Wednesday, October 06, 2004

More Sweden watch

You have to feel pity for embattled Swedish men. The Swedish Parliament is currently debating a proposal to make men pay a "domestic violence tax" to cover the social costs of abuse against women. The motion was sponsored by the Left Party which has 30
members in the Swedish Parliament, and which supports the ruling majority.

Liberals often declare their opponents to be divisive, but here is an example of a very unnatual division between men and women being openly aired by left-liberals in a national parliament. Why would they do it?

It's partly, I believe, because of the underlying understanding that liberals have about society. Liberals assume that society is a collection of competing wills. Liberals therefore tend to understand social dynamics as a "will to power" of some groups over others. If men have more political or economic power than women, it must be due to an illegitimate power structure that men have set up (the patriarchy), in which women are the powerless victims.

In this view, "social justice" means dismantling the power structure and returning to an equality of will.

The basic problem with this view is its starting point. It's wrong to assert that we are just competing individual wills. A man who goes out to work to earn money isn't doing so because he is asserting an individual will to power to the detriment of his wife. This man is part of a family, with a bundle of drives and instincts toward the health and preservation of this family. You can't understand his motivations outside of this social framework.

Which is why it's not very difficult to knock holes in the idea that men as a class are oppressors and women are victims. It's easy to find evidence of the exact opposite: of women being the oppressors and men the victims.

For instance, a recent study by behavioural scientists at the University of New England in NSW found that men are more likely to be harassed in the workplace than women. Then there's the case of Joe Cinque, highlighted by a recent book by Helen Garner. Cinque's girlfriend, Anu Singh, decided to kill him because she was depressed. She recruited a female friend to help her and Cinque was drugged and then injected with an overdose of heroin.

The daily papers are full of such items, and yet at an official level there is still an assumption that terms like "domestic violence" can only mean abuse by men of women. The idea that a fair proportion of domestic violence is violence by women against men, children and other women simply isn't considered. The facts aren't allowed to get in the way of the ideology.

No comments:

Post a Comment