One of the issues I have with the traditional concept of marriage is the ownership of women by men. Within the very ceremony are embedded traditions that clearly institutionalize the male as the dominant partner. Even within the most egalitarian relationships we often end up performing our gender.
These gender traditions are written into the common law of England. A man who commits a crime of passion (read:murder his unfaithful wife) is charged with manslaughter. A woman who kills a husband who has abused her for years is charged with murder. Clearly there is a gender imbalance.
By charging men with a lesser crime we are agreeing that a woman is property and further legitimizing the fact under certain circumstances male violence against women is acceptable. To kill a woman for being unfaithful, a man is not punishing her for the violation of her marriage vows, but for sullying property that he has come to view as for his exclusive pleasure.
Traditional marriage reinforces the idea that we own our partners rather than the relationship being one of free will. In a patriarchal world where men are routinely violent towards women this is problematic.
How is it that a woman who kills her abuser of years can be charged with murder? How is it that the death of man can be weighted of more importance than the death of a woman socially?
It is a known fact that many domestic violence situations end in death for the victim. Even when women manage to escape their abusive marriages many are forced to live a life in hiding, because they are stalked for years. Even with what we know about the outcomes of these relationships it is still murder. A pre-emptive act in many cases may be the only thing that saves a womans life. The laws in most western countries fail to adequately protect victims of domestic violence. What good is a restraining order when your husband is holding a knife to your throat, or blackening your eyes?
The government is finally looking to overhaul this law. According to the Independent UK, Harriet Harman, the minister for Women, who is introducing the changes said, "Ending the provocation defence in cases of infidelity is an important law change and will end the culture of excuses." Of course the men are resisting the removal of the right to kill. Lord Phillips, at the London headquarters of the law firm Clifford Chance, said: "I must confess to being uneasy about a law which so diminishes the significance of sexual infidelity as expressly to exclude it from even the possibility of amounting to provocation. Nor have ministerial statements persuaded me that it is necessary for the law to go that far."
Perhaps dear Lord Phillips needs to see the actual corpses of the women who have been murdered by their abusing husbands for him to realize the seriousness of domestic violence. Maybe he should sit and have circle time with children who are growing up watching daddy beat mommy for him to realize that domestic violence effects every single member of the family.
A woman that is unfaithful to her husband hurts his pride and breaks his heart but he is is whole. A man that beats his wife destroys her soul, batters her body, and permanently scars any children that they may have together. I cannot for the love Christ see how the two could even be comparable.
As a pacifist, I am not advocating violence. I do not believe that women should just kill their abusers, however after suffering from years of abuse even a dog bites back. The simple solution to this is to stop the abuse of women. The judicial system needs to be more proactive in arresting these men before it escalates to the point of murder.
This push to have a more equitable law has been described as a feminist agenda, but I must ask why isn't it a human agenda? How is it that equal rights before the law is considered more an issue for women than it is for men?....Oh silly me the patriarchy isn't about equality, it is about privileging men unto death, and oddly enough that is where we all part ways.