Kennedy Paterson #26358151
Due date: January 30th, 2018
Different but Equal: A Woman’s Discourse and A Man’s Violence
The relational intersection of man and woman is not an easy analysis, for the complex interaction between the two is rather the intricate and essential role they play reliant on each other. On the one hand, as we see in Kelly Oliver’s Hunting Girls chapter, there is an unrelenting mistreatment of women stemming from hetero relationships which are abusive at their core. On the other hand, a man’s mere identity and self-verification is extremely dependent on the role of a woman in his life, as demonstrated in Shoshana Felman’s Women and Madness. As these narratives paint a picture of interconnectedness, the question that arises is this: If men are so intrinsically reliant on the acknowledgment of women for their own self-affirmation, then why is it the hands of these exact men who abuse and overpower women? The significance of this analysis lies in today, as there is a growing spotlight on gender violence and abuse, which is working to obliterate this violence altogether and allow women to live a life free of abuse. An analysis of the relational dynamic between men and women reveals that despite violence and abuse, women remain to be the most essential part of man.
Women have always been considered second place to men. They are the other and the oppressed. In a patriarchal society, women are given the choice to accept masculine order, or alternatively, go insane. This discourse has been formulating at the hands of women, and has been put into writing by Shoshana Felman. In her work, Women and Madness, she exemplifies the necessity of woman when it comes to a man’s self-affirmation, as she explains “Philippe, as it turns out, desires not knowledge of Stephanie herself, but her acknowledgement of him” (Felman 36). This suggests that although Philippe has little care for the woman herself, he is still heavily reliant on her gaze. This proves that although men allot little value to women, they themselves have no value without women. The irony lies in that men assume they hold the greatest power over women, but it only slightly compares to the amount of power women hold over men. Felman continues, “Women have served all of these centuries as looking-glasses, possessing the magic and delirious power of reflecting the figure of a man at twice its natural size” (Felman 36). At minimum, women are man’s creators, given that a man’s very being depends on the grace of his mother. In masculine society, a female’s psychology is drastically oppressed and shaped to view men as their dominants, and to accept that any act of a woman is based upon the act of her dominant. (TRANSITION SENTENCE)
Given that women possess the exclusive power of affirmation for men, it is trivial as to why men physically abuse the women of whom they are seeking appraisal. The reconstitution of hegemonic norms lies within the abuse of women at the hands of their male lovers. There is a sombre pattern that repeats itself within these abusive relationships, wherein the women are extremely trained and assimilated to learning that men hold all the power over her. As shown in Hunting Girls, by Kelly Oliver, there have been many reformations of childhood fairy tales to minimize the underlying truth of violence. In the original stories, there is a brutal truth of abuse, rape, and violence. Oliver illuminates that there is a violent destiny awaiting women, in both fairy tales and reality: “The transition from girlhood to womanhood is a violent initiation, which in some ways may mirror the real-world experience of girls, who, statistically, face a strong chance of becoming victims sexual abuse, violence, and rape” (Oliver 28). Proving that physical violence is blind when it comes to age, women are repeatedly the victim of the abuse of men to ensure they are reminded of a man’s control. Oliver further continues to discuss rape, drugs, and the issue of consent, all of which are not just in fairy tales. The normalization of violence has established its role in modern day culture, catalyze by the ignorance of issues regarding power, control, and danger. The systematic deprivation of safety for women has steered society into a state of oblivion, and the violence continues. The interaction of the sexes, however, is contingent on one another, therefore it remains trivial as to why relational violence further exists.
The network of relations between men and women is interesting in the way the mistreatment and abuse of women has carried on, despite the depiction of men being centered on the gaze of females. It is the reassertion of hegemonic norms which deems this physical and verbal violence acceptable, but it’s the abuse of these same women who grant meaning to a man that makes no sense at all. It is important to consider that the subjugation of women has drastically negative effects on their well-being, both mentally and physically. As the self-esteem of a beaten women continues to deteriorate, it becomes impossible for them to function at an appropriate relational level. Therefore, if they become emotionally useless in the relationship, then her male partner can no longer receiver the re-affirmation that he craves from her. Consequently, both the man and woman are left with little of themselves, as one is beaten and bruised, and the other has a loss of identity. The existence of physical violence at the hands of men is omnipresent in the entirety of history, seeming to always claim the innocence of women as their victim; it is these men who are restating and reminding women of their patriarchal power and control. Subsequently, this patriarchal power is based on the appraisal of their partners, therefore necessitating the existence of women in their lives.
In conclusion, a man’s sense of control has no comparison to the power than women hold in their affirmation of men. The representation of physical and verbal violence towards women depicted in fairy tales and movies only perpetuates the problem. As Kelly Oliver explains, these stories glorify the abuse and rape of women, resulting in the minimization of female’s safety from a young age. The dichotomy is presented in the way that a man’s self-affirmation is so deeply rooted in the opinion of women that it is trivial as to why they abuse them. As Shoshana Felman analyzes, men lack a sense of control when it comes to self-affirmation, as they consider affirmation to be held in the hands of women. Importantly, it is evident that a beaten woman cannot prove re-affirmation of another person if her own identity has been compromised due to violence. Thus, it is evident that in the absence of relational violence, a woman can thrive in her well-being, and provide appraisal to man.
Felman, Shoshana. What does a Woman Want?: Reading and Sexual difference. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, 1993. 20-40.
Oliver, Kelly. Hunting girls: Sexual violence from The Hunger Games to Campus Rape. Columbia University Press, New York, 2016. 27-58.
Kennedy Paterson #26358151