This past week has consisted of multiple accounts of reported violence and brutality against women across the globe. In the United States, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, a professor of psychology at Palo Alto University, has opened up about her devastating high school encounter during the 1980s with attorney Brett Kavanaugh, who is currently being nominated by President Trump to replace the retiring Attorney Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy.
In her testimony, Dr. Ford went into explicit detail regarding the night in which she was sexually assaulted by Kavanaugh and the repercussions of the incident that have reverberated throughout her life following such a harrowing trial. Kavanaugh unequivocally denied that such an event occurred, and went on to claim that this accusation at a stage so close to his confirmation was nothing less than a smear campaign launched by Democrats to deny him of what he assumed to be his rightful seat, despite two other women coming forward to testify against him. His violent reactions to these proceedings, highlighted by his improper conduct, has various erstwhile Republicans wondering whether or not he's fit to assume the position of a Supreme Court Justice.
Despite the horrors of the current trial in the United States, it's important to note that women are being persecuted by men, regardless of cultural or religious adherence, throughout the world. On the other side of the planet, several high-profile Iraqi women have been killed in what appears to be a witch hunt against those who would dare oppose the conservative culture of the Middle East.
Most recently, Tara al-Fares was killed in broad daylight in Baghdad for choosing to disavow the traditional lifestyle expected of Iraqi women, in addition to three others — women's rights activist Suad al-Ali, and beauty clinic workers Rasha al-Hassan and Rafifi al-Yasiri. All four of the victims had been prominent on social media and had held a public presence that had unsettled the mainstream Iraqi society with their nerve to choose the lives that they wanted to live instead of ones that would typically be expected of them.
The link between the Dr. Ford case and these recent murders reveals a clear domination of toxic masculinity in societies worldwide, regardless of the difference in cultural context and religious justification. The very notion that men are the only ones who hold natural dominance and that women should automatically submit to this dominance without restraint is one factor responsible for why women choose to not report crimes of sexual violence, both in the United States and abroad.
The same anger and pent-up rage that Brett Kavanaugh, a self-proclaimed Christian, spews at his accuser is the same type of frustration that led to the deaths of these four women in a Muslim-majority country. In both cases, men believe that they have the right to control what a woman should do and that those women should not be allowed to rebel against the cultural stigmas and expectations of their people, lest they face dire consequences.
I'm no expert in social conflict or the history of oppression that women have faced throughout millennia of subjugation by men, and nor would I even begin to presume how women face misogyny on a daily basis in both professional and personal environments. But as a man, I find it infuriating that women in any country have to live in an environment where they are told to discard their ambitions for the sake of men and brush aside violence against them for the sake of men.
Instead of simply arguing that it's not all men, we must do better to eradicate our social stigma against women and their capabilities by calling out misogyny when we see it from other men (yes, including at your own expense, because it's better for us to be embarrassed than it is for a woman to face such discrimination), and also by denouncing sexual violence in whatever manner we see possible. For the sake of women worldwide, we must do better to destroy the toxic masculinity that attributes to these horrible instances of violence against women.