Article: The Language of Gender Violence

Important thoughts here about how the subtlety of language causes all of us to think of the most common scenario of gender violence (male violence towards women) as a women’s issue when in fact the perpetrators of the violence are the men, which means that it is clearly the violent men that have the issues, which makes it a men’s issue.

Instead of saying John beat Mary, which is most accurate, we say that Mary was beaten by John, which is a passive form of the statement placing Mary at the center and John in a passive position in regards to language, though he is in reality the violent aggressor. Even more common though, would be to say that Mary is a victim of domestic violence or a battered woman, and John disappears from the conversation altogether, even though he is at fault, he is the problem, he is the one with the issue that needs to be addressed and dealt with.

Eye opening. Men beat women. Men rape women. Men irresponsibly impregnate women. It feels shocking to even write that out though it is so much more accurate than the common language we use around these issues. Shows how distorted our perceptions have become regarding gender violence and the subtlety of patriarchy.

Written by Joseph Lee, M.D.

I'm a Psychiatrist in private practice in Redondo Beach, CA. I completed both medical school and residency training at UCLA. My practice is psychotherapy based with a health-oriented focus on personal growth and wellbeing. I also teach about mental healthiness and advocate for social emotional learning (SEL) in all contexts.

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