Real Men Don’t Beat, Rape Women

By Ted Esparza

family-violence[1]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. And 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 didn’t seem happy after 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?

“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. After Constance graduated and developed a successful practice it seemed that 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.

Transforming “weak” feelings into “manly” emotions

This story of Constance Johnson, which she titled, “Her Toughest Case,” 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?

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 may be 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.

Looking in the mirror

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.

Related Posts on BroadBlogs
Cheerleader Ordered To Cheer Her Rapist, and Other Stories
Rape Victims Shamed Into Suicide. In Pakistan. In America
Petite Woman Stops Big, Muscular Rapist

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 31, 2017, in men, psychology, rape and sexual assault, sexism, violence against women and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 40 Comments.

  1. human beings are born equal…. all have equal rights….. we should respect each other…….

  2. Guys who think like rapists is not only their mistake. Since their childhood, they are taught by their parents to behave in a certain way. Parents make different rules for boys and girls. Boys are taught to run their house and made realise that they are the head of the family and theirs will be the last decision. Whereas girls are taught how to be behave in a certain way, how to cook and how to make their prospective husbands happy. I know things aren’t same like they use to be and men and women are counted to be equal now, but believe me there are many out there who still believe that a man should behave in a certain way and a girl should behave in a certain way.

    • Yes, we must change society. And I believe you are from India and one problem that societies that are rapidly changing toward feminism face (Countries like India) is a backlash which too often times takes the form of an increase in rape as insecure men act in reaction, trying to re-assert their dominance. This tends to be temporary. The US has been working on this longer and we are now in a period of great decline in rape, which is down more than 75% since the early 1970s.

  3. You have rightly said “We must redefine what it means to be a man” and this is quite a difficult job indeed. It means unlearning what men have been learning for centuries!
    It is impossible to justify an act as heinous as rape, but a European Commission report on gender-based violence reveals that over a quarter of respondents said they thought sex without consent was acceptable in certain circumstances! (Source: https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2017/02/rape-sexual-assault-european-union?utm_content=bufferb7dba&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer)

    • Yes, we need to redefine what it means to be a man. Because the characteristics that are not associated with both genders these days are the more negative ones that have been associated with men — The trades women weren’t interested in adding to their own identities. And because we rank male or female many men don’t want to take on the kind, nurturing traits that have historically been associated with women.

      I don’t have time to check my stats right now but I believe that 20 years ago the number of men who felt it was OK to force himself on a woman was higher back then. And rape is down in the United States by more than 75% since the early 70s, according to justice bureau sit to sticks which are gathered by randomly calling people and asking if they have been victimized by different kinds of crimes.

      So at least we are headed in the right direction!

  4. Excellent post. Perhaps my view is outdated by now, but as I see it, the problem lies in a combination of nature (genetic predispositions) and nurture. Nurturing in one’s formative years determines which predispositions manifest. So the problem mainly lies with both culture/society and parenting.

    The only way I can see to deal with this is for informed adults to set examples and insist on education in schools, especially in the lowest grades, about relationships with heavy emphasis on how bullying and abuse destroys lives and how each child would feel being the victim. Give the students the tools with which to build an empathetic personality.

    • That makes a lot of sense to me. And gender equality is a very important societal value too. The more a society values women the less likely they are to rape them. As I have mentioned to a few others rape is down 75% – more than that actually – since the early 1970s. And that has come as we have grown more gender equal. And in societies that were gender equal, like the Indians of Americas east coast when Europeans first arrived, rape was virtually unknown. All this helps to show that men aren’t naturally comported to behave this way.

      • I don’t believe for one moment that rape was unknown among east coast native Americans. I think that is completely speculative, and is reading a mythology into the silence of history.

        Certainly rape among the other native americans was part of the accepted culture.

        “Known as ‘putting a woman on the prairie” an outraged husband of a strong willed flagrantly adulterous woman has the right to invite all the unmarried members of his military society to a feast on the prairie where his wife is raped by each.”

        https://books.google.com.au/books?id=39ScGl-T3J0C&pg=PA151&lpg=PA151&dq=cheyenne+rape+prairie&source=bl&ots=114UOti4Vk&sig=Nf0EwRouza6X5C5DjgDnaGuKeQo&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwi8iY_px4LTAhUP-GMKHZdnCSMQ6AEIGTAA#v=onepage&q=cheyenne%20rape%20prairie&f=false

      • These are American Indians of the Prairie, not American Indians of the East Coast. The lack of rape is indicated by the colonists who arrived and were shocked that neither rape or battery seemed to be practiced. And while rape is often used as a weapon of war by many peoples, the colonial powers would caution against using it because The Indian men gave women great respect.

        Do some research on battery, rape, and American Indians like the Cherokee and Iroquois.

        Men are not naturally inclined toward rape – which is an incredibly insulting way to think of men. In fact, the vast majority of men do not rape even in our culture.

        And there is a clear pattern that the less patriarchal a culture the less rape there is.

        Btw, I feel like some people write in with the goal of creating a bias toward an article — creating more heat than light – and I often feel like that is your point. However you sometimes make a point that I feel like addressing so I post it anyway. But I’m less likely to do that if it is the first comment, as yours often is. When you have the goal of biasing the reader and your comment comes first thing (First in the thread) I feel like it is more powerful than when it comes in later. So I am less inclined to approve a first comment like that.

  5. Reblogged this on The Benevolent Thou and commented:
    this is one of my favorite and informative blogs.

  6. One problem is that the patriarchy will never end until feminism becomes entrenched in the national psychic. Unfortunately, the very word ‘feminist’ has taken on a negative connotation in society…

    • Yes, it will take a while. But things are changing as we can see from the fact that despite the patriarchal backlash Hillary Clinton did get 3 million more votes than her male opponent did. That wouldn’t have happened 10 years ago. And feminists are beginning to be seen more positively as more have come out of the closet like Emma Watson and Beyoncé.

      And rape is down by 75% since the early 90s, and even more so since the 1970s. According to justice bureau statistics that are compiled by randomly calling people and asking them whether they have been victimized in various ways.

      So there is hope! Thanks for your thoughts 🙂

  7. Old gangster movie buffs will recognize this “tough guy” attitude and treatment of women personified by James Cagney in such films as THE PUBLIC ENEMY and LADY KILLER. In those days, the characters Cagney played seemed almost acceptable in the eyes of movie fans. That may not be the case today, but such attitudes are still there beneath the surface in too many cases.

  8. In my case, what you write about redefining what it means to be a man is very relevant. I think my mother, already in the fifties, knew about this need for a redefinition of manhood. It made an everlasting impression on me when she came to my bedside to discuss the books I was reading as a child. She read them too and I remember especially discussing what was named cowardice in an American indian adventure book by Karl May. In contrast to what was said in that book, she said she thought it was manly to cry and show your emotions when a friend has died. Many little incidents of this kind have helped shape my manhood in a direction that makes me feel at home when I read this article of yours.
    Ellington

  9. The “tough,” “domineering” ideals of patriarchy — I am not sure how this relates to patriarchy? Patriarchy was never about domineering women, wife beating or abusing the weaker sex. It was more about shepherding and leading. Traditional notions of patriarchy was defined by movies and popular culture.

    • First, there is a clear pattern that the less patriarchal a culture the less rape and battering there is.

      In fact, both are often used as a way to create a sense of male superiority and male dominance in a patriarchy.

      In gender-equal cultures women are treated with respect. These are the healthiest cultures.

      There is no reason for men to shepherd or lead women. The notion is incredibly insulting.

      • “First, there is a clear pattern that the less patriarchal a culture the less rape and battering there is.”

        I don’t believe this for a moment. Why? Because I’m writing this on a computer screen with a crack on it. Last night my girlfriend and I were in an argument about the stupidest little thing (apparently I put away a plate in the kitchen in the wrong place), then she says “I don’t care, I’ll stab you with these scissors” and she starts stabbing my computer, then coming at me with the scissors. Then there is a scuffle to disarm her, then I go away from her and I hear her calling the police, I presume she was hoping they will arrest me. Well they arrested her, because that’s a crime and she stupidly had confessed to it. Even though I said I don’t want to press charges, I don’t get to decide if she is charged, so I don’t know what will happen to her.

        This is not the first girlfriend I’ve had who has resorted to violence by physically coming at me. I’ve never done so. Men don’t report this stuff to police, because WE’RE MEN. Nobody asks us. Nobody surveys us about this stuff. Because we now live in a matriarchal society, and women think they can do anything and get away with it, therefore they do so. Women are usually believed first, women get minuscule jail sentences for the same crime. This supposed non-patriarchal society you are aiming for has overshot and is enabling women to act inappropriately. I think your philosophy is dangerous. The stats on female jail sentences and the spate of false rape claims is hard proof. Where is the proof of your assertion?

      • Once you have a domination mentality, like you get in patriarchy, it can go both ways. Women can become abusive to me and to. Abuse is just more prevalent in domination cultures.

        Meanwhile the rates of wife battering, rape and incest are lower.

        Because we have less of a domination mentality. Men’s attitudes have shifted so they are less likely to feel entitled. Man who raped often do it because they feel put down and they want to regain a sense of power by putting their partner down. There are more battered women’s shelter’s. More hotlines. People hold views that are less OK with battery.

        Add it all up and the less patriarchy you have the less battering and rape you have.

        And that’s what the hard statistic show too.

      • I don’t know about that.. when I need help, I look for help.. It does not make me weak. A shepherd tends to lead the flock because they care not because they like to dominate. Now that is insulting indeed!!! 🙂

      • So you think it would be good for women to shepherd men, men then.

      • if they were stronger.. sure… why not… I would be happy to wash the dishes and take care of the kids.. if there was a women to provide for me and the kids… It would be my perfect life

      • You think the physically strongest people in the world should be presidents of countries and companies? The physically strongest people should be the popes and prophets?

        Physically stronger doesn’t mean a person is more intelligent or informed, has better judgment, is more compassionate, more talented, the best qualified …

        And What does being stronger mean? Women are physically stronger when it comes to survival. Women and men are equally mentally strong. (Sure, many guys feel they have to put on a tough act, that doesn’t make them mentally stronger, it means they have to put on an act. And many lack the courage to be in touch with, and express their emotions.)

        Being physically strong does not create dominance. In gender-equal societies men are physically stronger than women but they are not dominant, like the Cherokee and other Indian tribes of America’s east coast before contact with Europeans.

        And in many families, even in a patriarchal society, the wife or mother is the more dominant partner.

      • who said anything about physically strong… Making more money does not make one physically strong. Neither does going to work make one stronger than the other. There is no shame is taking help from where you can. If that happens to be from your spouse all the better… be it man or women

  10. The notion of superiority in males is the root cause of evil. This thought is genetically instilled in them and even you’ll find young boys, Gen X or Gen Y appreciating the same notion of Alpha male. I admit that things are changing but, the change is too slow.

  11. What I always found interesting was how people view power, especially in an emotional context. For me, emotional power means being able to process your emotions, resolve them in a way that doesn’t harm others, and not let your emotions dictate your actions or hinder your integrity. Yet it is easier, and therefore less emotionally powerful, in my opinion, to suppress emotions, throw anger tantrums, and take out your emotions on others. Indeed it seems that many of the ways men are told to deal with their emotions seem less emotionally powerful.

  12. I can’t agree with this post more! We must absolutely “redefine what it means to be a man.” A real man would respect and listen to his partner’s opinions instead of making rash decisions on his own. He would never make excuses and blame other’s for where and why they are where they are in life because it is up to him to make his own fortune. A real man would strive to be a role model. A real man’s word would be his bond (in this case it would be Marriage). A real man would be focused. A real man should not be afraid to express his own emotions. There are plenty of characteristics of which make a true man but most importantly a man would never rape or beat a woman.

  13. A man telling his wife not to “make him” beat her again is a very strange and scary situation. It’s as if he’s trying to scold a child, someone beneath him. I wonder if he’s convincing himself that it’s truly her fault that he’s feeling this way?

    Really, it’s a trap. He’s not giving her a specific order, he’s just yelling at her. A woman in this situation might think, “Alright, if I behave, everything will be fine.” Along with this thought comes the assumption that the temper-tantrum was her fault. However, the abuser she’s married to isn’t thinking that way. He doesn’t know how to handle his emotions, so he takes it out on his surroundings. There’s nothing personal about the abuse, it’s just abuse. He might as well be yelling at a lamp.

    No matter what the victim in the relationship does, nothing is ever good enough. The anger and rage can’t be reasoned with, because they are not truly adult emotions. They’re just knee-jerk responses from a person who does not know how to handle their thoughts in a mature manner.

  14. Considering our discussion in lecture today, I found this article particularly relevant and poignant. There are a variety of concepts that we touched on today, including how some men feel the need to translate “unacceptable feminine” emotions into “acceptable masculine” emotions. Typically when men allow this conformity to occur, they become violent or easily angered. In this circumstance, it is clear that Ben was experiencing sadness, which he externally translated into violence towards Constance. Encouraging candid discussions about “taboo” topics such as domestic violence is crucial to ending the suffering of both the victim and the perpetrator. Victims should always feel heard and seen in order to feel safe enough to leave a dangerous situation. Perpetrators on the other hand should be able to recognize when their actions are harmful to others and seek help to end the cycle. Both individuals in this circumstance are victims to patriarchy; the male by being taught that violence is acceptable and the female by being taught to take care of the other no matter what the circumstances.

    • Yes, patriarchy — valuing men and masculinity over women and femininity, And trying to create a sense of male superiority, hurts everyone.

      • No society values men over women. That’s why men didn’t survive the Titanic. That’s why the women were saved first when the plane crashed in the Hudson river. That’s why 99% of war dead are men. That’s why courts favour women in custody disputes. That’s why men get far bigger prison sentences. That’s why we have massive fund raising campaigns for breast cancer, but none for prostate cancer which occurs in the same numbers. How about we live in reality, and not mythology.

      • Early societies greatly valued women’s ability to produce life from their bodies. That’s why women and children were protected. And it’s probably why they continue to be protected often times even under patriarchal societies that value men and masculinity more than women and femininity, overall.

        But, depends on how Male dominant they are. Some societies are much quicker to kill women for minor things like being in the presence of a man unchaperoned, Or even for being attacked.

        By the way, I don’t have time to read all of your comments so I just read the first few words to decide whether I’m going go any further.

        However I did want to respond to something you wrote about Sweden and Muslims. Just wanted to say that that is not a reliable news source. Sweden is working to teach the immigrant Muslim population values of equality.

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