Capitalism and Patriarchy’s Effect on
Battered Women’s Syndrome and Abuse
Domestic violence has existed for centuries and is still prevalent in present day society (Flowers, 1996: 131). Domestic violence generally involves violence towards women and children (Sev’er, 2007: 235).This generally includes physical, sexual, verbal, and emotional violence directed towards a spouse, girlfriend, wife, or partner (DeKeseredy, 2005: 234). One of the debates surrounding domestic violence is the legitimacy of battered women’s syndrome. There are arguments over whether or not battered woman’s syndrome is a justifiable defence or just an excuse (Fumento, 1996: 158). The aim of this paper is to justify the legitimacy of Battered Women’s Syndrome, or BWS for short. I will look at the history of violence to better understand the credibility of BWS as well as why it is discredited. I will analyze how the patriarchal capitalist society we live in affects the views regarding BWS and abuse. The purpose of this section is to understand how the patriarchal capitalist society attempts to protect male status by discrediting the validity of spousal abuse and BWS. Definition and History
Battered women’s syndrome results from a pattern of abuse from a partner (Barnett & LaViolette, 1996: 158). Spousal abuse has had a long history, and has grown since the middle ages (Flowers, 1996: 131). Social scientist Friedrich Engels noted that spousal abuse began “with the emergence of the first monogamous pairing relationship which replaced group marriage and the extended family of early promiscuous societies” (Flowers, 1996: 131). Violence towards wives has been around since the middle Ages, and came to North America with the settlers (Hagin, 2009). Law at one point permitted the Rule of Thumb. The Rule of Thumb stated, “A husband was permitted to beat his wife so long as his weaponry was not bigger than his thumb” (Flowers, 1996: 131). A man was allowed to beat his wife without any guilt as long as that rule was followed. This law was because women were not considered people, but chattle, something that could be owned (Hagin, 2009). Domestic violence remained a private issue for many more decades. It was seen as an unfortunate but required part of household life. The man was seen as the lord of his home, the master, and commander of everything that went on in the home (Hagin, 2009). As a result, police and doctors refrained from getting involved in domestic violence situations (Feinberg, 2002:34). Men needed to discharge their emotions and unfortunately, women and children were often in the crosshairs of this abuse (Sev’er, 2007, 235). This violence was not seen as serious to the men who committed it, but often comical and unimportant. It was seen as completely normal, women and children were a male’s property, and could be subjected to anything he pleased (Hagin, 2009). The amount of victims of abuse has to be estimated due to the tendency not to report incidences (Sev’er, 2007: 242). A huge factor in the recognition of domestic violence as a social problem, not a private issue was the recognition of women as people (Hagin, 2009). In 1929, women obtained the right to vote across Canada. Women were now allowed a voice in the political world; and they could express their concerns. Women began to realize there oppression, and that what was being done to them was wrong (Feinberg, 2002: 31). They began to fight for their rights as human beings, as they could now legally do so. Furthermore, the many feminist movements of the 1960’s and 1970’s were huge factors in the recognition of wife abuse and the damage that it causes (Hagin, 2009). The feminist movements allowed women to connect with each other, and spread the ideas they had believed in, that the legal domination over women in the home was against their rights and refused them equality (Feinberg, 2002:31). Clare Dalton (as cited in Feinberg, 2002: 31) stated...