21 Pages

Introduction: Ode to Foucault and other paradoxes

What happens when you sex violent crimes – that is, when you insist that violence is located within sexed, or as some prefer to call them, gendered relationships? What happens, more specifically, when you take men’s violence against women as an analytical object, perhaps the focus of scholarly attention or of an undergraduate criminology course? The short answer is: all hell breaks loose. The longer answer requires a book. Sex, Violence and Crime – Foucault and the ‘Man’ Question jumps into the fray, exploring some of the ways in which men’s violence against women has been named and un-named as a significant social problem in Western countries over the past 40 years. During that time, some governments, most recently in Britain, have made so-called ‘domestic violence’ a policy priority. Yet questions remain about how men’s violence should be framed and most effectively resisted. Remarkably, it is also still unclear whether, after decades of exposure, it is now culturally permissible in Western societies to hold men (and not their mothers, wives or girlfriends) responsible for their own violence. This book addresses what I call the ‘Man’ question, so named because it pays attention to the discursive place occupied, or more usually vacated, by men in accounts of their violence against women. Querying whether explanations can be provided for men’s violence that do not discursively erase it or, worse, deteriorate into excuses for it, I take non-feminist criminologists to task for faltering on the ‘Man’ question. But while criminology is my primary target, the critique developed here applies to any bid in any field to deny, explain away or obfuscate the unpalatable evidence of men’s pervasive violence against women. In short, this book explores the possibilities for and the prohibitions against speaking out about that violence today.