Femicide is a feature, not a bug, of patriarchy.
In the early years of my work, when women would ask me, “How is this happening when we are the victims of unremitting cruelty? How is it that our abusers are running the show?”, I’d say, “I’m sorry. We’re working on it. It’s a matter of educating police, judges and CAS.”
Back then, I believed my own words. I saw myself as part of a broken system.
I no longer see the system as broken, but working exactly as intended, to maintain control of women.
The truth is, women face massive resistance to leaving abusive men. They are opposed at every turn by the justice system itself, routinely patronized, belittled, accused of overreacting and “having an agenda”. They endure massive character assassination and are routinely abandoned to situations of grave peril. They are prohibited from taking their children—and themselves—to a life of peace and security. Father’s rights supersede even the rights of the women they batter. Ironically, it is often the men who receive society’s sympathy. Even when men kill women, their violence is explained away by stress or mental illness.
We hamstring women, trapping them between a rock and a hard place. Stay and be mistreated, and possibly killed, or leave and live in fear, and possibly be killed. Oh, and by the way, your children may be killed. We hope not, but we can’t be sure. You might want to teach them a code word, or maybe give them a safety plan so they know to run into the bush if the perpetrator shows up. Nathalie Warmerdan’s son Adrian, 15, was in the house when his mother’s killer showed up. He ran into the bush as she had instructed him to do.
Oh, and remember, you may not pick up a weapon to defend yourself.
We prefer dead women to women who fight back.
So we block all the exits. And then when the next women is murdered, we say, “Oh, how terrible! Women, you need to open up about abuse! You need to break the silence!”
It’s not that we do nothing for women. We’re prepared to help them cope, adapt, hide, and so on. We support women in living with male violence. We’re just not prepared to free them from it.