of line. The same is true for men. It’s a massive insult to the victims of domestic violence, male or female, to suggest they were asking for it and it’s scarily similar to the rape apologist’s proclamation that an inebriated or scantily clad women is inviting rape.
It’s sad and unfair that Erin Pizzey experienced such abuse at the hands of her mother. But that isn’t feminism’s fault - it wasn't feminism that made her mother a horrible person. And surely, without feminism, she would not have the privilege of being able to publish her story in a national newspaper...?