Stabbings And Sex Politics

I arrived on station this morning to hear the news on the television that there had been fifty stabbings over the Bank holiday weekend*.
“Hmm”, I thought, “A few more than normal, but hardly news”.

Then I realised that they were talking about the whole country and not just London.

So now I was surprised at how just how low** the number of stabbings was

I don't know if it's just East London having a higher number of stabbings than the rest of London, thereby causing me to overestimate the number of stabbings we have but I wouldn't be surprised if there were nearly fifty stabbings every weekend in London alone.

I went to a stabbing yesterday – while we'd normally wait for the police to arrive to escort us into the house, the way that the job was sent down to us over the computer terminal let me think that I could safely approach.

The doorbell was answered by a young man with an obvious wound to the upper arm.

Getting him onto the ambulance I learned that he had 'come clean' to his long-term girlfriend about cheating on her two years ago. During the course of the argument she had then stabbed him in the arm with a kitchen knife.

Thankfully the wound, while deep, wasn't especially serious – for the ambulance side of things it is a simple job to dress the wound and take the patient to hospital. The doctors at the hospital would have to be more cautious, as the nature of the wound meant that the bone, or the layer of tissue covering the bone may have been damaged, in which case infection is a bigger worry than normal.

The police arrived and got the whole story – the first words out of my patient's mouth were, “I don't want her charged”. So the case will be referred to the domestic violence team but it probably won't go any further.

On the way to hospital I let the patient know how lucky he was – I've been involved in a couple of jobs where a domestic argument has turned into murder when the man has been stabbed by his girlfriend/wife. One was on Christmas eve.

My advice to everyone is that you shouldn't have an argument in the kitchen…

At the hospital the patient's girlfriend arrived with tears in her eyes. As soon as the nurse had finished assessing the wound the couple pulled the curtain across the trolley bay and hugged each other for a long time.

It's strange, but I know that I'd feel different about the situation if it had been the woman who had been stabbed. If he had stabbed her, then I would be thinking of how the woman was a victim – with a male being stabbed I'm more thinking about how daft he was in causing the argument in the first place.

With a male being stabbed by a woman, it is kind of expected that he will just 'get over it', while if a woman was stabbed by a man I would start imagining that this would be a possible start of a longer term abuse.

I'm vaguely comforted by the thought that if this was more a case of prolonged abuse I'm be just as sympathetic for the victim whatever their sex.

It's strange to examine your thoughts and see such a hidden prejudice – I guess that somewhere, while being brought up to act as a 'gentleman', I was programmed to see women as needing protection.

And to think I always considered myself a feminist.

*Due I think because of a number of high profile knife murders and the current police knife amnesty

**Obviously it would be really good if there were no stabbings at all…

15 thoughts on “Stabbings And Sex Politics”

  1. I'm a man and I'm canadian so my views may be a little out of line with those of my cousins accross the pond, but my Nan was a strong British woman, a midwife/nurse, that instilled much of her native charm and beliefs in me from an early age.”With a male being stabbed by a woman, it is kind of expected that he will just 'get over it', while if a woman was stabbed by a man I would start imagining that this would be a possible start of a longer term abuse.”

    I used to agree 100% with the above statement. I led a very laid back and non-violent life, especially towards women. I was raised to never hit a woman no matter what. I now beileve that any abuse by either partner can start a pattern of abuse. I was in a terribly abusive relationship for almost 3 years. Now, almost 8 years later, I'm still trying to cope with the emotional and psychological aftermath.

    It doesn't matter who starts it, how long it goes on for, or what the trigger is. Abuse is abuse, and it has wide ranging repercussions that continue far after the parties seperate.

    Love the blog,

    Keep up the good work,




  2. if he doesn't want her charged, that's up to him, but I hope she feels guilty as hell every time she sees the wound and then later the scar. Cheating is wrong, stabbing people is more wrong. Okay so it was a crime of passion, it wasn't like clubbing your partner one because they've bought the wrong brand of toothpaste or served you mash instead of roast potatoes… but to stab someone is still a pretty extreme thing to do.

  3. Louise and I were talking about this last night. Someone on TV mentioned the number of domestic abuse cases in the country. Only part way through the report did we realise she was talking exclusively about women.

  4. Actually people being complacent about abuse by women is one of those rare things i get on my soap box over. I know too many women who throw their weight about in an argument, will think nothing of slapping a guy, yet if they get so much as pushed away after, they scream abuse and dial 999. For me equality means equality, don't give what you don't want back.As for that woman, she got away with stabbing someone she was suppsed to love … and she got a hug for it! I doub't she will think twice next time, she knows a knife will win her the argument

  5. I don't know, it could go one of two ways next time they row.One, things get to he fever pitch and she starts getting violent again (in which case I hope for his sake he realises it wasn't “just a one off” and gets the hell out of it).

    Two, things get to fever pitch and he yells “what are you going to do, stab me again?” which, assuming she isn't generally violent or utterly psychotic, will probably upset her quite a bit but completely deter her from any form of violence.

  6. Violence towards another person, be it male or female, can't be condoned and unfortunately exists in many facets of society.I can see his point about not wanting to charge her, but equally well what will she stop at next time. Once is too often to be contemplated a safe prospect for a relationship.


  7. It's estimated 25% of teens carry a knife. I am closely associated with a local hostel with a high propotion of 18-25s. If the number of characters there who carry a knife everywhere is reflected throughout the country, that figure is nearer 60%. What worries me is not the act of carrying a knife as casually as carrying a mobile, but the ease they will use it. Even on the most trivial of matters. If this escalates, then carrying a knife will be commonplace by all regardless of age. Then it escalates further to guns.

  8. When I was a teenager, in the 70s, I always carried a penknife with a locking blade. It came in handy for gutting fish caught from the local canal, fixing my bicycle at the roadside, making skewers at BBQs (we used to have BBQs in fairly remote places!) and similar things. It was never used to harm or threaten anyone. Most of my friends also carried knives for the same reasons.It's not knives that worry me, but the apparent readiness of some young people to inflict serious injury or death on their peers.

    A knife amnesty like the current one is no more than window dressing, while the real problems go unchallenged.

  9. especially when half the time the weapon used is a kitchen knife that you can buy perfectly legitimately in any shop with a cookware section.It's always, always down to how the person holding an item chooses to use it, whether it's a knife, a baseball bat, a hammer, a chainsaw, a candlestick in the library… They all have perfectly innocent and legitimate uses, but can also be used as weapons.

    The only exception I make is guns, as a gun has no actual use other than to kill, maim, injure or threaten.

  10. I used to feel the same. Until I was on the receiving end of a fist. There is never any justification, save self defence, for violence against another, especially a spouse of whatever kind. Those two need to walk away from each other, and the idea of “pressing charges” or not in domestic abuse cases needs to be abolished everywhere. The gunshot, the knife wound, the punch, the slap are all just the snapping end of manipulative and abusive behaviour.

  11. We do come back to the asymmetry between the strength of men and women. If he wants to hurt her slightly, he can slap her. If she wants to hurt him the same amount she has to use a weapon — and then there are demands to lock her up for two years.

  12. Rubbish.I've slapped a man exactly once in my life.

    I was 17 and at school, and there was a rumour going around that we were sleeping together. My boyfriend at the time was violent and abusive anyway and had knocked me about a fair bit when the rumour reached his ears, and because of that I confronted the young man I was supposedly having an affair with and asked him to set the record straight.

    He laughed in my face and said that he was loving the attention, at which point I lost my rag and gave him a stinging slap round the face, which turned into a red handprint. I'm not proud of it, although it must be said I got a round of applause from the common room.

    Could I have sent him flying across the room like my boyfriend did to me? No. But I could certainly inflict pain, is my point. I didn't need a weapon to do it.

  13. Wandering through the archives.And to think I always considered myself a feminist.

    Being a feminist doesn't mean being blind to reality. Differences in average size and strength aside, a man being violent to a woman is in fact more likely to be part of a pattern of domestic violence. (Not that either isn't cause for concern, but it is reasonable to view them differently.)

    I'd say someone wouldn't be much of a feminist if they didn't recognize existing patterns in society that create this sort of asymmetry.

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