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It’s not just boys and men who are aggressive, say Caryl Rivers and Rosalind C. Barnett in “The Truth About Girls and Boys.” But in this excerpt from their new book, they note that women are far more often seriously hurt or killed.
Times are changing. Girls aren’t so “girly” anymore.
Perhaps it began with early female action figures. Perhaps with “Charlie’s Angels.” Or maybe with scores of elementary girls playing soccer, or with older girls playing contact sports at elite levels.
Most likely we will never know exactly how or when it became okay to talk about female aggression–female-to-female aggression and female-to-male aggression. Whatever its origins, this new narrative is challenging the once omnipresent scenario of the male violent aggressor–passive female victim scenario. It is now increasingly acceptable to talk openly about female aggression and to conduct serious research on this topic. (Source)
Rivers and Barnett have a point: the “male violent aggressor–passive female victim” scenario is essentialist and totalizing. It leaves little room for contextual differences and displays too much of a dependency on “nature.” However, I wonder how Rivers and Barnett are defining “female” violence, and how this definition treats self-defense. Too often women get a bad rap for standing up for themselves, and thus, what should be deemed resistance is problematically interpreted as a form of incivility–by not only the abuser, but the powers that be. I guess this highlights abuser privilege. And no, it’s not gender specific.