The Guardian has been looking at ‘teenage domestic violence’. In an article published today, Sandra Laville – one of the paper’s ‘crime correspondents’ wrote:
‘Ask a group of teenage girls how many terms of abuse are directed at them in school on a regular basis and they struggle to answer. Every week, they say, boys and young men in their peer group add a new phrase to their lexicon of disrespect.
“At my school we hear three words, slut, sket and slag, every day. It’s got so it’s not worth challenging it, it is not worth arguing about because it just doesn’t change anything,” said Bea Larby, 15.’
The article is based on interviews with teenage girls at what I think are inner city schools. It links violence against girls in their relationships with boys/young men, to the ‘misogynist’ language of the playground, and intimidating and anti-girl groups and sites on Facebook and the internet in general.
‘”Sket” sites, where pictures of girls are posted by vengeful ex-boyfriends, often in compromising situations, are set up on Facebook and other networking sites, or the images are circulated on smart phone messaging systems, along with a request to give marks out of 10 for the “sket” or “bitch”.’
The context for the piece, which by the way does not include any boys’ voices, is recent acknowledgements by powers that be that teenage girls are ‘the group most at risk of domestic violence’ in the UK:
‘ Keir Starmer, the director of public prosecutions, put the problem at the top of the agenda, warning that teenage girls between 16 and 19 are now the group most at risk of domestic violence, closely followed by girls aged 20-24 – all victims of a new generation of abusers who are themselves in their teens and early twenties’.
This was the bit that got me the most:
– all victims of a new generation of abusers who are themselves in their teens and early twenties’.
Labelling a whole generation of teenage boys and young men as ‘a new generation of abusers’ is frankly, appalling, and an example of misandry in action. What chance to lads have of being listened to, learning to deal with their problems, and growing into men who are respected members of society if they are labelled like that before they have even done or said anything?
The story is placed firmly in the narrative of feminist campaigns on domestic violence, linking violence against women by their male partners to ‘verbal intimidation, abuse and misogyny’ in social settings such as schools. The director of Tender, an anti-violence organisation that works with young people, brings out that ‘statistic’ of two women a week being killed by a partner or an ex partner in the UK. The assumption is these partners or exes are men, but I have never seen a report that lays out the stats clearly. But it is worth remembering that ‘two women a week’ is a grand total of just over a hundred deaths a year. Obviously this is a horrible state of affairs. But in a country of over 60 million people, it is a small number.
‘Leading agencies in the domestic violence field, senior police officers and prosecutors believe the verbal intimidation, abuse and misogyny apparently treated as the norm in many school playgrounds are at the beginning of a spectrum of abuse suffered by girls and young women.
“You have to look at that whole spectrum to try to tackle this,” said Susie McDonald, director of Tender UK which works in schools. “At one end there is this kind of behaviour and at the other end you have the horror of two women being killed a week by a partner or ex-partner in this country.”‘
The article makes some tenuous links to language used in TV films, and rap music, with violence against teenage girls. The mention of rap music, the picture of a black girl at the top of the piece, and a reference to a report by an organisation called ‘Race on The Agenda’ all bring a racial aspect to the story, without mentioning race or ethnicity directly. It just hangs over the piece, as if these ‘bad boys’ are being painted as young, possibly afro-carribean lads, who listen to rap music and call women ‘bitches’ and ‘hos’.
‘A report published this month by the thinktank Race on the Agenda (Rota), which interviewed girls in Liverpool, Birmingham and Manchester, identified how verbal disrespect can escalate into horrific abuse and sexual assaults on girls as young as 13.‘
Again, the ROTA report is based on interviews with girls and not boys. I don’t mean to be snarky, but if you ask only one group of people if they have been victimised, you are not going to get a full picture of events are you?
I don’t know. Maybe domestic violence amongst teenagers is on the increase. But this kind of scare-mongering, girls as victims, boys as ‘abusers’, littered with racial references, is the kind of misandrist rubbish I am coming to expect from the Guardian. If boys are turning to violence due to a sense of lack of control in their lives, ‘low self-esteem’ and other horrible concepts, wouldn’t one way of giving them a bit of humanity be to actually talk to them?
Or don’t bad boys deserve even that?
Originally posted at GraunWatch: