By Yvonne Sam
Recently, I witnessed a couple heatedly engaged in a discussion that quickly rose to the level of a screaming match. Tempers soon flared and the foul invectives emerged, like unguided missiles, as it became apparent that neither party was making any effort to back down.
In the heat of the verbal exchange, the female involved, raised her hand and struck the male right in the face. Misplaced courage or a cry for power outage? Unclassified simplicity or merely plain stupidity?
The female may not have realized it, but she, apparently, did not regard the male as a victim, just because he is a man. Additionally, she is also aware that, should he defend himself, or fight back, the boys in blue just might take him away, regardless of the fact that the female threw the first punch. She is further aware that, in most cases, the law is on her side, no matter what, and out there, is a legion, if not an army of women, who have been battered and will rally to her aid and cause.
The majority of women would say he ought not to hit her back, that a man ought never to strike a woman. I’ve got it Sisters, I fully understand the concept, but I would like, from my humble stance, to proffer an alternative idea: no one deserves to be either abused or hit.
As we look closely at the indispositions of domestic violence, we must realize that domestic violence is not just about females and children. There is a growing number of males, who endure both physical and psychological abuse at the hands of their female lover, spouse, significant other — and they suffer in silence. We must realize that men and women are human beings, and that one’s safety in the home should not be valued over another.
We have lived for a long time in a society that says, and views, men as being strong, and also that they are less than men, if they allow a woman to beat them up. Remember, not every female is a frail individual. There are females, who can deliver a punch with the same velocity as that of Muhamed Ali.
I know several males, and I respect why they would never hit a woman. However, I must unreservedly admit that I would be concerned about their position, should a woman put her hands on them. Men are not allowed any excuse for striking a woman. It does not matter if he is under any stress, his health, it does not matter in the least, if she provoked him verbally or physically. Plainly stated: men ought not to hit. Not taking sides, but I feel this is a serious double standard that must be addressed, as we tackle the issue of domestic violence.
There are many females who know their breaking point. They are fully conscious of what words or actions would drive down the path to abuse and violence. Many feel justified in whatever cause would provoke them: males unfortunately are not allowed this leeway. Males are human beings, just like us women. They have feelings, and they can also be provoked to behave totally out of character.
Is it correct for me to know that if a man spat in my face I would have a hard time restraining myself against hitting him, but feel that if I spit in his face he should automatically be the symbolic pillar of restraint, and he had better not conjure up any thought or hitting me. Sorry Sisters, but such is unreasonable, hypocrisy, and a terrible double standard.
The clarion has been sounded for us, as people, to summon our humanity for all…..not merely our own gender. We should not only reach out to our sisters, who are hurting as a result of domestic violence, but also to our brothers.
Domestic violence is not just about women…it’s about human beings. We must stand with all people, who are victims of domestic violence.
Yvonne Sam, a retired Head Nurse and Secondary School Teacher, is the Chair of the Rights and Freedom Committee at the Black Community Resource Centre. A regular columnist for over two decades with the Montreal Community Contact, her insightful and incursive articles on topics ranging from politics, human rights and immigration, to education and parenting have also appeared in the Huffington Post, Montreal Gazette, XPressbogg and Guyanese OnLine. She is also the recipient of the Governor General of Canada Caring Canadian Citizen Award.