Wife Battering Is A Serious Issue That Is Usually Looked At By Feminis Essay
Wife Battering Is A Serious Issue That Is Usually Looked At By Feminists As One Of The
Most Relevant Signs Of The Oppression Of
Wife Battering is a serious issue that is usually looked at by feminists as one of the
most relevant signs of the oppression of women. This form of oppression symbolizes the
fight women have against the patriarchy and it's hold on social freedoms.
There are different spheres which women fight in, music and the music industry is one
example of an arena of struggle. Wife Battery is a subject usually delved into by feminist
bands or female song-writers, but it takes on a different light when written about and
performed by an all male team. With the different perspective comes a new way to prevent
this social dilemma.
"The Watchmen" and "Matchbox 20" are both male rock bands which have hit the top forty
again and again, and who explore the issue of domestic violence. The Watchmen are a
Canadian band that gets at least a gold record with every album they release. Matchbox 20,
are from the US and sold over 5,000,000 copies of their debut album, with "Push" being one
of their biggest songs.
The media is a huge sphere of influence in our society, and music is a part of that sphere
of influence. The songs Run and Hide and Push both hold reign as popular songs by popular
bands so they send their messages even louder than most forms of protest. The fact that
the songs are by male artists can only strengthen that voice as wife battery is usually a
"female" issue when brought to the public. In this paper I will analyze the effect of the
music and it's genres on the social issue of wife battery and examine the topic of
domestic violence itself. The artists I have chosen represent the "male voice" of not just
feminist protest, but also of the fight for equality and freedom.
There are many definitions for domestic violence, the definition that will be used in this
paper is "violence between heterosexual adults who are living together or who have
previously lived together in a conjugal relationship."(MacLeod, 1980). While the topic of
abuse in lesbian and gay relationships is still an important issue, it broadens the main
topic of this paper a little to much to me mentioned.
Most reported cases of abuse in the domestic household have to do with wife abuse and the definition of that is:
...violence, physical and/or psychological, expressed by a husband or a male or lesbian
live-in loveer toward his wife or his/her live-in lover, to which the "wife" does not
consent, and which is directly or indirectly condoned by the traditions, laws, attitudes
prevalent in the society which it occurs (MacLeod, 1980).
This kind of violence occurs within every facet of society and not just those of low-income of class.
There are four types of violence: physical, sexual, emotional and social abuse and each
type forms a continuum from minor to major lethality (Tolman, 1997). The most obvious form
of violence is physical abuse. This begins with lack of consideration for the physical
comfort or needs of others (forgetting a person is waiting for a ride or walking too
quickly for a child to keep up), pushing; shoving; hair-pulling escalates to action like
punching, bruising and broken bones or injuries which need medical care. Finally,
permanent injury can result, using weapons and even murder.
A part of physical abuse is sexual abuse. On a continuum this begins with the
objectification of women through jokes, humiliating or degrading comments and name
calling, it escalates to uncomfortable touching, demands for sex or punishment by
rejection of her as a sexual partner. As well, forcing sex after a beating, using weapons
to force sex or for sexual manipulation, causing permanent injury and ultimately murder
Another form of violence is emotional abuse. It includes those behaviors that are done
directly to the person to render her helpless and totally dependent on the abuser. This
begins with jokes about her habits and faults as a women, ignoring her feelings, screaming
and yelling menacingly during arguments and repeated uses of insults and humiliation
tactics. Threatening to use physical/sexual abuse, blaming and unfounded accusations,
geographic isolation or making her stay in the home and destroying her possessions also
make up emotional abuse.
The last form of violence is social abuse. This includes the family that approves of
spanking and control of others and not self as a form of discipline; the family, church,
and school system that teaches rigid life roles to men and rewards actions rather than how
to solve problems and the showing of anger and depression to express feelings rather than
the whole "normal" range of emotions (Tolman, 1997).
Each year, 20,000 Saskatchewan women are abused by their husbands or male
partners(P.A.T.H.S., 1996).Violence against women is costly, a million women in Canada pay
the personal cost of abuse by their partners each year. The physical costs of abuse
include broken bones, burns, internal injuries, knife and gunshot wounds. These physical
effects can lead to permanent physical or mental disabilities. Between 60% and 80% of
assaulted women seed professional medical care. The Psycological costs of abuse lead to
low self-esteem, fear and isolation. Compared to women who have not been abused as adults,
40% more battered women report using drugs to sleep, and 74% more battered women report
using drugs to relieve anxiety. (P.A.T.H.S., 1997)
It has been shown that domestic violence happens equally among women and men, it is just
then women are much more likely to show the results of such behavior due to the extra
muscle mass males possess and their likelihood of using weapons. More than 17% of all
reported cases of domestic violence use tools (MacLeod, 1980), perhaps for more
intimidation and fear. This kind of violence is much more apt to end in death at well. In
1975 out of 107 reported murders in immediate families, 49 ended with the husband killing
the wife compared with only eight where the wife killed the husband. (MacLeod 1980).
Violence against women in Canada takes a variety of forms including physical assault,
sexual assault, sexual harassment, psychological abuse and emotional abuse. Not all
violence leaves scars. The many forms of violence against women lie on a continuum which
runs from the sexist jokes to domineering forms of behavior, sexual harassment, battering
and murder. While it is obvious that some forms of violence have a greater physical or
emotional impact than others, all forms of violence contribute to the very real fear and
suffering that women in our society endure.
Theory of Domestic Violence
The theory of learned helplessness sought to account for the passive behavior subjects
exhibited when placed in an uncontrollable environment. In the late 60's and early 70's,
Martin Seligman, a famous researcher in the field of psychology, conducted a series of
experiments in which dogs were placed in one of two types of cages. In the former cage,
henceforth referred to as the shock cage, a bell would sound and the experimenters would
electrify the entire floor seconds later, shocking the dog regardless of location. The
latter cage, however, although similar in every other respect to the shock cage, contained
a small area where the experimenters could administer no shock. Seligman observed that
while the dogs in the latter cage learned to run to the non-electrified area after a
series of shocks, the dogs in the shock cage gave up trying to escape, even when placed in
the latter cage and shown that escape was possible. Seligman theorized that the dogs'
initial experience in the uncontrollable shock cage led them to believe that they could
not control future events and was responsible for the observed disruptions in behavior and
learning. Thus, according to the theory of learned helplessness, a subject placed in an
uncontrollable environment will become passive and accept painful stimuli, even though
escape is possible and apparent.
In the late 1970's, Dr. Walker drew upon Seligman's research and incorporated it into her
own theory, the battered women's syndrome, in an attempt to explain why battered women
remain with their abusers (Brown, 1995). According to Dr. Walker, battered women's
syndrome contains two distinct elements: a cycle of violence and symptoms of learned
helplessness. The cycle of violence is composed of three phases: the tension building
phase, active battering phase and calm loving respite phase.
During the tension building phase, the victim is subjected to verbal abuse and minor
battering incidents, such as slaps, pinches and psychological abuse. In this phase, the
woman tries to pacify her batterer by using techniques that have worked previously.
Typically, the woman showers her abuser with kindness or attempts to avoid him. However,
the victim's attempts to pacify her batter are often fruitless and only work to delay the
inevitable acute battering incident.
The tension building phase ends and the active battering phase begins when the verbal abuse and
minor battering evolve into an acute battering incident (Brown, 1995). A release of the
tensions built during phase one characterizes the active battering phase, which usually
last for a period of two to twenty-four hours. The violence during this phase is
unpredictable and inevitable, and statistics indicate that the risk of the batterer
murdering his victim is at its greatest. The batterer places his victim in a constant
state of fear, and she is unable to control her batterer's violence by utilizing
techniques that worked in the tension building phase. The victim, realizing her lack of
control, attempts to mitigate the violence by becoming passive. After the active battering
phase comes to a close, the cycle of violence enters the calm loving respite phase or
"honeymoon phase." During this phase, the batterer apologizes for his abusive behavior and
promises that it will never happen again. The behavior exhibited by the batter in the calm
loving respite phase closely resembles the behavior he exhibited when the couple first met
and fell in love. The calm loving respite phase is the most psychologically victimizing
phase because the batterer fools the victim, who is relieved that the abuse has ended,
into believing that he has changed. However, inevitably, the batterer begins to verbally
abuse his victim and the cycle of abuse begins anew.
According to Dr. Walker, Seligman's theory of learned helplessness explains why women stay
with their abusers and occurs in a victim after the cycle of violence repeats numerous
times (Brown, 1995). As noted earlier, dogs who were placed in an environment where pain
was unavoidable responded by becoming passive. Dr. Walker asserts that, in the domestic
abuse ambit, sporadic brutality, perceptions of powerlessness, lack of financial resources
and the superior strength of the batterer all combine to instill a feeling of helplessness
in the victim. In other words, batterers condition women into believing that they are
powerless to escape by subjecting them to a continuing pattern of uncontrollable violence
and abuse. Dr. Walker, in applying the learned helplessness theory to battered women,
changed society's perception of battered women by dispelling the myth that battered women
like abuse and offering a logical and rationale explanation for why most stay with their
As the classical theory of battered women's syndrome is based upon the psychological
principles of conditioning, experts believe that behavior modification strategies are best
suited for treating women suffering from the syndrome. A simple, yet effective, behavioral
strategy consists of two stages. In the initial stage, the battered woman removes herself
from the uncontrollable or "shock cage" environment and isolates herself from her abuser.
Generally, professionals help the victim escape by using assertiveness training, modeling
and recommending use of the court system. After the woman terminates the abusive
relationship, professionals give the victim relapse prevention training to ensure that
subsequent exposure to abusive behavior will not cause maladaptive behavior (Brown 1995).
Although this strategy is effective, the model offered by Dr. Walker suggests that
battered women usually do not actively seek out help. Therefore, concerned agencies and
individuals must be pro-active and extremely sensitive to the needs and fears of victims.
The classical battered women's syndrome is a theory that has its origins in the research of
Martin Seligman. Women in a domestic abuse situation experience a cycle of violence with their
abuser. The cycle is composed of three phases: the tension building phase, active battering phase
and calm loving respite phase. A gradual increase in verbal abuse marks the tension
building phase. When this abuse culminates into an acute battering episode, the
relationship enters the active battering phase. Once the acute battering phase ends,
usually within two to twenty-four hours, the parties enter the calm loving respite phase,
in which the batterer expresses remorse and promises to change. After the cycle has played
out several times, the victim begins to manifest symptoms of learned helplessness.
Behavioral modification strategies offer an effective treatment for battered women's
syndrome. However, Dr. Walker's model indicates that battered women may not seek the help
that they need because of feelings of helplessness.
The Male Music Scene
In the song Push, emotional and social abuse is stressed. At first glance or audio, the
song is stressing the physical acts of violence that make up domestic abuse. "Push" makes
one think of the physical act, but what Rob Thomas does is write/sing about the emotion
that is in a relationship and how one can be "brown-beaten" into doing something against
their will. The Lyrics for the song are: