Life is about the tolerable and the intolerable. No one should live in fear of anyone, but often that’s a commonplace situation. Our societies have developed many aspects of inequality, often with males at the top, and women and children below. Out of these unequal relationships, one aspect has taken on much prominence, recently, namely, male violence.
Without judging ahead of those charged to do so, we have just had the end of the Oscar Pistorius case, where he was found guilty of ‘culpable homicide‘ of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, not of her (premeditated) murder. His case may be more to do with his being a violent male, but has elements of a dominant one, too. His case hinged on whether he intended to kill his girlfriend, during an alleged break-in at his home.
We have also the gruesome violence used by a man against his fiancee, in the case of Ray and Janay Lewis. He punched her and knocked her out. She had reportedly spat at him beforehand, as vile an act as I can imagine. But, he prevailed due to brute force. People are pondering her role as instigator; her role, too, as supporter of the brute force, having decided to stay in a relationship where her physical safety was clearly compromised.
We have also the case of Adrian Peterson, who reportedly whipped his 4 year old son, and kicked him in the scrotum, supposedly to ‘discipline’ him. Peterson claims he’s not a child abuser. He’s wrong. Sadly, another, younger son of his had been beaten to death last year by the boyfriend of the boy’s mother. Maybe, Petersen didn’t see that as abuse either. New reports tell us that another 4 year old son of Peterson’s, by another mother, was also beaten badly by him, and charges will arise from that.
We can find several connections in these stories. All the men are successful athletes, and the media love to focus on those who have achieved elite status, and the failings they show. Two of the men are prominent American football professionals, with stellar careers in that game of hard-hitting play; and they are both are black. These may be coincidental characteristics. Many footballers have violence in their private lives. Pistorius has a background of overcoming physical challenges.
We see that the cases all involved violences against so-called ‘near and dear’ ones. That’s too ironic. But, it’s a common feature, which makes our fear of strangers very out of place.
None of this is edifying behaviour, and I won’t be amongst those seeking to justify any of it. Our cultures encourage violence against people as a means of exerting control, and that is often used against those we know well. Men often end up with the upper hand, and women and children are often victims. Women, too, can be perpetrators, but we find it less reported that women overpower men–though, I read a story yesterday of a woman sexually assaulting a man in his sleep. We rarely hear of children beating adult men, though sometimes hear of gangs of boys beating men, and often of boys beating women and/or children.
I’m not going to touch on the sociology or psychology of the violence, just noting its prevalence.
I haven’t cited cases in Jamaica, but they are more than prevalent if one reads or listens to local news. Academic studies have shown that about 87.5% of the aggression on males and 74.5% on females was committed by males. Family members and acquaintances contributed to about 84% of the violence.
There’s a bad streak running through us, and its animalistic and basically violent. Your nearest and dearest are more likely to be your enemies than your friends.