An Observation

[Content Note: Rape culture.]

I just read an interview with a guy doing good work on challenging violence against women by talking to other men about it—doesn't matter who, because this isn't specific to him, nor a specific criticism of him—and he used the old "wife, mother, daughter, sister" framing.

Which, as you may recall, I hate.

And, as much as I hate it within the general political framework of appealing to men to care about equal pay or whatever, because they benefit when "their women" succeed, I hate it even more when it's used in an anti-violence context.

"What if it was your wife who was raped? Your mother? What if it was your daughter who was a victim of domestic violence? Your sister?"

I hate it because a woman shouldn't have to be a relative of a man for him to give a shit about her being harmed.

I hate it because it implies that all men definitely care when their female relatives are harmed.

(Which is not true. And frankly every time I hear this rhetorical flourish used in this context, it makes me recall painful familial indifference. I suspect I'm not alone in that.)

I hate it because it implies that husbands, sons, fathers, brothers don't themselves ever harm their wives, mothers, daughters, sisters.

And that is a very dangerous implication.

"Don't you care that other men might hurt your women?"

It elides the prevalence of intrafamily violence. It is a dodge from speaking to men directly about not harming women themselves. It creates a hierarchy of women worth caring about. It is potentially triggering to female survivors, whose male relatives were their victimizers or who caused secondary trauma via disbelief or indifference or shaming.

This is not just an insufficient framework. It's an actively problematic one.

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