When Domestic Violence Is Mistaken For Misogyny

April 20, 2018 Opinion , OPINION/NEWS



Abdulyassar Abdulhamid



Recently, I read one pseudo-intellectualistic write-up by one disgruntled and wayward feminist in which she, though in vain, tried to equate misogyny with domestic violence or spouse abuse. While the former symbolizes, in the real sense of the word being Greek in origin; from misein: to hate + gyne: woman; put together: hatred for women or contempt for them, according to the Merriam Webster Dictionary, the latter has to do with violent behavior perpetrated by a person against his or her spouse. I wonder if they are synonymous; not at all.


Maybe the writer’s intention was to Goodstat the topic (in allusion to Lindsey Goodstat who wrote Objectification of Women in Mass Media in which the West is accused of misogynistic attitude and defends it with clear evidences that women are Photoshopped to fit a certain ideal of what female beauty is believed to be at a particular moment in time, and are “too often reduced to the sum of their body parts”).


To her, the writer, the appropriate laboratory for testing her hypothesis is Northern Nigeria. I have seen both a gap and a promontory in her write-up for her argument cannot hold water and it may likely lead to doom. If she meant the latter he should find better a laboratory, and if the former then I will say the following:


No society has yet bagged an award for monopolizing domestic violence. It has led to women’s welfare programmes in Great Britain to give women’s lives meaning there. The French parliament has passed psychological violence as criminal offence to arrest the situation. One can cite the example of Mary Milly’s documentary on how, nearly, three women are killed every day in the United States of America by their intimate partners to visualize its enormity there. It is deeply embedded in Indian societies and this has given rise to domestic officers. We can cite, too, Risa Tanaka’s case in Japan and how she was tortured by her husband, how he plays “a police interrogator” on her and sometimes rams a wine bottle into the side of her head” to measure the extent at which domestic violence is rising in Japan. How can we be winding a chronometer of ignorance and try to go away with it unchallenged?


You or I cannot deny domestic violence in our neighbourhood nor in our societies with the harrowing cases of Maryam Sanda, who allegedly stabbed her husband to death, Dausiya Abdulmumina that poisoned her husband and half brother in Katsina State in strong disapproval to forced marriage, Amina Alasan who was accused of killing her co-wife’s son, in place or different cases in our courts that leads to broken families; and many other recorded abuse against women or children in the north. The argument here is domestic violence, or spouse abuse is a global phenomena. It has no sense of age, gender, religious creed or ethnic boundaries.


To me, we have to locate it, recognize it, identify its causes and devastating effects on the victims, then, only then can we float safely on the tumultuous tides of this social menace by rehabilitating the people suffering from this sickness instead of wasting our intellectual energy, if it can be called one, comparing here and there or passing the buck; but at least, philosophers will tell you, “nothing is great or little otherwise than by comparison.”


Whether on women, children or men by their intimate friends, domestic violence or spouse abuse is a pattern of physical, emotional, psychological, economical abuse perpetrated by an individual against his or her intimate partner or close relation with the intention of either exerting great influence or remote controlling the victim of such abuse.


To begin with, why the home, for God’s sake, which is a symbol of peace, safety, security and love, reduced to “hidden homelessness” and giving the occupants the opposite of what its meant to be? Should the absolute reward of love, intimacy or passion be bruises, injuries, burns, psychological disorder, or death?


As we cannot singlehandedly point out at a reliable factor responsible for domestic violence or spouse abuse which targets more women and children than men due to their being the so-called weaker sex, or because men have chosen to keep mum, we have an array of factors to select from: low income, growing up in a violent family, alcoholic drinks, unemployment, sleeping problems, depression, low self-esteem, lack of trust in others, feelings of abandonment, sensitivity to rejection and personality-related disorders.


For instance, a boy who was reared in a household where the father maltreats the mother or vice versa may likely transmit this negative attitude to the next generation and grow up so violent even amongst his peers because this has turned out to be the norm in the international language of the violent people; and it is the only way to vent their anger perhaps against others.


Some analysts, depending on their orientation, have blamed cultural and social influences as the major contributors to domestic violence. They back their argument with the roles some societies assign to women which is objective to the subjective patriarchal system. To them, in most societies, both economic and social processes are in favour of men rather than women, starting from the family structure to other social functions. I remind them of the theory of cultural relativity here.


Although some people, like Barrister Christiana Essien, have tried to prescribe a cure for this social menace, ranging from, awareness, sensitization, abstinence from alcoholic drinks and drugs, to bring back the train upon the right course, with the context in mind, our drawing board (adherence to religious injunctions) is the only recourse left. People should be trained to “Admonish one another to treat women fairly; for they are fashioned from their rib-bones…you have to do it by overlooking her weaknesses”. Women should also treat their husbands, in-laws, the wards left in their care and their husbands’ other wives with compassion and fairness.


The couple should be taught about the religious injunctions on this prodigious relationship. This includes both organizing workshops and a series of lectures on how couple should best live. And lastly each member of the union should know both his or her rights and limits; that will make him or her respect the rights of the other and not transgress the limit.





Abdulyassar Abdulhamid

Abdulyassar Abdulhamid, Kano based, is graduate of B.A English from Bayero University, Kano. He is a budding writer, social analyst, freelancer at Sunrise Language Practitioner (SLP) and regular contributor to Nigerian dailies. 
His writings have appeared in The Communicator, a magazine published by Kano State Polytechnic and in Dailytrust, The Triumph and The cable newspapers. He has a strong interest in literary theory.

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