As we think about addressing the leniency abusive men have gotten, it is worth reminding ourselves that men who murder their wives are not fine blokes having a really bad day. Pendagon has a review of Why Do They Kill?: Men Who Murder Their Intimate Partners by David Adams. As feminists have long realized, murder of a women by her partner is not done by a basically good person who just snapped. Without exception, the men studied had a history of using violence to gain control, and a lack of control was met with escalating violence.The fact that murder occurs within a history of violence does not show that violence will lead to murder. But it gives us a very different context for seeing domestic violence, one that locates it squarely in pervasive attitudes:
across the board Adams paints a picture of men who feel that women are their property and who try to control their property through violence.
The picture of violence as coming from the perpetrators’ objectification of their partners provides an alternative to the judge’s view that it was the circumstances of the marriage that had provoked Colin Read and that now those circumstances had gone, sending him to prison would “help no one”. Pendagon’s reviewer reports that the book is well worth reading. One other interesting facet is what comes out about the victims, who are realists dealing with an impossible situation:
the women mostly report staying in the relationship out of a rational fear that their abusers would try to kill them or family members if they left.