Cruel Women Should be Exposed, National Mirror

Date: January 1, 1970
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Women who perpetrate gender violence against men should be exposed too to ensure that the fight for gender equality does not only dwell on the violation of women?s rights by men.
Women who perpetrate gender violence against men should be exposed too to ensure that the fight for gender equality does not only dwell on the violation of women?s rights by men.

This article may be used to:
  • Explore how the media covers gender violence perpetrated by women.
Trainer’s notes
This story flips the angle from men as the perpetrators of gender violence to that of women who commit acts of violence against men and children. While the media should not ignore acts of gender violence committed by women , it is important not to lose sight of several key facts:
  • Gender violence is based on unequal power relations;

  • The largest incidences of gender violence in all forms are perpetrated by men against women because of various cultural, economic, legal and other factors.
Also, in reporting on violence against men and children by women, the media must not generalise cases to create stereotypes. For example in the Zambian case study women are portrayed as cruel stepmothers and nagging wives.
The headline sends a general message that violence perpetrated by women is hidden, and the story  explains this by stating that men do not reveal when they are abused by women because they fear the stigma of not being seen as ‘real men’.
Gender socialisation conditions women to be subservient to men and to accept men’s authority in the home, and is one of the factors that perpetuates gender violence. The opinion piece does not challenge this factor. Instead it seems to question the character of women who assume men’s roles in the home.
For example, the violations highlighted in the story include: a woman stopping a man’s relatives from coming to their home; physical assault with kitchen utensils when a man goes drinking instead of coming home; a woman demanding part of a man’s pay to help her parents and not taking care of the home; and not looking after a man’s children from other relationships.
While these may be considered forms of emotional abuse, what is portrayed more is a scenario of women usurping men’s authority in the home. It is extremely important that the media does not trivialise gender-based violence by making it synonymous with challenging men’s absolute authority. The author also explains the issue from the perspective of ‘one against the other’, rather than promoting a situation whereby both women and men protect each other’s rights.
The opinion piece makes an attempt to contextualise gender-based violence in its discussion of women’s rights as human rights, and the need for legislation to protect women and children. But it falls short of clearly illustrating cases (which do exist) of acts of violence perpetrated by women against men and children. It raises the issue generally without strong substantiation through examples, facts or figures. The article therefore does not present the issue in a fair and balanced way. 
Training exercises
Exercise one: Scan the local newspapers and magazines for the past three weeks or so to find stories about women who perpetrate violence against men, other women or children. Compare the coverage of one or two such cases with that for similar acts of violence committed by men.
  1. Are there any differences in the way the stories are handled? 
Exercise two: Read the case study, ‘Cruel Women Should be Exposed’, and discuss the following:
  1. What forms of gender violence perpetrated by women are raised in the article?

  2. What gender stereotypes are challenged in the article?

  3. Does the article give a fair and balance perspective on gender violence? Why or why not?

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