‘Rape and domestic violence are forms of punishment’, says the author,
for women who have step¬ped out of line, and attempts to re-impose patriarchal dis¬cipline in a society which is no longer patriarchal.
Elizabeth Wilson’s central thesis is convincing, particul¬arly for the contemporary British society which she des¬cribes. She limits the definition of violence against women to acts of rape, incest, prostitu¬tion, wife-battering and porno¬graphy, and points out that all these forms of behaviour are male responses to the adop¬tion of non-traditional roles by an increasing number of women. Physical subjugation and the infliction of pain are seen as a kind of com¬pensation for the lost power of mental subjugation: men use the weapon over which they still have some sort of a mono¬poly—brute force—to assert that the macho image is alive and well.