Can Women Escape from Men?

by cherryblossomlife

If women as a group were able to escape male violence, we would not be men’s victims. Women as a group have obviously not yet found a way to stop or escape rape, wife abuse, incest, sexual harassment, or other forms of male tyranny. (Dee Graham, in Loving to Survive)

A new survey released in the U.S, entitled The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, details the extent and effects of male violence against women. It is a nationally representative survey that assesses experiences of sexual violence, stalking, and intimate partner violence among adult women and men in the United States and for each individual state.




The data reiterates the type of findings feminists uncovered during the seventies:

*More than half (51.1%) of female victims of rape reported being raped by an intimate partner and 40.8% by an acquaintance

*Across all types of violence, the majority of female victims reported that their perpetrators were male. Male rape victims and male victims of non-contact unwanted sexual experiences reported predominantly male perpetrators. Nearly half of stalking victimizations against males were also perpetrated by males.

* For female rape victims, 98.1% reported only male perpetrators. Additionally, 92.5% of female victims of sexual violence other than rape reported only male perpetrators. For male victims, the sex of the perpetrator varied by the type of sexual violence experienced. The majority of male rape victims (93.3%) reported only male perpetrators.

The streets are dangerous for women goes the mantra, therefore we should not walk alone at night. A woman needs a man’s protection (if only from other men), which is why her best survival strategy is to live with a man. This is the commonly-held view, and is backed up vigorously by news articles and TV dramas.

Radical feminists have long been attempting to dispel these popular patriarchal myths.

When feminists first began researching male violence, they discovered that women are at most danger from the men nearest and dearest to them. Female children are sexually abused by family members, usually a father, uncle or brother. Women are more likely to be murdered by their husband than by an unknown man, and men annihilate their families with frightening regularity. Similarly, if a male friend offers to walk a woman home “to protect her”, she is more likely to be raped by him than a passerby.

In 1973, Walter Gove found that “for women the shift from being single to being married increases the likelihood of being murdered, while for men the shift decreases their chances.” Gove obtained similar findings for single as compared to married women as regards to “accidental deaths.” It is, of course, likely that many accidental deaths were murders.

It was also found that:

Virtually all mass murderers are men, and most of their victims have been women.

Incest is a form of sexual violence that is primarily directed against female children by adult male perpetrators (Finkelhor (1980; Herman with Herschman, 1977). Herman and Herschman found that 92 % of incest victims are female and 97% of the perpetrators are male.

In addition:

The term “Sexual Harassment” was coined for the first time by Catherine Mckinnon. It applies to both the workplace and the street. The primary function is “to assert women’s sex role over her function as a worker” (Farley). Farley identifies the penalties used by men if women do not comply with their sexual demands: “verbal denigration of a woman sexually, noncooperation from male co-workers; negative job evaluations or poor personnel recommendations; refusal of overtime; demotions; injurious transfers and reassignment of shifts, hours or locations of work, loss of job training; impossible performance standards and outright termination of employment.”

Liz Kelley (1987)  found that women are exposed to a continuum of male violence throughout their lives. At one end of the continuum are  frequent events such as sexual harassment (catcalls or lewd marks made by strangers on the street) and pressure to have sex. Virtually all women in Kelley’s sample had been exposed to these forms of violence. Many reported having to deal with sexual harassment daily. The report did not include elder abuse, which is most often committed by sons against elderly, poverty-stricken mothers (Schlesginger 1988) in Loving to Survive p.84)

Male violence is crucial in upholding male domination against women. It is necessary to terrorize an oppressed group so that they don’t revolt. Without the threat of male violence hanging over their heads, women would simply take back their land, children and property.

In Loving to Survive, Dee Graham considers the extent to which male violence threatens women’s survival:

Men are currently pushing their power to the limit: they now have the ability to determine whether our planet will survive. There is no doubt that men threaten everyone’s–and virtually everything’s– survival.

History reveals that groups of human beings are capable of systematically killing members of other human groups. Humans have killed other humans: six million Jews, hundreds of thousands of Native Americans, and over 110, 000 Japanese, the latter within a matter of seconds at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. John Hodge (1973) estimates that 150 million lives were lost in the slave trade from Africa. Just as a child who witnesses her mother being battered by her father feels physically threatened, women who witness male-male violence also feel physically threatened. The observation of violence among others creates fear of physical violence and thus constitutes emotional violence.

Women’s fear of male violence against us (women) is justified. Approximately half of those killed in each of these groups were women, and the killers of each of these groups were almost entirely men. In addition, men are known to have made women their primary targets.

For example, Woods (1974) notes that “the most reliable estimates suggest that in the course of three hundred years they executed about nine million people” branded as witches. Kors and Peters (1972) argue that witchcraft in Europe dated from 1100 to 1700, a period of six hundred years, with the last witch “legally burned in Europe as late as the 1780s”. Thus nine million executions may be a conservative estimate if the period was actually twice as long, though this figure is usually given as an upper limit. Who are “they” that executed the witches and who were the witches? Williams and Williams (1978) note that the “accusers were mostly men, [and the] accused mostly women.” (p.4)

There is an eerie silence surrounding the witch-hunts. It is as though contemporary women daren’t breathe a whisper about it, daren’t contemplate about what men have done to them. Women alive today exist in the shadow of a massacre. There must be psychological repercussions. It  was indeed an efficient way of making sure women remained cowed for centuries .Mention the burning times to women and they will give you a blank look, or dismiss it, or worse, attempt to tell you that the people who were murdered really were witches.

Would it be appropriate to mock the massacre of the Jews in the same way that the massacre of nine million women is mocked every Halloween? But the massacre of the Jews included men, making it a legitimate horror deserving of a place in the history books. The massacre of the wise women of Europe is shrouded in silence. Because of course, the fear is that men may do it to us again.

Last week, on Monday 13th of December a woman was beheaded, by men, for “witchcraft”. Not in Europe or America, this time, but Saudi Arabia.

The woman, Amina bint Abdulhalim Nassar, was executed in the northern Saudi province of al-Jawf on Monday.

A source close to the Saudi religious police told Arab newspaper al Hayat that authorities who searched Nassar’s home found a book about witchcraft, 35 veils and glass bottles full of “an unknown liquid used for sorcery” among her possessions. According to reports, authorities said Nassar claimed to be a healer and would sell a veil and three bottles for 1500 riyals, or about $400.

It is important that we keep pointing out how dangerous men are to women, lest we forget:

“The only way we can come out of hiding, break through our paralyzing defenses, is to know the full extent of sexual violence and domination of women…In knowing, in facing directly, we can learn how to chart our course out of this oppression. (Barry, 1979, in Loving to Survive)


48 Responses to “Can Women Escape from Men?”

  1. I’ve been trying to escape from men all my life. Not possible. They own everything. They control everything. Mortality will be my only escape, I realize this. Very sadly.

  2. First of all,that’s an excelent post Cherry!
    There is a very short answer,no.Women can’t escape from men.I know all about that,i couldn’t escape my abuser either.O he’s dead now but every day he is in my mind,he is the reason i’m so damn scared to live,to trust,to love.
    Still fighting against him,struggling to get my life back.The fact is,men are everywhere,they think they have the right to abuse,rape and even murder women,just because…
    That makes me sick,ugh.

    Example: In Almelo,Holland,a 18 year old girl was killed by her boyfriend.She was working as a cashier and hit by several bullets.He was a trainee policeman.Because she broke up with him,he used his own weapon to kill her and killed himself.Poor girl.

  3. Thanks, Cherry, for summarizing this. I hope to read the report myself and add some more comments here later, but one thing I’d like to mention generally is the cognitive dissonance I feel when I read articles about the strides women ( in developed countries at least) are making in employment and education. Atlantic Monthly even says (in an article called “The End of Men” from 2010) that women are better suited to post-industrial society and that there’s a revolution going on. Then I read something like this U.S. Centers for Disease Control study Cherry is writing about, which shows without any doubt that in the U.S. violence against women is overwhelming, tolerated, and seemingly insuperable. How women manage to go to school or work, and shine, while all the time facing such an overwhelming threat, amazes me and brings up so much respect for the courage they display.

    It’s going to be important to try to resolve this strange schism with more studies and theory: what are the relationships between the intractable violence in women’s personal lives and the progress they are making in their public lives? To what extent are they being held back? To what extent is some of the violence a reaction to women making progress? As women occupy policy-making positions, will they be able to develop some way of combating this violence? Will public perception of the violence as “natural” and too common to get excited about, change?

    I think the institution of marriage, which appears to be fracturing, is a major location sitting right in the middle of this schism. See. e.g., (Japanese women).

    And Japanese women are not the only women going through these changes. The changes in marriage in South Korea over the past few decades are astonishing researchers. And a recent article in the mainstream magazine Atlantic Monthly by Kate Bolick recites some recent U.S. statistics which taken together sound like a covert revolution in women’s public life, non-violent, legal, and radical.

    Let’s hear it from Bolick: “In 1960, the median age of first marriage in the U.S. was 23 for men and 20 for women; today it is 28 and 26. Today, a smaller proportion of American women in their early 30s are married than at any other point since the 1950s, if not earlier. We’re also marrying less — with a significant degree of change taking place in just the past decade and a half. In 1997, 29 percent of my Gen X cohort was married; among today’s Millennials that figure has dropped to 22 percent. (Compare that with 1960, when more than half of those ages 18 to 29 had already tied the knot.) These numbers reflect major attitudinal shifts. According to the Pew Research Center, a full 44 percent of Millennials and 43 percent of Gen Xers think that marriage is becoming obsolete.”…”Even more momentously, we no longer need husbands to have children, nor do we have to have children if we don’t want to…today 40 percent of [U.S.] children are born to single mothers…an astonishing 70 percent of black women are unmarried, and they are more than twice as likely as white women to remain that way…the reality is that what’s happened to the black family is already beginning to happen to the white family. In 1950, 64% of African-American women were married — roughly the same percentage as [Caucasian] women…In 1965…fewer than 25% of black children were born out of wedlock; in 2011, considerably more than 25% of white children are…the decline of marriage in the black middle class has pre-figured the decline of marriage in the white middle class.”…”From 1970…to 2007, women’s earnings grew by 44 percent, compared to 6% for men…a 2010 study of single, childless urban workers between the ages of 22 and 30 found that women actually earned 8% more than the men. Women are also more likely than men to go to college: in 2010, 55% of all college graduates ages 25 to 29 were female…[on] the American college campus…women outnumber men, 57% to 43%.”…”As of last year, women held 51.4% of all managerial and professional positions, up from 26% in 1980. Today women outnumber men not only in college but in graduate school; they earned 60% of all bachelor’s and master’s degrees awarded in 2010, and men are now more likely than women to hold only a high-school diploma…2010 [is] the first time in American history that women made up the majority of the workforce…a marriage regime based on men’s overwhelming economic dominance may be passing into extinction.”

    The article quotes Helen Fisher, a biological anthropologist, as saying that “pair-bonding” has been going on for millions of years, but based on egalitarian groups where men and women shared the labor equally and children were raised collaboratively. Now, she says, we are “moving forward into deep history” — returning to the most ancient ways of humanity, as if this has all been a big bad dream.

    In thinking about radical feminism’s purposes, I realize that its insistence on looking beyond the “public life” progress and into the private hell of so many women is more crucial now than ever. That public progress is very likely increasing the danger of violent male reactions as this transition goes on. I think what needs to be explored most carefully is whether women are working and schooling themselves in a position of tremendous vulnerability; they cannot yet protect themselves from male violence in their personal lives. Women cannot claim real progress so long as they come home from work to be beaten.

    In keeping with another very important purpose of radical feminism that we are exemplifying right here on this site, I’d like to suggest, as others have said so many times, that we must not allow ourselves to become isolated in what I called once “family holes”. We need to have strong relationships in a community of women too, or primarily.

    As Christopher Ryan, co-author of Sex at Dawn, puts it, “In every society in which women have power — whether humans or primates — the key is female bonding.”

  4. This is such an important post, I’m surprised there aren’t more comments.

    Men are not only good at making us terrified, but brainwashing us as well. No wonder most women do not know what the Burning Times were.

    Men do a genocidal rate of violence to women, yet no one calls it genocide.

    If I think about my own friends and family, it’s amazing how many violent husbands and boyfriends there are. I’m starting to hate the term ‘domestic violence’. It does not place the blame on men, where it belongs.

  5. Thanks for your comments.
    Karmarad, thank you for those marriage statistics. I absolutely believe that this quiet revolution going on in Japan among women is going to be effective. THe birth rate has plunged for a start. THose stupid grey-headed men who run the country are really confused as to why the baby machines are not doing their jobs properly. I’m not even Japanese, and even I know more about the motivations of the people (women) here than the politicians in power. THat should tell you how unsuitable men are for leadership, in general.

    julia, yes domestic violence is a ridiculous term. During the OJ Simpson trial his lawyers tried to get the court to use the term “domestic dischord” whenever his abuse of his wife was mentioned. “Sexual harassment” is another silly one because that term includes rape!!!

  6. Carpenter- Good to see you here. I’m glad I introduced you to feminism. 🙂

    Cherry- Courageous post. Keep telling the truth! I really wish womyn understood that it’s in their best interest to leave men. Womyn, hello?!! It’s not some random creepy stranger doing all this shit, it’s your dear Nigel! (and this includes your husbands, your boyfriends, your male ‘friends’, acquaitances or co-workers, and your sons)

    Heterosexuality (which most womyn have been culturally groomed for, from girlhood on) is one of the primary reinforcers of this violence. I really wish many womyn left men to become proud spinsters or lesbians, but then men are everywhere. Men keep violating womyn all the time, and I am so fed up with ‘gender-neutral’ terms being used to describe male violence against womyn.

    Men are a real plague to this earth; they have turned this whole planet into a pile of shit…

  7. “women are at most danger from the men nearest and dearest to them. Female children are sexually abused by family members, usually a father, uncle or brother. Women are more likely to be murdered by their husband than by an unknown man, and men annihilate their families with frightening regularity. Similarly, if a male friend offers to walk a woman home “to protect her”, she is more likely to be raped by him than a passerby.

    In 1973, Walter Gove found that “for women the shift from being single to being married increases the likelihood of being murdered, while for men the shift decreases their chances.” Gove obtained similar findings for single as compared to married women as regards to “accidental deaths.” It is, of course, likely that many accidental deaths were murders.”

    Excellent post Cherry!

  8. “Ive been trying to escape from men all my life. Not possible. They own everything. They control everything. Mortality will be my only escape, I realize this. Very sadly.”

    Yes. To live without absolute FEAR would be nice.

    No, I think it’s more than a utopian vision. It’s a fuckin’ human right.

  9. Thanks Cherryblossom for this timely article and for not choosing to hide male accountability. In answer to your question no women cannot escape men because we interact with daily. Even women living alone or in an all female household have to interact with men. Two examples – walking down a public street we interact with men because they ensure we do not ignore them and it is called male sexual harassment of women as they intrude (sic) into men’s publicly owned spaces meaning the streets. The other is using public transport because more women than men cannot afford a car and yes there are male ticket collectors; males driving buses; male station attendants so no we women can never get away from men.

    I believe reason for massive increase in numbers of men committing femicide is because women are daring to enter supposedly male only public places and are also more prominent within the workplace. Yes I know women are still primarily located in low paid work but women are to be seen in what used to be ‘male only professions.’ This is what making men so angry seeing more women in paid jobs and these men believe their pseudo male right to dominate and control women is being challenged. So we have the backlash and it is a lethal one as the statistics for US prove. It is irrelevant to men that women have achieved only a small number of their inherent rights because any right a woman achieves is perceived as a loss to men and it is their supposed loss of status which makes them so angry.

    The term domestic violence was coined by male supremacist system because system has to minimalise male accountability and keep focus away from men and their crimes against women. The correct term is intimate male terrorism because that names the problem and yes men do terrorise female/ex female partners.

    Contrary to men’s claims when men are raped and/or subjected to violence overwhelmingly the perpetrators are male not female but that nugget of fact must remain hidden because male supremacy does not want spotlight placed on male attitudes and men’s continuing hatred/contempt for women.

    I highly recommend Loving To Survive by Dee Graham et al and yes it is still widely available because male supremacist system has not yet managed to make this book unavailable.

  10. Thanks for the post, it’s more important than ever to keep denouncing men’s violence against women.

    they now have the ability to determine whether our planet will survive. There is no doubt that men threaten everyone’s–and virtually everything’s– survival.

    This is an important point, thanks for quoting it! I hadn’t formulated exactly in that way but yes, the fact men have the power to litterally explose our planet in one blink, that our lives are so ridiculously dependent on men’s whim in so many ways and levels (that may even go beyond our understanding), I mean, no wonder we find it impossible to escape their violence. It’s everywhere, it’s what we breathe, eat, hear, listen, see, do, go through, suffer. (I don’t understand why she uses “human” instead of “men” in the next paragraph though, it’s a bit disappointing).

    As I currently see it, the only way out of it is a. female bonding and b. awareness of all the things patriarchy does and how it does it. Without awareness of patriarchy and how it works, there’s no way you can not end up being duped and attacked by men / patriarchal reversals / strategies again and again. And without female bonding, we bond to men, and that means death.

    Murder, killing and genocide of women is what patriarchy is based on. Yet as you say Julia, it’s crazy how so may people, even with the stats and facts in the middle of their face, refuse to see the genocide and call it that way. Even if they recognise murder at mass scale, they call it femicide, witch hunt, infanticide; never genocide, always remind us that we aren’t human. Always lie about what men really do to us, to keep us locked into men’s grip, in believing that we still have an interest in trying to save men, love men, help men.

    I don’t think there’s any women that doesn’t know at least one other women (family, neighbor, acquaintance) who’s suffered violence from their male partner (without counting all the other forms of male violence). It’s such a norm, but nobody tells, nobody speaks. It’s a conspiration of silence, to denounce male violence and name men is the big taboo.

  11. “Intimate male terrorism”:
    YES!! 😀 Thanks for giving that term, I’ve been looking for a decent replacement of “domestic violence” for some time, without it being a two sentance long description of the violence. That one is great, concise, explicit, naming the agent and the specific type of violence.

    I agree with you too that the general violence/porn/murder/religious/conservative (et al) backlash is related to women having more visibility and presence in a formerly male-only public sphere and the ability of some to divorce from men (even though many re-marry or spend a lot of time trying to).

  12. Maggie , thank you 🙂

    The other comments are really great.

    They are everywhere,it’s hard to escape.Well i try to avoid my brothers and my co workers.But the violence against women is daily news,every day you hear,read about violence.Rape,abuse,dead and sometimes it starts when your a little girl.

    I want a world where i’m/we are not scared anymore or live in fear without those monsters.
    I mean,just look at the ads on tv,they are making me sick,they are the terrorists,we’ll have to fight back.

  13. just the other day on a mainstream website I was told, mockingly, by another woman: “Men aren’t the enemy. You need help”

  14. Last comment, but I’d like to translate a comment from a friend on this topic, who doesn’t speak english:

    “The dominant mode of thinking veils our lives with a parallel dimension, through which we experience ourselves as anaesthezised, automated, unreal, thus impossible to be believed on the spot. This veil makes even our dead bodies completely insignificant, let alone torture… In debates about prostitution, a man who has a hard-on is more real than the prostituted women who’s destroyed, he’s more real than the dozens of women he might have destroyed. Just as any one oppressed dude is more real than tens of million of dead women. We need to tear this veil so we can get together, for and between ourselves, because unless we do this, there’s no point writing a list of dead bodies or a catalogue of the atrocities of patriarchy, because we won’t believe ourselves, and the bodies and screams of the victims won’t be real”.

    (Actually I do think it’s important to keep a record of what men do to us, even if no one believes it. We must never forget the extent of male violence)

  15. “a man who has a hard-on is more real than the prostituted women who’s destroyed, he’s more real than the dozens of women he might have destroyed.”

    Yes, this is the crux of it. Thanks for translating that. The same goes for wives too. A man is mortally offended if his wife is not up to scratch i.e not good enough by society’s standards (not neat enough, not deferential enough, not willing to have PIV enough). He compares her to the standards society sets for a wife. He never compares her to *himself*` . THis can only mean in his mind she’s not quite as human as he is.

  16. Fantastic, measured, informative post – as always, Cherry. Thanks so much for taking the time to write this.

  17. Witchwind, that was excellent, thank you for that.

  18. Sadly this is so true and what makes it even worse is that men are certainly not going to do anything to try and help women.

    To try and put a positive spin on this I do believe women are capable of freeing themselves from men, unfortunately though it would require unity amongst all women. Personally I find way too many divisions amongst women to make real significant change.

    When women come together as one we would be able to systematically destroy male supremacy.

  19. I want to build a female-only eco-village, and I want women to do all the building. I’m serious. It’s my big dream.

  20. Women have made tremendous gains in access to education and jobs over the last 30 years. But yes, our rights in other areas are under siege. Used to be with heater privilege, you might have been financially dependent, but marriage allowed you security to raise your kids. Gender neutral feminists traded your rights away. Now you have the right to support a deadbeat at home who plays video games all day and is at very high risk of abusing the kids (shaken baby syndrome, a/k/a abusive head trauma has gone through the roof as more unemployed dads and boyfriends are staying home and playing caretaker. Statistics show that male caretakers physically and sexually abuse infants and children at far higher rates than moms). If you leave him, he will get custody, child support, and maybe alimony–and the batterers will be the most insistent on this. Odds are they will win. And here’s the alarming part. Even if you never married the dude, he still has the same rights to visitation or custody. He can block you from ever moving away with your kids. He can have you arrested for kidnapping if you leave with your own kids (there are tons of newspaper articles on this–and hardly anyone questions why women no longer have rights to their own kids anymore.) In fact, the U.S. and Canada are starting to look like Saudi Arabia, where mothers must have the permission of the male guardian to travel. I would argue that as marriage has decreased, men have “defined down” the criteria by which they are “entitled” to control you. Out of wedlock child, dated a few times, or even that he imagines he has a relationship with you even though you have never dated him or encouraged him. I do believe that as the big boys on top have compromised the ability of “ordinary” men to marry and support their women (i.e. Control them through mostly non-violent dependency), more men are demonstrating their control through violence. Have you noticed all the unemployed men murdering their partners and kids in giant, blood bath familicides? Familicides used to be a rare crime. In the U.S. there are now ten a week.

  21. I wonder: can we get the full source info on the works quoted (especially Gove’s), at least the titles, i.e. when they have not already been given? Id’ like to do some reading and researching.

  22. Cherry I am always struck and moved when anyone acknowledges the burning times. You are so right that its taboo to even mention it, and that this collective silence around what’s real and what really happened to women not so long ago is completely damaging, and this is of course deliberate. I would say that its dysfunctional, except that its actually completely functional and serves men very well. All of these truths about women’s lives and what we endure at the hands of men must be outed, and discussed and shouted from the rooftops. Thank you for doing that.

  23. yes, mention the Burning Times to intelligent, educated women, and they will deny deny deny. It’s quite frightening to watch.

    ibleedpurple, I’ve just checked the index in Loving to SUrvive and the GOve source is:
    Gove, W,R (1973) Sex, marital status, and mortality. American Journal of Sociology, 79 (1), 45-67

    ETA. I would say Dee Graham is on par with Andrea Dworkin.

  24. Excellent post Cherry. Thank you for speaking the truth.

  25. Such brilliant comments!

    Yes, men are a plague on the Earth, and women are still silent about all the violence they do to us.
    I agree, Cristina, that women are still so divided I can’t imagine a movement made up fo us, at least here in the US. But I never lose hope….

    I’d be very interested to hear about a women’s eco-village. When I was living on Women’s Land in Arizona last year, one of the residents asked if I’d ever heard of straight women’s Women’s Land. I laughed and said I don’t know any straight women willing to live w/o men except me 🙂

  26. About the Burning Times, I didn’t know what this meant until maybe 8 years ago, when I began reading feminist writers and feminist theory extensively. I would guess that many women don’t know what it means, or how many women the men murdered.

  27. HI, your article was right on and cuts thru all the BS that tries to deflect MALE violence against women/. You are a good writer! Keep on writing! Utopia

  28. Call it what it is—MALE violence against women
    by Utopia Bold

    Breaking the silence by naming an atrocity ¬- and its perpetrators – is the first step toward ending it.
    Patriarchy is a 6,000 year-old, male-supremacist social system. To maintain it, “Women’s agony at the hands of men must never be revealed. If women steadfastly and courageously began to tell the truth and would not stop, would not be co-opted, would not become afraid, the truth of our enslavement would be undeniable and the jig would be up,” said Sonia Johnson in her book “Telling the Truth.”
    Male violence against women must be named specifically in order to isolate it so it can be eradicated. Women, who outnumber men, are the single largest group of oppressed humans on the planet. Men have oppressed women nonstop for the longest length of time of any oppressed group, roughly 6,000 years (“The Chalice and the Blade” by Riane Eisler).
    A young woman once told me that dealing with male violence “was just part of being a woman!” However, it’s the moral responsibility of the group holding the most power to keep its members from oppressing people in groups holding less power.
    Thus, ALL MEN ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR STOPPING MALE VIOLENCE AGAIST WOMEN! Violent men must stop assaulting women. Non-violent men must not sit by and allow male violence against women to continue. To do so is to condone it. Their inaction-or indifference-is passive male violence against women.
    Silence is complicity.
    Here are some popular evasions often used to avoid naming male violence specifically and to avoid holding all men responsible for ending male violence against women:

    1. “Not all men are violent”
    No one said they were. Since men collectively hold more power than women, and since all men benefit from living in a sexist, male supremacist society, non-violent men are also responsible for stopping male violence against women.
    In the same way, whites, who collectively hold more power than people of color (in the U.S.) are responsible for ending racism, even whites who don’t commit racist acts. This is because all whites benefit from living in a racist society that gives whites unearned advantages.

    2. “Women are violent too”
    Two wrongs don’t make a right. Mary Daly calls this “universalism.” Muddying the waters, it blurs the specific focus on male violence against women by blending it with violence in general (universal violence) and casting it as a gender-neutral human issue (see examples of universalism in excuse #3 below).
    Also, under patriarchy, women are blamed for their own degradation (being violent, collaborating with men against women, etc.) As Mary Daly wrote in her book “Pure Lust, (p.365) “Within the Virulent State of phallocracy, women have been attacked and divided against our Selves. From the earliest times of the patriarchy, countless mothers have been broken and the resulting broken daughters have carried on the chain of fragmentation. . . .
    “They have been reduced to responding to the fettered/fathered urge to reproduce their altered–(that is, patriarchally identified selves)– in an endless circle of Self destruction. Such forcibly altered women have appeared to be normal within the man made milieu.”
    Although it exists, female violence pales in comparison to male violence. Men commit 88 percent of violent crime (US Bureau of Justice statistics). Women don’t build rape camps to torture and molest men to death. Women don’t control the U.S. government which spends more than half a trillion dollars a year on mass murder (war). Globally, women can’t walk alone without the possibility of men assaulting them. The reverse is not true.
    Even though some broken token women may collaborate with patriarchal men to gain power (Condi Rice, Margaret Thatcher etc.) it doesn’t change the fact that patriarchal men are in charge and allow selected token “honorary men” into the boys club–if they identify with, and behave like, patriarchal men.

    3. “Since violence is a human problem committed by both sexes, and since women also commit violence against women, male violence against women doesn’t have to be isolated and named specifically.”
    Here are some examples of universalism (“women are violent too” etc.) The power disparity between women and men is the reason for some women’s dysfunctional behavior. It is not an excuse for it:
    • “Some lesbians also batter their partners”
    This results from internalized dysfunctional heterosexual behavior absorbed from a patriarchal society in which the dominating partner (the man) batters the woman. Male violence against women is the blueprint for lesbian vs lesbian battering.
    •“Some women also commit racist violence against women”
    Racism (male violence based on race) was created and implemented by dysfunctional men to “divide and conquer.” Male violence based on the “otherness” of the oppressed is the blueprint for racist attacks inflicted by some women upon “other” women. This results when women internalize racism and identify with the dominating race (including men)-instead of bonding with oppressed women. Racism is only possible when inflicted by the race possessing the most political and economic power (racism=prejudice+power over). Thus, women of dominated races cannot commit racism against women of the dominating race-only prejudice.
    Male violence against women of the same race is clearly seen as sexism. However, male violence against women of different races is often obscured by being seen as just racism instead of racism and sexism.
    •“Some women also exploit women sexually and economically
    Hatred and contempt of women-including themselves-is the underlying issue. Women who exploit other women identify with and see themselves through the eyes of the oppressor (male supremacists who have contempt for women).

    4. The absent referent
    The “absent referent” refers to something without naming it. Mary Daly in her book “Quintessence” wrote, “Naming the agent is required for an adequate analysis of atrocities.” As linguist Julia Penelope has shown in her book, “Speaking Freely: Unlearning the Lies of the Fathers’ Tongues,” “agent deletion is a dangerous and common mind-muddying flaw.”
    Agent deletion is common, concerning male violence against women. Timid terms such as “sexual violence,” “domestic violence” “gender-based violence,” and “violence” refer to men without naming them, even when describing instances when it was obviously men who raped hundreds of thousands of women in Bosnia, Darfur, Rwanda and many other nations.
    Even Amnesty International, which calls it “a global scourge,” uses the term “violence against women” and “sexual violence” instead of “male violence against women.”

    5. “Men also rape men and boys.”
    Rape is a male hate crime against women. However, the use of universalism (see #3) attempts to portray rape as a gender-neutral atrocity. The fact that men also rape men and boys doesn’t change the fact that in every nation on earth, in all levels of society, men rape women. Even when men rape males, contempt for women is the underlying issue. Men rape males to degrade them by treating them like raped women.
    If white supremacist men batter black men, it’s clearly seen as a racist hate crime, even though white men also batter white men. In the same manner, rape is a hate crime against women, even though men also rape men.

    6. “What we resist persists.”
    Sonia Johnson said this. Supposedly, opposing something directly “gives it more power.” However this only works in some situations such as being attacked physically. Also, if racism and sexism were not opposed directly in the U.S., black people would still be enslaved. Women would still be men’s property, unable to vote, own a business or keep their own wages. If the Nazis were not opposed directly, they would now run the world.
    Opposing women’s oppression directly is only one tactic. Another is using Sonia Johnson’s tactic of not confronting oppression directly in other situations where you aren’t under immediate threat of physical violence. This is done by being proactive by supporting women in their efforts to gain universal human rights. This can be done by volunteering at women’s shelters, donating to groups that help women in impoverished nations and many other ways. Both tactics are necessary.

    7. The “passive voice”
    In English grammar, using the passive voice (women were raped by men) instead of the active voice (men raped the women) shifts the focus from the perpetrators and their actions (men doing the raping) to their victims (the women being raped).

    8. “Boys will be boys”
    Patriarchal cultures promote “nature over nurture” (biological determinism) and claim men are “naturally violent.” This legitimizes and perpetuates war and men’s abuse of women. Abnormal violent “manhood” is regarded as the norm.
    However, men are naturally peaceful. Archaeological evidence shows men enjoyed and maintained 1,500 years of peace in ancient Crete! It’s proven today by famous non-violent men such as Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr. and many other men who organize against warfare and who speak out against male violence against women.
    It takes years of traumatic conditioning (while being immersed in a violent society) to make men violent. “Military training camps, police academies and even some self-defense pros are constantly searching for more effective methods of suppressing the human revulsion to taking human life.” – See “The Science of Creating Killers”
    If men were “naturally violent,” years of brutal conditioning by violent media and in boot camps would not be needed.

    9. “Societies were always patriarchal and men have always dominated women”
    Thousands of years of women’s history has been nearly erased by patriarchal men. Marija Gimbutas, the world renowned archaeologist who wrote “Goddesses and Gods of Old Europe” unearthed many relics from around the world that proves men didn’t always dominate women and that women and men once shared power in peaceful non-patriarchal Goddess worshipping. societies. Riane Eisler’s book “The Chalice and the Blade” cites many more instances proving this.

    “Democracy does not yet exist anywhere”
    Robin Morgan wrote “The Demon Lover” which is a study of the link between terrorism in the home (domestic violence or more accurately, male violence against women in the home) and global terrorism. Terrorism, both in the home and the world, supports patriarchy and is a necessary component.
    Morgan said, “The majority of the population in virtually all nation states is female and is forced by patriarchy to obey, be silent, and acquiesce-which means that ‘democracy’ does not yet exist anywhere. What happens then when that majority refuses to obey?”
    The necessary foundation for the creation of democracy is universal human rights for women. This can not be achieved unless global male violence against women is eradicated.

  29. wow, thank you for that post Utopia bold!
    Much of the literature you mentioned is new to me.

  30. Utopia Bold, men are 88% of convinced criminals but rape and other male violence against women (and children!) is hardly EVER punished. And these to things are the most frequent crimes or among the most frequent violent crimes. Thus males commit way more than 90% of all violence. And women are punished for murder more because men are often excused for killing in “passion” which is not equated with murder in Germany (and is punished less severely). See how statistics are made to hide male violence? Add to this that the violence against prostitues does not seem to be counted in with the “regular” violence against women or violence against “regular” women (and prostitues get a lot of rape and battery). + Men who murder their families and themselves are not to be found in prisons, too.

    The claim that women are as violent as men is stupid beyound I don’t even know what. One of the biggest lies ever told in human history. I haven’t counted the percentages yet, but it will probably be something like 97% or more of all violence is male violence. In wars and genocides worldwide less than 1% of violence was commited by women (“Gender and War by Goldstein). + Many women who kill, kill their abusers. The same hardly applies to men.

  31. I first ran across this study on the New York Times site. The good ol’ MRAs were out in full force, of course, with the whole “women rape men, too!” schtick. I don’t know why I torture myself by reading the comments [on every other site but this one]. They are terrorists – and I think that from this point on, I will make a point of changing my vocabulary to “domestic terrorism” instead of whatever other PC word of the day…

    I’m guessing none of you watch, but this season of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills has been a case study on domestic terrorism/the female bonding problem. (The rest of the shows are, of course, a case study on how women absorb and internalize the patriarchy’s fantasy of women…i.e., mortifying.)

    Cherry & everyone else – Do you have any reading recommendations for a history of the burning times?

  32. Caliban and the witch is a good book on the subject. Dworkin and daly address it in different places too.

  33. Domestic terrorists are what they are, and domestic terrorism is what they do. This is very accurate, and I agree that we should call them what they are, from now on.


    Great article Cherry.

  35. “Domestic terrorists are what men are and domestic terrorism is what they do”..Great FCM.

    LIke Andrea Dworkin said, I name abuse men do to women and immediately get the stories about what women did to them. A man at a workshop on sexism told me ‘My girlfriend hit me and broke my leg”,. I asked what happened next. He said he called the police, they came quickly, believed him, arrested her. She did time in jail. I said that if he were a woman the police may not have come at all, or taken too long to get there. There’s a very big chance they would have arrested her as well. And jail time for him? I tried to explain that even in the case of being assauklted, he got justice because he is a man. Nothing works like that for women.

  36. Amynomene, you might find this film in six parts interesting.

    The Burning Times Documentary – Part 1

  37. The Burning Times is an NFB film that is part of a three part series on womyn’s spirituality. It was produced by a feminist film group funded by the NFB (Canada’s award winning film creation body, federaly government funded) and I believe it was called Studio D (could be wrong on that, it’s been a long time)
    if you access it through this link you can find the other two films in the trilogy as well:

    GREAT post btw!! and the comments? FAB-ULOUS!

  38. wow, thanks for the link to the documentary, it’s great.

    There’s also this piece from Barbara Ehrenreich and Deirdre English, it talks about the burning times but also about how the male medical profession continued the suppression of women after the burning times. “Witches, Midwives, and Nurses A History of Women Healers”:

  39. Feuerwerferin, I’m going to Germany, have you heard of this radfem week over xmas?

  40. 1) Thanks for the viewing/reading suggestions – have a feeling I’m going to need some Kleenex nearby when I watch that.

    2) Back to the original question of “can women escape from men?” for a moment. It seems to me that the radical separatists of the 70s DID and DO that, to the extent possible on this planet. From my perspective as a Gen X/Y woman, I have to wonder if the cultural ramifications of separatism (i.e., radical feminists being no longer visible in general society) were worth the experiment. Part of me is envious of them and would love to join them and part of me thinks that disappearing does some real damage.

    3) I happened to be reading “Pornography” last night, and ran across this apropos passage: “Even when faced with the probable extinction of themselves at their own hand, men refuse to look at the whole, take all the causes and all the effects into account, perceive the intricate connections between the world they make and themselves. … Male dissociation from life is not new or particularly modern, but the scale and intensity of this disaffection are new. And in the midst of this Brave New World, how comforting and familiar it is to exercise passionate cruelty on women.”

    Words written over 30 years ago that are nothing if not amplified a thousandfold today.

  41. He compares her to the standards society sets for a wife. He never compares her to *himself*` . THis can only mean in his mind she’s not quite as human as he is.

    whoa, bingo. THANK YOU CHERRY!!

  42. I am indeed tattooing that on my forehead, btw. Or perhaps my arm. Anyway, it’s BEYOND perfection, whoa. Maybe I’ll print it up on little business cards, bumper sticker or perhaps a t-shirt. Radfemhug (hee hee keeping that typo) you got an online store yet?

  43. 🙂
    Glad you liked that mAndrea 🙂

  44. witchwind, I’m sorry for being late. But still, please give me a link to the event or tell me how I can find it. I’d LOVE to participate next time.

  45. I know a little about the women’s land movement, which was mostly lesbian and separatist.

    I think the kind of separatism that exists it seems more of a social and political choice. Most of the rural/community lesbians I know prefer to socialize w/ women, and many of their friendships are w/ women they live with in community or did political organizing with, back when there were lots of women’s groups and feminism was more active.
    Not one of them has ever told me ‘I refuse to socialize with men’ I can’t imagine they would ever look for a male friend. Their lives are built around women, and some of them live in intentional communities where there are no male visitors or just occasionally, and during the day, like someone’s brother coming to visit.

    What does separatism mean for those of us who are younger, or might not be lesbian?

    After working with men or doing political organizing with them, I always come to the same conclusion: I get tired of their
    egos and selfishness and would much rather work with women. I also see no advantage to male friendships, either – the only reason I have male friends at the moment is that they have time.

  46. Great stuff, thanks to the author and all other contributors!

    Want to make a correction/addition re: Sonia Johnson– “Telling the Truth” is not a book, it’s a chapter in her great book “Going Out of Our Minds: The Metaphysics of Liberation”. The other references to Johnson, I believe, also come out of this same book. FYI 🙂

  47. Thanks very much for this thorough and thoughtful piece. I agree with your conclusion, quoted below. I also think it is important–absolutely critical to our survival–that we discover the necessary truth imbedded within your quote of Barry, and UtopiaBold’s quote of Sonia Johnson.

    “It is important that we keep pointing out how dangerous men are to women, lest we forget:”

    Yes–we must do this, lest we forget…and also to continue bringing this truth to womyn who have yet to understand. To continue to re-member for ourselves and teach others, too, we must continue to bring attention to the horrors enacted upon womyn throughout history. We must put our attention to, and feminist analysis of, current events that demonstrate the ongoing violence and oppression of womyn enacted in every aspect of our lives. Only by dis-covering and naming the hidden parts of misogynist history, and clearly linking those events to present times, can we fully illuminate the patriarchy’s systemically entrenched hatred and possession of womyn and the truth of our lives within it.

    Yet, if we are to change this world, we cannot forget the equally-critical truths spoken by Barry and Johnson. Both give important clues regarding the other side of this work of radical feminism: the work of freeing ourselves *to* create another life, *by* creating another life for ourselves. There is so much power in seeing the truth of our oppression and the male violence that perpetuates it. There is also great risk of perpetuating our paralysis, by exclusive focus on the horrors of misogyny and our oppression.

    “The only way we can come out of hiding, break through our paralyzing defenses, is to know the full extent of sexual violence and domination of women…In knowing, in facing directly, we can learn how to chart our course out of this oppression. (Barry, 1979, in Loving to Survive)”

    “…we CAN learn how to chart our course out of this oppression.” Oh, yes. To re-member ourselves most fully, we must take a fearless, self-and-life-loving, joyful and boldly creative hold of this truth our being.

    I do not suggest that this will be ‘easy’ or ‘without ferocious backlash’. I do most intently assert that it is possible, and entirely necessary for our freedom to be, that we put ourselves with fierce, intelligent dedication to our loving and creative capacities to get free.

    “6. “What we resist persists.”
    …Supposedly, opposing something directly “gives it more power.” However this only works in some situations…if racism and sexism were not opposed directly in the U.S., black people would still be enslaved. Women would still be men’s property, unable to vote, own a business…
    Opposing women’s oppression directly is only one tactic. Another is using Sonia Johnson’s tactic of not confronting oppression directly in other situations where you aren’t under immediate threat of physical violence. This is done by being proactive by supporting women in their efforts to gain universal human rights. This can be done by volunteering at women’s shelters, donating to groups that help women in impoverished nations and many other ways. Both tactics are necessary.”

    I can agree with much of UtopiaBold’s analysis here; yes, direct opposition has a necessary place in our toolboxes. Still, for me her suggestions for pro-active support are incomplete. I do see value in our support of womyn’s efforts toward rights, such actions as volunteering at womyn’s shelters and donations to womyn-supporting groups worldwide. I think we sell ourselves short to stop at these things, however, and this difference of opinion lies in my interpretation of ‘what we resist, persists’ that brings me to some further conclusions concerning appropriate actions.

    “What we resist, persists” is an idea, like many metaphysical ideas, which has been brought into awareness by what is called ‘the New Age Movement’ but is actually about the dis-covery of ancient, pre-patriarchal metaphysical understandings that were lost in time to patriarchy (there is actually little if anything about ‘New Age’ stuff, metaphysically, or in terms of healing modalities and lifestyle, that is new at all–it is a re-claiming RE ‘newing’ movement). That said…’what we resist, persists’ goes deeper than what UB suggested above.

    One way to approach it is to say–first womyn (it seems) begin to realize that something is very wrong. We feel our persistent underlying fear and all the bargains we make in daily life to soothe the gnawing of our fear–deep dread prompted by our mostly unconscious awareness of the wrathful, greedy beast of mensworld hatred of us. Maybe it arises as a result of particular events of abuse, or as depression, grief, anger, anxiety…we get a grip on this ‘something wrongness’. We find feminism somehow, or find it deeper and more than before, whether intentionally or by happy coincidence…and now the truth is available to us, and we understand the fear, and from that our rage is born–is brought to light from deep within us. We need so desperately, body and soul, to see the truth of the mensworld and all the ways it hurts us (and our children and all of life), just as truly do we need our rage if we are to survive. To go on living with integrity, we need our rage with its power to move us to ever-clearer, finer analysis of patriarchy as it invades every aspect of life and ourselves–and we need the power of rage to move us beyond paralysis into action.

    And in an exclusive focus upon the real evils of patriarchy, which naturally continues to fuel our rage, we risk the persistence of that which we resist. Most simply put, the conflagration of our rage will burn us up as surely as it burns anything else–if we persist in feeding only our rage. Patriarchy loves nothing more than when womyn will destroy themselves–particularly when we destroy ourselves in the very act of resisting patriarchy! Patriarchy persists in us by our adoption of its own violence-motif…for rage does indeed incite violence of various sorts, and this is a necessary function of rage in our self-preservation. And when we choose to remain situated in rage on behalf of resistance, we do violence to ourselves–and to each other– in the end.

    For the aware, intelligent, enraged womyn, it becomes easier and easier to apply radfem analysis to everything, everything, in this life created through patriarchy. When we are done deconstructing patriarchy in politics, we can move to patriarchy in medicine, food, industry, work, economics, entertainment, fashion, education…there is no end, because Every. Thing. Is. Made. From. Patriarchy, with its will to own, consume, violate, murder womyn, children, nature, mind. Womyn need to participate in this analysis, to keep the re-membering going forward….lest we ourselves forget, lest any other womyn be missed in our re-membering…lest the fires of rage subside entirely into complacency.

    And still–we need more than our rage, or what we resist will continue to persist, within ourselves and ultimately destroying us. We need our love if we are to thrive, and it is so hard for love to thrive where rage is foremost. We need our joy and simple enjoyment in being. We need to make space where we can imagine other ways to do life. We need our courage to dream and to experiment with being womyn as individuals and within groups…even knowing how hard and daunting the tasks will be because ‘men own it all’, ‘men are so violent’, ‘the men won’t let us get away with it’. Well, they cannot truly own us, our hearts and minds, they cannot really stop us from doing this work….not unless we allow them to, in part by our willing focus on all they are, and all they do, and too fiercely focussed on our rage that is but ONE PART of what we need to get free.

    We need to dis-cover, and re-member, and put to good use, all elements of our whole selves, if we are to “learn to chart our course out of oppression” and into a womyn honoring, life-nurturing life.


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