I want to quickly blog about some social issues regarding interpersonal relationship violence and how we perceive it if the gender roles are reversed. I was recently watching 90 Day Fiancé–it’s a guilty pleasure of mine. I am aware of the horrible examples of relationships that it portrays and no, I do not let the kids watch it. The relationships are NOT healthy at all, in fact this is one reason that I keep watching. I am in shock that people think they have to accept that behavior from others.
When we hear relationship abuse our minds automatically jump to the conclusion that this is a male on female problem (in heteronormative relationships). Please keep in mind that homosexual relationship abuse is whole different dynamic and domestic abuse in the LGBTQIA community is still a silent epidemic. I am focusing on heterosexual dynamics in this blog so that we don’t get sidetracked.
I was stricken by a particular episode portraying a relationship between a young man and a young woman on “90 Day Fiancé.” I had a particular issue with one couple–Nicole and Azan. Firstly, Azan is from Morocco and Nicole is American. His culture is very different; their culture frowns upon PDA (public displays of affection). In a healthy relationship dynamic, the cultural differences can be enlightening and a beautiful learning experience. In the case of Nicole and Azan, their cultural norms were a point of dissension from day one; no one saw the way that they dealt with their differences as a red flag. I think this stems from early socialization in the home; we are not doing a good enough job of showing our children what healthy relationships look like.
Their relationship prompted me to research some of the episodes and see if I could find the scene where Nicole physically assaults Azan. She pushes him up against a bus after he sets a boundary with her. Now don’t get me wrong, he was verbally abusive to her as well; but mutual abuse is still abuse that is coming from both people. He set a boundary with her not to be affectionate in public, it is a cultural taboo for him. This boundary and how it was addressed is something that I felt should have been an easy fix: she should have respected him from the beginning and not let her needy insecurities dictate to HIM how he should adjust his beliefs. Her actions were terrible.
I searched the internet for the clip where she hits him… *chirp chirp.* Nothing. I found articles written about Azan and his abuse and how he chastised her for her weight and for her neediness, but nothing about her lashing out and PHYSICALLY assaulting him in public.
Women should not be hitting men, men should not be verbally berating women, and most importantly relationships should not be about power and control–they should be about compassion, learning, and love. The way that our society responds to female on male abuse is also problematic and I want to hone in on it.
I am a feminist and it is always assumed that I hate men–not true. I have two sons and a husband and I try to advocate for everyone’s equality. I do not agree with some of the information that the Psychologist in this video (Public Reactions to Women Abusing Men) puts out there: she states that men are abused more than women and that women abuse men more often. I am assuming that that is her subjective opinion. Last I checked, research indicates that men do not report due to stigma… and women make up more than half of our population and are abused at astounding rates. I am not sure where she draws her conclusions from. I am open to see more data to support her claim. More importantly I want to propose solutions.
Female aggression does exist and it is not approached the way that male aggression is. If you watched the above video link, note how law enforcement reacts to men being abused: not at all in most cases. This is not acceptable. I do not want my sons abused some day because we stigmatize men in need of help as being weak. We need better cultural training for public officials. We need better education regarding communication, emotional coping mechanisms, and interpersonal relationships.
Do not let your children think that abusive behaviors are normal. If you are unsure of what abuse in relationships looks like check out Signs of Abuse in Relationships. Your daughters should not see you abusing your partner, nor should your sons see it. Do not show them that abuse is normal. Be cognizant of the way you speak to one another, use more kindness and respect–it goes along way. If you or someone you know is being abused please know that there are resources there to help and you can start by calling The Hotline.