I felt very frustrated yesterday when someone told me that to say “violence against women” is discriminatory, that it should be called “relationship violence”. I tried to point out that intimate partner violence is only one kind of violence against women. There are a range of gendered ways in which women are targeted for violence, not all of which are “domestic”. Erasing the language feminists have invented to describe the harms women disproportionately face is an attempt at silencing women.
I recognise that some kinds of feminism render women as innocent, always already victims and men as always already abusers. Reality, of course, is much more complex. Women are not innocent. Women are not victims. Men are not invulnerable to violence from other men and yes, from women. Many feminists are naming as gendered-based violence men’s violence towards each other. The kind of violence which makes many boys afraid to go to school, which causes many of them to arm themselves and which claims the lives of many, many young Caribbean men.
Gender ideologies structure the lives of both women and men. Men and women produce and reproduce gender in their everyday lives. Both women and men therefore have a stake in ending unequal and harmful relations of gender.
WomenSpeak is running a series of profiles to mark the 16 Days of Activism against Violence Against Women. CODE RED got in on the action with a quick interview with one of Barbados’ feminist activists. In Barbados, murders of women by their male intimate partners typically account for nearly half of all murders.