By Karla Mantilla and Jennie Ruby
The “My Boyfriend Is Not Violent” Defense—some people deny male violence by citing individual examples of men who are not violent, saying “My [cousin, brother, uncle, boyfriend] is not like that…”
Reality—Anecdotal evidence about one individual does not erase the statistical facts. Of course when we say that men commit over 90% of all violent acts, that does not mean that every man is violent. Nevertheless it is highly significant that nearly all violence is committed by men.
The “Not All Men Are Violent” Defense—Those who use this denial seem to have statistical dyslexia.
Reality—Saying most violence is committed by men is not the same as saying most men are violent, although people persistently hear it that way, almost no matter how carefully it is worded. Of course it is true that not all men are violent, but it is also true that a significant number of men are, and that they commit most of the violence in the world
The “Deranged Individuals” Defense—This denial ignores the pervasive nature of male-pattern violence and says that only psychologically damaged people are violent. Ordinary men are not violent or aggressive—it is only some deranged individuals who commit the violent acts.
Reality—This does not address the fact that most such individuals are men, which indicates that it is something about men that makes this particular derangement more likely. And it ignores the massive amount of domestic and other violence committed by otherwise quite ordinary men.
The “Some Women Are Violent Too” Defense—Some deniers of male violence cite examples of women committing violence as though that disproved that violence is predominantly a masculine phenomenon.
Reality—Again, this is anecdotal evidence and does not disprove a significant statistical fact.
The “Women Are Just As Violent as Men” Defense—Some arguers and even researchers redefine violence as “aggression” and then find ways that women use their own kind of aggression just as often as men use their methods (i.e., violence). Thus they argue that women can be just as violent as men, only they do it through the use of mean words and gossip instead of fists and weapons. They say that although boys may be overtly violent, girls are just as “mean.”
Reality—This is ridiculous: the idea that women are just as violent—only in nonviolent ways. No one has said that women can’t be mean, cruel, vindictive, etc. It is ridiculous to equate gossipping behind a woman’s back with raping her.
The “It’s Biological” Defense—Deniers using this defense admit it’s true that men are more violent than women, but they insist that men can’t help it, because they’re biologically programmed to be more violent.
Reality—If men do have a greater biological propensity toward violence, shouldn’t we do everything possible to work against that, say, by making sure boys have no contact with violent images, by teaching them techniques for overcoming violent tendencies, and so on? There are many ways we as humans overcome the difficulties of biology through culture and and technology—for example, we are born without fur but we create and wear clothing for warmth and protection.
The “Boys Will Be Boys” Defense—See the “it’s biological” defense.
The “That’s Male Bashing” Defense—Both men and women may accuse feminists of male bashing when we say men commit more violence than women.
Reality—This is just name-calling and counter-accusing with the intent of shutting up the person who is pointing out a predominantly male problem. And of course, the term “male-bashing” is widely used against feminists discussing sexism and other injustices committed by men. But if we must answer it as though it were a serious concern, we can say that acknowledging and talking about a statistical fact is not “bashing” of any kind. In what way does it harm males to point out the facts about behaviors that are predominantly done by men? The harm men do to women and other men through predominantly male patterns of violence far exceeds how much it could possibly hurt an individual to hear the truth about it.
The “Aggression is a Human Trait” Defense—This argument states that all people have the potential to be violent and aggressive.
Reality—(See also, the “It’s Biological” Defense.) By downplaying the fact that men commit the preponderance of violent acts, this argument makes us unable to analyze what exactly it is about masculinity or manhood that may create or encourage a propensity to violence. Without this analysis, we have less of a chance of changing and preventing violence.