The Dartmouth Observer
Friday, August 02, 2002
Laura Dellatorre writes:
"However, I will say that, while I do realize that male depression is a serious concern, I do think that it is not only possible, but necessary to evaluate claims of victimization, and that in this case I think that the victims of patriarchal practices are firstly and predominantly women. Men suffer the side effects of their own system, undoubtedly. But men (not all men, of course, but most do buy into the patriarchy to some extent) perpetrate the vast majority of gender violence. Violence, I argue, that is physical, sexual, and mental, and which almost universally victimizes women."
I believe Ms. Dellatorre argues that while men suffer from patriarchy, women do so to a greater extent, and so feminist studies should properly focus on women, rather than men. To accomplish this, she restricts the domain of discourse to gender violence. Thus, only male/female relationships concern us. Then, she claims that the victims of gender violence are almost universally women.
First, I doubt this claim that the victims are almost universally women. "Universally" is a vague quantifier. To me, it suggests somewhere above 90%. Although I would believe that men perpetrate the majority of gender violence, I hesitate to put the number so high. We can determine the real numbers from statistical analysis.
Second, why restrict the topic to gender violence? I didn't only argue that feminist studies can relieve male depression. I mainly argued, though somewhat obliquely, that the same psychological forces that drive some men to beat and rape women also lead other men into taking their own lives. Thus, so called "men's studies" fit into the rubric of feminist studies. They attack the same problem, but from different directions.
Also, by expanding the domain outside of gender violence, we can see these psychological forces play a larger role in history. I personally believe that this motivation that leads some men to violence against women led Alexander the Great to conquer large parts of Asia.
However, even if I accept that women are "almost universally" the victims of patriarchy, and accept the restricted domain of gender violence, my point that men's studies are a legitimate application of feminist studies still stands. The problem of female victimization, male aggression, and male self-victimization share the same root. If women learn to stand up for themselves, but men don't learn to let go of this need to be the world's greatest badass, the conflict can only grow.