Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
This work represents an attempt to understand wife abuse. In an extensive review, the literature is grouped into three general divisions, depending on the attributed locus of causality: individual, family, or a broader social system. Criticisms fall into one of three general orientations, i.e. methodological, ideological or contextual.
Wife abuse, a widespread phenomenon with a high degree of historical and contemporary legitimacy, is conceptualized in terms of violence directed against women qua women and against women qua wives. In the former context, the existential construct of Woman-as-Other focuses on the dominance/subordination relations that exist between husbands and wives/men and women. It is argued that these are maintained through actual, threatened or implicit violence which keeps women subservient to and/or dependent on men. Literature dealing with the dehumanization inherent in war atrocities illuminates the processes whereby women are victimized by men.
The wife's role as domestic labourer is the central focus for the examination of violence against women qua wives. It is argued that (actual or potential) wife abuse, insofar as it is perceived as legitimate, supports the acceptance by the population of the legitimacy of force as the underpinning of the authority of the State. Further, wife abuse is seen as one aspect of the husband's expectations of the wife's role as tension manager. The combination of the fiscal crisis of the State together with the logical consistency of wife abuse with the needs of capital, paves the way towards a reprivatization of the phenomenon.
The theory requires empirical verification. Investigation is needed into the relationship between women's economic power and men's physical use of force. Measures are required for identifying and studying psychological abuse. A comprehensive historical and crosscultural investigation is recommended.
Killoran, Margaret Maureen, "The Sound of Silence Breaking: Toward a Metatheory of Wife Abuse" (1981). Open Access Dissertations and Theses. Paper 4846.
McMaster University Library