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In the past week, there have been two high-profile cases of successful, educated women who have remained in relationships with violent men. In New York, local TV anchorman Rob Morrison was arrested after choking his wife in a drunken rage. According to the New York Post, Morrison had a history of this behavior, having also "previously threatened to murder his 7-year-old son in front of his fellow-journalist wife Ashley, and then kill her." Indeed, there was a long pattern here. "Morrison was also arrested for allegedly assaulting his wife in 2009 in New York -- and that cops had gone to their city apartments seven other times for verbal disputes."

In the international headlines, track star Oscar Pistorius has been arrested for the murder of his girlfriend. According to police, he had previously been arrested for slamming a door on a woman and police had been called for other domestic disputes. Reeva Steenkamp, his girlfriend, was a law school graduate and a successful model.

Like Ashley Morrison, a successful news reporter, Steenkamp had absolutely no reason to get into a relationship, let alone stay in one, with a man who abused her. I will leave it to others to psychoanalyze these women. But it does occur to me that feminism has not been the cure-all for these women that its advocates claim. These women have careers and money and education. There is no stigma in leaving men like Morrison and Pritorius. Certainly not for Steenkamp who wasn't even married. But even for Ashley Morrison. Who would have faulted her for divorcing a man who was choking her and threatening their son? I doubt anyone would have questioned such a choice 50 years ago either.

These women have been liberated. There is no paternalistic society telling them to stay with these men through abuse. And yet they do anyway.

These incidents are also a reminder that gender is not a social construct. Men still physically have the upper hand. Morrison is a 180-pound ex-Marine. Does anyone doubt that he could kill his wife (even with a restraining order now in place). And Pistorius, too, has managed to inflict plenty of physical harm on both men and women around him. There are those who will argue that this is just another reason that women should be able to carry guns. Maybe so, but the actions of these men are a reminder that female empowerment does not preclude the need for civilizing men. Why should it matter to women that Hilary Clinton was secretary of state or that Sheryl Sandberg made it to the top of Facebook. Equal pay for equal work will not protect us from the less fair sex.

1 thought on “Feminism can’t solve everything”

  1. Seahorse says:

    I find this post sexist on the account of using the case of two celebrity wife beaters as an example of the supposed natural uncivil characteristic of all men. Ideas like this help perpetuate the idea that the natural state of man is that of a brute and a rapist of women. Rather than attributing individual responsibility for one person’s crime, we make all men to be rapists and murderers while all women the helpless idiots who stay in relationships.

    Are you suggesting prior to the feminist age a man has never hit a woman? Or perhaps before the advent of feminism there were so such thing as celebrities in troublesome marriages? Are you suggesting the beatings of two high profile women in the past week is signifying that there has been an increase in domestic violence since women have been granted the rights to vote despite statistics which include most cases brought to lawful court claiming the contrary? Are you suggesting that feminist dialogue about the relation between the two sexes is not needed because women are being beaten and people like you are demonizing all men as natural rapists and murders based on the action of a few deviants? I hope you’re not. When Michael Vick was caught for taking parts in dog fights, surely thus too must have been a sign that animal rights have not progressed at all because a celebrity hurt a dog.

    It also matters there are women in government, especially elected women because almost 50% of the world happen to be women so ideally in a well represented government there would be a good number of people with vaginas to help make decisions in which govern people with vaginas. Crazy idea I know, that we should have women in places of power which are responsible for making laws to guarantee our personal safety and our rights to a fair trial in a country where women are considered fit enough humans to sit before trial.

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