According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) nearly a third of female homicide victims are killed by a husband or boyfriend. The National Organization for Women (NOW) reports that almost three women were murdered each day in 2005. Conservative estimates approximate that nearly 30 women in the United States alone are raped every hour of every day.
Observers of domestic violence frequently ask why battered women don’t just leave. The hard truth is they are more likely to be killed when they do. Newspaper articles are filled with stories of women “who did everything right” and were still murdered. They called the police, filed restraining orders, changed locks and meticulously followed safety plans only to find that death could be delayed but not prevented. Women are blamed for being raped, too. Observers often question what she was wearing, where she was at the time or how much she had to drink.
But why do men hurt and kill women? The reasons are complex and varied. One reason is because they are not expected to take responsibility for their actions. When a man hurts or kills a woman we often wonder what she did to deserve it or to upset him. After all, boys will be boys.
Sometimes men kill in revenge against an intimate partner who had the audacity to attempt escape from his control. In other cases men value very rigid gender roles. Raised in the hypermasculine culture we train them early to prize above all else, some men resort to murder when there is a real or imagined offense to their sense of malehood. Some men kill because they are unable or unwilling to recognize or appropriately respond to the needs of others. Because they place inordinate value on their own needs, these men may murder to protect assets, position or even reputation.
Ultimately, men kill and hurt women because they believe they have the right to do so. Beliefs and values provide the foundation for what is possible. That is true for everyone. Our actions have roots in the internal guidelines established by our beliefs. In other words, beliefs and values act much like the computer operating system. They govern our functions.
Although we have made significant strides it is still clear that women are less valued than men. Ultimately, men who murder and rape may rationalize that killing or hurting someone with little or no comparative value is a reasonable act.