That article where a law professor argues that battered women are morally entitled to kill their abusers has an interesting quote:
“ Men can kill women with their bare hands, and they do. Women almost never kill men that way. They can’t. […] While very few women kill abusive men who are asleep or passed out, it’s “unfair” to charge them with first degree murder, Sheehy argues. “It’s not fair to characterize it as the most heinous form of murder, because it may be their own route to survival. ”
There have probably been feminist analyses of this already, but it’s worth discussing how the concept of self-defence, especially in domestic violence cases, was designed by men to benefit men. In my country at least, your attack is only considered “legitimate self-defence” if it is a) necessary, b) immediate, c) proportionate.
A concept of self-defence that only applies if you hurt or kill someone while they are attacking you, and if you hurt or kill them using the same weapons as them (your bare hands, if that’s what they are using) only benefits people who are likely to be attacked by people of similar size and physical strength, and is utterly useless to women.
When a bigger, stronger male beats up his much smaller wife, it’s almost impossible for her to kill him in self-defence (immediately and proportionately ie with nothing but her fists), and yet it’s the scenario through which she can hope to be acquitted or get a light sentence. That’s not a coincidence. The other two scenarios (and she will be despised if she picks either) are for her to
1) kill him later (when he can’t use his physical advantage, eg when he’s asleep or has his back turned on her), but it won’t be self-defence because it won’t be immediate. (In the Jacqueline Sauvage case, one of the main arguments against her was that she shot her husband in the back at a time when he wasn’t actively beating her up)
2) use a weapon, but it won’t be self-defence because it won’t be proportionate. Obviously this condition also benefits men, because when a woman gets punched by her husband and she punches him back, it’s seen as a proportionate response but it shouldn’t be, because her punch (typically) won’t do nearly as much damage as his. Anything else she does (like use a weapon) to try and hurt him as much as he hurt her will be considered a disproportionate response and will mean it wasn’t self-defence.
The idea that killing your abuser in a honest face-to-face fight with your bare hands is honourable and forgivable, but killing your abuser in any other way is shameful and wrong, utterly benefits men and protects men. It’s also why poison was historically reviled as a ‘female weapon’ and as the most cowardly way to kill someone. Poison has been described as “a great equalizer” – no wonder men hated it. Men have always hated, and will keep hating, shaming, and outlawing, any form of attack through which women can compensate our disadvantage in strength and size, and they will keep praising as the only valid method of self-defence, the method that presents the smallest risk of being effectively used by women against them.
Moral of the story? Woman leave a man, he kills her, medias romanticized his act as ‘he couldn’t live without her’ ‘he loved her too much’ passion crime
Woman stay, he abuse her and eventually their children, woman is to blame because she stayed
Woman protect herself with a weapon, murder and not self defense
Woman try to protect herself with her own strength, man kills her and probably can argue he defended himself
The only time a woman gets some sympathy is when she dies, kudos if she died protecting her children