The male reactions to Dr Josie Muscat’s outrageous comments yesterday go a long way to explain why there is such a high incidence of domestic violence in Malta.
I was appalled by how many men agreed with his statement that “men resort to violence because they are provoked”. Of course a wife who belittles and emotionally abuses her husband is being violent in her own way, but if she is psychologically damaging her husband to such an extent that his life is unbearable the answer is for him to pack his bags – not to pack a gun with bullets and shoot her, or beat her up. Ideally, he should also take the children because a woman who can be so cruel and manipulative with her husband will probably act the same way with her offspring. In fact I would hazard a guess that without her husband to pick on she will probably turn her anger and frustration on the kids.
Josie Muscat’s reasoning is made even more shocking by the fact that he is a public figure, a former political candidate and well-known doctor who runs a number of clinics, including ironically enough a fertility clinic which puts him in touch with hundreds of women. When someone with such a high profile sees nothing wrong in voicing such beliefs, are we surprised that so many other men have emerged online to claim that he is right? It was like they were just waiting for someone to voice what they have been feeling all along, so that they could tear through that thin veneer of (contrived) political correctness.
Unfortunately for Dr Muscat his much publicized statements could not have come on a worse day. Yesterday, a policeman allegedly shot his ex-wife outside her place of work after going there to confront her (she had been living in a shelter for battered women). She is in danger of dying from the bullet wounds in her back. This crime can be added to the long list of women in Malta who have been badly injured and killed by their boyfriends and husbands.
Did all these women provoke their husbands? Or did they simply have the temerity to leave what was obviously a toxic relationship? Those who raise their fists in anger or are blinded by such fury that they resort to a crime of passion are lashing out because a situation is no longer within their control. Instilling fear and threatening violence is just one way that some men try to retain a hold on their girlfriend or wife, so when she finally gathers up the courage to say “enough “, he cannot, he will not, accept it. At the back of their twisted mind is the thought “if I can’t have you, no one can”.
And yes, I hasten to add, there are also women who do not want to let go when the man leaves, but continue to try and make his life hell because they are clinging to the dead relationship. Curiously enough, however, despite all the verbal threats you don’t really hear about that many women who try to injure or kill their ex. Maybe women’s self-preservation is stronger and they do not want to risk jail even for the satisfaction of wiping the man they hate off the face of the earth.
Perhaps what we should really be asking ourselves is why Malta seems to be consumed with so much aggression and hatred between the sexes? For a long time now I have sensed a barely concealed hostility of some men who seem to be simply infuriated by women even when dealing with them on a day-to-day basis. There is also a palpable anger from some women towards men; they never miss an opportunity to constantly speak about them in scathing, disparaging terms.
Everyone seems to be angry at each other, carrying emotional baggage from failed relationships and negative encounters which they then project onto the entire field of “men” and “women” they meet. There is a lack of mutual respect, a lack of tolerance and simply no desire to compromise.
Perhaps the whole nation needs to just take a deep breath and take a time out. There are ways of dealing with your anger – but “socking it to them” should not be one of them.