MEN are getting wearily used to being cast as the villains these days, with women constantly portrayed as their helpless victims.
What made me think that progress was supposed to mean moving beyond such crude stereotypes? Or that feminism was supposed to assert female agency, not deny it? When it suits them, we might say.
Kathy Gyngell reported here on Monday how the Johnny Depp-Amber Heard abuse was not what many had assumed, with leaked recordings revealing the violence came from her, not him.
The myth of the peace-loving, passive and compliant woman has a powerful hold on our minds, despite all the cumulative evidence that women are often as prone to violence as men.
Indeed, domestic violence pioneer Erin Pizzey found that nearly two-thirds of female victims of domestic violence were also perpetrators and were better termed ‘violence-prone’.
Similarly, a 2014 study found women are more likely to be physically and verbally aggressive towards their partner than men, while UK government statistics from 2008-2009 found women in lesbian relationships almost three times as likely to experience domestic abuse as women in heterosexual relationships
A new study of Welsh young people has confirmed the violent tendencies of women, with more girls than boys saying they had carried out physical and emotional violence in a romantic relationship, and more boys than girls saying they had experienced physical violence. Seems Kipling was right.
Predictably, the Welsh government has used the survey (which showed a generally high incidence of dysfunction in teenage relationships) as part of its justification for introducing compulsory Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) in the country, overriding the 90 per cent of respondents to their consultation who opposed the plans.
This is despite the study that shows that what influences the health of young people’s relationships is whether they have been brought up living with both their parents, something that no amount of ’sex-ed’ can make up for.
We await the moment that governments and educational establishments join the dots on this, and stop lazily assuming that more (and more explicit) state sex education is what is needed.
By now it should be obvious it is part of the problem, as it aims – and often succeeds – in lowering children’s protective inhibitions and making them more open to early and experimental sexual experience.
Girls, like boys, need to grow up to understand that men are no more intrinsically wicked than women, and that they too need to control their violent and sexual impulses for the sake of building healthy relationships and families.
If they themselves are the children of angry men and women born of a fractured society where trust between the sexes has broken down, then it’s going to be a hard lesson to learn, inside or outside school.