Why does the majority of gender abuse tend to be directed at women by men?


Answer by Raakhee V. Menon:

Thank you for the A2A, Arvind.

From an Indian perspective, I believe that this could be because of two major factors…

  • Emotional remnants of a predominantly patriarchal society
  • Physical strength

Patriarchy

Much of India was historically a patriarchal society where women were considered to be ‘lesser human beings’ of sorts whose sole purpose of existence was only to make the life of the men in their lives more comfortable. Any…and I mean any form of resistance to fulfill the demands of the menfolk were deemed as an act worthy of being disciplined. It’s often heard about how a woman has to be ‘kept in her place’. Mothers advise their sons to keep their wives ‘in their place’. Men advise their friends to do the same. So there is a general mood that a woman needs to remain ‘in her place’ and any attempt at moving from the designated ‘place’ deserved punishment… of some sort. Most men cannot take ‘no’ for an answer from a woman for his advances. He feels that the woman ought to feel blessed to have caught his attention and that she should automatically reciprocate his feelings. If she doesn’t, say hello to stalking, sexual assault and abuse, emotional abuse, etc. It’s like a way of saying ‘How dare she refuse me? I’ll teach her a lesson.’

When the Nirbhaya case happened, the main accused was questioned about the intent behind such a heinous crime and he said that he wanted to teach her a lesson. His brother (another accused) said these shameful statements in the (now banned) BBC interview…

“Women are more responsible for rape than men… . While being raped, she shouldn’t fight back. She should just be silent and allow the rape. Then they’d have dropped her off after doing her, and only hit the boy.”He also says it is up to women to escape rape.

“You can’t clap with one hand – it takes two hands. A decent girl won’t roam around at 9 pm. Boys and girls are not equal. Housework and housekeeping is for girls, not roaming in discos and bars at night, doing wrong things, wearing wrong clothes. About 20 per cent of girls are good,” he says.

This is the mentality of a lot of men walking on the streets of India, whether they openly declare it or not.

The mentality that men are at a higher pedestal than women are not restricted to the uneducated lot, mind you. I wrote another answer some time back about hypocrisy about feminism in India. I had written about how one of my male classmates made this ‘exemplary’ statement to the girls of our class…

I really don’t understand why y’all joined for engineering in the first place. It’s not like y’all are going to work and earn your daily bread. All of you are going to marry some bloke, make his babies, cook and clean for him and live off his earnings anyway. There should be some restriction on girls joining for Engineering programs. Do you even realize how many boys lost the chance to become an Engineer thanks to your greed for a fancy engineering degree to decorate your name with, or to increase your value in the marriage market? Such a shame! If they had gotten here instead of y’all, there would have been some purpose.’

So it goes without saying, even in this century, that women are ‘supposed to’ ‘marry some bloke, make his babies, cook and clean for him and live off his earnings’. If ever there is a marriage where both individuals are working, it is a given that the woman resigns her job (no matter how hard she had to try to get the job and carve a niche for herself there) and moves over to the where the man works. I don’t say that there are instances the other way round…but they are comparatively rare.

If a man views a woman as a professional threat at the workplace, the easiest weapon for him to ‘subdue’ her is to resort to workplace sexual abuse (of varying degrees). Some men view working women at their workplace (particularly their subordinates) as ‘free’ and that it’s okay to have a bit of ‘fun’ with them when the wife’s not around. They don’t seem to be able to stomach the fact that not all women are ready to jump into bed with them. Again…it’s the inability of men to accept a negative answer from a woman. They take it as a hit to their bloated male egos rather than respect the woman’s choice.

Strength

It goes without saying that men are naturally physically stronger than women…unless the woman is physically trained in muscle building exercises and is adept at self-defense techniques.

So there is a general feel that the best and easiest way to subdue a woman is by application of brute strength. Most Indian women are docile and soft and are brought up cuddling kittens and making beds and the like…not physically overpowering a fully grown man. The men know this fact and misuse it. So in most cases, you have the physically weaker woman being abused by the physically stronger man. Why? Because he can. Because it is a boost to his ego. Because it makes him feel like a man all over again. Because he is yet again showing the woman and proving to the world that he is the superior one.


I have myself grown up around some of the best men in the world. I grew up feeling loved, cared for, being told that I am special. I was encouraged to pursue my dreams. I was told that men and women are no different…and that I won’t need the help of a man even to open jam jars and that they could be opened by putting a rubber band around the lid.

Probably is is because of the people I have grown up around that such instances make me want to run to and remain in their protective embrace for as long as I can. The outside world scares me no end today.

Earlier, a potential rapist lurked in dim alleyways and deserted streets. But today, he could be sitting right next to you at the workplace, or be in the same train as you travel to work every day, or even be someone you actually look forward to having a ‘forever’ with. Today, as a woman, there is a lot more I need to fear.

I need to fear saying NO to a man. I need to fear the consequences if I catch a man’s fancy so much that he decides to pursue me. I need to fear reacting to a man’s inappropriate advances. I need to fear going out walking after sunset without at least 4 other people. I don’t even want to think of how many more fears the young children of today will have to list out ten or fifteen years later.

Why does the majority of gender abuse tend to be directed at women by men?

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