Note to Black Feminists: Stop Segregating Domestic Violence

Domestic Violence

TO TAKE A STAND against domestic violence is something I believe anyone and everyone can get behind.  In understanding social privilege dynamics I have a firm understanding of what male privilege is, and I do make attempts at explaining this sociological phenomenon to men as much as I painstakingly try to explain white privilege to white people.  I think that because of this privilege we as men have over the male/female dynamic, it is us men who need to begin speaking to other men about these things, which is in effect, using the system of privilege against itself.  Whether feminists want to admit it or not they need us.

Feminists are usually on the front lines in regard to the fight against domestic violence.  In current events an NFL player named Ray Rice of the Baltimore Ravens has a videotape leaked showing him stone-cold decking his wife.  Of course, the public response was expected; numerous people engage in victim blaming while others take a solid stance against domestic violence.  Seemingly, there was an NFL cover-up.  There was a call to punish Ray Rice, and he was subsequently terminated from the Raven’s roster, and suspended from the NFL indefinitely.

When Words Break From Tongue

Black feminists, outraged righteously, became highly vocal in this event.  Let me put this on record right now: I agree with EVERY ASPECT of their outrage, and I agree with nearly every word that breaks from their tongue.  Every word, except one — the notion that domestic violence is only a black thing.  To my black feminist friends, this is where Johnny Silvercloud finds quarrel.

Now I’m sure my black feminist friends (or rival writers?) do not intend on actually stating that domestic crime is only a black thing.  However, when they speak, I find a problem that they speak in segregated terms regarding domestic violence.  Black feminists — ranging from cool-headed intellectuals to well intentioned extremists — tend to only specify BLACK MEN in their reasoning.  Some may sound like they actually hate black men.  The problem I have here is that in only specifying just black men who hit black women, they imply that domestic violence is just a “black problem”.


The issue with domestic violence is that it’s a multi-ethnic, onmi-racial, multicultural, international problem.

Here’s a couple of facts on domestic violence:

  • Globally, as many as 38% of murders of women are committed by an intimate partner.
  • The first sexual experience for many women was reported as forced – 17% in rural Tanzania, 24% in rural Peru, and 30% in rural Bangladesh.
  • Approximately 140 million girls and women in the world have suffered female genital mutilation/cutting.
  • Number of women in the U.S. who report intimate partner violence: 1 in 4
  • Number of men in the U.S. who report intimate partner violence: 1 in 7*
  • Number of women who will experience partner violence worldwide: 1 in 3.
  • Number of gay and bisexual men who experience domestic violence in the U.S.: 2 in 5 (similar to heterosexual women)
  • Country in which 943 women were killed in honor killings in 2011: Pakistan
  • Approximately 1.3 million women and 835,000 men are physically assaulted by an intimate partner annually in the United States.
  • 59% of female victims and 30% of male victims are stalked by an intimate partner.
  • 61% of stalkers made unwanted phone calls; 33% sent or left unwanted letters or items; 29% vandalized property; and 9% killed or threatened to kill a family pet.
  • 28% of female victims and 10% of male victims obtained a protective order. 69% of female victims and 81% of male victims had the protection order violated.
  • 17 percent of American Indian and Alaska Native women are stalked in their lifetime, compared to 8.2 percent of white women, 6.5 percent of African-American women, and 4.5 percent of Asian/Pacific Islander women.

Let’s get one thing straight: I do not provide this data as a means to provide cover for black men who engage in domestic violence.  This isn’t a means to pivot from discussion like, “Well they do it over there, so why don’t you talk about that?” The point I’m making here is NOT saying that one should place attention elsewhere, the point is to state that domestic violence, isn’t “just” a black thing. 

What I’m getting at, is this: black feminists need to STOP adding the “black” modifier to domestic abuse.

If you are against domestic abuse, be against ALL of it, not just black couples or black people.  In attacking “black” men in the matter of domestic violence, does that mean that it’s perfectly okay for a white man to beat a woman? An Asian one?  Interracial relationships are a reality; don’t they matter as well?

If one is to stand against a particular injustice, one cannot segregate that injustice.  Wrong is wrong, period, regardless of who does it.  So, to my black feminist constituency, please, if you are looking for men — black men — to stand up in the face of the world-wide pandemic of domestic violence… stop talking as if only black men are the perpetrators.  Much like with the “black on black crime” narrative, when you segregate crime, your biggest fans become white supremacists, perhaps not your intended audience.


 Photo Credit: Johnny Silvercloud

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