Gender neutrality and abuse

Hilzoy apologizes for calling all abusers “he” in her piece on women in abusive relationships (the piece I wrote about the same issue and Hilzoy’s very worthwhile initial reaction was ultimately spurred by this piece by Linda Hirshmann), and shares empathy for men who have been abused by women.

Yet in her retraction, I’d say that she missed one major reason to remain gender neutral or wordy (the “himself or herself” bit). Even though gay and lesbian communities tend to me more progressive than other populations, domestic and/or sexual violence has managed to seep into some homosexual relationships. As such, there exists a whole sample of abused men (by men) and abuser women (who abuse women) that really do not fit into the self-righteous “rhetorical club against feminism” paradigm.
Understanding this brings some perspective to how we should interpret the idea of male survivors or female abusers, and reminds us that our efforts to support for survivors and end domestic/sexual violence must transcend gender stereotypes.


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