Men Behaving Badly (1)

Many who criticise me would want to ask on what basis I have de-bunked the idea that women are just as violent as men.

Here are a number of reasons:

The pain of experience...
In my pastoral ministry (17 years as a student and minister) I have only recently met a person who is getting abused by his wife. That is; in 17 years I have talked with blokes about the death of their spouses, the death of children, and the break-up of their marriage. Blokes have come and talked to me about their financial worries, and about struggling with sex. Some widowers have found it hard to deal with the deluge of middle aged women after them. Others want to talk about masturbation. Other men worry about how they treat their wives, or about the existence of God, or are as angry as hell with God, or struggle with depression or unemployment. Some are exhausted looking after sick wives, or Alzheimer wives. But only one man has had a problem with an abusive wife. I find it hard to believe that with all the personal stuff men talk about, that no one else has talked about violent wives if it's such a frequent problem!

On the other hand, my ministry has been over full with women who have been raped. I have had to protect women from violent husbands. I've sat and listened to men protest their love for their wife knowing full well their wife is scared to hell of them. It's become my standard practice to ask if their are families I should not visit because the woman will get beaten up for it... and often there are. I've had parishioners living under assumed names, hiding in fear of their lives.... Women talk about all the other things too, but there is a whole area where men basically have no worries.

In fact, my wife and I were once asked by a social worker what our experience had been of violence toward women. We did a count of the women we had known in parish ministry. The statistic was amazing. Anecdotal though it is, it is still sobering. We meet women at church. We sit on committees with them. But discounting them, and the women we know in that context, we found that seventy percent of the women we had got to know past "Good morning, how are you." had reported significant male violence in their lives. This was in good, middle class churches!

Now my experience is not a scientific sample. But frankly guys, it does not wash to say women are as violent as men. There are violent women to be sure. But to say it is on the level of men is just crap! Let's grow up!

Sept 2000



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