Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings said something pretty interesting a couple of weeks ago. Violence is men’s fault, he declared. Men have to own up to it. Men have to change it.
According to this story by KERA reporter BJ Austin, this is exactly what Rawlings said:
“This violence is our fault. It’s not the women’s fault,” he said. “We have been the violent gender over the centuries, and we must own up to it. Tradition has enabled the action we see around us, and we’ve created those traditions. The culture of male violence has only been perpetuated by locker room talk, radio talk shows, video games, how fathers talk to sons, and our inability to deal with anger living deep inside.”
I fully recognize that women are capable of committing violence and do. And men are often victims of violence. However, there’s no denying that men carry out most of the gun violence, the rapes, and the assaults on women and children, who are usually members of their own family. This post, however, isn’t about blame. It’s actually about moving on from blame.
What’s most significant about Rawlings’ statement is that — for a brief moment — someone swung the spotlight 180 degrees in talking about violence against women and children. Why is that a big deal?
Well, as we say in the South, let’s take a f’rinstance…..Let’s say that the media reported — and the community talked about — convenience store robberies and assaults the same way we talk about family violence. First, the local media wouldn’t report each robbery. We’d do a series every year during Convenience Store Robbery Awareness Month. The story package would focus only on the convenience store clerks: “Over the last year, 56 convenience store clerks were robbed and assaulted in OurFairCity. Half were beaten so badly that they were hospitalized. Because they could not return to work right after the robbery, they lost their jobs and could not pay the rent. There are not enough shelters in the city to house them and their children.”
In real life, convenience store robberies are reported more regularly than family violence, and the focus is on the perpetrator: “Joe Shmo was arrested last night. He is alleged to have robbed the Corner Convenience Store at the intersection of Main and Central. Convenience store clerk Randolph Bacon said Shmo held a gun to his head and knocked him unconscious after he opened the cash register. Off-duty policewoman Sue Smith happened to be in the store and arrested Shmo after he grabbed the cash.” Shmo’s arrest photo accompanies the story.
So, let’s swing that spotlight around in family violence, often referred to as the larger catch-all, IPV. Interpersonal violence refers to any violence between couples, married or not. The traditional report?