between girls and violence
EuroPROFEM - The European Men Profeminist Network http://www.europrofem.org
Feminism not the link between girls and violence
Contact Sports and Violence Against Women
Another aspect of sports and women is the violence against women
associated with contact sports like football, basketball, rugby, and ice
hockey. The case of O.J. Simpson has trained the spotlight on the
connection between male athletes and violence against women.
By encouraging boys to become aggressive, violent athletes, and by encouraging girls to cheer for them, we perpetuate the cycle of male aggression and violence against women.
(Empowering Women in Sports, The Empowering Women Series, No. 4; A
Publication of the Feminist Majority Foundation, 1995)
There they go again!
The Southam newspapers, owned by Conrad Black, can't seem to stop hyperventilating about feminism and all its supposed catastrophic consequences --- even when they have to twist and bend the facts to make their point.
At the end of October, several Southam papers, including the Ottawa Citizen, breathlessly announced that "feminism is driving girls to violence." Supposedly, this shocking fact was revealed at an academic symposium held recently in Toronto.
Flip this story inside out.
"This is most disconcerting," exclaimed Dr. Sibylle Artz, director of the School for Child and Youth Care at the University of Victoria, in a telephone interview. "The stories are completely wrong; they're entirely backward. First of all, all the research shows that girls with a strong sense of feminism and female worth don't typically engage in violent behaviour."
Dr. Artz, an internationally respected authority on the subject and the author of Sex, Power and the Violent Schoolgirl, was a participant in the symposium. So was Dr. Kathy Levine of the Earlscourt Child and Family Centre, who wrote to Southam to protest the "noxious reporting". In vain, as it turns out: her letter was neither acknowledged nor published. Kirsten Madsen, another psychologist who attended the symposium, was equally indignant. "We didn't say anything about feminism being responsible. We didn't mention feminism at all," Madsen told Professor Jim Winter of Flipside, a muck-raking Internet daily. (You can see Flipside, which, is produced by the University of Windsor School of Communications, at http://www.flipside.org).
Conrad Black owns more than half the newspapers in Canada. His newspapers' foaming-at-the-mouth diatribes about the evils of feminism are ridiculous, revealing --- and purposefully dangerous. At about the same time as the latest outbreak, I was approached by an aspiring film-maker who "was told by a vice-principal and a police Task Force member" that feminism was one of the causes of girls' violence. She thought she would base a documentary on this peachy insight. That's how urban myths and political lies get propagated: if "everyone is saying it", then it must be true.
But in this case, it isn't. I'm happy to claim many achievements for feminism, but offering "equal opportunity violence" to girls definitely isn't one of them.
The opposite is closer to the truth, according to Dr. Artz, who stresses the complexity of the issue. Girls with the most rigid, stereotypical and negative attitudes about females are the most likely to engage in violence, Dr. Artz explained. Her current studies of girls in detention shows a sad pattern, she said: "When girls engage in girl-to-girl violence, it's because they're competing for male attention. This is true of oppressed groups: they commit violence 'horizontally' --- that is, on people like themselves, in the name of people with more power."
Think, if you can bear to, of the repulsive Karla Homolka, so recently in the news again. Karla, in high school, was a crazed Retro Barbie --- she actually belonged to the Diamond Club, a group of girls who passionately believed in marrying early and having babies as soon as possible. Homolka even sneered at higher education for women, calling it a waste of time. Studying might interfere with her man-hunt. Soon, she was eagerly and without conscience abasing herself to Paul Bernardo. Only when she was caught did this young murderer embrace the feminist defence of the "battered wife" syndrome. Just one little hitch: that defence was an honest one for women so traumatized and trapped that they could escape death only by killing their abusers. Homolka's situation didn't even come close. Why should feminism take the rap for the cynical maneouverings of a psychopath and her lawyers?
It was the public's outrage at Homolka's light sentence, I believe, that lent force and credibility to the media frenzy about female violence. Obviously (who can forget the murder of Reena Virk?) girls and women, being human, are capable of violence. The stereotype of sweet, gentle women and bold, aggressive men was precisely the sexist belief system we feminists fought against. It wasn't feminism that created the Karlas of this world, and it wasn't feminists who denied the existence of female aggression.
Girls' violence is, because of social context and conditioning, less frequent than boys' violence. But where it exists, says Dr. Artz, look for underlying "family violence, poverty, power relationships, sexism and consumerism. "There's no one cause; these things are complex," said Dr. Artz." We can't work on prevention until we explore and understand the causes." Her exasperated conclusion about the constant misleading media prattle about girls and violence: "Silly and destructive."