Women, violence and truth


The most sensational photograph of an Irishwoman I've seen in a while was that, in last Tuesday's Irish Independent, of Amanda Cleary. Twenty, beautiful and smiling, she was taken from court having been sentenced to four years in prison, one year suspended, writes John Waters.

On New Year's Eve 2002, Cleary had arrived with two male companions at the home of Mary Cunningham (63), who, though unrelated to Cleary, had cared for her as a child following her mother's death. Ms Cunningham, an elderly male guest and a disabled female guest were set upon, beaten, set alight with lighter fuel and doused with boiling water. Five months later, Cleary broke into the house and threatened to cut Ms Cunningham's throat and bury her body in the garden if she gave evidence. Following this, a friend of Ms Cunningham paid for a security guard to sit in her house. When he took a night off, Cleary, with two women and a man, again entered the house, held a knife to Ms Cunningham's throat and demanded money.

The Irish Times did not report this case, but it did carry, in the "Connect" column the previous Saturday, an attack on me by Anthea McTiernan for suggesting that women and men are equally capable of violence. The format was familiar: a list of names of women killed by men, and much snide if syntactically challenged commentary about my presumed irresponsibility in writing about domestic violence as I do. I could provide a list of names of men killed by women but for one rather interesting factor: almost invariably, women charged with such offences are either convicted on lesser counts or, more often, walk unsullied from court, their lawyers having persuaded the jury that the dead man deserved to be killed.

In one recent case, the family of the deceased subsequently produced carefully logged records of systematic violence by the woman, which had been given to the Garda but withheld from the jury. The jury found the woman guilty of manslaughter, which almost uniquely allows me to record the name of her victim. In his final moments, Declan O'Neill had been stabbed 21 times and hit 26 times with a hammer. There was no evidence of resistance, but the defence painted a picture of a violent, alcoholic man. The judge told the jury that the perpetrator was "clearly a good mother".

The killing of a man by a woman has become an act virtually without consequences because of decades of poisonous propaganda by women's groups, who are permitted to say things about men that cannot be said about anyone else.

It is now all but an article of faith in Irish courts, Garda stations and case conferences that men are naturally violent and women naturally not. And though there is but the barest, tentative dissent from this idiocy, this is invariably countered in splenetic terms.

In the bizarre feminist worldview, violence is something men do to women to maintain control over them. Although, in the face of overwhelming scientific evidence, smarter feminists no longer outrightly deny that violence occurs the other way around, many still maintain that, when it does, it is equally an expression of men's subjugation of women.

A direct quote from a document on the Women's Aid website: "A woman may be violent as a response to the man's violence and abuse e.g. self defence, fighting back, pre-empting violence by hitting out first. In this case the power dynamics remain the same and the man still exerts power and control over the woman."

So, if a man hits a woman, it's because he's a bully; if a woman hits a man, it's also because he's a bully.

Anthea McTiernan risibly claims that women's groups, by highlighting domestic violence, have made it easier for male victims to be recognised. Far from helping men to speak out, Women's Aid has perpetrated in relation to male victims precisely the two sins of which it so stridently accused society in its early years: denying the abuse and blaming the victims.

"The reality," according to Anthea McTiernan, "is that there are no services for men because men have not set them up. It was not the State that set up services for women who have suffered violence."

Both of these statements betray a disingenuousness typical of feminist arguments. Repeated attempts have been made to establish services for men but all have foundered because public funding was refused. Women's refuges exist because, despite constant complaints about inadequate resources, they are lavishly funded from the public purse.

And Women's Aid always has ready surpluses for anti-man propaganda. Some time ago it produced a billboard showing a battered woman and the slogan, "Some Irishmen give their girlfriends more than broken hearts". Can you imagine the response of "liberal" society, progressive commentators and Amnesty International if, in the wake of the recent London bombing, some group had produced a poster of the iconic image of the woman with an ice pack on her face, and a slogan along the lines of "Some Muslims give Londoners more than the hijab"?