Recent protests in Israel, the publicity of an Argentinian-based gender violence movement, a hashtag campaign in South Africa, and recent government funding on gender violence research in Canada have all served to draw global attention to gender violence.
However, aside from amplifying the voices of its victims and activists, as well as highlighting its economic costs, these attempts to tackle gender violence still appear as mere bandaid solutions, at best.
That is because an effective solution to gender violence requires defining and treating the problem at its deepest root: the inflating human ego that is blowing out of proportion.
Without doing so, we could raise awareness about the problem all we want, but unfortunately we would continue seeing more and more gender violence outbursts heading into the future.
Domestic Violence National Statistics.
Gender Violence Is Coming Out of the Closet, But Staying in the Bedroom
It’s been reported that in the United States alone, every 9 seconds a woman is assaulted or beaten. In Israel, the murders of 17 women from January to June 2017 led hundreds of protesters to take to the streets to demand government action. The Argentinian movement, Ni Una Menos (Not One Less), rapidly branched into the U.S., Germany, Italy, Brazil, Costa Rica and Ecuador, and publicizes the stories of gender violence victims. In South Africa, the brutal killing of Karabo Mokoena in May 2017 sparked the #MenAreTrash discussion into virality.
Moreover, in Canada, the deployment of a $77.5 million plan to fund a center on gender violence research and strategy serves to illuminate the problem through its economic costs. That is, violence against Canadian women in intimate-partner settings is reported at $4.8 billion a year, and the annual costs of sexual assaults and offences against women at approximately $3.6 billion.
While the victims who survive have been empowered to come out of the closet and publicly discuss their encounters with gender violence, and while efforts to research the problem directly are being supported, these are far from being solutions.
The parallel motion of us applying more efforts to deal with the problem, and the subsequent increase in gender violence cases we will see from year to year will eventually lead us to a point of desperation.
Or, we could already start learning about the phenomenon at its deepest foundation, and start seeing what we’d need to do about it from there.
“When we’re allowed to do whatever we want, yet regularly consume examples of violence, vulgarity and insensitivity, then we increase the likelihood of imitating these examples.”
The Deepest Root of Gender Violence: The Inflating Human Ego
Behind every violent act, behind every rape, behind every abuse lurks a growing desire constantly demanding its satisfaction: the human ego.
The more this ego grows—and today it’s reaching overblown proportions—the less empathetic and considerate we become, and the more we want to calm this potentially raging bull within us at any cost. The problem is that it’s not only in our hands to calm it down. Today, this ego exists in a modern society of stress, anxieties and burdens that can prod it into a frenzy at any moment.
Some people are naturally more phlegmatic. Others have weak nerves and can snap at any moment. But aside from people’s characteristics, when we are raised in a society that consistently projects examples of violence, extremity, polarization and incitement to us from a young age, then the moment that ego within us is provoked, it has all the ingredients immediately to erupt and let madness overpower any control threshold we thought we could hold.
It wasn’t always like this. In the past, the ego was smaller. When I think back to my childhood, I remember that placid family atmosphere that was so characteristic of the traditional family structure: my father would go to work during the day and return in the early evening, my mother would run the home, and the home was at the center of the family’s life. This is how it was for most people.
“Our examples of traditional family relationships have been replaced by examples pinned up by companies and media creators interested in increasing their ratings, clicks and profits as opposed to providing good examples for people to replicate in their lives. This is why we’ve lost direction.”
Today, however, this is no longer the case. There has been a great decline in the amount of traditional family structures. But beyond that, even where the traditional family is in place, the home is no longer the center of family life. It’s now on the streets, the TV, the movies, the media, video games, in the smartphone, on YouTube, Facebook and other social media. Our examples of traditional family relationships have been replaced by examples pinned up by companies and media creators interested in increasing their ratings, clicks and profits as opposed to providing good examples for people to replicate in their lives. This is why we’ve lost direction.
If it were possible, by disconnecting ourselves from the examples of violence and other unnatural forms of human relationships in the media we consume, we would already make a major improvement. In other words, even by removing violence from our viewing habits, we would quickly see violence, rape and abuse immensely decrease. However, the tendency is pivoting in the opposite direction, toward an ultra-liberal approach where each person becomes seemingly free to do whatever he or she wants. We opened Pandora’s Box a long time ago with this approach, and it’s becoming more excessive each day.
The Preparation and Learning Required to Solve Gender Violence
We can achieve the freedom for which we aspire, but freedom requires preparation so that we can relate ethically to the amount of freedom we get. Otherwise, freedom can easily lead to negative phenomena like gender violence, rape and abuse. When we’re allowed to do whatever we want, yet regularly consume examples of violence, vulgarity and insensitivity, then we increase the likelihood of imitating these examples. In other words, instead of letting that potentially raging bull—egoistic human nature—control us, we should learn how to tame that bull from the start.
The process of taming this bull, i.e. taking control of the human ego, which should ideally start from our infancy, needs to consist of practical examples of how people mutually and positively connect: parents, friends, boys and girls, men and women, and all different parts of society. We need to grow up learning how to relate to everyone, understanding what they do, how to accept all kinds of people, and how to actively construct our attitude toward people and phenomena in our lives.
Moreover, this learning should take place in groups.
Groups, we will discover, are the most efficient tool for controlling any outbursts of the ego. By learning everything in connection with others, we would feel much closer to each other. Regular group learning in circles—in our workplaces, schools, kindergartens, retirement homes, and on our TVs and the Internet—would develop a new elevated sense of mutual understanding, support, awareness and sensitivity. The more our ego grows, the more we would discuss, pinpoint and nurture how we rise above it.
Then, by taming this bull within, instead of witnessing more and more cases of gender violence heading into the future, we could be inspired by stories of how people overcame their egos and reached mutual understanding in tough times, and enjoy each other’s company. Our good future is in our hands.