chapter  7
20 Pages

Spousal Assault Rituals, Then and Now

Though aware of their actions, ostensibly in control of them, and certainly responsible for them f rom a judicial perspective, wife assaulters are not particularly insightful nor aware of the predetermined, scripted quality of their acts. For indeed they are actors, and th eir wives and ch ildren play supporting roles whether they want to or not. In some ways, the whole family is type-cast by a gender role system that tends to give males, drunk or sober, a general sense of entitlement. This role system and its negative consequences are quite old. The traits of the typical batterer make him sound very much like Spanish dramatist Pedro de Calderón’s classic husband: traditionalist, believer in male supremacy, insecure and jealous unto paranoia, most unwilling to second-guess his righteous rage storms. The straying wife was the immoral one, in dire need of correction or death in numerous Golden Age plays a nd a sizeable number of Golde n Age families (Bennassar 1979, 178-180).