Real Men Don’t Beat, Rape Women

By Ted Esparza

Constance Johnson was a domestic violence prosecutor – and also a battered wife.

She met her husband, Ben, in college and fell in love. They got married and were very happy for three years.

But then he began criticizing her. Everything was her fault. He was always right. She was too fat (at 110 lbs).

After they moved near her husband’s aging parents to help them – Ben’s idea — the violence began. He hadn’t seemed happy since the move and one morning he decided he didn’t like his breakfast.

“Make it yourself.” Constance told him.

— SLAP —

“Did he really hit me?”

Next, Ben shoved her onto their bed and told her not to “make him” hit her again. Later, he said he was very sorry.

Eventually Ben and Constance both entered law school, but after Ben dropped out to take over the family business the abuse escalated. Constance graduated from law school and developed a successful practice. But the more successful she became, the more violent he got.

She finally left him for good after he held a gun to her head in a fury.

The story of Constance Johnson reveals a huge problem with patriarchy. Men learn that manhood is all about being number one, being in charge, never showing vulnerability, never expressing emotions, and transforming any “weak” feelings into anger and rage – “manly” emotions.

Men learn that they are supposed to be powerful. But they aren’t always.  And when they aren’t, too many try to create a sense of power by hurting women – including those they love. When they beat down a woman, or take over her body in rape, they feel strong, at least for a few moments.

In my mind the greatest problem with patriarchy, at least for men, lies in “tough guy” ideals that look powerful but actually reflect weakness.

Boys learn that “real men” don’t show emotion or reveal what’s hurting inside. But this only leads to an inability to deal with problems and personal trauma.

How is this manly?? It is not. It is childish. The “tough,” “domineering” ideals of patriarchy reduce men to children who can only express themselves through “grown up” temper tantrums that result in violence directed at others. I cannot for the life of me understand how this is considered manly.

We must redefine what it means to be a man – which is difficult because the redefinition MUST include traits that are considered feminine — like expressing emotion in a healthy way.

Manhood includes compassion and understanding, not narrow thinking and an over inflated sense of entitlement. It is understanding that women are essential to men’s very existence and loving them for that.

I will do my best to facilitate changes in my own life, and encourage my friends to take positive stances on sexism and what it means to be a man. I will also speak up when I see injustices occur, whether they be against women or anyone else.

I suspect I still do many things that are sexist without even realizing it, but that’s what the learning process is about: learning to make yourself into a better person – to the benefit of yourself and everyone else.

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About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on March 2, 2012, in feminism, gender, men, psychology, rape and sexual assault, sexism, violence against women, women and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 64 Comments.

  1. Aggression is not the sole cause of domestic abuse. Can men be aggressive? Sure they can and often are, but so can women. The problem lies in the feeling of superiority that men seem to manifest. Whether it be due to the portrayal of women in our society or in the unrealistic expectations of men in this society, most men feel threatened by women in power. Ben felt threatened by Constance’s defiance and strong will power as well as her continued success as a graduated law student. She was stronger and more successful than he was in every shape and form, and because of this he felt a need to assert what he believed were manly traits. Ben is an example of a insecure and arrogant man whom believed that simply due to his gender he had some form of superiority over his wife, demonstrating the damage of the social constructs that are in place in our culture.

  2. I think that it is really dumb that society looks at aggression as a male trait. There seems to be a need to be aggressive to feel powerful. I don’t feel like there is anyway for a man to justify hitting a women because it seems very childish. You can’t solve problems by just throwing a tantrum and hitting a women does not make you look powerful. To me it actually makes you look really weak. If there wasn’t a pressure for men and women to act in their own “gender” than men would not feel the need to act aggressive towards people to feel powerful. Then everyone can just be accepting of one another.

  3. Guilherme Paludeti

    Even though raping women might seem “manly” to some, it is the most unmanly thing a man can do. In my opinion raping a woman makes you seem like a loser and not someone I would like to be friends with. Minimizing rape can perhaps begin at a young age, changing the definition of what it means to be a real man. Have it be about being yourself and being comfortable with who you are. Nowadays men feel pressured to be “man” when in reality they aren’t anywhere remotely close to the way they’re acting. It all begins with the way man and woman judge each other, and just be yourself.

  4. I don’t think that hitting a woman is manly or masculine. But I think that men do this so that the women will fear the men so they feel like they have power over them. So I think that it makes men feel important going back to the post when the husband started hitting his wife after they moved next to his parents maybe he didn’t know how to deal with the fact that his parents were sick he turned to violence to let his emotions out. I think this also has to do with the way the way you were raised as a child if you are told that boys are always stronger and superior to girls then when they are older they are going to keep on doing that. Maybe he wasn’t told as a child not to hit women that doing that was bad. In my own experience when I was younger I was told that you never hit girls that something you cant do because men are always stronger than women so that wouldn’t be fair and it would be bad.

  5. I found the story interesting. I mean I know that there are many abusive relationships out there but I have never known what really happens in them or why. Though the question is that even with today’s society where we as people are reaching out to the boys, help the cause in anyway?
    The idea of being this macho guy is kinda what young boys are grown up to think about. To be this strong and emotionless guy. In class however we have learn some parents are helping boy not repress their emotion and instead let it out. With them letting out their emotion more and realize that they don’t have to be the topical/stereotypical idea of a manly man.

  6. Juan Leonardo

    I totally agree with this article. For me, being a man with all the manhood means doing the exact opposite of what Ben does. Gentlemen with manhood will, instead of beating women up, take care of women for being physically less strong. As the article said, men are raised to believe that they should fight. For me, this means that when they feel weak and powerless, instead of putting all the blame on women, they should challenge themselves to be better, and therefore able to protect their women. In this case, seeing Constance being more and more successful than himself, Ben should try to find a better job and make more money, and therefore regain his power and his ability to take care of Constance. All in all, the problem with men beating up women starts from the misunderstanding of the term manhood. All men knows is to posses more and more power. But when they are given the power they want, they eventually become corrupt and forget the principle of manhood.

  7. I agree with Mr. Esparza. Usually we hear sentences like “Quit bit*ching! Be a man” or “Boys don’t cry”… when a guy try to express his emotional problems. But if he are not able to express it by words, he will use actions. It’s so easy to hurt people out of anger and frustration, especially when his “masculinity” can be overpowering toward his woman. However, that is not an excuse for hitting women. I wonder why Constance did not leave Ben when he first hit her. She should’ve run right from the moment he laid his hands on her. She should’ve sought legal action against him and maybe he would learn how to treat his wife properly.

  8. Hi there, just wanted to tell you, I liked this article. It
    was helpful. Keep on posting!

  9. what the hell is manhood anyway?! acting all macho but still have the mentality of an immature child or actually having some feminine traits such as being allowed to express emotions and be willing to protect loved ones?! i mean why do some douche bags act all immature and stupid in a bid to achieve manhood , as well as beat up ,loved ones, and yet some women prefer THOSE idiots because they are seen as ” bad boys”?! i’d take the beta type any day as at least they can understand women, not try and act like a flipping Neanderthal!!!

  10. I think it is crazy when people are okay with a person putting their hands on another person. Even if they believe they are justified in doing so. If someone is yelling at you and what not, that is no reason to place your hands on them. If they are in your face they are wrong for that. You are better off walking away from the situation or standing away from them when they are speaking to you. The only time you may be justified in combat is when a person is in self defense. If someone is trying to attack you or about to come at you and it is in a menacing and threatening way, then you are going to make sure they are down before you run away. If you are fearful for your life you are going to defend yourself probably by any means necessary. I remember an article about a girl who yelled at a rapist and protected herself with a knife. She went to rescue her neighbor’s child from her apartment after the rapist’s victim ran into her room. You incapacitate them so they cannot harm you. You are going to fight for your life.

  11. This is not the attitude of a “real man”, but if that is the mentality of a “real man” then I want the opposite of that. Real men respect and value their woman. But also, the attitude some women have, and allow this to happen is just depressing. One must take a stand and end this cycle. After one hit, IT’S DONE. Women should not be beat at all. We are better than that ladies..

  12. It is a terrible thing in this country, but it is worse in my culture. In the place I was from, most adults, especially women didn’t get much education when they were young. They don’t even have the knowledge to identify their unequal position with men. When they are beat by their husband, they often think that it is their own problem, and they are afraid to do such thing to against their husband because they are relying on men, they don’t have the power to live by themselves.
    Men on the other hand know that women have the ability to against them when they have enough knowledge. In American society, men often are afraid of women become better or more powerful than them because they know that women have the same or better ability than them, and they are often working harder than men. In men’s mind, it is normal that they are in the main position, and it will be unequal for them if women stand on the same place with them, so they use their physical power to beat women and win their manhood back.

  13. Sarananda Osheim

    This story is really inspiring. It takes a lot of strength to continue a practice which grossly differs from your current lifestyle. Constance worked to stop the abuse she was experiencing herself. I feel this is often one of the most powerful forms of activism. She has first hand experience of the tortures of abuse, and can use that experience to fuel her passion the in the court house. I have seen this same drive while participating with a LGBTQ activist group in high school. Many of my peers were unable to come out to their families because of the traditional values they held. As a group we would go to marches, festivals, social events, and protests to stand up for equality. After it was all over, these individuals had to go back to their families, and had to live in a life they had protested only minutes before. These individuals were especially inspiring to me too, I was advocating for them.

  14. Ben was definitely not a good husband, and I also agree that real men don’t beat and rape women. Many men are like Ben, who want to be number one and be in charge of their family members. On the other hand, I believe not all men have the same opinion. There are still a lot of men who respect their wives, and sometimes their wives are in charge in their family. Some men who think they are supposed to powerful are lacking education or just aren’t healthy.

    Another interesting topic is what is a real man? In some families, men are afraid of their wives. Their wives make much more money than men; when they feel unhappy or have difficulties, they say angry things to their husbands and sometimes even batter them. Obvious, these men would never ever beat or rape their wives, so my question is are these men real men? Most people would say not. But why? The main reason is they are making less money than their wives, and they leave too much pressure and problems to their wives.

    The main thing is most women still think men should mainly support their family; if wives are usually very busy making money and supporting a family, they would not be happy and think this is not fair. So I think real men are not just men who don’t beat and rape women, they also need to be very competent, to be good at making money and support their family; in addition, they need to be very respectful to their wives, care them and give them love. To be honest, to be a real man is not easy at all.

    • From your name it looks like you may have come from a non-U.S. culture, and some cultures are even more conservative than ours is.

      In the U.S. men who believe in equality don’t get upset when women make more money than them. So negative reactions vary from man to man. Some are like that and some aren’t.

      And I actually know women who don’t even have a paid job who boss their husbands around. Seems to be a personality thing. I know one non-working wife who is verbally abusive to her husband. That seems to be her personality. Both she and Ben seem to have some emotional problems. The difference between her and Ben is that she doesn’t abuse her husband in reaction to his success to make him feel lesser than her.

  15. Men are known to be aggressive. I find it ridiculous how men target women for no reason and when there mad they take it out on the woman. When something goes wrong in their life or when they lack power they find aggression to be an outlet to their problem, when certainly it’s just complicating matters and its makes the relationship with their partner unhealthy. It’s always the “women” who is the problem. In society the man always want to be ahead of the household and hold authority over others and when a woman becomes more successful then the man, he cant stand that and sees its as a insult and no man likes a women to take a share of power from them. I find that ridiculous because I certainly think that the woman holds the family together. Men who use violent behavior against women are unsure of themselves and their just degrading human beings who need to be educated.

  16. As a society, it seems we may be our own worst enemy. We condition our children to grow up and practice the gender roles we do. Unfortunately there are always those who take it to the extreme, and some men are extreme products of what should have been moderate teachings. I understand that physically abusing a woman may be a man’s way to grasp at straws for power he felt he was missing. Some go through eating disorders to gain control, and some want to harm others to feel better. The idea is understandable I suppose, but no matter how much u may “understand” the psychology of this it will still be deeply disturbing. Some men take the role of being tough to a whole new level by being violent which actually makes them seem less tough because they are preying on physically weaker people that they’ve already spent time braking down emotionally. Those who are abusive tend to apologize to their victims after and I wonder why that. Is just evil deceit to position themselves for their next attack? Is it real guilt? Is it a social pressure to apologize? Is it self-pity? We may never know what truly makes osmeone act in such a violent way toward loved ones.

  17. After reading this article, I truly believe that so many of the problems we encounter in the present are caused by a defined set of roles. For women, we are expected not to be too skinny of too fat, we have to be unique and at the same time learn to fit in; while men are attributed with the task of being “masculine”:gaining physical strength, and not displaying emotions too easily. Because of expectations such as these, many of the people who find that they cannot live up to such standards go through serious emotional and traumatic pain. Some even go as far as to harm themselves physically either to fit in or because they feel as though they can’t meet the expectations that society is placing on them. This is why I believe that the definitions underlying the words “masculine” and “feminine” need to be redefined. Like the article says, it will be hard since the reinvention of these words will come with the task of adopting emotional traits of the opposite sex, which I assume most people will be at first reluctant to do; but if it eventually allows people to express a happier and healthier version of themselves without giving into violent outbursts that lead to violence, we could possibly build a safer and more accepting community.

  18. Great article, and an important topic. When boys are raised in a culture that rewards male behavior for repressing emotions by being seen as cool, strong, manly, acceptable, and popular media models male dominance over women, and women are supposed to be weaker, more vulnerable, of service to their man, it is understandable that we could have a huge problem with domestic abuse in the United States. Thankfully, there is an evolving popular culture where men are receiving respect for being communicative and expressing emotions, rather that responding with violence and control.
    Sometimes a person being abuse can attach more intensely to the abuser, thinking that it won’t happen again, making excuses for him, remembering the promise to stay through sickness and health and good times and bad. Or the abused partner may feel their self-esteem decline to the point they are desperate to be treated decently by someone who can’t do that. Domestic abuse is about power and control, not love. I believe often abusive men on some level intensely dislike or hate women due to some event in their past, and it is projected onto their relationship in a way that makes them out of control. Both parties in the relationship need help. The psychological attachment that can happen does not have to do with the intelligence of either party, and can require a lot of help to get out of the situation, and further help for both parties to not continue to repeat this type of relationship with the same or a new partner.

  19. I also agree with this blog. I have a close friend that actually lives in another state, but I believe that she is going through this same thing. About three years ago she got into an abusive relationship and has not been able to get out. She has denied the abuse but her behaviors are screaming abuse. It absolutely frustrates me and enrages me that “men” feel that in order to be a “real man” they need to hit on women. It is unfortunate but I am sure that most guys that abuse women, whether physically or emotionally or verbally were abused at some point in their lives as well. They are now doing what was either done to them or around them to others that they love. It is a very sad cycle that needs to end.

  20. I definitely agree that we must re-define the meaning of “manhood”. I believe a man reaches manhood when he is so in touch with himself that he then tranmits that & cherishes women & their “womenhood”.
    Men have been forced to live with a steel box of emotions; if anyone is to break through that steel, it’d be like pulling that man apart and cause him to loose his integrity. As opossed to women, who have been encouraged to display their emotions (not thoughts) in order to diatinguish them from men and categorize them as weak.
    But my question is, Weak in who’s eyes? .. Men?
    Patriarchy has been so rigid on their believes about the female role in society that they fail to understand that by portraying women “as the weaker sex” in their eyes, they tremendously hurt themselves because who would want to be labeled “weak” or in other words, what man is satisfied by being compared to women, the “weakest link” in society, right?
    If we re-define the meaning of “manhood”, it would bring great benefits to both sexes. Men would be FREE to express their emotions without fear of humiliation, and women would be RELEASED from those underminding chains that label them as weak.

  21. It is incredibly shocking to realize that this article was in fact written by a male because it takes a lot to admit to an issue of such magnitude. It is saddening to think that a husband would react to a wife’s success so negatively. I agree with this article because it makes complete sense to me. “But the more successful she became, the more violent he got”, it is apparent that Ben became jealous of all the success that his wife had managed to achieve despite his negativity. Ben felt threatened his wife because he felt as though somehow the roles were changing. It is been embedded in the minds of men that a woman’s place is within the walls of the house. When someone is inclined to believe that, it becomes unacceptable for them when women try to break the glass ceiling and accomplish more.
    The story of Constance and Ben should lead as an example for many women that are in abusive marriages and are scared to leave. Bottom line is that any kind is abuse, whether it be physical, mental, or emotional, it is completely unacceptable.

  22. Vendale Walker

    Just like Marcus stated, I’ve heard of women who stay in a relationship with a guy after they have physically abused them. However, recently I found out this is referred to as “battered woman syndrome.” This occurs when a woman feels like she can’t leave an abusive relationship and her only way out might be to kill her husband or significant other. This made me realize that looking from the outside of an abusive relationship it is easy to say “you should leave that person if they’re abusive,” however, after learning that there are psychological affects on women who are abused it is easier said than done.

  23. First off I would like to say that the post was greatly written and I am shocked that it was written by a male, which takes a lot of courage and ownership in writing this article – but almost like he too was talking from experience and overcame obstacles. I think most of us have witness some violence from a man to a women in our life time. My biological father was abusive especially to my biological mother and siblings. I never got how “saying sorry” just washed away all the violence and emotional/physical pain caused, I guess I never will. It is amazing that even someone as strong willed and eager as Constance, she still stayed for a while (it seems) and it took something as dramatic as a gun being pulled for her to leave. Most women do not get that luxury; their lives normally end before they get the chance to walk away “for good.” I wonder how old her sons were when the abuse started. Once an abuser, they don’t stop when you’re pregnant. Well, at least not in my biological mother’s case. I wonder if we will ever live in society where men do not have to feel like there are the alpha and superior to women? I know I WILL NEVER and have NEVER put myself in an abusive situation. Sadly not everyone learns from other people’s mistakes and mishaps.

  24. I agree with Kimberly. Any type of abuse is one of the worst things a person can do to someone else. That being said, so is calling someone out of their name. It shows weakness and vulnerability. It exactly the kind of thing bullies do. They instill fear in their victim(s).

  25. Really good article. Kudos to Ted Esparza for an informative look at rape and domestic abuse!
    Rape is a crime of power and control, not sexuality. A man who beats his wife and rapes her is a man who is not doing it out of love and intimacy but out of a need for control. In 1980, I trained as a rape and domestic violence advocate in Oregon. In 1992, I again trained as an advocate in Iowa. In both cases, I was told – and continue to believe – that most men who beat and rape their partners have very little chance of changing this behavior due to the world view they grew up with. When it is part of a cycle of violence, when a boy grows up to watch his mother being treated like this, he believes this is how you treat women you love.
    Women who grow up in a similar situation learn that they are of little value to their partners and in many cases, seek out men who will treat them the same way. They believe love is being a punching bag for your husband. A lot of the time, the reason women stay with their abusive partner is “for the children,” because they are afraid to leave or their self-esteem has been beaten down so much that they believe anything that happens to them is what they deserve, sort of a Stockholm Syndrome. Fortunately with the advent of shelters and women who speak out against rape and violence, this attitude is slowly changing.
    I was the grudging maid of honor for my foster sister’s wedding to a man I despised. I came out about a week before the wedding and while Russell and I were waiting in the car for Cherie to pick something up at a store, this man had the audacity to regale me with the first time they had sex – in detail. I still shudder when I bring it up. At the time, I felt I was at the mercy of these people who drove me everywhere (including back to the airport) so I managed to summon up a sickly smile. And I have to say that it took me by surprise – was this normal? Was this abuse? It was certainly creepy. I have come to the conclusion that this was a sort of passive-aggressive abuse. In some ways, I see this attitude to be more damaging because of the fact that the receiver isn’t sure what to think. But I now say that if something makes you uncomfortable, it’s most likely wrong. I would not have put up with this story from this loathsome man today.

  26. Kimberly Morrison

    I think beating a women is the worst thing a man could do. Growing up in a home where my dad was abusive to my mom it is really hard to listen to these kinds of stories. As a child seeing that abusive was terrible. My dad also was an alcoholic so that had a lot to do with it. Women who are in abusive relationships for some reason have such a hard time getting out of them. My mom got out after 18 years of it. Women need to become stronger and stand up for themselves. There are so many homes and people out there that are willing to help these women in need.

  27. It is a sad truth to think that men have been raised to be strong, masculine, domineering, and nothing else. They must have control over all situations in life otherwise they are not considered to be much of a man at all. Society has consistently reminded males from a very young age that showing emotion for example makes them a “sissy.” The phrase most commonly heard was and still is, “boys don’t cry” and sometimes it passed down from generation to generation because “that’s what my father used to tell me.” That doesn’t have to happen though if men could make that change and accept their child for who they are. Placing their child in physical contact sports is not going to solve the problem; it’s only going to increase the problem later on in life. Overall, there is no reason as to why men cannot be emotional, but again people continue to conform to the societal pressures surrounding them daily. When it comes down to it, I believe that many think of these pressures one of two ways: do I risk getting made fun of for being different, or do I conform to the stereotypes to avoid such ridicule?

  28. What I can’t believe when I hear these domestic abuse stories is even though they were abused (most repeatedly) they would stay with their abuser. Domestic abuse is unacceptable plain and simple. The abused’s reasons for staying vary, but many of them end up saying that their abuser didn’t really mean to do it, and really loved them. All I know is if that happened to me I would be out the door so fast and I would never look back. How can anyone else respect you when you do not even respect yourself enough to leave someone who hurts you?

  29. From all the years of learning the reasons why men abuse and rape women, I have concluded something similar to this blog’s thesis: men abuse and rape because they are insecure, weak and/or feel a threat to their “manhood”.

    Women are already, by society, not on the same level of equality as men are. We live in a patriarchal society, no matter how much people try to deny or reject that. Knowing this, men who abuse and rape women take advantage of this societal idea.

    In order to redefine the characteristics of a man, I believe, men need to be raised properly by their fathers and be taught the real qualities a real man should have. That teaching and understanding from an older father figure is a critical factor in a young man’s upbringing and the results of their adult life.

  30. Reading this article I agree with the research that suggests that men who beat women are insecure. I feel they also lack confidence. I agree with the comment Sofia said that “They are taught to be in complete control of every situation. Because of this they feel that includes controlling women. If they can’t control her they get angry and start abusing her. Like the article state’s they rather turn that weakness into anger. This is so sad that they grow up thinking this and also believing that showing signs of emotion such as crying is a sign of weakness. I really feel that it’s up to parents to teach and show the young men in their lives to respect women. I always talk to my grandsons since I have no sons, that crying does not make you less of a man. I have told them never, ever hit a woman. My grandsons adore me and their mothers and always show us love and respect. So I always tell them to treat women the way they treat us. I would have to say from experience that if a man hits you once, he will probably hit you again. Even after saying he’s sorry.

  31. By experience from the male figures during my life that I was raised around, they all thought they were “men” and they “run things” in the relationships with their women because the women knew that they would get beaten if they got out of line. Also, some of the men wouldn’t beat them physically, but would talk about them bad, which was like beating them mentally. those men on the inside were weak, scared, and insecure with themselves because they knew at a drop of a hat those women would leave if they didn’t instill fear. Also, those men would always lose in a battle or argument with other men cause of their fear of getting messed up and they know that they will always win if it involves a woman getting beat. I know for a fact that these men that are abusive; mentally and physically, are cowards and will never prosper as genuine men in any environment that they live in.

  32. This was a good article, and it’s always nice to hear a man’s opinion on this topic. I think that women stay in these relationships because by the time they realize this is really domestic violence, they are in so deep, and they are scared to leave. I watched a movie on tv the other night called the blue-eyed butcher. It’s based on a true story about a pretty young woman who stabbed her abusive husband over 100 times. He used to hit her, say he was sorry, and she’d forgive him. The last straw was one night when he hit their young son and made him bleed. She ended up being sentenced to a long time in prison, and now their children will be raised by someone else. Nobody wins in these situations, and I wish people would take it more seriously when they see the first signs of abusive; however, I know this is easier said than done.

  33. Good points, but I don’t totally agree with the idea that domestic violence is largely the result of having to prove how manly you are, although it may further aggravate some of those violent tendencies the male individual always has. I do think it’s often insecure men who have to ‘prove’ their manhood who abuse women, personally it’s often the type who ‘wouldn’t hurt a fly’ who ends up doing this, not to say that you should be suspicious of men who seem nice.

    I do despite those violent, patriachal types (think 50s movies) who always have to dominate, intimidate women into submission, cannot stand being number two. I would be proud of my spouse if she was successful. I feel relationships are too often a competition between two people, rather than a cooperation. The most sweet, long-lasting marriages seem to be between two people who work as a team, not as competitors or adversaries.

    • Well, the research suggests that men who beat women actually are insecure and are very concerned with overcoming a sense of powerlessness (powerless at work, with their boss, whatever). Also, men aren’t supposed to be vulnerable or admit weakness. While a woman will likely see a mental health care professional if she’s depressed, a man will more likely avoid this, and then do emotion-work to turn a “weak” (depression) emotion into a strong (anger) emotion. So it’s not a general way of proving manliness, but it can come in response to feeling powerless, with the two related.

      Things are changing. As women are more valued, and men feel less like they need to be #1, violence against women is decreasing, according to victimization surverys of the Justice Bureau.

  34. Ilaise Ma'ufualu

    It has always been established since the beginning of time that men are to be in “charge.” However, it’s no longer the beginning of time. It’s 2012, the 21st century and times have changed, gradually, but greatly. Women do not necessarily have to get married to have a child and are completely capable of raising children on her own. However, even with all that women accomplish, men still feel that they must be in control. Men were born to lead and be in control and I believe that it depends on the kind of environment they were raised in that can really put pressure on a man to always be in control. The powerful feed on the weak and it’s sad to admit, but men always feel that they are the more powerful being.

  35. I agree with the topic wholly. Men are taught to showcase teir masculinity at an early age by fighting and playing violent contact sports. They are taught to be in complete control of every situation. This includes their emotions and their women. When life sets in out men do not have the coping skills to handle that they are not in control, and they displace their anger on their wives or children. In a way, it makes a lot of sense becaus men are only doing what our society is conditioning then to do. We must look at our gender roles and our media and what kind of messages our youth are recieving through witnessing such a great calibur of violence. Men need to come to conclusions about their actions themselves so they can in turn teach their sons. Sons learn by witnessing how their fathers treat their mother and others. WE need to encourage and empower our men to make changes that lead them to expression not aggression.

  36. jocelyn Marin Gutierrez

    Domestic violence is a big problem we face in today’s society. I’m only 20 years old and never experienced domestic violence. However I have met females that have and it’s pretty disturbing to hear about. Some of these girls come from broken abusive home with no fathers and have to guidance nor morals or value. They get into these abusive relationships thinking that it’s supposed to be like that and that they get beat because he loves her. As for the men I really never understood why they did it, how dose rape and hitting women prove men hood. This article has shown how selfish man are, her husband couldn’t stand the fact that his wife was doing better than him and was accomplishing things that he couldn’t accomplish. I’m glad she decided to leave him because no woman deserves to be mistreated in any way.

  37. Taylor Callan

    Domestic abuse is the result of a man, or woman’s, feeling of inadequacy which then leads into anger that their significant other is better than they. A real man is proud that his wife is successful, it is not a spot light shown on his failures or how he is being outdone, but how his love is doing well. Unfortunately boys have not been taught the fine point of being the stoic emotionless leaders that we men are taught to be. It is a commendable quality to have, the ability to make tough decisions and remain calm. However a vent is necessary if this approach is taken to your life. A way to take out all of your stress, insecurities, and frustration. That is what marriage is for, someone you can take the walls of “manhood” down and go through what your feeling, the one person you don’t have to act tough around. Though we are not taught about this secret, and so boys grow up thinking it is a 24/7 attitude and when they cant find a vent for this aggression without lowering their defenses they attack. Mindless violence from boys who have not grown up.

  38. Liliya Baranova

    I agree with the fact that the definition of manhood should be changed because I see so many men in my life who try to live up to the society’s standards that most of them just can’t handle all the stress and it’s super unhealthy for both males and females. Men should learn how to value women and how to treat them properly because we are the child bearers and the ones who nurture men.

  39. This is an amazing topic! I agree with the writer’s opinion. Men beat and rape women to prove manhood, because they lack manhood. Usually these men are not successful or they are stressed by their jobs and because of socialization they cannot find a way to release their tension, so they are more likely to lose their temper at home. They beat women at home to get what they can’t get in the society: respect, confidence, and manhood. Actually they become losers at both work and home.

    A successful and charming man can deal with his business so that he would have a good mood at home. From my personal experience, I think these men have more ability to control themselves, and usually they respect women. They get their manhood from protecting women instead of beating them.

  40. Wu Cheuk Yin, Cherry

    The men in the situation of losing control and hit women have gradually decreased. The influence of the civilization of a society may be one of the reasons that causes the modern men tend to be more intellectual. As the status of female gradually rises, women become more independent than before.
    The men with lack of confidence, strong inferiority psychological problems are more likely to beat a woman. However, for both gender, people shouldn’t beat others under any situation. In some countries, there are no laws to fully protect the women who are married. There should have equal rights and equal opportunities for women in the 21st century.

  41. In response to Julia’s post that “the only way for domestic violence to end is to stop shoving these “masculine” and “feminine” ideas into children’s heads and just let them be who they are going to be,” I have mixed feelings on this issue. Well, looking merely at solving domestic violence, this suggestion probably works. However, looking at the bigger picture in society at large, stopping to instill “masculine” and feminine” ideas into children’s heads may be problematic. This may lead to chaos in society (as Republicans may have said) when gender ranking is eliminated, if possible. It is imperative to understand that biology is not what determines gender but social construction. Therefore, I am not sure about Julia’s suggestion on solving domestic violence this way.

    And also, I find domestic violence contradictory. Yes, men feel that they are empowered hurting somebody when they are suppressed in the outside world. However, assuming the couple has got married loving each other, don’t men feel bad hurting their loved ones? I don’t see how the psychology works here … Is it because self-interest is above others’?

  42. I’m happy I came across this article because men don’t usually see the thing that we do to women. The fact that I never notice how men tend to think that we are supposed have this image of being powerful and manly blew me away in this article. It help me to see how we think and how things are set up one way and what women have to deal with on the daily basis. When a man gets angry his first actions is to defend his self and most times they tend to get violent even among other man but not as much. Nothing that Ben did to his wife was manly, it was cowardly.

  43. The reason that men beat and rape women is that they think they are weak, and they are afraid of women’s power. In Johnson’s story, the greatest anger that her husband expresses is after she starts getting successful in her career. Her success makes the man feels that his wife is better than him, and the only way he can gain his manhood again is beating her. In my point of view, this kind of “manhood” shouldn’t even exist in this world, especially in family relationships. The only reason it exists is proving that men are better than women, but in fact they are not. Love is the most important thing, and when problem exist, respect and calmness are the keys.

  44. This article is so true. Real men are not threatened by the fact that their partner is independent and able to survive on their own. There are no feminine or masculine feelings and/or traits. They are just feelings and traits. Like the article says men tend to have grown up tantrums in order to show that they are not weak. They cannot cry or talk to others about their feelings because society tells them that it is a sign of weakness. I think men that can express their feelings is a sign of strength because they can show how they are feeling in a mature manner. Those that bully people physically, mentally, emotionally, etc are just that a bully. They just want to make themselves feel better. They end up hurting themselves in the long run because they alienate themselves from others. If you bottle up your stress and anger or whatever some does or says to you, it ends up having power over you. But if you learn to let it go and forgive, you can heal and learn to move on with your life.

  45. The story seems terrible when it happens in a country like America. But it is common in my country, China. Trace back to history, China is a men dominant society and ruled by kings and landlords. Although it is 21 century now, everyday there is news about raping, gang raping and women-beating in China, especially in rural villages. More likely in China, women are being abused everywhere. Also, I know that women are being hit and raped in some of the islamic countries too. Hey guys and girls, why can’t we become fair? Men don’t need to beat and rape women to prove themselves.

  46. This was a good article. I really appreciate the male perspective of domestic violence. Husbands like Constance’s are taught from infancy and even before they are even birthed how to be a man. If a young boy gets hurt – he is not supposed to cry. While a young injured girl can cry for her parent to kiss her boo-boo.
    Consequently, women think that when their man is upset that his outrage is natural and that a good woman would be there for him no matter what. Is this why Constance stayed with her husband for so long? Did she feel as though this was her responsibility as a woman and wife?

    • There have been a lot of questions as to why women stay with abusive men, so I’ll write a post on that sometime. However, according to the article on Constance’s experience (found in a women’s studies textbook I use), she didn’t want her sons to lose their dad, she wanted to put forth a “perfect family” face, for years she thought her husband would change (he kept saying he would), and she feels she may have loved him more than herself. There are other reasons why women may stay with abusive partners.

      Thanks to Ted for writing this up. He’s a former student of mine.

  47. The problem with redefining what it is to be a man is that it is something that is learned from birth. In order to change something like that, there would need to be some sort of drastic event in my opinion. Like how it was once considered cool to smoke, for that to change we had to discover smoking caused cancer. Now our society as a whole has to re-learn what it means to be a man but without any obvious health issues like smoking and cancer it’s something that will not happen easily if it ever does happen in our lifetime.

    • Actually, men have changed over time as a result of feminism, but it’s been gradual. For instance, my grandfather had nothing to do with children, my dad was much more involved, and my brother is really involved with his kids. Over time men have become more nurturing and more care-taking.

      Also because of feminism, men today are less likely to rape, batter, or commit incest. According to victimization surveys (asking women if they have ever been victims of rape, battering, or incest), rates of each are down 75%, 65% and 40%, respectively.

      Change can – and has – happened.

  48. We know that the majority of victims in family are women and girls. But I cannot understand why those women maintain the terrible situations even though they are attacked. My friend had suffered from DV for long time. She believed that accepting her husband’s attacking was “love,” saying he was really nice most of time.But, she finally decided to divorce him. This article solved a lot of questions I have had about her marriage life and divorce.Now I think what we should do to free women from patriarchal gender norm.

  49. I agree with the guy who posted this, that changing the way people think what it means to be a man has to first start in one’s self. Both men and women need to make a conscious effort to always act as rational, intelligent human beings, and to speak up against any actions that show unneccesary, partriarchal, and violent actions that he or she witnesses. I believe every issue goes back to education; children, adults, parents, and everyone else need to be provided with a good education that steers away from partriarchy and tradition. We live in a new era now, and people need to get with the program and understand that we are not a bunch of monkeys who bang our chests to show superiority.

  50. What we need to do is teach our children of both sexes is what it is to grow up to be a decent human being. We don’t need to teach them “how” to be a man or woman — there isn’t any “how” about it. That comes with biology and doesn’t need to be taught. It’s the decent part that needs teaching. And decency is the same for both sexes.

    The definition of a man is simple — you are born male, you grow up to be a man. Period. Again the focus should be on being a decent human being, instead of focusing on your sex.

    It always got to me how so many men always feel as if they should be Number One in heterosexual relationships and, to an extent, over all women in general. But, tell me, how does a man really “win” if the women in his life agree to be in second place and consciously limit themselves to make this so? Does it feel like a real victory when everyone involved know the game is rigged and everyone is playing a role? It reminds me of the parent who lets their child win at checkers, which, at a certain point in a child’s development, will grow to feel patronized.

    And how can a woman truly respect a man she must patronize to get along with?

  51. This article is amazing, especially since it came from the opinion of a man. Domestic violence is never acceptable in any relationship, whether it’s a man hitting a woman, or a woman hitting a man. You should never intentionally hurt the ones that you love. I’m glad that the woman in the story finally left her husband, and I can see why she wouldn’t in the first place. One hit is not really enough to convince someone that they are in an abusive relationship, especially since her husband apologized later. But when it starts to become a recent occurrence, then there is a problem. And I’m glad she recognized that before her husband decided to pull the trigger. I feel like a lot of domestic violence is associated with stress. Constance was the more successful one in her family, while her husband had to drop out of school, take over the family business, and ultimately do things with his life that he probable didn’t want to do in the first place. So he took out his stress on the one person he felt was holding him back and shoving him down: Constance. Since boys are told from a very young age that they have to be the leader of their household, be the breadwinner, and never show emotion, that, first of all, places a lot of stress on them as well. And when they feel like they can’t achieve any of that, and therefor seem less “manly”, then they get even more stressed. The only way for domestic violence to end is to stop shoving these “masculine” and “feminine” ideas into children’s heads and just let them be who they are going to be. There’s nothing wrong with being aggressive (especially if it gets you to where you want to be), and there’s nothing wrong with showing emotion.

  52. Marcus Coleman

    What really bothers me about this story and like most other domestic violence stories is that these women stay with these dudes after they hit them. I understand that in some cases the man will threaten to hurt his spouse or himself if they were to leave but I still believe that happens because you gave the dude to many chances. All I got to say is if you get hit by the person you “love” there should be no second chances.

  53. I agree with this post. More generally, I wonder: What is your definition of “manly” or “masculine”, and how is that different from “womanly” or “feminine”?

    • You’re not asking the right questions. Instead of looking for a set of parameters that leave a divide between the two sexes that may lead to other problems. There will always be clear ways to define “manly” and “womanly” but these need to more superficial; meaning they reflect our outwards appearance i.e. “she has a very womanly figure” or “he has a very manly figure” or something along those lines. It is when when we attach character traits to gender or sex that we have problems. Men are often spoken of as brave, intelligent and aggressive while women are thought of more as delicate, emotional and submissive. These all come from what roles the sexes performed back when our ancestors were first forming what we now call our modern civilization and as time has gone on the roles came with certain character traits which in turn became evermore associated with the sex the role was coupled with usually. A this probably further lead to a hierarchy being established based on the role which was followed a hierarchy among the sexes. What I am trying to say is that you should not look for definitions of manly or womanly beyond the physiological ones. Instead I think it is better to look at people not based on what sex they are (something the individual had no say in btw) but based on who they are as people.
      Sorry this took so long

    • I apologize if my response is a bit convoluted or hard to understand. But my point is that you should not look for what makes someone manly or womanly, look for the parts of our fellow human beings that make us human. We focus so much on who is better or more important in the grand scheme of things that we forget that we are all still just humans. And being human is so much more important than being manly or womanly.

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