In a culture rife with guns and violence, homicide and genocide can occur anytime and anywhere, so we must always be vigilant. We’re all vulnerable to an attack by serial killers, terrorists, drug addicts and other armed and dangerous men in the midst of felonious crime. Women who live alone are among the most at risk.
Rape is also a violent criminal act , which has been receiving increased media attention. Some progress is being made in enacting laws that acknowledge the seriousness of the crime. Plus the definition of rape is under closer examination and taking on broader meanings. Women are sometimes found less culpable in assuming the burden of proof. Rapes on college campuses are undergoing closer scrutiny: this is a welcome advancement in our understanding of the profound effects of personal violation.
Many women are taking a proactive stance, investing in pepper spray, mace, stun guns, tasers and home protection. More are training in boxing or marshall arts, to be able to defend themselves against possible attack. Some have large dogs as pets. And others are arming themselves with guns: while I won’t advise this, I will say that this is a very personal choice and anyone who decides to invest in a fire arm should learn to use it responsibly.
Murder, rape, sexual assault and other violent crimes sometimes happen within or near our home. The perpetrator may be another family member—perhaps our husband or our father—or he may be a close family friend. We’re often shocked and confused when it happens, because it drastically changes our perception of life, rips away our sense of security, and leads us to question our core beliefs in humanity. It’s ironic that men who have been our traditional means of protection are of the same species as the men we fear today. Sometimes it’s difficult to draw the line between protector and killer. But when a man we trust is guilty of assault or domestic abuse—and especially when we’re the victim—it’s a profound form of betrayal. Gavin de Becker, renowned author of The Gift of Fear: Survival Signals that Protect us from Violence wrote, “Most men fear getting laughed at or humiliated by a romantic prospect while most women fear rape and death.”
I’ve said this before but it bears repeating: If you find yourself in a relationship where there are signs of physical or sexual abuse, or any threat of violence, seek outside help without delay. You can try marriage counseling. If the problem escalates, plan a covert way to escape. The domestic abuse hotline at 800-799-SAFE offers confidential support 24/7. If you’re in imminent danger, call 911.Certainly not all men demonstrate a propensity for perpetrating violence or committing sexual assault. But we need to remember some may be closer to an assault than we might imagine. And yes, women have also been known to commit murder and assault. But recent statistics have shown the vast majority of crimes were still committed by men with around 88% of homicides and 75% of all legal felonies. According to government statistics from the US Department of Justice, male perpetrators constituted 96% of federal prosecution on domestic violence. I don’t mean to make light of the fact that part of the explanation for this is that men have the hormone testosterone, which historically has sometimes been linked to a male tendency toward violence. However, Scientific American reports that “The latest research about testosterone and aggression indicates that there’s only a weak connection between the two. And when aggression is more narrowly defined as simple physical violence, the connection all but disappears.” Other sources indicate there is a connection between testosterone levels and aggressive or violent behavior. The Nonviolent Choice says, “Regardless of a man’s testosterone levels, hormones should never be accepted as a means to justify or rationalize violence or any other form of antisocial behavior. However, the clearly apparent correlation between higher testosterone levels and the propensity for violent behavior is not something to disregard.”
Beyond the need for protection from physical or sexual violence, women need protection—both legal and personal— in virtually every aspect of our lives including:
- Protection from discrimination at work, including sexual and other forms of harassment.
- Protection of our reproductive rights
- Consumer protection from fraud and other forms of misrepresentation.
- Financial protection from identity theft and other illegal practices threatening our income and savings.
- Adequate insurance protection.
- Protection from unsafe environmental conditions.
- Protection from fire, or other threats to our personal safety.
- Legal protection to provide us freedom to express ourselves without fear of unjust reprisal.
This is just a partial list. Men need protection, too. And they actively pursue it. Protection is one of our rights as citizens. There’s no guilt or shame in needing and even demanding it.
If there’s been one positive outcome based on our growing awareness of the dark side of human nature, and in particular men in this context, it’s that women have become increasingly independent, taking more responsibility for their emotional, physical, and financial wellbeing. This releases men from the psychological burden and the incumbent stress of being the sole provider and protector for their families. And it’s leading us to a more balanced society in terms of equal rights for both genders.
More information available to the public to further bring awareness to the need for humane treatment of women is vital. Women as well as men can help raise our consciousness of the need for sufficient protection for everyone.
Mary Kathryn “M.K.” Jones
Founder of WomenWho Walk the Talk™