Remember, if you will, that popular Maltese TV comic series ‘Deceduti’. The married couple Rosy (il-Pitbull) and Ramon who had a marriage in which Ramon got blamed for everything, was terrified of her and felt compelled to hide even the most innocent ventures from her for fear of her reaction and even ducked and raised his arm over his head to shield himself. Not to mention how this also drove their kids to make fun of him following her example. Of course, it wasn’t always bad and they had their tender moments but even his friends made fun of him for being under her foot.
Had Ramon been the controlling, over-reacting one and Rosy the one who feared him, would it still been passed as prime-time comedy? If not, what is the difference that affords women the free pass to be abusive?
It has been great discussing this less than easy subject that can be so divisive yet imperative to create empathy and awareness about domestic abuse. It is much clearer now what the whole divide is all about. Quite simply put, there are lots of people who care about violence on women, domestic abuse and patriarchy but who also maintain separate boundaries between them. The daily reality of people on the other hand is a complex combination of all of various factors and situations.
I have to be honest that when it comes to any topic where victims are involved I will always apply my rule that the most vulnerable, irrespective if any statistics about their demographic, should be protected and empathising with their situation takes priority above any discussion on the group they form part of statistically or otherwise. Individual victims should never be lumped in some statistic, especially not if that is used to justify ignoring their need for protection or assistance.
I am more convinced than ever that there are a number of patterns that should be attacked with all the weapons available:
1) gender stereotypes of emotional behaviour,
2) tolerance to any form of abuse including, but not limited to, emotional blackmail, coercion, control, isolation, sexual and physical, and legal bullying,
3) normalisation of abuse through comedic representation directed at anyone and anything sentient (for example I was horrified to watch The Simpsons for the first time yesterday and all the human and animal abuse every episode shows as a matter of fact).
Finally I believe that increasing awareness about all abuse and improving availability to assistance are necessary short term goals but desperately need to be followed up with a long term educational strategy of todays and future children on dealing with emotional situations and conflict resolution, including eliminating toxic examples from their entertainment.
Christian Pace is an environmental activist, passionate about social injustice.