Poor manipulated darling? Why women must be punished equally for acts of gross cruelty

I’m furious at the portrayal of evil women as manipulated victims

Moral autonomy, in simple terms, means your ability to make moral choices on your own accord, irrespective of whether the means or ends are positive or negative. Unfortunately, it seems our society still only sees men as capable of this basic human principle.

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Find any court case involving a woman alleged to have committed an act of extraordinary cruelty. Maybe she beat her toddler to death, starved children under her care, or joined a terrorist militia. The crime is irrelevant, but the defence is always the same: a man made her do it. She was manipulated, tricked, frightened or groomed. It wasn’t her fault, really.

This infuriates me. Certainly there are situations where your moral judgements may be influenced by vectors of power around you — it would be difficult, for example, to stand up against militia forces at the risk of yourself and your family. But the vast majority of cases of extreme cruelty are made with a high degree of freedom. An individual, irrespective of radicalisation, is still capable of understanding right from wrong. They may try to justify what they have done, but that’s still an action they have to initiate willingly themselves.

Joining IS is a classic example. While men who go and join ISIS have rightly been condemned as engaging with some of the most barbaric cruelty ever recorded (let us not forget that this is the organisation who promoted themselves through posting pictures of journalists being burnt alive in cages while they wept) women of the same age have been afforded with a ‘manipulated and misled’ narrative.

This is an ancient trope: poor, ignorant woman tricked into supporting a villainous husband for love. This is also wildly inaccurate. These are women who came willingly to ISIS with the purpose of marrying into the terrorist group and producing children for them. These are women, who, in many cases, were very aware of the beheading, burning and mass rape of ISIS before they even left their homelands.

Women are as capable of evil as men. To portray them as weak, silly creatures incapable of moral choice is highly misogynist, whatever your motives may be. Bring them to justice with the firm hand we demand for male perpetrators.

Written by

24 year old with an awful lot to say about everything. Opinions entirely my own. Usually. madelaine@madelainehanson.co.uk

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