COE 1999 : SEMINAR Men and Violence

Socio and Psychogeneti Attempts

EuroPROFEM - The European Men Profeminist Network 


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66m-en_vio ... Violence


European Council of Europen - Human Rights

Section Equality between women and men

Seminar : Men and Violence Against Women

Strasbourg, 8 October 1999 - Palais de l'Europe - France


Socio and Psychogenetic Attempts to Explain the Male Inclination towards Violence Against Women


Ursula Müller (University of Bielefeld, Germany)
and Angela Minssen


In this paper, I give a partial insight into an extended secondary analysis I did together with Angela Minssen.[1] The co-operation between me as a sociologist and Angela Minssen as a psychoanalyst led us through a huge amount of diverse literature, but, strikingly enough, we came to confront patterns of explaining the male inclination for violence against women that resembled each other more than was to be expected.


1. Changes and continuities


Looking at male violence towards known women (Hearn 1998) today, we see a double feature: while we can see impressive changes on the political side (and this conference is an impressive example of this), we are also still confronted by oppressive continuities in the basic traits of scholarly explanations on the other. Major successes in overcoming the taboos about discussing the male inclination for violence against women in the general public and on different political levels run up against a very stable pattern of argumentation in the basic assumptions about its causes that we find rather shocking. Theory and practice on the "male inclination for using violence against women" seem to be drifting apart, and each is going through its own autonomous development. At present, they only relate in a few points, and some of them may be fatal, as I want to point out at the end of my paper.


While examining the literature, we were initially surprised and later very irritated to see how thoroughly the blame for this male violence is cast upon mothers or women. This is an aspect where the new "men's movement literature" and traditional psychoanalytical concepts are in surprising harmony.


Psycho- and sociogenetic explanations offer what we consider to be the problematic possibility of allowing men to appear as victims rather than offenders. On the societal level, this perspective makes them prisoners of their "male role"; on the level of individual psychology, they appear as victims of a devalued but simultaneously omnipotent mother.


According to this victim postulate on the sociological level, the "male role" is changing as a result of progressive modernisation. Its traditional contents have become obsolete without binding and reliable new proposals becoming available to replace them. Part of the literature engages in explicit or implicit attributions of blame: The emancipation of women has generated uncertainty. Because women have left the place assigned to them by tradition, men can no longer find their own place. In light of such a "difficulty", male violence is apparently a regrettable but basically comprehensible consequence.


On the psychological level, the victim status of the man has already developed a "tradition". The boy who is bound and held in symbiosis by his mother has only one way of escaping this maternal pressure: He dissociates himself from everything feminine, and the most permanent and secure way of doing this is through devaluation. From this perspective, misogyny as a precondition of the male inclination for violence against women emerges as an inevitable outcome of the exclusive female mothering that society simultaneously demands and supports as a desirable good.



2. The bourgeois model of gender characters and its impact on today’s gender relations  


One basic sociological idea behind this paper is the privatisation of social problems at the expense of women. For a long time, feminist theory has used the concept of the "gender-specific" or "gender-hierarchical" division of labour to describe this idea. As Karin Hausen and others have shown, how the separation between housework and gainful employment that asserted itself during the 19th century corresponded, on a sociocultural level, with a social, cultural and emotional polarisation of the "gender characters" that undertook a division of "properties, abilities, and emotional as well as psychosexual characteristics according to gender" (Hausen 1978) on the basis of a complementary model. This bourgeois concept views women and men as two opposite poles having almost nothing in common. They differ not only in the work they are able to do, but also in the intellectual, emotional and other characteristics of their "being". Nobody is allowed to be both male and female at the same time. The basic model of bourgeois relations between the genders is a meeting of two incomplete persons who can only attain completion through the help of an appropriate opposite. The mutual dependency that is basically inherent in this model is de facto turning into male supremacy. [2]


When psychogenesis is taken as a level of analysis, this model only permits identification within one's own gender group. Daughters cannot identify with their fathers; nor sons with their mothers. Analogue to the situation on the sociogenetic level in which nobody may possess masculine and feminine characteristics at the same time, the psychogenetic level, perceives ambivalence as disruptive and disconcerting and as something to be avoided at all costs. This leads to a strong control interest when dealing with the environment and the demands and uncertainties that arise from it.


For masculinity, this traditional model links the loss of masculinity closely with a psychological regression towards symbiosis. It is as if to say that a loss of gender is feared. Analogue to this on the sociogenetic level, it is feared that a non-controlling approach towards women will lead to a loss of status. In the traditional gender model, it is far more the case that the man has to dissociate himself from the woman, who is defined as being opposite, and constantly control this "definedness".


Because real women do not comply with these definitions, they pose a permanent threat that leads to the development of fears in the man that then have to be suppressed permanently. Hence, the attitude towards woman is characterised by an underlying fear that places the man in an actually inferior position in his own eyes. This psychological position broadly, if not completely, denies the aspect of the societal power of men.


3. Gender ambivalence and men’s loss of control  

In modern society, experiences of ambivalence are on the increase for men (see, for instance, Connell's concept of "gender vertigo" 1995; and the first empirical signs among German men Metz-Goeckel/Mueller 1986). However, they find themselves in the role of latecomers compared with women who had already articulated their perception of discrepancies between norms and needs in the early women's movements at the end of the 19th century and have continued this quite insistently in the new women's movement since the 1960s.


Men's experiences of ambivalence take a different form to those of women. Mostly, it seems, they do not perceive it as an extension and further development of their agency, but process it as a threat. This feeling of being threatened contributes to the desire to revive the "old" conditions when men were still men and women knew their place.


Basically, today's men have two possible ways of reacting to women's successful processing of perceived ambivalence that expresses itself as an acquisition of new rights or their consolidation, a shaking of the basic premises of patriarchal structures, an expansion of the sociosymbolic representation of the feminine, a politicisation of the asymmetry between the genders in society and so forth. First, they can acknowledge it voluntarily or reluctantly as a potential, and exploratively or enthusiastically engage in attempts to exploit such a potential for themselves. Second, they can give way to their feeling of being threatened and reject the new potential through destructive devaluation. The majority of men are probably located on a continuum between these two poles; it may well be that a process perspective is also appropriate for most of them. We shall try to explain this with an example.[3]


The generation of men aged 35-55 years who have now achieved success in their careers may initially have welcomed the emancipation of women strongly because it relieved the pressure on their uncertain masculinity. However, with increasing occupational and social success, they do not develop an extended self-consciousness based on gender awareness and symmetry; instead, a consolidation of traditional masculinity occurs accompanied by a desire to fend off the continual demands for masculinity to change—both their own and that of others. Men who have attained power seem to lose the ability to accept ambivalence, and many of them are no longer willing to co-operate with women who want to establish gender symmetry.  


The male belief, found in various forms, that women are less suitable than men for public office (an inheritance from bourgeois political philosophy) conceals the fear that women might perform just as well if not better than men. This makes it necessary to devalue feminine potency by attributing it with irrationality. This addresses the other side of the belief that women are less suitable for public office than men: It invokes the man's fear of losing control to the woman (see above).


However, when women have attained higher posts, the illusion is maintained that they can only manage so well through the invisible support of powerful men who make their own potency available to them. This enables the controlling man to remain in contact with the object of control and retain the fiction of control. If this fiction can no longer be maintained, an attempt is made to "destroy" the object through massive attack. Another way of overcoming the threat of the publicly potent woman would be to give up control and recognise the woman. However, for many men this still seems to be unthinkable. This is a way of retaining something that Virginia Woolf recognised long ago: Women cannot mirror themselves in men. Only a few, it would seem, have managed to attain this privileged position so far.


For the present analysis, we were very surprised to realise that most of the diverse literature we went through revealed the pattern that we have just tried to sketch above in general terms. Only a few transcendental trends can be found in psychoanalysis, in the "new men's movement literature", in the criticism and further development of feminist analysis, in sociological and educational literature on masculinity and so forth.[4] The idea that there may be men who are secure in their masculinity, who do not consider their masculinity to be threatened by feminine power, is still not very widespread [5], as we shall see in the following sections.



3.1 Feminist psychoanalysis on "becoming male"


A series of more recent studies that tend to be oriented towards psychoanalytical concepts address the relation between particular forms of mothering and the emergence of masculine misogyny from various perspectives (see, in particular, Johnson, 1988; Rohde-Dachser, 1991; Schuch-Minssen, 1992). These talk about, among others, the "overpowering", "devouring", or "omnipotent" mother from whom the small boy urgently has to liberate himself. He perceives femininity as an overpowering experience to which he is exposed helplessly because of his developmental dependency (Chasseguet-Smirgel, 1974, 1988; Chodorow, 1985; Olivier, 1988). On the one side, the mother is perceived positively, because she guarantees satisfaction of needs; on the other side, her all-encompassing power leads to a narcissistic wound, namely, being powerless oneself, and this is interpreted as the basis for hostility towards mothers (see, above all, Chasseguet-Smirgel, 1988). This mother who is perceived as all-powerful not only inflicts narcissistic wounds, but her usurpatory, overwhelming, and devouring quality is also perceived as an impairment and constraint that the boy wishes to escape from. However, these desires for liberation are not just restricted to childhood. According to the concepts cited above, the man continues to be involved in this striving towards independence throughout his life. This simultaneously consolidates his dependence on his early mother. However, this dependence is not based on solidarity, but on having to ensure that one never enters the dependency of a symbiotic relationship. It seems that the man's life with a woman is a continuous defence against being pressurised and being caught up in a relationship that simply takes a different form. Hence, adulthood proves to be a repeat of the efforts to gain independence from the mother and to maintain this independence through, above all, devaluation.


The deficit in this approach is that it is limited to mother-child dyads as a sort of space that is removed from society. The claims regarding an all-powerful mother in her relationship with the child are generally contextualised through a lack of power in society or at least a disadvantaged position for both mothers and women (Schütze, 1986; Krüger et al., 1987; Müller, 1989). This societal tension is expressed even in the intimate relationship between mother and child. Then, depending on how strongly the mother is dependent on coercing the child because of the lack of alternative ways of shaping her life, separation from the mother can take the form of a hostile disassociation from her or curiosity towards the environment (Benjamin, 1990).


The available literature, however, only seems to attach significance to the boy's rather hostile desires to dissociate himself from his mother. Recent psychoanalytical approaches propose that the gender difference between boys and their mothers leads to a particular form of separation and dissociation.


One way of looking at this focuses on the "narcissistic wound" (Chasseguet-Smirgel, 1988) as the outcome of primary helplessness and defencelessness. One can free oneself from the overpowering strength of the maternal imago or learn to control it by devaluing the all-powerful mother through something that she does not possess: a penis. For the boy, this supposedly means that despite submission to the all-powerful mother, he now realises that he possesses an organ that his mother does not have. The satisfaction gained through this is unstable and needs to be repeated continuously. The outcome, and this makes the aspect of devaluating femininity a founder of male identity, is a triumphant devaluation of the other gender. Viewing the feminine as castrated, powerless, and inferior then represents the long-desired triumph and the long-desired power over the seemingly omnipotent mother.


The other variant of separation - which has also been adopted without question by feminist authors (see, above all, Chodorow, 1985) - is that boys fundamentally have to distance themselves from identification with their mothers. Apparently, none of their primary identification with her may be retained without threatening their masculine identity. The development of masculine gender identity seems - and Greenson (1968) views this as a necessity - to continue to require "de-identification" from the mother. The acquisition and maintenance of masculine gender identity has to be achieved through the strong, defensive differentiation from the primary (identification) object of the mother (see, in particular, Stoller, 1968; Tyson, 1991).


Regardless of whether masculinity is a vehicle for independence, that is, it emerges through necessity, or whether independence is the driving force behind the development of masculinity, the quality of masculinity still remains undefined. With the consolidation of the gender difference, it already seems that "masculinity" means only one thing: "not being female". However, if masculine is defined only negatively as not feminine, all parts of the self that are experienced as having negative connotations such as weakness, fear, dependence, the need for fusion, powerlessness, passivity, and so forth are projected on to the woman in whom they are supposedly controlled and kept at a distance. Woman becomes the "container" for these inherently intolerable conscious or unconscious stirrings (see, in particular, Rohde-Dachser, 1991).


The process of distancing from the feminine has, at first hand, no connection to "real" women; in this view, masculinity is not promoted through a process of interaction with a concrete "other", but with an imaginary, interior "reality". Traditional masculinity distances itself from an interior image of femininity that has been handcrafted, so to speak, by the man himself. Distancing oneself from an imaginary femininity leads to the stabilisation of a male identity that is precarious through its dependence on this specific form of disassociation from and definition of imagined femininity. In other words, it is crucial for one's own identity to defend the view of femininity as weak, fearful, and the like. Everything that is feminine but does not correspond to the imago described, just like everything masculine that presents an aspect of this imago becomes a threat and has to be devalued or opposed and from this, indeed, may derive some inclination to violence.


3.2 The "new men’s literature" on masculinity  


The "new men's literature" addressing the topic of the "masculine inclination for violence" - including authors such as Bly, Bornemann, Keen, Schissler, Hollstein, Gottschalch or Schnack/Neutzling - discusses the masculine inclination to use violence against women almost exclusively as a reaction of the boy or the man to something that women - particularly mothers - possess or do. Impressively deterministic formulations suggest that the inclination for violence against women should be understood as something that will remain inevitable until a change should occur - where this change should come from remains unclear. From this discussion, we give some examples.


The hypothesis that men are envious of the woman's ability to give birth to children was originally proposed by Karin Horney in "Die Angst vor der Frau" published in 1932 to counteract Freud's concept of penis envy. She assumed that it is the boy's envy of childbearing, in other words, his envy of something that girls possess rather than the fear of a loss that they have suffered, that is responsible for certain fears and wounds that the boy suffers during the phallic phase. She had already assumed that the overemphasis on the penis—among children; in the theory formulation of male analysts, and, we would add, in the men's movement literature —basically represents only a desperate attempt to deny the frightening female genitals.  


Mostly unaffected by the complex arguments of Horney, but also from the differentiation of a Bruno Bettelheim whom he endorses verbally, Gottschalch associates hatred of women with the self-hate of men. He assumes that men are envious of women because they are more powerful. In men's minds, women can give and take; the small child is completely and utterly at the mercy of the mother, and fears of being abandoned remain the deepest fears for adults as well. Gottschalch believes that men have defeated women "only" on the social level but not on the psychological one. On the psychological level, they continue to be dependent on women, and as long as this is not recognised and, moreover, it is not acknowledged that this dependency is mutual, it can develop into men hating women and vice versa. A further reason for male envy of women is their inexhaustible sexual potency, which Gottschalch formulates very simply in terms of biological determinism: Through her physical constitution, a women is always able to engage in the sexual act; but this is not the case for men. At the same time, a man can never be sure about what a women is experiencing during the sexual act, which can increase his own sexual anxieties and suggests a devaluation and suppression of the sexuality of the other as an antidote.


Hermann(1989) also argues in the same direction, commencing with the fear that men have of women, that this generates a inclination for violence, and that the cause of this fear is once more envy of the ability to give birth.


These statements completely neglect the possibility that the boy's envy of childbearing could also become integrated into his personality in a way that does not lead to a devaluation of woman but to an interest in her and to curiosity, to an exchange on a level of equal rights. Their arguments concentrate on the phallic defence organisation whose consequence is then the devaluation of the woman.


There is a similar situation with attempts to explain the inclination for violence as an effort to recreate the illusion of one's own grandiosity and omnipotence. Bornemann (1987) and Gottschalch (1984, 1991), but many other authors as well, discuss how men are experiencing a loss of confidence through the weakening of gender roles and the loss of traditional masculine identity - all evoked by the emancipation of women. In this context, Hollstein (1992,1993) talks about the "social castration" of the male because contraceptives have given women power over birth control, as well as the impact of female employment that has countered male hegemony in the occupational domain. As with the supporters of childbearing envy, it is once more the man who is the victim. Holstein, for example, accuses American women of wanting not only the sensitive and understanding man but also the conqueror, the seducer, and the successful careerist.


Goldberg (1986) also sees only the threats to the man arising from both the maternal and the self-aware woman. Whereas the former keeps the man dependent, the latter suddenly leaves him to cope by himself without preparation. The man always loses out, because he can never foresee in which way women will develop. Unpredicted changes have paralysed him, they have made it impossible for him to make demands, and, instead, he responds with helpless anger or silent resignation.


In summary, these authors believe that the narcissistic wounding that the man is "forced" to process through violence and a inclination for violence against women is composed of three elements: first, the inability to retain the role of the patriarch, the powerful man; second, the fact that there are women who are stronger or at least as strong as the man; and third, that there is a prevailing idea of not being able to satisfy he woman's sexual demands.


The focus is on separation and disassociation from the usurping, occupying, pestering and threatening mother; and the question of blame has already been decided against the mothers/women. The different types of mother compiled by Schnack and Neutzling (1990,1993) - both the controlling and the battling, the defenceless and the "mother as companion", the "compulsive cleaner" (a further variant of the devalued mother) as well as the lonely mother who replaces her marriage with her relationship to the son, but does not really give him this primary status in her life - all make it impossible for their sons to attain happiness as autonomous persons.


Publications of this sort have been very powerful in influencing the public discourses on masculinity and male inclination to violence, whereas the serious scholarly literature that affords more tolerance towards uncertainty, varieties, and differentiation among men, and does not participate into the misogyny underpinning of the "new men's literature" (for instance the works of Morgan, Hearn, Connell, Seidler) in my opinion still has to make it's way to challenge the successful discourse on men as women's victims.



5. Delegating responsibility, creating gender asymmetry in adolescence and beyond


From a sociological perspective, the findings reported above indicate one central mode of attributing responsibility: Women - and particularly, but not just, mothers - are assigned responsibility for the internal processes of men. This process seems to be a not yet well regarded part of the "hidden curricula"; the message is not just boys or men being more important, as feminist researchers, for instance Dale Spender and numerous others have demonstrated, but girls or women being responsible for the boys' or men's behaviour. This has been shown in some German research on male and female teachers professional self-concepts.


Karin Flaake has shown (though within a theoretical concept of difference) that female teachers often band together with the girls in forging a sort of regressive pact; in other words, they join them in slipping into the role of being the victims of male dominance in the classroom. This is accompanied by the clear message that "The boys are terrible enough as it is, so at least you may behave". However, the implicit message is also that it does not lie within the power of women to change men; they can only try to contain them somehow or other. The best way to do this is to offer curricula that are mainly interesting for boys, and to appeal to the girls to show understanding for this. Their interests at school need to take second place to motivating boys to participate in the class. The finding that boys, on average, are given more opportunity to express themselves actively (findings resumed in Kreienbaum 1992; pioneering: Dale Spender) is also part of this process. The girls' motivation, in contrast, is left to them. They have to learn to take responsibility for their own internal processes[6] [7] they have nobody to whom to delegate this.


Delegating responsibility for men's internal processes, for their emotional development, their emotional satisfaction, and their appeasement, to women does work because women shoulder also this responsibility within the framework of the traditional model of gender relationships described above. But it does not work without the development of an equivalent self-concept in women: a feeling of inner superiority, a distanced, as if to say, "moral" omnipotence (cf. the works of Margrit Brueckner 1983: 1993; 1998). Frequently, such traditional arrangements are still emphasised and consolidated in processes found in schools, even though this is not a conscious strategy on the part of the actors.


This shows how the traditional division of labour is also an asymmetric division of emotional structures and moral responsibility. We postulate that allocating responsibilities according to gender in line with the traditional model is inherently extremely violent. It creates large-scale asymmetries.



These asymmetries also impact on private male violence against women. Hagemann-White talks about the "societal lack of compulsive empathy" in men. This promises them - perhaps no longer necessarily so culturally valued as before, though still accepted sympathetically - a far-reaching freedom from sanctions when they claim they have no longer been able to control themselves or to understand what their partner was saying. An impressive example has most recently provided in Hearn (1998) and in the eighties by Godenzi (1987).


It is the culturally dominant pattern for emotional commitments and happiness - normative heterosexuality and traditional marriage - that keeps an asymmetric type of gender relationship alive, together with the male inclination to violence against women. The reactions of men to an imaginary femininity continue to be widely accepted as valid. In their private sphere, these men are surrounded by women who compensate their powerlessness in society through an imagined omnipotence in private life - both in their own imagination and in the imagination of their male "partners".



6. Structural asymmetries and state politics


Viewing the preservation of the family, the maintenance of the partnership, and the continued presence of the father as an indubitable good for the welfare of the child is a refinement of the ideology of motherhood that restricts the action scopes of women, even though these have expanded in principle. This is reinforced by the fact that it is not just the individual woman but also the institutions of the state that frequently view the preservation of the family as the target of their measures, and consider the presence of the father to be essential for both economic and normative reasons. The "gender contract" that is implicitly or explicitly underpinning politics against violence as well as therapeutic measures has to be revealed, but some areas of research, for instance in family sociology, prefer until today to investigate new forms of living together as deviant[8]


In numerous policies on violence, the ideology of motherhood calls for family solidarity and the presence of the father as an indispensable basis for the child's welfare. This places constraints on female action scope that has otherwise expanded objectively in recent decades. Government institutions support these constraints by focusing their activities, as (not only) conservative - liberal governments do, on preserving the bourgeois nuclear family. It would seem to be very apparent that the continuation of the traditional model of the family - not in reality, but on the level of ideas, of imagination - provides the conditions that enable the continuation of traditional masculinity.


An important precondition for stemming private male violence against women is the woman's social and economic independence (a feminist claim with a long tradition; see the summary argument in Godenzi 1993). Indeed, an US-American pilot programme shows that providing battered women with independent housing, education, and income, drastically reduces the risk of becoming a victim of violence again.


However, studies by Benard and Schlaffer have shown that even when they are economically independent, women may stop themselves from engaging in adequate confrontations with their partners. The power of normativity is frequently still decisive, even when the economic and legal preconditions for independence have been met. This shows how partnership ideology frequently functions as a relationship trap: Studies on partnership conflicts have shown how, during the course of their relationships, women abandon the integration of love and equality that they had originally held so dear, and no longer compare their non-egalitarian partner with themselves but with other men (see Hochschild, 1989; Müller, 1997), and definite losses of chances, property and perspectives, may be evaluated as internal growth (see Hagemann-White and research group on migrating couples).


We can conclude that a gender-egalitarian division of labour and power would also impact on the constraints of the prevailing structures of emotional commitment, at least in the long term. The area of emotional commitment, however, is also a battlefield of its own.



7. Concluding remarks: Some visionary aspects of gender symmetry


We have argued, providing some examples, that large parts of the literature that provides direct or indirect arguments to discuss the male inclination to use violence against women, reveal an inherent determinism. Explanations are very often aiming at closed types of argument, that leaves male violence as a more or less inevitable consequence.[9] In many psychoanalytical concepts - as well as, by the way, in anthropological studies - the development of masculinity is imagined as a difficult and risky process with insecure results, that starts with the dissociation from the feminine, by means of devaluation. The basic and non-contested assumption is often that male children have to dis-identify thoroughly from the feminine, and can only build up a masculine identity by orientating towards males. In our view, this is an unnecessary short-cutting on the theoretical level. Benjamin and others have supposed that children do not identify with males or females, but with qualities of relations, and Irene Fast has stated that the concept of decisive "losses" (of feminine traits, for instance being able to give birth) is only talking about the loss of abilities and capacities that have never been owned in reality, but in fantasy. Therefore, a theoretical possibility to open up masculine development on the level of psychology would be to postulate that elements of the early fantasies of completeness, of disposing of male and female capacities and abilities at the same time, may not be devalued by means of an imaginary feminine. Rather, they could be maintained, narcissistically appreciated, and disposed of in fantasy, in order to enjoy them in reality on the side of a partner, instead of fighting them.


On the sociological level, masculinity and femininity have revealed as societal constructions in some areas of feminist, pro-feminist and anti-sexist discourse; indeed, the variations of masculinity and femininity that are culturally accepted have multiplied. We tried to point out, however, the intertwining of some levels of gender relations in order to achieve some criteria for continuities and change. Gendered division of work has not become obsolete for explaining male violence, but is still remaining central, as it provides economic and emotional dependencies and asymmetrical gender relations.


To understand the difference between women and men as an interesting and therefore erotically attractive differentness in which each other person is viewed as complete rather than in terms of a reciprocal attribution of deficits, is to propose an alternative model that is certainly still utopian. However, as our arguments progressed, this model has always provided a "critical horizon" that can serve as a background when examining the literature on the male inclination for violence. This is a model of a reciprocal conception of gender in which "gender" is not used to define one's social "place", difference is not construed through devaluation, and the male inclination for violence is not viewed as the "normal case" in society, but as a developmental failure, a failure that, nonetheless, is still proposed and protected by society.




[1] Angela Minssen/Ursula Mueller, Attraktion und Gewalt (Attraction and Violence. Psychogenetic and sociogenetic explanations for male violence against women, forthcoming).

[2] Of course, this is a shortcut of a complex ideology; the pattern of "complementarity" (and not reciprocity) between women and men has existed before the rise of the bourgeoisie, but in the 19th century it changed its quality and became densified into gender characters, legitimising division of labour, exclusion of women from education, power and politics, and so on. In political philosophy and in the philosophy of science, gender characterology was used to prove women’s incapability to succeed in these areas, and to legitimise that men were the only gender present, representing the "whole" in those fields. See, for instance, Benhabib on Hegel, Women, and Irony. [3] There are some members of the still rather new red-green German government we may have in mind here, but it is not a specifically German phenomenon.

[4] The few authors who go beyond this basic pattern include Jessica Benjamin, Carel Hagemann-White, Margrit Brückner, Eva Paluda-Korte, Edda Uhlmann, Ruth Großmaß, Bob Connell, the members of this meeting (of course), and ourselves. Aspects that pass beyond gender polarization can be found in Irene Faust and in Christa Rohde-Dachser, although the latter also retains conventional definitions.

[5] Therefore a secondary topic is the question regarding the circumstances under which "giving men" can develop who do not "fall over" immediately when they have conceded power and do not feel threatened by women who confront them with equal power or publicly strive towards this.We cannot elaborate on this here, but will retain it as a horizon of critique, and return to it in our concluding remarks.

[6] The lack of feeling for one’s own responsibility is also very common among violent men, as Hearn (1998) has shown impressively: talking to 60 men having been arrested for violence towards known women showed that almost all of them presented themselves as „really not violent„; their violence has been an „exception„ , they had to be „really provoked„.  

[8] As an example, there has been some German research still in 1996 to investigate into the impact of mothers' gainful employment on schoolchildren's inclination to violent behaviour in the schoolyard, or in 1999 some research assuming that East German mothers' high labour market participation is more or less directly the reason for adolescent right wing radicalism, including racist yiolent behaviour.

[9] We have left out here some research that is referring to social deprivation in the same "automatic" way of thinking.



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