Why is violence against women so endemic?

Posted on 05/12/2018 by

I don’t know where you were last week when you learnt about the “top bloke” who had just killed his two little boys (and himself) by driving off a jetty in Port Lincoln, South .

I was with my younger daughter and she was weeping as she read the story. “How could any father do that?” she asked.

Perhaps you wept too, or shuddered with a mixture of disgust and fury, or were simply left frozen by the senselessness of yet another example of destructive male force.

We tell ourselves it is worse elsewhere – that female genital mutilation in Africa, sex trafficking in Asia, acid burning in Pakistan, widow burning in India, mob attacks in Algeria, female infanticide in China, honour killings throughout South Asia and Middle East, that all these atrocities constitute far worse depredations against women than anything we see in so-called “civilised” society.

Why is domestic violence the leading cause of death for women under the age of 45 in , one woman killed on average every week? How is it that one in four children are exposed to domestic violence and that “familicide”, the murder-suicide of children and a parent in the context of custody or access disputes, is so common?

Is it because – and here’s something to chew over guys – a brutal misogyny actually permeates every society in the world?

Many years ago I spoke to Peter O’Connor, a Jungian therapist and best-selling author about the rage and sorrow of men. Men were compelled to know, to be right, to be in control, especially of their emotions.

Women, on the other hand, were generally more at home with their intuitive, feeling sides; with life’s ambiguities and uncertainties. That’s why so many men felt threatened by women. Women symbolised a world over which men had little control. The enemy, as they say, was within.

David Leser is a former Fairfax staff writer

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