Violence against women is the norm that needs to change
Op-ed: Only educating men about equality can help neutralize the toxic perception that women are of a lesser status and have fewer rights than men. The more the need for behavioral and cognitive changes is instilled in the young generation, the more we can be certain norms will change.
In the same breath, and on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, it is important to note that the horrific killings of women by men are radical expressions of all the violent situations that are repeatedly reflected on a daily basis throughout years and generations.
Violent behavior stems from benighted, primitive, distorted and dangerous perception, according to which, men can and are entitled to control women as if they were a tradable object whose value can be appraised, and, in extreme cases, disposed of "if needed." The need is determined in accordance with the men's considerations, emotions, thoughts, and fears—as if women are a ticking-time bomb that should be neutralized.
But, what should really be neutralized is the toxic perception that women are of lesser status and have fewer rights than men, which could only be achieved by educating men more and more about equality—which has already started to yield positive results.
Nevertheless, we are still witnessing expressions of horrific violence towards women both in the Western world, and in the third-world, especially in countries where radical Islam is prevalent, the current era is the most enabling one for women throughout history.
Whether we are talking about women in India—who launched a convention-breaking wave of protests, forcing the government to impose capital punishment on rapists—or the French law that will come into effect on January 1, 2019, according to which employers who pay women less than men would be fined. Also, our sisters in countries governed by patriarchal communities are slowly raising their heads in order to save themselves from their father, brother, and husband who decide everything for them.
It is true we still face a long journey ahead to reach the point when a woman is no longer the "weak one,"—as Simone de Beauvoir said—a background for the man to define himself and his superiority.
It is also true that men will continue being physically stronger and more muscular than women, since this is how humans evolved since being hunters and gatherers. But it seems the younger generations understand more and more that those muscles, which were supposed to help the men hunt and protect the tribe, are not meant to be used against women. In the 21st century's reality, a woman is as much of a hunter as a man—whether it is in the jungle called Tinder, or while performing their duties as heads of states, scientists, senior executives, or just women who provide for their families.
Therefore, the understanding the masculine hegemony diminishes in our reality and that with time we will succeed in diminishing it in our small evolutional brains as well—since it is known that norms change decades after the change occurs—is encouraging.
The more the need for behavioral and cognitive changes is instilled in the young generation, the more we can be certain norms will change. Killing of women will become less and less frequent, which will prompt the economic, mental, sexual, physical and psychological violence to decrease as well.