Fem. WHEN WOMEN KILL Nicholas Davidson

069/468 13 Mar 90 07:11:00
From:   Bob Hirschfeld
To:     All
Subj:   Female Violence

					 WHEN WOMEN KILL    by: Nicholas Davidson.

"Battered women" have become part of our national consciousness as a result
of the feminist movement. The feminist interest in domestic violence is summed 
up by prominent feminist Rosemary Radford as follows: "Rapists are the shock 
troops of patriarchy, while wife batterers are the army of occupation." Under 
the influence of this notion, we have sympathized with Farah Fawcett playing 
the abused wife who kills her husband in The Burning Bed and learned to 
associate words like "battering" and"abuse" with men.

    Along the way, we have completely lost sight of the Walter Mitty side of 
things -- of the fact that men are, in many cases, the victims of emotional and 
even physical abuse by women. Now, that last statement may seem open to 
question.  After all, aren't men bigger, stronger, and more aggressive than 
women? They are indeed -- but that isn't the whole story. As two social work 
professionals,R.L. McNeely and Gloria Robinson-Simpson, point out in a recent 
article,  women, statistically, commit as many domestic violence assaults as 
men.  Women, McNeely and Simpson report, make up for the strength difference by 
using a gun, knife, or other weapon more often than men.  (As is often the 
case, culture can overcome biology.) It is a hallmark of the current moment 
that, while we accept without hesitation the stereotype of the violent male, we 
don't also factor into the equation the equivalent stereotype of the hysterical 
female. A recent article by Coramae Richey Mann of Florida State University 
supports and extends McNeely and Simpson's argument.

    Miss Mann reports on a study she conducted of women who have killed 
husbands or lovers, based on a comprehensive survey of police records and court 
files of Chicago, Houston, Atlanta, Los Angeles, New York, and Baltimore. 
Contrary to a notion promulgated by feminists that women who kill do so in 
immediate self-defense, Miss Mann found that well over half of domestic 
homicides committed by women (58.3%) were premeditated. Furthermore, in almost 
a third of the cases (29.5%), "the victim was incapacitated by being drunk, 
asleep, or infirm or helpless." Far from being simple victims of abuse,many of 
the women Miss Mann studied had independent histories of violence. Nearly one 
out of three (30%) "had records of previous arrests for violent crimes as 
assault, battery, and weapons charges." Nevertheless, half of these women 
claimed self-defense at their trials. In all, a high 38.1 percent of the women 
had previous arrest records. Yet the courts are buying the notion that women 
who kill are mostly the innocent victims of abuse. Of the women studied by Miss 
Mann, only 28.1 percent were charged with first-degree murder, and only 37 
percent were sentenced to serve any time in prison. Even those sentenced, Miss 
Mann reports, "rarely serve more than four or five years." That's the price of 
a man's life today. Miss Mann presents as a "typical example" of women who kill 
a 30- year-old woman "who killed her 31-year-old spouse in a domestic argument 
in which the victim was drunk. She shot him in the BACK of the head six times 
with his .38 pistol, and claimed self-defense." The court apparently accepted 
the woman's argument, for "the case was dismissed."

    Scholars and ideologues will no doubt debate whether males or females 
initiate more violence in the home for some time to come. But recent studies 
have already made clear that members of both sexes are implicated in the cycle 
of violence. We should feel intense sympathy for the real victims of abuse in 
the home. We should not allow the occurrence of domestic violence to be used as 
excuse for male-bashing. Women who kill betray their womanhood, just as men who 
kill betray their manhood. Neither spectacle is more or less grotesque than the 
other. But because of an unholy alliance between male chauvinist chivalry and 
feminist male-hating chauvinism, we have now lost sight of the elementary fact 
that good and evil are pretty much equally divided between the sexes. The new 
research should tell us it is time to take a new look at domestic violence --of 
which the best possible outcome would be to recognize that the issue is a human 
one, not a gender one.

    Nicholas Davidson lives in New York and is author of The Failure of 
Feminism, publ. by Prometheus Books. His use of "Miss" is intentional.

--- D'Bridge 1.21
* Origin: National Congress for Men(602)840-4752;Voice(202)FATHERS (1:114/74)