Female Violence Against Males — Almost Always Provoked?

by Jerry A. Boggs


Most ideological feminists, when discussing gender violence, seem to talk only about men’s violence against women. When one of them does get dragged into a debate on women’s savagery toward men, she is likely to argue that the female who attacks a man does so almost always because the man provoked her.

 To see how false this is, you don’t need to sift through tedious criminal-court records looking for the abundant cases that prove women often inflict unprovoked violence on men. All you need to do is consider these two factors:

 Women’s violence against children

 Men’s image in the media

As for the first factor, consider a few alarming statistics:

    • Women are more likely to commit major physical abuse of their children than are men: 56.8 percent to 43.2 percent.
    • Women are more likely to kill their children than are men: 55 percent to 45 percent.
    • Women commit almost all of the murders of newborns. In Dade County, Fla., between 1956 and 1986, according to the June 1990 Journal of Interpersonal Violence 5:2, mothers accounted for 86 percent of newborn deaths. (“Across the country,” writes crime journalist Patricia Pearson in When She Was Bad – Violent Women and the Myth of Innocence, “according to the National Center on Health Statistics, the killing of infants climbed 55 percent between 1985 and 1988, until it was several times the rate at which adult women were murdered.”) [Emphasis mine.]
Yet these grim statistics may not tell the whole story about women’s apparently extensive violence against children. Mothers and female babysitters are increasingly caught on video tape while attacking the tiny individuals who cannot report victimizations. “Prime Time Live,” for example, on November 19, 1997, delivered the nightmarish scene of mothers clamping their hand over the nose and mouth of desperately struggling infants. In Great Britain, researchers using covert video cameras in just two hospitals filmed 33 parents suspected of child abuse, almost all of them mothers, in the act of deliberately smothering their newborns. Other videos, such as the one that aired February 21, 2001, on the Maury (Povich) Show, reveal female babysitters abusing toddlers and even babies – slapping them, banging them on the head with objects, and tossing them around like rag dolls. If a hidden video camera operated day and night in every home in America, who knows how extensive women’s violence against children might prove to be.

You already see where I’m going with this:

If women can batter or kill defenseless, innocent little children without provocation, they can, despite feminists’ agitations to the contrary, batter or kill men without provocation.

The plausibility of this skyrockets once we reflect on the second factor, the images of men that the media people have exhausted themselves to construct.

There are those images that Tucker Carlson, co-host of CNN’s “Crossfire,” courageously detailed in the January 2003 Reader’s Digest. “Unless you’re particularly unlucky,” he writes, “the men portrayed in television advertising bear no resemblance to the actual men you know. The ones on television are dim, lazy, pompous and incompetent, sometimes lovable, but fundamentally ridiculous. They are clueless and insensitive. Useless lumps of flesh. Meaty doorstops.”

Such TV ads don’t necessarily affect everyone’s buying decisions, but “[o]n the other hand,” says Carlson, “it’s likely that a steady diet of anti-male advertising does affect everyone’s views of men.” 

As denigrating of men as these TV ads are, they pale when compared to the truly virulent portrayals of men in television movies. Take Lifetime’s films as just one example. Almost nightly, villainous men belittle, stalk, assault, rape, torture, or murder innocent females. “Man victimizes woman” is the sordid, consistent theme with only rare exception. 

“The sheer number,” say the authors of Spreading Misandry: The Teaching of Contempt For men In Popular Culture, “of movies and television shows featuring hideously predatory men, many of whom act for reasons that either are not or cannot be explained entirely or adequately to viewers in rational terms, has its effect.” [Authors’ emphasis]

Indeed it does. Heavy viewers of TV violence, according to George Gerbner, dean emeritus of the Annenberg School for Communication, “inhabit an exaggerated mistrust of strangers, the urge to buy a new lock or a gun. I call it a ‘mean-world syndrome.’” Such fears, Gerbner’s studies found, are particularly felt by today’s female viewers.

It’s not just strangers whom television’s evil male characters have taught women to fear. It’s also husbands and boyfriends. Many women, especially those among the millions schooled in a feminism hostile to men, may fear that the man sitting on the couch next to them is a monster who any minute will pounce on them in a violent, misogynist fury.

Fear in the right situation is a prime igniter of violence. Thus it’s easy to imagine that the following can happen: A member of the group responsible for most of the mayhem against children, whom women are supposedly socialized to love, tells herself in an escalating quarrel with her husband, whom women are socialized to fear and hate: “To hell with trying to calm the waters in the traditional feminine style. I have to kill him first because he’s sure going to kill me!”

If women’s violence isn’t taken seriously, why should women’s opinions be taken seriously? After all, an act of violence is merely an opinion acted out.

So when you hear that women are spousal killers 41 percent of the time, as is the case, or when you hear sociologist Murray Straus report, “Of the… respondents who experienced one or more assaults, both parties engaged in violence in 49 percent of the cases, violence by men occurred in 23 percent of the cases, and violence by women occurred in 28 percent of the cases” – when you hear any news of female violence against men, don’t let feminists get away with claiming the women did it because they were provoked. Tell them this claim is just so much ideological hot air for two simple reasons: women’s unprovoked aggression against children, and television’s demonizing of men, which encourages women not to make peace with men in trying times, but to feel justified in lashing out at them.


See the related “Open Letter to Senate Judiciary on the VAWA.”