Dominance and forcefulness, and violence
In a relationship based on male dominance, the man will probably have the woman's blanket consent (good terminology, BTW) to use physical force to control her. In that case, he does not need to get her consent each and every time he does that; he can assume that it still holds even if she is protesting vociferously at the moment. Indeed, something like that sort of blanket consent is necessary if the man's dominance is to be maintained as a serious and permanent state of affairs, and not just a fun game that happens for a few minutes during a play session.
Is this violence? I think most of us don't consider it violence as long as the woman is consenting to this type of relationship, and as long as the man doesn't cause her any real harm – that is, no lasting physical injuries. But I don't think you can have this sort of relationship without incurring a few temporary bumps and bruises – and that is precisely what would make it ‘violent’ in certain politically correct circles, and maybe even in most people's view. Like so many things, it comes down to a question of how we choose to use language.
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Masculine dominance and feminine surrender
It's interesting that the dictionary gives rather different shades of meaning to the words ‘violent and ‘violence.’ Here are some meanings of ‘violent’: Marked by, acting with, or resulting from great force; extreme, and/or marked by intensity; moving or acting with physical strength; urged or impelled with force; excited by strong feeling or passion; forcible; vehement, impetuous, fierce, furious, severe. Hmmm, most of that sounds to me like it's quite applicable to a dominant relationship, i.e., masculine dominance and feminine surrender. It's all about passionate, forceful intensity, which seems like a good thing to me.
But here's some of what they say about ‘violence’: Physical force exerted for the purpose of violating, damaging, or abusing: ‘crimes of violence’; abusive or unjust exercise of power; assault, injury or abuse; transgression or oppression. Hmm, well that doesn't sound too good at all, does it? That's not about passion at all, but about injury, damage, and abuse. There is some overlap between the two definitions, and I've exaggerated the differences here, to make a point. But the question is, why should there be any difference at all, between ‘violent’ and ‘violence’ – which are just the adjective form and the noun form of the same concept?
I'm not sure, but I'm guessing that it might have something to do with the last few decades of activism against ‘domestic violence.’ There can be some very real problems with men who do actual injury to women, of course. But it seems to me that many feminist advocates who have condemned all forms of ‘violence against women’ are deliberately trying to blur the lines between acts that are merely intense and forceful, and those that do serious physical harm. In their view, a man who merely pushes his wife up against a wall without hurting her, or who just restrains her while she's having a tantrum, is committing ‘violence’ against her, merely by using physical force. And by that measure, ‘violence against women’ becomes a problem of epic proportions, requiring police departments to intervene in the most petty domestic disputes, and government agencies to hold training sessions to deprogram men out of their violent impulses.
If these were courses in anger management that teach men to punch a pillow instead of their wife, that would be a very good thing; such courses have proven their effectiveness. But in many cases, these programs follow a radical feminist agenda of teaching that any form of male domination is wrong; and that the husband must not only refrain from injuring his wife, but must also refrain from trying to assume any sort of leadership role in the relationship. (I kid you not; I've looked at a number of sites that explain this strategy. From their view, all evils are a result of male dominance.)
Consensual relationships based on male dominance (including the man's ability to enforce his dominance via his greater strength) can be a wonderful thing for many men and women, but the common perceptions of ‘violence’ make it difficult for many people to see this. The word ‘violence’ is often inappropriately applied.
For example, let's say a woman plays on a soccer team and comes home all bruised and banged-up, following a hard-won victory on the field. I'll bet the radical feminists – and the public at large – would have nothing but cheers and accolades for her. But if a woman were to incur the same exact injuries – minor and temporary as they are – at the hands of her dominant husband, there would be a huge cry of outrage. Why? In both cases, the situation has the woman's total consent: she's there to have precisely this sort of experience, and she's there because she chose that. In both cases, the injuries are minor and temporary; no lasting harm will come of them. (In this example; obviously both soccer and husbands do have the potential to do real injury.) In both cases, the lifestyle she's chosen is important to her; but I think we can safely say that for most women their marriage would be much more important than any sports team. The only reason society approves of the first case and strongly disapproves of the second case is that they refuse to acknowledge that male dominance can be a good thing, and that many women will enter happily and willingly into that sort of relationship. Those assumptions need to be challenged.
The line between pushing and violence
I was talking mainly from the context in which there is already 'blanket consent' for the man to use physical force to ensure his dominance. What if he does that without seeking her explicit consent first? Well, that wouldn't bother me much, since I prefer a man who's willing and able to push me around a bit. And I would much rather that he just takes the initiative on that at some point, rather than asking me if I would like it. (Although, he might approach it by starting with something gentler and gauging my response to that.) That doesn't mean that all women would like it, but some of us do.
Is that a dangerous sign of a potential abuser, a man who might later do some real damage? I suppose maybe it could be; but so could a thousand other things. What I would say is that if a man gets to the point of pushing me into a wall, then we are definitely at the stage where we need to start talking honestly about physical dominance and submission, and how to engage in that safely. That is, it's something that would raise a little red flag for me; but the next thing to do would be to figure out if it's a red flag of danger, or a red flag of fiery erotic passion.
What I would not agree is that a little push should get categorized as 'domestic violence' - or that it should be grounds for police intervention and mandatory feminist lectures on the glories of egalitarian relationships. Whether or not something is 'violence' or 'assault' should be measured not by how the person feels about it, but by the more objective criterion of what damage is actually done. I do think that society has gone way too far in the direction of leaping to the defense of anyone who claims they've been "victimized" in any way, be it by a harmless push, an insulting remark, or somebody looking at them the wrong way. Life is tough; unpleasant things happen all the time; deal with it. If you haven't actually been done any injury, then you have no business whining and wailing and trying to get everyone else in the world to gang up on your "oppressor."
Men should outgrow their masculinity
For example, it used to be the case that a couple of guys might start a shoving match, and it would end up in a barroom brawl, and one of them would win, and the other one would nurse his wounds and admit defeat, and that would be that. No police, no lawsuits, no bartenders worrying about their liability, no public service announcements about the evils of pushing, no "women's studies" professors lecturing about how men should outgrow their masculinity and be more like women - nope, none of that. They'd just have a fistfight, and be done with it. Maybe later they'd make up, have a few beers, and be best friends again; and it was all cool. Because back in the good ole days, people took it for granted that life just pushes you around in one way or another, and as long as you don't really get damaged, you shouldn't go whining too much.
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Under the influence of political correctness, it seems our current society aims at providing all people with a comforting illusion of perfect control, complete safety, and total equality and acceptance at all times. In the grey flatness of this vision, no one is ever seized by the passion or wildness of the moment, no one stands proudly apart from the herd or dances upstream; and we all find our joy in a bland, tame, lifeless, sanitized, orderly, egalitarian ideology of universal siblinghood. And whenever that illusion is threatened in even the tiniest way, there are floods of sympathy, blame, outrage, stunned disbelief, demands to punish the strong - and even more proposals as to how we can further transform human society so that it reflects something utterly unlike human nature. But life itself offers no such guarantees of perfect safety and equality and acceptance; that's something that has been brought painfully to mind by recent world events. We all have much more terrible threats to worry about than somebody pushing somebody else up against a wall. So I imagine that the pendulum of concern might start swinging back the other way sometime soon.
(And, sorry, I wasn't really trying to get off topic into politics and society here; I know that could open up many cans of worms wiggling in many irrelevant directions. But it's true that our romantic lifestyle is often afflicted by anti-violence crusaders with an unrealistic ideology of perfect safety and total equality.)
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