First we heard that this recession was a “Mancession.” The jobs being lost were construction and labor. The world wondered if men’s new economic turmoil would hurt masculine confidence in the country as a whole. There was plenty of grandstanding about the state of men in our country and the effects of their trouble providing for their family.
Then, the conversation moved to the Hecovery. Men might have lost more jobs, but they were returning to employment much quicker than females who had fallen victim to the recession. Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney is hoping to win over female voters by reminding them that females have moved ahead as the victims of this recession.
But a fact about the economic troubles of the past years emerged today that made me remember, this isn’t a competition to victimhood. We shouldn’t think about the recession in terms of who hurts more. We should look at what an economic recession can do to our country as whole and then we should support those who need it most.
Recent reports show that this sluggish economy has a profound impact on the number of domestic violence reports being filed. As Jezebel states, ”A survey of law enforcement agencies across the country polled 700 agencies, and 56 percent of them said that in 2011 the bad economy had caused an increase in ‘domestic conflict.’ A similar survey found that number was just 40 percent in 2010.”
Domestic violence is often spoken of as a women’s issue, but it’s a serious problem that both sexes have to come together on to improve. First of all, both men and women can be victims of domestic violence. Second of all, the tremendous number of these cases shows that couples need help learning how to communicate effectively and deal with stress.
There is no doubt, financial troubles are a huge contributor to stress in the home. So even though it’s sad, should we be surprised that there is increased domestic violence when many families are trying to make do with less? Probably not.
What does this little bit of information have to do with working women? Well, aside from being the possible victim of domestic assault, we need to make sure that we’re all framing this discussion in the correct language.
When we believed that we were suffering a “mancession,” we talked about the dangers to male confidence. We theorized about how men would react to women becoming the breadwinners. And we reinforced the stereotype that men cannot handle a secure and successful female who can support herself.
Then, the “hecovery” happened and the media decided that women were on the losing end of this recession. And yet, we still have increased domestic violence, possibly even more than before. That might happen because people have been dealing with financial hardships for extended periods of time and are just not hitting their stress “breaking point.”
But I think we have to acknowledge that it’s not just a power dynamic shift that’s causing these violent outbreaks. It’s stress. Stress that can come from all kinds of experiences, but is currently exacerbated by economic hardship for many Americans.
No matter whose hurting more, men or women, people are hurting. And its important to point out that the job market has many effects on people’s lives. It’s not just a paycheck, it’s the stress that goes along with not having a paycheck. So let’s stop talking about the “mancession” or the “hecovery” and let’s focus on putting every man and woman who wants to work into a job they’re prepared for.