Monday 20 November 2017

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Don’t provoke me

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.

  • Ninu Nani

    “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.” Well why doesn’t she pack her bags instead? I know what I am saying. In any case physical violence is never justified.

    • Yes, you are right, she could also pack her bags. The thing is that with most bullies (whether men or women) they never accept the fact that they are the ones who should move out of the matrimonial home.

  • henri miceli

    ms Cassar . What i found most outrageousis women’s reaction to Josie Muscat comments . I expected facebook to be in flames with women holding torches and pitchforks … and instead … nothing…. flatline … there has been more commotion on the news of new line of lingerie .

    • Henri that’s how facebook works.. you are just talking about the people within your own social network. On my wall however, there was collective female outrage.

  • Well said. My wall WAS aflame – and I started it off.

  • martin saliba

    The only thing Dr Muscat did wrong was his choice of words. Instead of provoked i really think that he meant to say something in the sense of being pushed to far or the last straw that broke the camels back. Without condoning anything of the sort , one must admit that there are poeple who push others over the edge and they just snap.

    • K

      Martin – thank you for defining the word provoked. Did you also just justify domestic violence? What exactly are you trying to explain here? That somehow, in these cases, that violence was the last resort? Because we are all simply animals acting only on impulses with no ability to control them, right?

  • Elaine

    What I found most shocking is that doctors and policemen are the very people who a domestic violence victim will be turning to.

  • Joe

    The issue pivots on the fact that most women are much more ‘verbal’ and eloquent than man. Many women can express their dissatisfaction in words. Some men are unable to verbalise and form arguments so as to hold a real converstion with their female partners. Thus the woman continues to speak (some call it nagging) and the man, unable to reply with words, resorts to violence.

    • K

      Joe – did you just justify domestic abuse? Is that what I just read?

  • MARIE BENOIT

    Even as I am reading this and listening to the news there is another tragic story of what seems to be domestic violence…. a man shot a woman in a street in Qormi while she was in an MMDNA car with a colleague. Was he provoked too? Surely as Josanne and so many commentators have said, for whatever reason this happened there must have been some other way of coming to some sort of peaceful compromise. Anger management should be another subject taught at school. The fact that we are such a small place and all living on top of one another with everyone interfering in everyone’s else’s business cannot help healthy relationships.
    But then domestic violence is a huge problem the world over, even in much bigger countries. Another problem which needs to be solved – like so many others. Where are the answers?

  • K

    Josanne – I want to thank you personally for voicing exactly what I thought and felt upon reading the comments from Josie Muscat. His thoughts as you say explain so much about the mentality here. I come from Canada, was brought up there, and have been living here in Malta for one year. I wasn’t prepared for the gender culture shock or the deep awareness of being a woman I would begin to experience upon moving here. The misogyny here has deeply affected me and I find myself constantly defending myself against comments that, to me, are completely out-dated. It’s surreal. Your article was very well put. I was told not to say anything because his brother is a member of our association and we shouldn’t cause tension, I was told ‘its best to smile shake hands and just get along’, not bad for words of wisdom, but definitely maybe this is another issue on the island, turning a blind eye to very dangerous in hopes for vain community acceptance. Thanks for the article.

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