Part Two

OK,  the second statement up my ass yesterday was Kenan Thompson’s commentary on Chris Brown’s assault on Rihanna. Asked whether Saturday Night Live would ever invite Brown back, Thompson said:

It’s not up to me, but I’m sure we would if he had another hit single. We don’t care about scandal. We just care about what brings us ratings!

I don’t know if I’m more disturbed by the fact that he saw nothing wrong with saying that — because hey, what’s a little domestic violence, besides an embarrassing scandal? — or the fact that it’s probably true. I do, however, know what I’m most disturbed by, which is how he followed that up:

I don’t know the whole story, but I know how women can get when you get a text message from another female, so I’m just saying, you have to learn that you can’t put your hands on a female.

I don’t even have words. “You know, I understand how tempting it is to beat a woman when she’s acting all nutty because she found, you know, evidence that you cheated on her or something — but you just don’t do that, dude! LOL!”  

Not to mention the “I don’t know the whole story” part. YOU GENERALLY DON’T NEED TO KNOW THE WHOLE STORY IF YOU KNOW THE END OF THE STORY IS THAT A MAN BEAT A WOMAN. 

I mean, if I thought people were saying shit like that just to cover their asses in the very unlikely event it’s proven that Brown’s violence was in self-defense, I could understand, even though it would still make me angry. But it’s clear that that’s not why. It’s clear that way too fucking many people, who are getting way too fucking much press, believe that there is an entire range of things women can do that would justify an assault. They’re not just acknowledging that a woman might, in some rare cases, physically attack a man in such a manner that the only way for him to protect himself would be to keep fighting back with his fists. They’re saying — openly and unashamedly — that sometimes, you know, women really deserve a beating. Period. And the implication is that guys who don’t give into that overwhelming temptation to attack their wives or girlfriends deserve a goddamned cookie.

Need another example? Jezebel provided a sickening one this morning. Ne-Yo, after noting that the leaked pictures of Rihanna “really hurt me to my heart, man,” went on to say:

I’m not going to crucify [Chris]. I’m not going to do that. That’s still my homeboy at the end of the day. For it to go to that level was wrong. I won’t say who was responsible. I won’t pick no sides. I’m just saying it was wrong it had to happen like that, and I’m praying for the both of them.

Emphasis mine. Remaining loyal to a friend who’s committed a crime is one thing. Acting as if it’s impossible to determine who’s responsible for a man assaulting his girlfriend is fucking perverse. ONE PERSON COMMITTED VIOLENCE ON ANOTHER PERSON. There is so far nothing to suggest that it was in self-defense — and you can bloody well bet we would have heard about it by now if anyone were advancing that argument, even half-assedly. Ergo, THE PERSON WHO ASSAULTED THE OTHER PERSON IS SOLELY RESPONSIBLE. 

It is so profoundly sickening and infuriating to me that we keep seeing quote after quote from celebrity after celebrity suggesting that it’s impossible to know whether Chris Brown is truly at fault for committing a violent crime, because we don’t know how Rihanna acted leading up to it, or whether this had happened before, or what. As if there is some amount of anger, some amount of yelling, some amount of freaking out that could ever, ever justify assaulting another person. As if it matters whether this was the first time or the hundredth time, in terms of determining whether Brown is the kind of guy who would beat a woman, or a guy who just happened to beat a woman. As if a woman who goes and gets “how women can get” clearly bears some responsibility for a man attacking her.

As if we all agree that wanting to beat a woman is quite normal and understandable, but acting on it is… unseemly. “You have to learn that you can’t put your hands on a female.”

I’m out of words for this. Have at it, Shapelings.

ETA: While we’re on the topic, look what I just found at Feministing:

Wife-beaters.com, a Dallas-based business that sold wife-beater T-shirts, has been shut down after a San Antonio man complained to the company hosting the site.

…The Web site sold white tank tops, commonly referred to as “wife-beaters,”and gave a discount to anyone who could prove they were convicted of wife beating.

317 thoughts on “Part Two

  1. I think what gets me the most is the way in which we celebrate the culture of violence that women have to live with. This month Ebony put Terrence Howard on its cover. He was described as a renaissance man and yet he was convicted of punching his ex wife in the face twice. This is man that is held up by the black media as someone we should honour. What about the women that have to live with this kind of violence? What does it say about our value? Things like this are exactly why when the Rihanna/Brown DV incident occurred, ppl had the nerve to ask what she did to deserve a beating.

  2. I don’t think I could add anything to that. You said it perfectly.

    I’ll only add that I have been there, done that. Man beat on me and I was scared for my life but when I tried to ask for help, the implication was that I shouldn’t accuse him of stealing money/doing drugs/cheating on me and he wouldn’t be beating my ass. It wasn’t until family walked in on him trying to choke me that they got serious and got him away from me, for good. It’s truly pathetic that our culture blames the victim.

  3. I got nothing. You said it all.

    Okay, here’s what I got: Every one of these quotes tells me the world is a worse place than I thought it was. And then worse, and then worse.

  4. We don’t know what really happened. However, If she did attack him and he was acting in self-defense, why does he look fine in his mugshot, and she looks like he grabbed her by the back of the head and slammed her face into a wrought iron fence (assuming the leaked photo of her injuries isn’t photoshopped)? It looks more like excessive violence than self-defense.

    Also, it’s a pet peeve of mine when people refer to women as females. It sounds like they’re talking about their pet, not a human.

  5. It’s sickening. Disgusting. But the more we de-humanize women, in ads, videos, TV shows, etc., the easier it is for these fuckheads to justify the violence.

  6. I think what gets me the most is the way in which we celebrate the culture of violence that women have to live with

    Absolutely, Renee. I almost linked to your latest TH post myself, in fact — but I was in Screaming Rant Mode rather than Deeper Analysis Mode, so I decided to leave it at a simple WHAT THE FUCKING FUCK? for now.

  7. You know…my mom is a bitch. I admit it. My dad used to drink to much. He has since stopped. When they were married she would flirt…in front of him…with his friends. She would even be gone with other men and leave us kids at home by ourselves for my dad to find us. One day, he hauled off and hit her, broke her jaw and she had to have it replaced.

    Now, I know both sides of the story. No matter what my mom did…right or wrong…she didn’t deserve her jaw to be broken.

    My dad has since reformed his ways, stopped drinking and you would never know he was capable of such things. But he also took responsibility for his actions and apologized and never once blamed my mother for what he did.

    I guess what I am trying to say is people need to stop saying, “I’m not going to take sides” when someone has obviously did wrong and step up and speak out. Only then can we stop the violence…when people know it won’t be tolerated.

  8. I know how ‘females’ get. What I want to know is how that excuses how ‘males’ get.

    I also detest the assumption underneath these comments that all guys really would beat their girls up if the world would just understand that’s what guys need to do when ‘females get that way.’

    Further, it means in the cases where a man is being beaten by his wife/girlfriend or a woman is getting beaten by her wife/girlfriend, it gets treated like a big, fucking joke. See? There really is a man in that relationship, and it’s a CHICK! HAWHAWHAW!

    Nobody should get a free pass on beating up their partner. Nobody.

    Oh, and count me among those who really, really detest this trend of calling women ‘females.’ Yes, we are female, but the same people aren’t calling men ‘males’ in the same way. It’s being used to make us other and foreign. And yes, that contributes to the culture that says it’s okay to beat us up, because we all know how ‘females’ get.

  9. GRRRR. And that shit about “don’t know who was responsible…” LIKE FUCK YOU DON’T. Do you know how easy it would be to not be a victim-blaming fuckwit while still remaining loyal to a friend who has done a horrible thing? Watch, look, I’m gonna show you how motherfucking easy this is:

    “Joe and me go way back. I never would have thought him capable of this. That’s a rotten thing to do. I’m still his friend, and I’ll stand by the assertion that he’s a way better person than this. I hope he goes on to learn that it was wrong and never acts that way again, but I am his friend. He’s not a bad person, he’s a person who did a bad thing.”

    LOOK HOW FUCKING SIMPLE THAT WAS. SHIT.

    It kills me how solidarity among men never seems to include social or moral responsibility. Their fallback excuse for solidarity is just “blame women.” It’s not men together, for each other, it’s men against women.

    I don’t understand exactly what it is that we do to them, or have done to them, to deserve the level of animosity they have towards us.

    Oh, right, we feel feelings at them. Since they’re “hardwired” not to handle feelings, they fear we’re trying to make them self-destruct. My bad, silly female me.

  10. “It was wrong it had to happen like that” reminds me of the incessant use of the passive voice in news stories about rape and gender-based violence (which Hoyden About Town have started calling the “raped by elves” phenomenon). It creates the impression that violence is like being rained on – unpleasant, but your fault for going out without an umbrella.

  11. @Sandy, there’s a similar story in my family. I won’t name relationships to me, but one couple both had explosive tempers and the guy had a tendancy to deal with frustration by punching holes in walls.

    One night, an argument between them got particularly nasty. He hauled off and socked her in the jaw. She hauled right back and blacked his eye.

    In that moment, they both knew they needed to find healthier ways to handle frustration and anger. Nobody let anybody off the hook.

    They’ve been together another twenty-four years, and neither one of them has EVER hit another living soul to the best of my knowledge.

    The good news is that it’s possible to see yourself starting to walk down the wrong path and turn around. Two good people did that…but it’s damn scary it got to that point before they did.

  12. I emailed Lorne Michaels. I asked him to 1) reprimand Kenan Thompson for being a huge douchenozzle, and 2) permanently block Chris Brown from the show. He needs to unambiguously show that he does not support domestic violence or those who perpetuate it…

    I don’t think it’ll get to anyone high up, but hey, I feel better about it.

    If anyone else wants to email him, you can access it through his website, lornemichaels.com or just send it to lorne@lornemichaels.com

    :-/

  13. Today is my 36th birthday. Today I received an ecard from my ex husband wishing me a happy birthday and hoping all is going well for me. My husband hit me, threatened to kill me, degraded me in countless ways I won’t go into here to the point that I moved halfway across the country to be away from him and he still thinks we have the kind of relationship where he can drop me a birthday card with some happy birthday wishes. That is all I have to say on this matter.

  14. Thank you for posting on this. Chris is fine (like you say, we’d have heard if he was attacked), Rhianna is not, and nothing else matters. She could be the nastiest nag in the world, and this is unacceptable. But it will keep going on as long as people refuse to draw a line in a sand and socially punish abusers (I believe social punishments are very powerful). We have to speak up.

  15. Watch, look, I’m gonna show you how motherfucking easy this is:

    “Joe and me go way back. I never would have thought him capable of this. That’s a rotten thing to do. I’m still his friend, and I’ll stand by the assertion that he’s a way better person than this. I hope he goes on to learn that it was wrong and never acts that way again, but I am his friend. He’s not a bad person, he’s a person who did a bad thing.”

    LOOK HOW FUCKING SIMPLE THAT WAS. SHIT.

    Word, SugarLeigh.

    Sometimes people you love do bad things. That’s the time to say that you love them, not to try to explain away the badness of the thing they did.

  16. Also, I’m with Twistie. NOBODY gets a pass. I was always taught that you have a responsibility to those weaker than you when you are the stronger. Emotionally, physically, financially, whatever way you are stronger, that means that you DON’T take advantage of that to hurt others who are weaker. Which is why I want to break things when people, for example, stomp bugs just because they can, or kick puppies, or take money from someone who has very little money, or take advantage of a position of power (nothing gets me mad quite the way a crooked cop or politician or other authority does).

    When you harm someone weaker than you, you are a BULLY. Being a bully is a repugnant, cowardly mark of shame. Bullies have sad, sick, wicked hearts and no honor.

    Now, women are rarely larger and more powerful in a physical sense than a man. But if a woman was, or, if she were using something to equalize the difference in force (like a weapon), and she harmed a man, that’s every bit as wrong.

    In this case it’s blatantly clear who the stronger party was, and that he didn’t give a flying fuck that he’s a fucking BULLY. And he should be getting schooled about now, and he’s not, and it makes me sick.

    Also, I know I’m in a minority but I don’t care about using “male” and “female.” I think they’re very neutral terms and I use them a lot. And of all the alternate words to “woman” they could be using I’d say it’s a good choice, because at least it’s not degrading. People like this usually use “chicks and pricks” so honestly, I’m impressed they know such a grown-up word, or even a word with that many syllables.

  17. Had to happen? HAD TO HAPPEN??

    I’ve got nothing to add except that I’ve got a stomachache now and god, I FUCKING HATE when people call women “females.”

  18. I think there’s a double-standard here. When two guys beat up on each other, it’s considered normal – “guys will be guys.” When girls beat up on each other, it’s considered titillating – “cat fight!”. But when “guys are guys” and beat up on women, there’s all sorts of outrage.

    This totally goes against my understanding of feminism. If women are equal to men, then why the big deal about a woman getting beat up by a man? Shouldn’t she be able to stand up for herself and give as good as she gets? I mean, women are no longer the weaker sex, right?

    *Disclaimer* I don’t think ANYONE should beat up on anyone else. Also, I understand how years ago women didn’t have ways to escape domestic violence situations because of financial constraints. That’s changed now, hasn’t it? So many households are headed solely by women that it wouldn’t be strange for a woman to set out on her own to escape an abusive partner.

  19. Rhonwyyn, are you fucking kidding me?

    Yes, there is a double standard here, but it’s not AGAINST men.

    Also, I understand how years ago women didn’t have ways to escape domestic violence situations because of financial constraints. That’s changed now, hasn’t it?

    Yeah, didn’t you hear? Sexism, racism, poverty — Obama fixed all that.

    Fuck.

  20. Dammit, I have to rant more.

    If women are equal to men, then why the big deal about a woman getting beat up by a man?

    THE KNEEJERK APOLOGIES FOR WIDESPREAD VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN SHOWS THAT IN OUR SOCIETY, WOMEN ARE NOT EQUAL TO MEN. THIS IS, IN FACT, WHAT WE ARE DISCUSSING RIGHT NOW

    Seriously, you need some Feminism 101 if this is really your understanding of feminism. Where’d you learn it, Chris Matthews’ cereal box?

  21. This totally goes against my understanding of feminism. If women are equal to men, then why the big deal about a woman getting beat up by a man?

    Then your understanding of feminism is severely limited. Try going here.

    Any further effort to advance the argument that equality demands we see men beating on women as “no big deal” will result in a banning.

  22. Any further effort to advance the argument that equality demands we see men beating on women as “no big deal,” will result in a banning.

    Anyone who would think that’s a valid argument is a fucking fool and lives on a planet with no fucking oxygen.

    As for the subject at hand, it’s so horrifying how I’ve been “enlightened” to the disturbingly prevalent attitude that an abuse victim has done something to “deserve” it. Someone I thought I respected trotted out the horseshit that “there were rumors” about Rihanna hitting Chris Brown first or some shit, essentially stating that she deserved it – whatever respect I had for her went straight out the window.

  23. Wow. This argument is unassailable!

    When two guys beat up on each other, it’s considered normal – “guys will be guys.”

    Yeah, and that’s fucking stupid and we need to change that.

    When girls beat up on each other, it’s considered titillating – “cat fight!”.

    Yeah, and that’s even fucking stupider and we need to change that.

    But when “guys are guys” and beat up on women, there’s all sorts of outrage.

    Yes, because VIOLENCE IS BAD. What a concept. Your argument that other kinds of violence are tolerated due to sexism and toxic gender roles, therefore this one should be, is the height of bad-premises-bad-conclusion.

  24. When two guys beat up on each other, it’s considered normal – “guys will be guys.” When girls beat up on each other, it’s considered titillating – “cat fight!”.

    Considered by whom? None of the people I know, of either gender, beat up on anyone of either gender “for fun”, as you have implied. This is because I tend to surround myself with good, decent people. People who consider man-on-man or woman-on-woman violence “no big deal”, “normal”, “fun” or – most alarming of all – “titillating” are not good, decent people.

    What we are arguing here is what should be considered acceptable, and what should not. Violence should not, and I absolutely refuse to entertain the idea that anyone should lower their standards of what is considered good and decent to suit what popular culture finds acceptable.

  25. Fuck, I’m still seething! I guess to live up to my status as a feminist in Rhonwyyn’s little world, and no longer the “weaker sex” I’d better be getting on a steroid regimen stat so the next time I’m assaulted by a man, I can “give as good as [I] get”, right? GODDAMN me for not being able to put up a fight when some 6’2 230 lb guy attacked me. He’s just a fucking guy being a guy. AARRRRGHHGHG.

  26. And I guess I should have just gotten out from under him because I don’t need his fucking money anymore.

    /end spamming comments

  27. As to the post at hand, it really fascinates me/irritates me how people want to take concepts from the legal and judicial spheres and apply them, but refuse to understand the law as a whole.

    This is a perfect case. People keep saying “I don’t want to take sides” and “We shouldn’t pre-judge” and “innocent until proven guilty.” Which is a LEGAL restriction. Just because the burden of proof is on the state in a CRIMINAL case doesn’t mean that people can’t be adjuged morally culpable in the court of public opinion. Chris Brown might not be convicted of a crime. But he sure as hell did something bad, no question about it (barring a credible claim of self-defense, which no one has made or suggested).

    But people only trot out this “innocent until proven guilty” as a way to defend people who beat, rape, and murder women. Where was the chorus of “innocent until proven guilty!” when the tapes of Rod Blagojevich were released, evidence just as damning as the Rihanna pic? Nope, everyone was just fine with saying he was a class-A corrupt asshole, even though whether what he did is illegal is a much more sensitive and complex legal question than here.

    So they want to rely on legal mechanisms to defend their position, on the one hand, but don’t understand the law on the other hand. Which indicates that there’s basically no way Rihanna could be “responsible.” Chris Brown might not be guilty of a criminal act, if he acted in self-defense, but he’s still responsible for what he did to her. No circumstances, even Rihanna hitting him first, can change that. And no circumstance can make Rihanna responsible for what happened to her.

  28. Where was the chorus of “innocent until proven guilty!” when the tapes of Rod Blagojevich were released, evidence just as damning as the Rihanna pic? Nope, everyone was just fine with saying he was a class-A corrupt asshole, even though whether what he did is illegal is a much more sensitive and complex legal question than here.

    Outfuckingstanding point.

  29. JR I’d like to know that too. Chris Brown’s friends are circling the wagons trying to save his career. Where are the female stars and singers offering support for Rihanna and condemning violence against women (or violence in general)? Jay Smooth (illdoc on YouTube) devoted a whole podcast on Valentine’s Day to the issue, goddess love him. Or is it that the comment of “females” whinging about men smacking them around aren’t newsworthy?

    One of my students hit another student during a class last year (and yes, I do teach college). It wasn’t playful tussling messing around stuff either, it was an act of anger.

    The hitter was a girl. She slapped a guy who was bigger than her who, thankfully, is not violent and instead turned to me and told me what happened rather than hitting back.

    I went batshit on the girl when we were alone. She actually started to defend herself with “it was just a slap, I didn’t really hit him” and I lost it. I was yelling at her that there was never, ever an excuse for striking another person like that (aside from self-defense, of course) and she crossed a line that I would not tolerate.

    DRST

  30. I came over from DuWaxLuloo and I couldn’t agree with you more. The fact that NeYo is all “won’t take sides” pisses me off too. You don’t have to take sides- WHAT HE DID WAS WRONG!

    I have no interest in seeing or listening to either one of those two. Blah.

  31. I wonder if part of what is going on in the insistence that people “don’t know what really happened” or “can’t say who is responsible” is that we tend to allow people’s worst moments to define them in our culture, and we are a pretty unforgiving people. I think it’s a pretty widely accepted stereotype that beating your wife or girlfriend is something that bad, generally uneducated, vile people do. It’s not just that beating up your wife or girlfriend is a vile act–which it certainly is–but that anybody who does so is thus a vile person–which is something much less certain.

    It’s almost unthinkable, in our culture, to imagine somebody saying, “Yeah, my friend beat up his girlfriend, and that was totally fucked up and wrong, but I still think he’s a decent person who happened to do a terrible thing, and I forgive him for it.” We’d think that person was an idiot, because vengeance is valued so much and forgiveness is so undervalued. Instead, I think a person is more likely to insist they don’t know what happened, or that it wasn’t that bad. Because we have so much trouble separating bad acts from bad people, I think it leaves a lot of people in the position of having to justify bad acts because they don’t believe somebody is a bad person.

    I just think if we could separate the act of domestic violence–which is horrible, wrong, and inexcusable–from the idea that anybody who hits a woman is a bad person, people could be more honest about domestic violence. I wonder how many women say nothing after being hit by a partner because they think he’s a good person–and maybe he is–and they think domestic violence is something good people are incapable of. As long as we insist, as a society, that hitting a girlfriend or wife is something that good men don’t ever do, then I think it’s hard to be honest about it and it does get bogged down in these sorts of equivocations. But I tend to think the equivocations have less to do with people thinking that hitting a woman is ever okay, and more to do with people thinking that only a bad person would hit a woman and so since their friend isn’t a bad person, there must have been something else going on.

    I don’t know. I could be totally off, or just too optimistic about people’s motivations. But I do think the equating of bad acts with fundamentally bad people is part of what’s at work here.

  32. If women are equal to men, then why the big deal about a woman getting beat up by a man? Shouldn’t she be able to stand up for herself and give as good as she gets?

    Wow, the incoherence here is impressive. Shorter Rhonwyyn: If something currently being strived for is asserted as the existing reality, then WHY all this fuss about its NOT being the existing reality?

    Let’s see if it works any better across other domains, shall we?

    If all people are equally entitled to healthcare, then why all this fuss about unequal access to healthcare? (Oh, gosh, it looks like… the fuss about unequal access is raised precisely BECAUSE people are equally entitled to healthcare. Ah. Tough break, but let’s try another.)

    If we dream of a day when everyone will be able to get a decent education, then why all this whining about how some people get a substandard education? (Oh dear. Swing and a miss, again.)

    If we all need oxygen to breathe, then why all this outrage over the fact that the room is slowly having all its oxygen sucked out by a hostile alien species? (Blast.)

  33. I don’t know what to say except to echo everyone. Excellent points have been made. I can’t believe we have to fight this same battle every time some heinous incident against women comes up in the news. Woman beaten by a man, woman brings rape charges, woman thrown off plane because she’s “dressed like a slut,” woman sues for equal pay. (Not that these things are equivalent, of course.) In every case, we’re treated to an informal trial, conducted in public, on the status of women as human beings and their right to be treated as such. It’s EFFING DISGUSTING. No wonder I’m depressed.

    To all the women who’ve shared their stories, I am with you in sympathy and solidarity, even though I’ve been lucky enough not to have been treated that way myself.

    In conclusion, I would like to add that Kenan Thompson is a no-talent POS. Every “character” he portrays has the same stupid quavery voice (which I believe is his own), and he can’t be bothered to even stop smirking throughout. Jeez, he barely even attempts a characterization. He actually thought he could play Obama in SNL sketches.

  34. “Shouldn’t she be able to stand up for herself and give as good as she gets?”

    So, wait, being granted equality in the eyes of society and the law also means we’re automatically going to start growing bigger and stronger physically, and that suddenly years of being socialized to be meek and passive are going to be washed away and replaced with a new magic knowledge of how to kung-fu away people who are enacting violence on us?

    That’s too bad. I was kind of hoping if such a magic all-encompassing switch was to occur in “post feminist” society, it would be that men would magically have the glorification of violence washed away from them and we’d all become peaceful hippie-monks and make daisy chains together.

    :(

    Also: A Sarah, I’d make a daisy chain for you first. :D

  35. @Lori, you have a very good point about separating bad acts from bad people. Jay Smooth, mentioned by DRST upthread, has a fabulous bit on how to tell people they sound racist, which touches on the same issues. You have to tell people that the thing they did was inexcusable in a way that doesn’t say “and you are a bad file person and going to hell”.

    On the other hand, I’m not sure there’s as much of a parallel between somebody in a systemically racist society saying something which sounds racist, and somebody beating up on his or her partner. A better parallel there would be not telling your white friend she sounds racist, but telling your white friend not to beat up on her black neighbor anymore. I think in modern society adults pretty much know that beating up on people is unacceptable. If they didn’t, they are clearly failing kindergarten.

    Because people who beat up other people, especially weaker people? Clearly have elements of “bad person” in them, unless they have some medical condition which prevents them from being able to control their violence, in which case they need to be in a situation which prevents them from acting violent.

  36. Thanks for the reminder. I’ve been around too many guys during the last few years; constantly hearing them talk about beating each other up as if it were a perfectly acceptable way to solve problems made me almost agree with Rhonwyyn. It’s kind of sad that I, as someone who has maybe thrown things a few times but never even considered harming another person, had to be reminded of this concept.

  37. A Sarah and SugarLeigh make my day!

    It will never cease to baffle/amaze/disappoint that violence needs to be so readily “explained away” or couched in terms of defensive protections for the abuser. “He’s not a bad guy” has NO BEARING on whether or not he did a BAD/Stupid/Horrible thing! If we are raising children though in this kind of mental atmosphere it is not a wonder to me that they grow up confused about when it is okay to hit (never) and okay to kick someone (never again) or when violence can be used to make a point (never once more…pattern here?)

    I’m really not trying to bring in a whole “Think of the Children!” drama to this conversation, more just reflecting on just how confusing it was even to ME growing up with verbally abusive parents who opted for vocal slapping over physical (which let me tell you leaves the same kind of emotional scars despite the lack of bodily bruising) to suss out how violence and yelling really fit into a good society so ditto for kids now who have to see such media fuss and denials of wrongdoing since the person was a “Good Person”. Yes Virginia, you CAN be a “Good” person and still do awful things; and THAT’S what you have to be aware of and never try to shirk responsibility for…..it isn’t enough to BE a good person, you also have to ACT the part too.

  38. What. The. Fuck.
    Rhonwyyn, I have nothing to say to you except what’s above, but you need to get a freaking CLUE!
    A Sarah, I think I may be in love with you xD

  39. I don’t know. I could be totally off, or just too optimistic about people’s motivations. But I do think the equating of bad acts with fundamentally bad people is part of what’s at work here.

    I actually agree with you, in a broader sense. It’s like white people flipping out when something we do or say is called racist, because we hear it as “You are a racist” — i.e., an irredeemably bigoted person — rather than “You did something that falls under a recognizable pattern of racism, and I’m telling you so you won’t do that again.” The inability to separate “bad action” (purposeful or not) from “bad person” can definitely hinder productive discussion. And I can see how that kind of thing absolutely makes it difficult to say, “I love my friend, but he did something really horrible,” even if that’s how you actually feel.

    But at the same time, how many times do you have to hit your partner before you’re categorically a bad person? How many times do you have to rob a bank or rape or murder? I don’t think the problem is necessarily that we’re too quick to label folks “good” or “bad” based on isolated actions, but that we don’t allow for the fact that people who do very bad things — and even earn the label “bad person” — can still be charming, attractive, and lovable. And people who care about them can thus feel terribly conflicted emotions. Rihanna might well still love Chris Brown, might even want to be with him again, as many victims of domestic violence do. His friends and family might want to support him while he’s publicly eviscerated, while still unequivocally condemning what he did. All of that is understandable and common, but I think the most pernicious problem in getting people to grasp that is the idea that no sane person could love a “bad person” — not that we’re too quick to write people off as “bad.”

    I don’t know — I think we’re saying basically the same thing. And for the most part, I don’t really think there are “good” and “bad” people — just people who generally skew more one way or the other. But my problem with saying, “Sometimes good men hit their partners,” is A) I actually think hitting your partner is enough bad right there that it’ll put you over 50% in the “bad” column and require a LOT of work to get you back under, and B) it can reinforce that really dangerous mindset wherein women tell themselves it’s not such a big deal. He’s a good person, he loves me, he’s sorry, it won’t happen again… Except it usually does happen again. And again. And the woman doubts her own interpretation of events more and more because really, deep down, he’s a good person! Good people aren’t abusive!

    I can see your argument that it might be sort of comforting for someone in that position to hear, “He might very well be a good person, but hitting is always bad, and always a big deal,” as opposed to “No, actually, he’s not a good person if he hits you.” When you love someone, no matter how angry and hurt you may be, it’s often hard to hear someone else criticize hir. But which approach would be more useful really depends on the individual. In terms of simple messages that go out to the culture in general, right now, I think it’s probably a lot more important to keep stating that good men do not hit their partners, period, than to bring in a nuance that might inadvertantly support the, “It’s not that bad, because I know he’s a good man who loves me” line of reasoning.

  40. Kate, that is a really useful distinction, especially when the “nasty women ruining good men” meme is so prevalent with regard to prosecuting rape and sexual harassment.

  41. Do we even need the “men are stronger” argument? I’m physically stronger than quite a few men and I fail to see why that would give them the right to hit me in the face.

  42. I’m not a fan of bad person/good person dichotomies myself, but that’s sort of how things get viewed in our culture. And, as long as that’s the case, and domestic violence is seen as what “bad” people do, then I think people will make all sorts of excuses for it, when what they really want to do is justify why the abuser isn’t a forever-to-be-written-off-as-bad person.

    It’s like sexual abuse: as long as we view “sexual predators” as monsters who deserve nothing but contempt and ostracism, then I think a lot of people are going to write off sexual violations as a misunderstanding or no big deal, simply because they don’t think the person who abused them is a monster (or don’t think their friend/child/spouse is a monster).

    I would hope that people would feel less of a need to justify domestic violence if there wasn’t such a complete condemnation of a person that came along with it.

  43. Deborah, I see what you’re saying, but at the same time I don’t think you’re giving Lori’s point enough thought. In fact, you just sort of made a fabulous example of why she’s got such an excellent point.

    Read Twistie’s story about the people in her family who were indeed hitting each other… would you say they sound like bad people? What made it different is that they learned from it, weren’t excused, probably had support (real support, not just apologists and blame-shifters).

    Perhaps if people weren’t so ready to excuse this Brown guy, he’d learn something from this as well and go on to be a better person. While I’m disgusted by what he did I am certainly NOT going to say he’s evil, or even a “bad person.” He’s a product of a society, he was not developed in a vacuum. This does NOT excuse his behavior, but I can’t swallow condemning him as evil all-around just because he’s done something reprehensible. Do you see what I’m saying?

    Good people are capable of, can do, and do and will do, bad things. Even very bad things. Even bullying, killing, yes even raping. We live in a culture that says that’s okay, and even the good people aren’t always above those messages.

    You know, I’m terrified of wasps. I’ll kill them if they get in my house because I’m so afraid of them I can’t bring myself to capture them and put them outside. If they nest on my house, I spray the nest because I will be too afraid to walk in and out of my house when they’re around the door. I don’t think I’m a bad person, but I admit it, those are the actions of a bully, brought on by an irrational fear. My fear doesn’t excuse the fact that those wasps, while powerful enough in force to kill me, are singly much smaller and weaker than I and I have every advantage over them. And they are merely doing as nature has instructed of them to do, minding their own business. Do they deserve to have me murder them in cold blood? Of course not. But I am not a bad person. But I do this bad thing.

    I don’t even know if I’m making any sense anymore, all I’m saying is that Lori has an excellent point. We need more love, not more judgment and hate.

    War does not bring peace. Peace brings peace. Declaring a new enemy doesn’t change that we’re at war. We’re in this together, and it’s time men and women made a stand TOGETHER!

  44. Again, Lori, I basically agree with you. I just think it’s a bit of a damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation. The desire to “justify why the abuser isn’t a forever-to-be-written-off-as-bad person” may be common and understandable, but in many cases, writing that person off forever is exactly what the victim needs to do to be safe.

  45. Geez, this thread is moving pretty quick today! Well said, Mia, and my next daisy chain is for you.

    When I was talking about bullies and stronger people not hurting weaker people, I did NOT mean to imply that weaker people should go around hitting or trying to hurt either. I mean, that’s just not how you should treat others. But I will admit that to me, it’s always worse when the strong prey upon the weak, that was all I was trying to say.

    My new organization, Blossoms Opposing Violent Actions, will now begin distributing daisy chains to SP en masse. They are made of silk daisies as to avoid stripping fields of their plants.

  46. We need more love, not more judgment and hate.

    Again, in a general sense, I agree with this. But when it comes to domestic violence, specifically, too many women already think that if they just offer their abusers more love, more patience, more understanding, the “good men” who beat them will eventually change. And even though, as Twistie’s example illustrates, it’s entirely possible to be violent once, be horrified at your own behavior, and immediately begin changing, that is rare. What’s much more common is to be violent, be/act horrified at your own behavior, be/act apologetic… and then be violent again. It’s usually a cycle. And more love and understanding from the victim does not break it.

  47. Small thought here. I use the word females because I feel It comments on all of those that belong in the female gender that are not necessarily old enough to be considered women. It is my way of being age inclusive. Some may not agree with that but I feel that when we use the term women we often forget that girls are very much harmed by growing in a world where they are taught to accept and expect violence.

  48. “This totally goes against my understanding of feminism. If women are equal to men, then why the big deal about a woman getting beat up by a man? Shouldn’t she be able to stand up for herself and give as good as she gets? I mean, women are no longer the weaker sex, right?”

    WOW. just wow. Christ. So, I grew up with a very physically violent younger brother. He thought it was funny to slap my head as he walked by the chair I was sitting in, to attack me in my sleep and punch me in the gut, or to kick me in the butt from behind. He thought it was very okay to beat me up if he got mad at me or the situation. He once threw a small chunk of wood at my head — just to see what would happen. It was miserable. My parents did little to help with this. Mostly blamed the two of us when I finally got fed up and retaliated. My mother once yelled at me to defend myself and fight back, rather than tell my brother to stop the fuck what he was doing and never, ever do it again. Moral of the story: I learned how to fight and defend myself. I learned violence. And my first few guy friends suffered from my education, because when I got pissed at them, I’d just punch them in the arm. Which was ridiculous. And now, just because I’m as big as most guys I know and have the ability to fight them, doesn’t mean I should have to respond to any violence they put on me.

    I still deal with my learned violence. Every now and then when I get in a loud, angry, vicious argument with a guy,I think, man, I’d like to haul off and hit him square in the jaw. But, I’M AN ADULT, I KNOW BETTER, AND VIOLENCE IS UNACCEPTABLE. NO MATTER WHO OR WHAT SEX YOU ARE.

    (And yeah, I’m 10 years out of living with my brother and I still flinch at guys’ unexpected movements…leading them to say, hey, uh…I’m not going to hit you…)

  49. Renee, I think that’s a great reason for using “females.” I haven’t weighed in on that, because I’m on the fence — yes, the way Thompson used it bugged the shit out of me, but I’m not ready to write the word off yet. But I think what people are responding to is, in fact, the way he used it, and the way men have increasingly used it in the last several years, which somehow makes it sound like it’s really a synonym for “chicks” or even “bitches,” rather than “women and girls.”

  50. Two things:

    One, Rhonwyn, get the fuck back under your bridge.

    Two, the “women can bring it on themselves” bullshit drives me nuts. You know how men can be? You know how sometimes they talk over you, or patronize, or act all surprised when you know what you’re talking about? Or how sometimes they act as if sexism doesn’t exist because one of the managers at work is a woman? Does this mean that the next time a dude gets on my nerves I can brain him with a cast-iron frying pan? After all, I have been provoked.

  51. “Females” of course is also useful if you are trying to make a distinction between people with the gender “woman” and people with the sex “female.” For instance in the phrase “all females can attend Smith College whether they are women or not.”

    What I hate is when it’s used in the context where you or I would use “women.” It’s both demeaning and exoticizing — you would talk about female animals. We already have a word for female humans, and if you recognize that women are humans, you use it.

  52. Kate, love and understanding does not exclude holding someone responsible or even punishing them as necessary. My parents love me deeply. When I was a little creep, I got spanked and sent to my room. They understood. They loved. But I’d done wrong and how else was I to learn? They loved me enough to show me how to behave.

    Also, who said love and understanding from the victim? Get victims away from those who have victimized them! If she wants to love, understand, or forgive him later, that’s for her to decide, hopefully at a distance, at least until he figures out how not to hurt her again, if he can do so.

    I’m just saying love and understanding from society in general. Excuses and explaining away bad behavior, as the people quoted are doing, is NOT love and understanding. Not for her, AND NOT FOR HIM. If they truly care about him they’ll hold him responsible for his actions!

    The other side of the spectrum, condemning this man forever as evil because he’s done something horrendous to this woman, is also NOT love and understanding. SHE needs the love and understanding every bit as much as he does, but I’m all for salvaging this guy as a member of society, you know? We could write him off and lock him away forever and ever, or just shun him for the rest of his life, but that doesn’t really help the larger problem any more than that horrible victim blaming that’s going on does.

  53. What’s wrong with acknowledging that humans are animals? I feel “female” and “male” are wholly appropriate terms.

    His usage of it here, in my opinion, would be no less condescending than if he HAD used the word “women.” It’s not the word that’s the problem here, it’s the speaker’s attitude that an entire gender is beneath him, which would have been the case regardless of words used.

  54. I just hate this shit so so so so so so much. And I know, from personal experience, how people (many people, people who love and care about you) will decry domestic violence as a general Very Bad and Wrong Thing, but then treat it like a gray area when it happens to someone they know. Case in point: When my ex-boyfriend strangled me on his front porch last summer, some of my “friends” were all “But you were on his porch, and you guys were fighting.” As if the mitigating circumstances were such that OF COURSE he ended up strangling you. What else did you THINK was going to happen, Sumac, you idiot? And these weren’t even people who liked my ex-boyfriend.

    It’s awful to say, but I think some incidents of domestic violence may not be thought of as domestic violence because they are, essentially, one-offs. Not a pattern of physical abuse but a one-time incident of abuse. The celebots are talking about how Chris Brown “isnt’ that kind of guy” because he hasn’t beat Rihanna for years. He’s not someone who is an abuser. He’s just a guy who hit a chick once. Our culture is (I hope) working toward de-stigmatizing victims of domestic abuse, but we need to rearrange our thinking about the abusers as well. Abusers aren’t just people who systematically abuse their partners. They are also people who just hit a chick once.

  55. What’s wrong with acknowledging that humans are animals? I feel “female” and “male” are wholly appropriate terms.

    And as soon as someone starts talking about “how males get” in a society that considers men to be less than human at all times, I will agree with you!

  56. SugarLeigh, there is a sexist tradition of considering women subhuman, closer to nature and really a kind of wild animal, and it’s often been used to justify keeping women out of the public sphere. I think it’s less about acknowledging that *all* humans are animals than it is about classifying *some* humans as less than fully human.

  57. This story gives me that feeling, that difficult feeling that I relate to an itch between your shoulder blades that you can’t reach, but still pesters you.

    My girlfriend grew up in a horrifically violent home.

    Her mother was thrashed on routinely. My girlfriend remembers nights sleeping in closets with her sister, hiding from her dad. She remembers being hauled out of bed in the middle of the night and being driven around for hours by a mother who was sobbing and nearly blinded by eyes swollen shut.

    When my girlfriend talks about her parents — now reformed by charismatic Christianity and abstinence from alcohol — she aims plenty of ire at her mother. She said her mother chose to drank. She says her mother chose to needle her father about his deepest insecruties when he was drunk and angry. And her mother went back for a beating. And another. And another.

    I wouldn’t dare talk about a woman’s complicity in relationship violence. But I see that my partner believes her mother was an accomplice to her shattered childhood. She has mentioned her child’s brain dreaming up murder fantasies — cutting her dad’s throat in his sleep. That sort of thing.

    She has never forgiven her mother, though.

    And then ther is my partner herself. Chased by a predatory, primal sort of anger that has made me empty my bladder on occasion. The heat of it of. The malice of it. She’s never lifted a finger against me. In our younger days, her spite would sneak into my life in the form of destroyed belongings, little messages left in broken objects slipped out of sight. Books ripped from their spines in what looks like a single wrenching pull.

    So, yeah. I know how “females” get. When they live with a broken man’s alcoholism and rage and insecurity. Sometimes, that drunken seething nests in their daughter’s soul like a worm. Sometimes it feeds on their brain or their heart and it spills out into the dark cracks of the life they spend with someone else. I recall plenty of times where I was coincidentally beset by terror because my girlfriend had destroyed a gift I’d given her and then hidden it in the closet. Hello there, father-in-law.

    Those days faded over years spent together, when my devotion to my girlfriend never waivered. .

    Maybe it makes me a bitch, but sometimes I hate her mother for being part of that dynamic. Even though i know she would probably have been murdered if she’d left. I still hate her sometimes

  58. “We could write him off and lock him away forever and ever, or just shun him for the rest of his life”

    Has anyone actually said that we should, though? It seems from most comments in the media that the opposite is the problem – that most people are saying how we should be forgiving and kind, that ‘you can beat or rape your partner and still be a good person!’ (which seems misguided and rather dangerous to me). Maybe that really is because people too often think ‘bad person = monster who should be exterminated’, and are therefore unwilling to label anyone like that, but I’m not entirely convinced; it seems more like they just don’t think such acts are ‘that big a deal’.

  59. Also, who said love and understanding from the victim? Get victims away from those who have victimized them! If she wants to love, understand, or forgive him later, that’s for her to decide, hopefully at a distance, at least until he figures out how not to hurt her again, if he can do so.
    I’m just saying love and understanding from society in general.

    I totally hear that. The problem is, the difference between “love and understanding” and “excuses and explaining away bad behavior” is often really, really unclear when you’re the victim of domestic violence. So I’m wary of calls to remember that abusers need more love and less judgment, even in a general sense, because it can reinforce one of the mindsets that often keeps women in abusive relationships.

    Furthermore, let’s go back to the actual post here. We already live in a culture where people are very quick to say, “He’s a good person, so she must have done something to deserve it,” or “He’s a good person, so I’m sure he’ll never do it again.” Or, as was the case before the picture was leaked, “He’s a good person, so I’m sure this is being blown out of proportion, and he didn’t really hurt her.”

    I understand what you’re saying, but I just don’t buy that we as a society are not offering enough sympathy and slack to abusers. One of the reasons domestic violence is so common is because we as a society are so slow to condemn someone who beats a partner (and I’m including all genders and gender combinations in relationships there), and so quick to seek reasons why the victim brought it on hirself. That’s actually the entire point of this post — which I somehow lost sight of during this argument.

    No, society shouldn’t write people off as evil, with the exception of actual sociopaths. Yes, abusers were often abused themselves and deserve compassion for that. Yes, as a general rule, all human beings have good and bad in them. And yes, our difficulties as a group with separating “person who behaved badly” from “bad person” can muddy the waters. But for fuck’s sake, when we still live in a culture where a man brutally beats a woman and there is fucking CONTROVERSY about whether she deserved it, I just cannot see how it should be a priority to ensure that the abuser isn’t subjected to excessively harsh judgment.

  60. See, in my circle, we talk about “how males are” all the time, so I still don’t see how the WORD is what’s condescending. It’s the USAGE.

    I personally am not happy with people saying “how dare you put people in the same box as animals?” We ARE in the same box, whether we will or no. Animals, to me, are not less. Othering and less-than are the problem. Equal to animals is not the problem. We are already equal to animals. We ARE animals. “Males” too.

    It’s perfectly all right for you not to agree with me of course, I’m just saying, I don’t think it’s the word here, I think it’s his entire sentence and the attitude behind it, and I don’t think using the word “women” would have made his statement even one smidgen better of a thing to say.

  61. Kate, thank you for clarifying that. I think I get what you’re saying better now.

    And, actually, I never disagreed with you. My idea of love and understanding, as I mentioned, actually means that people be held responsible for their actions and encouraged to make right. And blaming victims or saying they deserve it was NOT in my equation.

    But, the ideas I hold are not the current reality. It’s something to strive for, not something that exists at the moment. If switching enemies will help us get to the eventual point where we stop creating them altogether, I am all for it, actually.

    Certainly it makes much more sense, if an enemy must be created in this situation, to have it be the person who has perpetuated a violent act!

  62. Abusers aren’t just people who systematically abuse their partners. They are also people who just hit a chick once.

    Very true, and thanks for saying that, because I’ve been making some arguments on this thread that have definitely detoured away from that excellent point, if not totally undermined it.

    Also, Jesus fucking Christ, about both the strangling and the people blaming you for it.

  63. Also, I know I’m in a minority but I don’t care about using “male” and “female.” I think they’re very neutral terms and I use them a lot. And of all the alternate words to “woman” they could be using I’d say it’s a good choice, because at least it’s not degrading.

    In one sense I tend to agree with you, however I think there are two distinct usages.. In one instance I agree completely, that “male” or “female” can be neutral, if not almost scientific terms.

    On the other hand, there are a few guys I know who, when they refer to a female person as a “fe-male”, it bubbles over with spite and dismissal. “It’s just a ‘female’ thing.” “I don’t know why these ‘females’ act so crazy.” It effectively bundles up all of the characteristics of women as fickle, illogical, and frivolous creatures of whimsy that act are an effective neusiance to their partner who simply exists to keep her in check. Except for when she satisfies him sexually, of course, wherein she’s able to redeem her usefulness.

    It’s dispicable that the official stance should equate an act of domestic violence, or *any* violence against another human as “just another public scandal.” If anything this should be an opportunity for public discourse on how severly fucked up our culture is for perpetuating the idea that A. Women are somehow out of line for questioning a man or B. That it’s somehow appropriate for a man to punish a woman for what equates to being “uppity.” Fuck.

    /rant.

  64. I don’t see the problem with Keenan Thompson’s comment. If anything he was making fun of the company he works for. He does work for a company known for its craft in sarcasm. And I’m sorry but there are a lot of us out there where violence is not an option but the idea of hauling off and hitting someone in an argument does indeed cross our minds. He didn’t defend what Brown did. He basically acknowledged that even if you feel like hitting somebody- you shouldn’t.

    Frankly, I think the situation is a lot more complicated than we’re acknowledging. The problem is that Ne-Yo is 19 years old. He’s still a kid. He grew up in an abusive home. He was most likely abused as well. A lot of the people who are commenting on the circumstances also grew up in abusive homes. A lot of the individuals grew up in socio-economic circumstances, much like I did, where corporal punishment or getting a beatin’ is something that is applauded as an effective parenting tool that keeps a kid on the straight and narrow. In fact, its the foundation of punishment. Beating children is also considered funny if you think about some of the acts by Chris Rock, Bernie Mack, and George Lopez et al.

    The truth is that a certain segment of the US population has parents who are educated enough and stable enough to make sure that violence never happens in that home. So its very easy to come out and say all of Browns friends should be condemning what he did. But if you grew up in circumstances where beating a CHILD for backtalk is acceptable, its a whole lot easier to rationalize beating a woman because basically women are often viewed as children with property rights. So hearing these guys basically say ‘there’s two sides to every story’ in regards to a friend beating up his girlfriend is not all that surprising to me.

    I’m not excusing these guys for being dopes in their statements to the press. I’m just saying Rhianna’s case is the tip of the iceberg. The only way that domestic violence can be quelled is through an honest discussion of how we legitimize all violence in our homes.

  65. valerie, I am genuinely confused by your comment. You say that you don’t see the problem with KT’s comment and then go on to explain why it’s problematic and how systemic violence is.

    And even though this wouldn’t make it right, Thompson didn’t say that he knows how PEOPLE get. He said he knows how women get. It’s problematic both ways, but especially in this case.

  66. I’ve been making some arguments on this thread that have definitely detoured away from that excellent point, if not totally undermined it.

    I don’t think you’ve undermined the point at all, dahlink. I was just commenting on the stupid ambivalent responses from Chris and Rihanna’s “friends,” which sound all too familiar to me.

    Yeah the strangling was fucked up but what was worse was the inability of people to understand that this was abuse, since the ex had never been violent or abusive in the past. No, okay, what was worse was *my* inability to recognize it as abuse for months and months for the same reason.

  67. I think maybe what Valerie is saying is that the situation in this post is the symptom, not the disease.

    But, Valerie, there’s still a problem with that symptom. Lots of, in fact. I mean, when I have an infection, I take the antibiotics to cure it but then I also generally take over the counter stuff or drink tea or something to soothe the symptoms, because while the infection caused the symptoms it’s the symptoms that are bothering me, you know?

    I don’t think the original post is denying that, either. That it’s a larger issue that’s leading to this problem. But these are some pretty nasty symptoms. It’s a particularly virulent and deep-rooted disease.

    This, what we’re doing here, this is the kind of discussion that needs to be getting press when it comes to these situations. Something that gets us thinking more critically about the issues and leads us to a better understanding of what’s happening, and the implications behind it, and our own values and stances on things, not to mention ideas on how we can try to CURE THE DISEASE!

    Statements like these celebs are making divide. Open discourse (even though we’re not agreeing on everything!) such as we are having, brings us together. When is the media going to help things instead of hurt? :P

  68. valerie, I’m not sure how to understand what you’re saying. Because you write:

    I don’t see the problem with Keenan Thompson’s comment.

    but then you also say:

    I’m not excusing these guys for being dopes in their statements to the press.

    …and to me those sound contradictory. In what sense were they dopes, if Keenan Thompson’s statement wasn’t a problem?

  69. So, this is–maybe?–a little off the topic of current discussion, and if you all feel like it’s a derailment, I humbly withdraw the comment pre-emptively, but it came up (AGAIN) at work last night and I think I sprained my eyes rolling them:

    What in the name of all that is holy is up with people who feel the need to assert, every time a DV story breaks, that “I’d never be with someone who hit me” or “the first time a guy hit me, I’d be out of there/he’d be dead/blah blah stupidcakes!”

    1. You know what, you just MIGHT be with someone who hit you. It isn’t like violent people walk around with a big sign around their necks that says “Warning: never learned how to express anger/fear appropriately!” or “I like to punch!”

    2. It’s not always that easy to leave. I totally hear what Cindy is saying, and have BTDT myself, and at the same time, there ARE reasons why it’s hard to leave. Hell, it’s not always that easy to recognize the situation as something that warrants leaving.

    3. What really chaps my ass: the implication that there’s something wrong with these women who get hit, that they’re too weak or stupid or whatever to avoid being beaten on by an intimate partner. In my more generous moments, I think it’s meant to be a means of self-reassurance (“Oh wow, that’s scary. But I’m safe! It could never happen to me!”) but it often does come across as a big ol’ victim blame game (“What kind of person lets that happen to them?”)

  70. The truth is that a certain segment of the US population has parents who are educated enough and stable enough to make sure that violence never happens in that home. So its very easy to come out and say all of Browns friends should be condemning what he did. But if you grew up in circumstances where beating a CHILD for backtalk is acceptable, its a whole lot easier to rationalize beating a woman because basically women are often viewed as children with property rights. So hearing these guys basically say ‘there’s two sides to every story’ in regards to a friend beating up his girlfriend is not all that surprising to me.

    Big, big difference between “not surprising” and “not a problem.” Which you even seem to acknowledge later in the comment.

    And while there are indeed some statistical correlations between poverty and violence and educational levels and violence, there is absolutely no such thing as “educated enough and stable enough to make sure that violence never happens in that home.” Domestic violence is committed and suffered by people of every class, educational level, race, creed, etc.

    ETA: The above isn’t meant to minimize those correlations — or, for the record, the statistics that show women of color are far more likely to be the victims of domestic violence than white women. A discussion of how class, education and/or race play into DV is absolutely welcome here. I just don’t like the implication that a certain level of education and/or wealth actually prevents domestic violence, which is absolutely not true.

  71. Actually a lot of what I was saying was directed towards Brown’s peers which Thompson is not. They’re not even friends.

    Maybe my perception of KT is clouded by the fact that I could hear him saying this in a joking manner.

  72. I had one relationship that ended up with bruises on my arms where he would not let go until I tried to knee him, I missed. He let go and backhanded me into a wall.
    He had a habit of forcing me into corners to talk when I was upset- I often had bruises on my arms form his hands but I didn’t pay attention. I didn’t realize until the back hand how much stronger men were in general. I am a strong woman and was then as well but it was not hard physical work for him to knock me three feet back and a foot up to hit that wall.

    To this day he maintains he never hit anyone who didn’t hit him first. We did have a two more weeks of the relationship – sort of.

    Was he a good guy who only ever hit someone once? I don’t know. But he saw nothing wrong in what he did – still doesn’t, we have mutual friends who let me know about him from time to time thinking I will care. I still have night mares and mine was pretty minor as bad relationships go. So zero affect on him – life time of lost sleep for me.

  73. “SugarLeigh, there is a sexist tradition of considering women subhuman, closer to nature and really a kind of wild animal, and it’s often been used to justify keeping women out of the public sphere. I think it’s less about acknowledging that *all* humans are animals than it is about classifying *some* humans as less than fully human.”

    Sweet Machine, I saw SugarLeigh’s comment as pointing out exactly this. Speciesism is one of the underpinnings of systemic racism, sexism, classism, fatphobia, etc. These ‘classifications’ of some humans as subhuman only ‘work’ because we have not yet overturned the idea that there *is* such a thing as being ‘subhuman’, and that nonhumans are inferior. To me, it’s much like the discussion of disability we’ve been having — not all of us (animals) live in the same bodies, but living in nonhuman bodies does not mean that those who do are inferior, only different. So I also feel like rejecting a word like ‘females’ on the basis that it’s ‘animal-like’ perpetuates the interlocking systems of oppression that we are considering. (Also, it’s worth pointing out that nonhumans are commonly victims of human domestic violence, often before other humans are.)
    Though, to be fair, I agree that this particular instance of the use of ‘females’ may have been intended to slight women, even if not consciously. But again, this only works as an insult because of its speciesist underpinnings.

  74. Chris Brown is about 19, though. I think you meant Chris Brown.

    But isn’t 19 an adult? Isn’t heold enough to know better, and to stand the heat when he blows up the damn kitchen?

  75. Mindy, that fucking sucks. Those mutual friends should have been giving him major grief for that, until he did something about it. He engages in a terrible pattern of behaviors and thought forms and doesn’t even seem to realize it, let alone try to change it or feel responsible for the harm he’s done you. I send you all the hugs you can stand. You already know this, but I’ll remind you that just because others may have perceived him as doing no wrong does NOT mean he didn’t do wrong. He did. And that kind of crap needs to come to an end.

    I do not know what exactly you’ve been through so I won’t be so arrogant as to say I empathize, but I do indeed sympathize. I was in a relationship where a lot of psychological garbage and manipulation was involved. Eventually, I did get hit. I was lucky, as it didn’t hurt me that badly and it was only two incidents. I let the first slide, gave him the benefit of the doubt. The second time, I made a giant deal out of it, because it WAS a giant deal. Our friends took his side. After I broke it off with him, they became HIS friends, and I was painted as the horrible slut who seduced him and then broke his poor widdle heart.

    So, don’t think that just because I am opposed to hatred, villainizing, and Othering in general doesn’t mean I don’t get the implications of this kind of shit or that I advocate victim-blaming or that I think there’s not a problem or that I’d ever say violence is not as bad as people think. If nobody gets anything else out of all the blathering I’ve done on this thread today, let them please at least understand that I am of the opinion that domestic violence is a big freaking problem!

  76. I guess what sticks in my craw about this discussion is that race does play a huge role in this. We’re talking about a group of people in our society who are ALREADY assumed to be violent criminals, particularly black males, thanks to media, press, and plain old ignorance.

    I think that we’re automatically saying Ne Yo and Thompson are assholes without examining the context of what they said. If we don’t discuss that very real factor of systemic violence in certain communities (including white, working class) we’re just adding to the negative image of black males.

    Its not unlike how I felt about Michael Vick. I know that in my community there are white dog fighters and cockfighters who did the same exact thing he did. But Vick was the target. But so much of the rhetoric coming out of the animal welfare community had this unintentional racial undertones.

    I’m not saying that’s what’s going on in this discussion but I think I’m leery of discussion individuals who already face stigma without contextualizing the circumstances. These guys are already on an uneven playing field by the fact they were abused as well.

    And I’m by no means denying that domestic violence occurs across all social stratifications. But I’m also not going to pretend that very many of my peers in a private liberal arts school and grad school would even understand how in families violence is an option for a lot things.

  77. I understand the outcry to a certain extent, but the responses to Rhonwyyn on here mostly really gave me a sour feeling about the tone of this environment. A link to help educate – awesome. All the f-bombs and insults – ugly.

    To be honest (and I’m quite educated on feminism, and privilege, and blind spots, etc.) I can see in a sense where Rhonwyyn was coming from. Not in the “we’re equal so let’s hold our own when fighting” way; not at all. But I felt a strong response to reading “YOU GENERALLY DON’T NEED TO KNOW THE WHOLE STORY IF YOU KNOW THE END OF THE STORY IS THAT A MAN BEAT A WOMAN.”

    When it comes to violence, I don’t understand the implication that gender matters. Violence occurs in same sex relationships. Men get beat by women. Why does it seem – in reading so many harsh and downright offensive comments – that it’s a gender-based issue here? I understand statistics and history. It just seems to me that the outrage should be equal regardless of the gender of the victim.

    Also – please no one express any opinions that may contain erroneous, ignorant or misguided ideas. Otherwise you will get all kinds of cussed at and then threatened with banning. (I’m just saying, couldn’t we take it down a notch and use some kindness? I realize this isn’t my domain, but it is a community I typically respect and enjoy.)

  78. SugarLeigh, I know the discussion has moved on from this (why are always interesting discussions during my work day!), but I do think that there’s a distinction between two people who hit each other in one angry fight and immediately realize there’s a problem, and a systematic pattern of abuse. For that matter, there is a distinction between two people who hate each other once in one angry fight, and one person who smacks the crap out of another person who is physically smaller and weaker than they are. I’m not speaking specifically about Chris Brown and Rihanna, because honestly, it’s a sensationalized news story for which I have no access to the facts of the actual case. But just in general, there’s a difference between Twistie’s story and a lot of the domestic violence which happens in the world.

    To me there comes a point where I am no longer willing to say “you are a good person who did a bad thing”. As a friend, there comes a point where I have to say “I need to cut you off. I need to stop saying you are a good person who screwed up.” It’s like that old They Might Be Giants song “Your Racist Friend”; at a certain point you just can’t stand by your friend anymore.

    I have friends who have screwed up and done pretty rotten things to their partners, and sometimes they haven’t even acknowledged how rotten they were, and I’ve said “I’m mad at you, but you are still a good person, and you are still my friend.” But I also have friends and relatives who have persisted in a pattern of crappy behavior to others, and eventually I’ve had to draw the line. This is the line perhaps Ne Yo should consider drawing.

    (This isn’t just about violence, of course. There are a lot of despicable things people do to each other: psychological abuse, for example.)

  79. Hey, it’s almost like estrella noticed that we’re bitches around here.

    If you don’t like the “tone of this environment,” don’t let the door hit you when you take the concern bus back to your concern bridge.

  80. Estrella, I have a really, really hard time reconciling your assertion that you are “quite educated” on feminism and privilege and your denial that domestic violence is a gender issue. That makes no sense whatsoever.

  81. Valerie, I think you’re making really valid points — but I’m also leery (for reasons I described in several comments above) of cutting dudes slack for violence or the tacit support of it for any reason.

    Also, the flipside of the black-men-are-violent narrative being played out once again is that we almost never see so much attention paid to an abused woman of color. There are also powerful cultural narratives telling us that black women’s bodies never really belong to them, that violence against women of color isn’t/shouldn’t be something of “mainstream” concern. The visibility of this story helps to counter to those messages — is the positive effect of that outweighed by the negative effect of putting a violent black man in the spotlight?

    My personal answer to that question is no, but I don’t ask it glibly. The issues this raises are complex.

    Having said that, we also need to consider how it is we know that Chris Brown was raised in an abusive home — and for those of us who weren’t already fans, it’s because it’s come up a lot in coverage of this story. The refrain about Brown everywhere but the feminist blogs is “Let’s not rush to judgment — he’s a good guy who’s had a hard life and made a mistake.” And in support of that message, everyone and their grandma is wondering what Rihanna did to push him over the edge. I just have no fucking patience for that.

  82. The thing that is brought home to me over and over and fucking over when people talk about violence against women is that in the eyes of society, the real crime is not the man beating the woman but the woman calling the man on his shit. Doesn’t she know her place? Doesn’t she know he’s allowed to do whatever the fuck he wants to whoever the fuck he wants and if she says boo about it she deserves what she gets? I mean, obviously, these people claim to believe–paying lip service to women’s humanity–it’s not right to hit a woman, but she should have known he would react that way if she asked him to stop cheating on her/stop raping her/stop stealing from her/stop spending her money on drugs/stop berating her/stop leaving his stuff in the middle of the floor for her to trip over/wash the shitstains out of his own damn underwear/take out the trash.

  83. I prefer the term “females” to refer to those who are 46,XX and not necessarily woman-identified, whereas “women” are those who are woman-identified regardless of biological sex. (For reference, I am a female but not necessarily a woman – more agender.) However, the way the word was used in this context was implying that women are below men, more animalistic, which is unacceptable.

    On the side, about the “text message from a female” thing, I also find the fact that some guys think it’s ridiculous for a woman to set her own terms – just like them – regarding what is acceptable and what is not in a relationship. “Oh, I can’t hit on other girls! What a prude!” Ahem.

  84. @Sugar Leigh…while I understand the point you were making in reference to animals I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that usually when we speak about people being animals more often than not it refers to POC. This is done not to denote a form of equality but to express a separation. I think seeing we are all animals across the board erases the ways this has been used historically to attack POC. Look at the recent attack of Barack Obama by the post. He was turned into an orangutan to denote the fact that he was less than.

  85. estrella, I think that reason that gender matters is that it matter. Okay, that’s not helpful, so let me try again.

    Women are still more likely to be victims of domestic violence than men, because of the meme that women are both the “weaker” sex, and therefore they are able to be hit without consequence, and also because they are the “troublesome” sex inciting men to hit them.

    When a man is hit by a woman or a victim of domestic violence or abuse perpetrated by a woman or another man, he is told that he should shut up about it. Remember, real men aren’t vulnerable ever.

    Both of these scenarios are about the evil that is patriarchy. It places such strict gender roles on people that even when something happens that is outside what is considered the norm, ie. a woman beating a man, patriarchy finds a way to codify gender roles in the worst way possible.

    And let’s not even get started on what happens when there is DV in a lesbian relationship and how ill-equipped we are to deal with a woman hitting another woman that doesn’t degenerate into a tired, “Meow! Catfight” bullshit stereotype.

  86. Let me start this with, I know their are many different philosophies about corporal punishment. Ranging from hitting a child is always abuse to a child must be hit to be raised right. I understand this spectrum of belief exists and in this post am not trying to stir up this controversy.

    My father, who only had daughters, always stated when questions of discipline arose “I do not hit girls.” He also made it abundantly clear to his daughters that no boy/man should ever hit a girl/woman. In his world this was an absolute.

    Fast forward many, many years. At a family gathering we witness some hitting/slapping discipline from one of the families. The father slapping the daughter threw me for a loop. Which I realized was quite a sexist reaction. He was treating his son and daughter equally. But to me he was showing the daughter that being hit by a man who loves you is okay.

    Second thoughts and processing this later lead me to many questions. If you are raised to believe that people hit you because they love you would it not be far more difficult to equate being hit as something intrinsically bad? If as a boy you are raised watching your sister be hit by your father would you be more likely to view hitting your partner as acceptable?

    I realize that moms hit as well, and this would be impacting in a child’s life. But it was this dynamic of watching an adult male hit a girl that really made me think.

  87. You guys have the gender issues covered, and I’ll just defend the commenters.

    One of the reasons I like to comment here is that people are generally nice and gracious about honest, well-meaning ignorance. I posted some pretty misguided stuff on the previous comment tread earlier today and people gently and friendlily explained how I was wrong, and I felt a little embarrassed and thanked them. I think that’s how it usually happens, and I really appreciate that.

  88. Slythwolf, I agree with you. It’s astonishing to me that in 2000-freaking NINE people are still asking what she did to provoke him as if that mitigates his behavior. Or even explains it…yeah, abusers will usually find something to blame his physically violent outbursts on, but that doesn’t explain all the other controlling and self esteem-crushing tactics that guys who use physical violence employ. I’ve worked with victims of domestic violence and while most of the time batterers will wait to be physically violent until there’s some conflict they can blame it on, I’ve also heard plenty of stories of victims being socked out of the clear blue sky, because it keeps the victim in fear and fully aware of who’s in control.

  89. Though, to be fair, I agree that this particular instance of the use of ‘females’ may have been intended to slight women, even if not consciously. But again, this only works as an insult because of its speciesist underpinnings.

    It’s a minor point, but the people who use it problematically aren’t saying females and males. They’re saying females and men. There is a difference. I don’t think anyone here is condemning the use of the word entirely (see Renee’s and Kate’s exchange earlier) just the use of it in that context.

  90. Liza-the-second, I totally hear you re: “this could never happen to me”. Hell, it wasn’t until about a year after I stopped seeing this one guy I briefly dated that I realized we were damn close to heading into abusive relationship territory.

    Valerie, yes black men are often stereotyped as all being violent criminals, but that doesn’t mean we can look the other way when a black man does do something violent. We can’t forget about the black women here.

  91. Deborah, I will acknowledge your points but I don’t think you understand fully what I meant either. And I intend to explain this until it sinks in in some way! I feel several people have taken meanings out of what I’ve said here today that weren’t intended. Which is totally cool, that happens in discussions, especially on the ‘net, but I really want to make this clear.

    Me being against villainizing others does NOT mean:
    I blame victims
    I think victims should stay with abusers
    I condone abuse
    I automatically think all people who do bad things are, at heart, good people

    Here’s the thing. The guy I was with that hit me? I do not wish him ill. I hope good things happen to him in the future and that he learns his lesson. I have no way of ever knowing that, of course, and for all I know he’s somewhere treating someone else even worse. But I’m not going to turn him into some evil wicked baddie in my mind. That doesn’t mean I condone what he did. What he did was wrong. That’s why I left him. I did not stay with him. I have no desire for contact with him.

    I don’t want to villainize Brown here, because I don’t know a damn thing about him except that he hit this other person. I’d never heard of him before. So he MIGHT be a bad person, but I don’t know and I’m not going to make that statement because I feel it is just another part of the problem to do so. He clearly did a bad thing and I condemn THAT, but I see no reason to condemn HIM.

    In your case, cutting someone off who has proven to be toxic to you is the wise thing to do! Love only goes so far, and I’m not advocating sticking with people who cause you harm!

    I’m just saying two wrongs don’t make a right, and changing enemies doesn’t end a war! And when it comes to THIS INSTANCE, meaning an unknown stranger in the media who has made news for harming someone, I feel that, while blaming the victim, or shaming her, or offering her anything other than sympathy and support, is totally wrong, I also don’t think it’s helpful to just say “this guy is inherently an unsalvageable dick and let’s hang him out back!”

    Remember what I said about using a scapegoat / acceptable enemy instead of having actual solidarity? I hate it when guys do it, so I’m not going to do it myself. I’m NOT going to say this is “everybody’s fault.” But I AM going to say THIS IS EVERYBODY’S PROBLEM AND WE SHOULD DEAL WITH IT TOGETHER!

    DOES ANYBODY GET IT YET?!

    Bah, I don’t know. Maybe I should just back off. I don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings by mistake. Sometimes I lose the faith myself. It takes a lot of courage and careful thought and action to choose love instead of hate. I’m not perfect at it, in fact, sometimes I wonder whether I’m very good at it at all. I mean, it’s easy to fall into creating a villain! It’s easy to use hate as a method of uniting! I often derive comfort from creating violent little cartoons. I can be a snarkbeast with the best of them, and it can really feel satisfying to attack back. There’s a warrior and a zen-like monk in constant conflict in my brain. The monk doesn’t always win.

    Maybe it’s expecting too much. Out of me. Out of the world. Maybe I really am too naive. I just… I don’t know, everyone, I DON’T think peace is unachievable, or too much to ask. World peace starts at home. I don’t think it’s a dream, I think it’s a NECESSITY. Increasingly so. We now live in a global community, more so than ever before. The world is getting smaller by the day and if we don’t learn how to get along together and exist in it beside each other I fear we’re in trouble in the long run.

    I don’t even know where I’m going with this anymore so it’s shut-up time. :P

  92. Estrella – I too am sometimes thrown by the dynamic of this site. But I keep coming back because the swearing, directness, brutal honest, anger and hostility are totally refreshing. I am nice and kind and patient and understanding all day long.

    At work, with the kids, the volunteer work etc I cannot just bust out with ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME!! I love that as women we are so trained to be nice and this site says FUCK THAT, nice is not always necessary. This is a lesson I need more of and Kate, Sweet Machine, Fillyjonk, DSRT, Sarah A etc enforce this idea with abandon. It is a shift in dynamic for me that is slightly uncomfortable. I mean someone may get their feelings hurt. And is it not my job to make sure that never happens. Nope not here. I love leaving my care taker role and just engaging in conversation without so much filter.

    Really learn to love it, learn to ignore it, but it is not yours to change.

  93. sigh. My concern was with the quotes mentioned in the post. If it sounded as if I was slighting the abused I apologize.

  94. wow. I just saw your ETA on the post Kate…. I think I’m going to go throw up now.

    (although yeah to the man from my home town who complained)

  95. It didn’t sound like that, Valerie. Like I said, you brought up some important points — I just don’t think you can isolate them from other important points.

    And I really, really have a problem with both of those quotes, hence the post, so maybe we just have a fundamentally different view of them.

  96. I fucking hate the term ‘wife beater’ t-shirt. It makes DV kitschy and has so many ethnic and classist connotations. I was also outraged by the trucker hat fad ftw.

  97. I’m so behind now because the fellas and I just went for a walk, but I just wanted to say — Valerie, thanks for addressing my point of confusion/misunderstanding. I’m cleared up now.

    Okay, now I’m going to catch up on the rest of the thread…

  98. I have actually worked as an advocate for victims of domestic/sexual violence. I worked both for a 24-hour crisis line and a DV shelter. I have met women of many different ages, races, and backgrounds who are survivors of domestic violence.

    Some thoughts: I have long thought that the othering of violent criminals contributes to our dismissal of accusations of violence because the alleged perpetrator is such a Nice Guy ™. Of course most people who are able to repeatedly convince someone come back after hurting them may in fact have redeeming (or seemingly redeeming) qualities. If somebody “seems like” an abusive person it is not as easy for them to find willing/understanding partners who won’t leave at the first sign of abusive behavior. That thought is based entirely in my anecdotal (if varied) experience and I make no claim that it is objective or measurable. Just something I’ve thought about. I think we could make mroe inroads to lowering incidents of violence if we as a society had a mental picture of “abuser” as “Kind of funny guy I know at work” or “Friend of a friend I have a good time with at parties” or whatever, because that’s how most of us come into contact with abusers in day-to-day life and we don’t immediately recognize them, because we can’t.

    To the matter at hand. I have honestly not been following the Chris Brown/Rhianna thing. That’s because I don’t need to follow it. He hit/beat her. If this is the first time he has hit her it is extremely unlikely it is the first time he has used the rhetoric of violence against her. It’s important to remember that a slap or a punch is almost never (in my experience, actually never, but I’m allowing for variance) the first “violent act”. Punching walls, throwing things, breaking windows, hurting animals (especially) and other forms of physical intimidation frequently happen for weeks, months, or YEARS before any partner-to-partner violence occurs. Our society draws a legal distinction at the point that another person is hurt or threatened to be hurt but the pattern is established LONG before that.

    Everyone he has ever met, and many people he has never met are complicit in creating a world where he gets to hit her for whatever real or imagined transgression and it is followed by a load of victim-blaming, abuse-apologist bullshit. Of course his buddies are “speaking up” to defend him, it’s what they understand, it’s how The Patriarchy has conditioned them. Of course her friends aren’t speaking up. They think, in their heart of hearts that maybe she DID “accelerate” the argument, maybe she was making a big deal out of nothing and got hurt because of that, and if she had just shut her mouth he wouldn’t have had to do that.

    It’s infuriating and it’s the exact reason I left the industry. I’ve been thinking of volunteering for the crisis line again but I swear, the first call I get from some man saying how he couldn’t help himself and she was intentionally making him angry and there’s two sides to every story don’t you know… I’m going to go off the deep end. I guess I just need to stick to giving them money :)

  99. My father was an alcoholic and he hit my mom and I when I was very young. They’ve since gotten divorced, but I’ve found myself living near him once again, and he’s taken it upon himself to reinstate his role as the parent of his adult son, which makes me more than a little uncomfortable. I’ve had to tell him that I forgive him for his abuse, but the truth is, I could never forgive him for what he did. It’s unbearable to imagine preferring to lie to your own father instead of forgiving him, but that’s how strong it is. Nobody has any right to treat another person like a ragdoll, drunk or not, especially to someone they love.

  100. Amy, I think your hypothesis is still lacking a crucial fact – in the situation you saw, the hitter was a parent hitting their child in order to discipline them. We accept discipline from superiors (in this case parents, but also bosses, authorities [although we do NOT accept physical discipline from the latter two]). So, for someone who was hit by their parent would, in order to view hitting their partner as an acceptable act of love, still need to have a twisted view of their relationship, in which it was appropriate for them to discipline their partner.

  101. I’m starting to wonder if all the hedging and “we’d have him on if he had a hit again” and all that crap is to protect their careers more than anything else. In our culture, who’s more likely to come out smelling like a rose, the guy or the girl? The guy, and they all know it. Innocence doesn’t matter, throw the girl under the bus

  102. Lexy, for what it’s worth, my anecdotal information matches yours to a T. Most people seem to adhere fervently to the belief that they would know if someone they knew/admired was a domestic abuser, pedophile, rapist, murderer, etc. I guess it provides false security. I’ve been seen as a betrayer for failing to dismiss out of hand the possibility that someone I know actually did the thing he or she is accused of by a family member; but I know firsthand how nice an abuser – even a sociopath completely devoid of empathy and conscience – can appear to outsiders. These people are not stupid. They know how to hide in plain sight. They are often the very best people readers around, and they know how to make their victim’s stories seem implausible to a blissfully ignorant community.

  103. From WAY upthread

    “Now, women are rarely larger and more powerful in a physical sense than a man. But if a woman was, or, if she were using something to equalize the difference in force (like a weapon), and she harmed a man, that’s every bit as wrong.”

    I have to take issue with this, as using a weapon can be the only way a weaker person can adequately defend themselves. If my husband, who is much larger than me, started beating on me, I would absolutely run to the kitchen and grab a knife. There’d be, theoretically, no other way to get the violence to stop. (Of course, my husband is totally not at all abusive, yadda yadda)

    Ali, I had a similar relationship. The guy in question was rather small and about my size, and I definitely overpowered him in personality, but had we stuck together much longer he would have probably started hitting me.

    The other issue I take with this thread is the idea that rapists are redeemable. Again, way upthread there are several comments to the effect that labeling someone who rapes once a rapist and a bad person for life is damaging and contributes to the victim blaming rape culture, all of which I find ludicrous. One can get angry enough to want to hit or otherwise harm another person (been there done that myself), and can choose to learn not to do that should they engage in violence once, as has been demonstrated in this thread. Rape, however, is a whole nother ball of wax and there is not one single situation in which rape is ever justifiable, redeemable, or could otherwise be considered anything but evil.

  104. At a family gathering we witness some hitting/slapping discipline from one of the families. The father slapping the daughter threw me for a loop. Which I realized was quite a sexist reaction. He was treating his son and daughter equally. But to me he was showing the daughter that being hit by a man who loves you is okay.

    This is one of the reasons I’ve come to believe that spanking kids (of either gender) is not okay, even though I was spanked a few times as a child and it didn’t do me any obvious harm. I don’t want “S/he hits because s/he cares!” getting wired into any young brain.

    I get that domestic violence is a gendered issue and that women are more commonly and more dangerously battered by their partners than men are. But I still don’t particularly like the slogans about “a man should never hit a woman” when I hear them used, because I think “a person should never hit a person who isn’t threatening them” is more true. A man shouldn’t beat up his wife, or his daughter, or his son, or the guy on the street who ‘dissed’ him. Men shouldn’t be encouraged to think that pounding on their male friends for no reason is okay and that only female friends are untouchable.

    You do not slug someone in the face for stealing your girlfriend. You do not slug someone in the face for insulting your mother. You do not slug someone in the face for cutting in front of you in line. You do not slug someone in the face for promoting the wrong sports team. You do not… er, this is getting repetitive.

  105. estrella said: All the f-bombs and insults – ugly.

    Because when discussing the epidemic of domestic violence and violence against women in general in Western society, we’re supposed to be… what? Pretty? Nice? Polite? Demure? Deferential? Reasonable? Patient? Understanding?

    Yeah. Fuck that. (Also if you’ve lurked on this site for more than 24 hours you should know better than to chastize the Shapelings or our fearless leaders over their “unladylike language.” *eyeroll*

    When it comes to violence, I don’t understand the implication that gender matters. […] I understand statistics and history. It just seems to me that the outrage should be equal regardless of the gender of the victim.

    Congratulations! That may be the single stupidest thing said on the Internet today.

    Find me an instance of a biased media report about a domestic violence case (preferably about celebrities) where the victim was male and the aggressor was female and point me to an example on this blog or any feminist blog where the response was not unanimously a condemnation of domestic violence in all its forms and I will accept your twisted, ridiculous argument.

    Until then, fuck you.

    DRST

  106. Thanks Larloo, unfortunately this little girl is definitely being raised to believe that men are superior to women. She would not be taught in home, at school or at church that women and men are equal partners in a relationship or any other part of life. And as sad as this is here in 2009, I just do not think this is totally uncommon.

    I know this does not mean that she will be a victim of domestic violence but I wonder if it will make her more susceptible and less willing to speak out if it happens.

  107. I have to take issue with this, as using a weapon can be the only way a weaker person can adequately defend themselves.

    That wasn’t even my hypothetical scenario, but I feel confident in saying the woman was supposed to be the aggressor in it, not acting in self-defense. No one here has suggested that defending yourself against an attack is wrong.

    gain, way upthread there are several comments to the effect that labeling someone who rapes once a rapist and a bad person for life is damaging and contributes to the victim blaming rape culture, all of which I find ludicrous.

    What?

  108. But I still don’t particularly like the slogans about “a man should never hit a woman” when I hear them used, because I think “a person should never hit a person who isn’t threatening them” is more true.

    I don’t think it’s that one is more true than the other; I think both are true, but both need to be said separately. The problem with your suggestion is, it’s akin to saying, “Why do we need feminism? Why can’t we all be humanists?”

    No one should hit anyone (except in self-defense), period. But in a culture where women are valued less than men and beaten by men at FAR higher rates than men are beaten by women, not to mention a culture where men are too often given a pass on beating women (see above), “Men should not hit women” deserves special mention.

  109. To the commenter who can’t make sense of me being well educated in feminism yet not seeing this as gender issue…

    Of course gender is PART of the issue. A lot of things are PART of the issue. I’ve experienced domestic violence in cases that had nothing to do with gender. My point is that this is intolerable because it’s an act of violence. Period. Not because it’s the act of a man beating a woman. I understand that the majority of DV victims are female (or maybe I should say “women”) and perpetrators are more commonly male (or “men.”) I just don’t believe that that fact is what makes the act grievous and wrong. I don’t believe that’s the bottom line “A MAN BEAT A WOMAN.”

    And to those of you who think waving the “we’re bitches” flag is more fun than actual dialogue, well, have fun. I just think there’s enough hate in the world already.

  110. I almost said this in my comment but it was getting pretty long….

    If I had a nickel for everytime I got a call/was accosted at an outreach event by someone saying “BUT MEN GET BEAT BY WOMEN TOO, WHAT ABOUT TEH MENZ” I’d be able to buy a condo in Aspen for every man I’ve ever gotten a call from who was actually in an abusive relationship.

    Men do get beaten by women. And when they do they have an entirely different set of problems that comes with it than most domestic violence advocates have ever encountered. Men are also abused by men and women by women, that is worth acknowledging and solving.

    However there are way, way, WAYYYYY more people concerned about these poor men getting hit by their wives (or girlfriends) than there is outrage for the far more normal and everyday act of a man using the power of The Patriarchy to show his female partner that he is in control and she should be afraid.

    Thr problem is gendered because it’s a gendered problem, yo.

  111. I really have not been following the Chris Brown/Rihanna situation, but it doesn’t surprise me if his peers and friends are sticking up for him but aren’t sympathetic towards Rihanna’s plight. I’m about to go OT a little bit, but hear me out:

    It seems there are two sides to the modern mainstream R&B and hip-hop community : The first side is treating women like sex objects, toys, and punching bags in their songs. Women deserve what they get because of their behavior. The second side is the romantic, gentle man who will treat his lady right and be there for her no matter what. Women are to be cherished, honored, and loved. (As we should)! Apparently, Chris Brown was part of the second side, and that’s why people who know him or claim to know him are “shocked” that he abused Rihanna. But just because you sing about “love in the club,” doesn’t mean you’re loving outside of the club too. It doesn’t matter what Rihanna may have done, Chris Brown shouldn’t have resorted to violence to handle whatever problems they were having.

  112. He may not be a “bad” man, or a “monster,” assuming such a person actually exists. But he is sick.

    If this guy is your friend, you can acknowledge that this guy is your friend and even that you are surprised by his actions, that they seem out of character with what you thought you knew about him. That’s a lot different from “anyone who assaults a woman apropos of nothing is a monster/Chris is not a monster/therefore he didn’t do it apropos of nothing,” which is a lot more characteristic of a fan reaction (especially young fans, and that means most of Brown’s) than a friend reaction. Or at least it would be, if the friend wasn’t someone who existed in the celebrity feedback loop where nobody ever says no to you. That’s a big reason why some people crave stardom so badly. They dream of a world without “no.”

    But it’s so rare for a woman to assault a man without being assaulted or threatened herself — and even rarer still when it doesn’t come on the heels of years of vicious, nonstop verbal abuse of the “you’re fat/ugly/stupid/worthless” variety — that all I can think is that the reason anyone doesn’t know this is because they don’t want to know. Like the MRAs will go, “Chuck Finley.” Yeah, Chuck Finley. Chuck Finleys exist, and that sucks. But it’s a lot more common for them to be beaten up by male partners, and you almost never hear the MRAs utter a peep about that.

    And yeah, SNL, hotbed of misogyny. Gee, that’s something new. (snerk)

  113. Lalaroo, if I’m reading you right, you’re essentially saying hitting a child is acceptable in our culture for discipline while hitting an adult partner isn’t. Given that women are often viewed and treated like children how exactly should we draw that line between disciplining children and abusing women?

    What I find most distressing is in the post that you’re referring to, the child was being hit in public. That shows a significant lack of respect for the child’s dignity.

    Actually there’s a good portion of the culture that doesn’t consider it appropriate for parents to hit their children for discipline. Although its legal in all fifty states of the US, hitting your children is illegal in most EU states. So basically we’re behind every other post industrial nation in this regard.

    I think that until we say as a culture that hitting outside of self defense is wrong and stop valorizing violence as a disciplinary tool domestic violence will still be around.

  114. You’ve definitely lost a long-time faithful reader, not a one-day lurker. I honestly feel that the atmosphere fostered here is not one I could be proud to be part of, and it’s unfortunate because I’ve read so many insightful, awesome things on this site.

    Seeing how people tear each other down – being personally told “fuck you” and called stupid – it’s just sick. You can carry on self-righteously and snark down someone who was actually attempting to engage in the discussion. My tolerance for being spoken to like that is apparently not high enough to hang with the Big Bitches. Pat yourselves on the back; I realize the likely response to you losing a reader who doesn’t agree with the majority here is a high-five to each other.

    I’m not an idiot, I’m not narrow-minded (by any stretch of the imagination, and I’m not up for attempting substantial conversation and being met with verbal abuse.

  115. And to those of you who think waving the “we’re bitches” flag is more fun than actual dialogue, well, have fun.

    Yeah, there’s definitely not over 130 pieces of dialogue here.

    Ta ta!

  116. I understand your policy. I understood it when I read it before. I totally get where you’re coming from. And honestly, almost all of the time – I agree!

    I just feel like the “zero patience for bullying” policy hasn’t been particularly enforced in this thread. And I guess I never interpreted the “high standards for communication” to include choice imperatives like “fuck you”, or being told one’s opinion is the stupidest thing on the internet.

    I have mad respect for your work – this site, the many many posts I’ve read on other sites. I’m just peacing out because I actually do have zero tolerance for bullying. Double standards aren’t my favorite either.

  117. Oooh. I liked Jay Smooth’s rant such that he became my new internet crush times infinity, explicitly because it withholds all judgement on the character of the doer, which for me is really empowering and makes the takedown less fraught. It puts the focus on the hurt, rather than on the one who is throwing power around in order to hurt.

    The doer could be Evil Incarnate, and if he stops doing bad things, we will all be happier people. The content of his own evil brain is his own business. The doer could also be the second coming of someone’s messiah, but if he did a bad thing, the thing would still be bad. So this:

    And the woman doubts her own interpretation of events more and more because really, deep down, he’s a good person! Good people aren’t abusive!

    I think that getting out of the game of who they ARE, instead focussing on what they DID can really answer this, because it doesn’t matter if you’re evil or saintly, the proof is in the action.

    Of course, for lots of people they have to write someone off, and that’s fine too. If someone beats you and you decide they’re evil and it helps you get away, do it! Anything to save yourself.

    But for me that was a stumbling block. I am used to getting all het up in fretting about the content of people’s character, when I clearly need to focus on their actions.

    I think that either deciding that guy’s bad can work to get away. But being able to say ‘his actions are bad for me’ focuses the attention away from the attacker and the state of the attacker’s soul, and onto the person who needs the focus.

  118. “Where are the quotes from Rihanna’s friends? Why are all the quotes I’ve seen out there from Brown’s friends?”

    That is an excellent question. Rihanna is a celebrity – surely she too has famous friends who journalists could call for quotes? But no, because that would remind everyone that she’s an actual person, not just a caricature of a mouthy “female”.

    I’ve been trying to resist blogging about this because I don’t want to let myself slip into pure rage territory, but really, all the “we don’t know whose fault it is, no one’s to blame” shit is making me want to scream. Yes, we do know whose fault this is. Here’s a hint – it’s not the one with the bruises.

    Also, your coda at the end about the tshirts makes me want to kill people.

  119. I’m just saying, couldn’t we take it down a notch and use some kindness? I realize this isn’t my domain, but it is a community I typically respect and enjoy.

    estrella (if you’re still around) I’ll concede that it’s possible I may have been meaner than was necessary.

  120. Arrgh… posted too soon. Anyway, as I was saying: I might have been meaner than was necessary, but wow, what Rhonwyyn wrote pissed me off something fierce. As it did a lot of other people, too. And, you know, maybe that many people getting pissed off is, like, an important data point whose significance runs deeper than good manners.

  121. “YOU GENERALLY DON’T NEED TO KNOW THE WHOLE STORY IF YOU KNOW THE END OF THE STORY IS THAT A MAN BEAT A WOMAN. ”

    Quoted for truth. Gawd.

  122. That is an excellent question. Rihanna is a celebrity – surely she too has famous friends who journalists could call for quotes?

    While I’m NOT following this story in the media at all, the one thing I do remembering seeing on ‘her side’ was someone quoting her father saying that she should “stand up for women” after this incident.

    But no sign of what her mother thought. (If she has one living. I wouldn’t know. I don’t even know who Rihanna IS.)

    I think that until we say as a culture that hitting outside of self defense is wrong and stop valorizing violence as a disciplinary tool domestic violence will still be around.

    Word. Although domestic violence and victim-blaming haven’t exactly disappeared in the EU either. I head-desk a few times whenever family members after a horrific crime look all distraught and say “What did she do to deserve this?” They don’t even get as far as “What did she do to make you think she deserved this?” The idea that no one deserves that, no matter what they might have done, evades them completely.

  123. About this “female” thing; I’m not a native speaker, but I am under the impression, that those who talk about “how females are”, are the same people who talk about “women lawyers”, if it is anyhow conceivable what I mean…

    To me it both sounds incredibly othering and belitteling. Is that a fault of translation / perception of a language I am not fluent in, or is there maybe something to it?

  124. Small thought here. I use the word females because I feel It comments on all of those that belong in the female gender that are not necessarily old enough to be considered women. It is my way of being age inclusive. Some may not agree with that but I feel that when we use the term women we often forget that girls are very much harmed by growing in a world where they are taught to accept and expect violence.

    Which is why I think if you’re going to be inclusive you should say “women and girls”. Those are humanizing words, words we don’t use to describe other animals. “Females” is dehumanizing, you could be talking about whales or roaches. Women and girls are people, and we should use language that makes that clear.

  125. The thing with treating wrong actions as some kind of metaphysical cooties is that you get the crazy minimizing doublethink of “Chris is a good guy therefore he couldn’t have done this” even after Brown acknowledged that he had done it and announced that he was seeking help.

    Brown, at least, seems to get that his actions were wrong, whether or not he’s a Good Person at heart. This is a good sign for his potential ability to overcome a pattern of abuse.

    SugarLeigh wrote:
    But I AM going to say THIS IS EVERYBODY’S PROBLEM AND WE SHOULD DEAL WITH IT TOGETHER!

    Yes. But I think the perpetrators and defenders of abuse need to deal with it in a different way than the survivors and opponents of abuse do. Society as a whole needs to make it clear that abuse is wrong, but perpetrators and defenders need to change their own behaviors as well.

  126. To me it {the use of “females” rather than “women and girls”} both sounds incredibly othering and belitteling. Is that a fault of translation / perception of a language I am not fluent in, or is there maybe something to it?

    It’s frequently used in othering/belittling speech–as someone said upthread, seeing “females and men” or “females and guys” is very very common.

    Obviously there are times when “females” is the most accurate way to refer to a specific group of humans, not all of whom identify as women or girls. But the majority of people who use it in conversation seem to use it as a distancing.

    We refer to cows and bulls, mares and stallions, lions and lionesses, etc., when discussing other animals. Why not use “men and women” or “men and boys and women and girls” when discussing H. sapiens sapiens?

  127. I’m just saying, couldn’t we take it down a notch and use some kindness? I realize this isn’t my domain, but it is a community I typically respect and enjoy

    That’s nice and all, but here’s the thing: last I checked, the purpose of this community isn’t education. On the other hand, one of its central purposes is providing an open forum for a pretty heavily discriminated-against segment of our society to air their thoughts without allowing or legitimizing the discriminating bullshit. That may include people making honest mistakes from time to time.

    For instance, if I walked in and said ‘Hey, what’s the big deal about fat acceptance? Women should just get off their asses and exercise!’ I’d also get booed out of the room, not educated. Because this is not an education center, and it is not the responsibility of the oppressed to educate, or even be nice to, everyone ignorant who crosses their paths.

    Education is good. Education is helpful. In fact, in some ways, it WOULD be better if everyone had been nice and explanatory to Rhonwyyn. But enforcing that kind of behavior would mean that this community wouldn’t allow the same freedom of expression that it does, which would be a loss as well. Women are told from childhood that they need to spend their lives being nice and understanding and helpful- and I think it’s MUCH more important that we have a community where those unfair rules aren’t imposed than that one or two people don’t get edu-ma-cated.

    Particularly since I heard a lot of ‘stop being mean! women aren’t supposed to be mean, they’re supposed to be nice and understanding! be nice and understanding!’ in the request to be nicer. Consider: would the same comment have been made if this community was mostly made up of male posters?

    Yeah, didn’t think so.

  128. Also about this in relation to Rhonwyyn’s dumbassery… “I had one relationship that ended up with bruises on my arms where he would not let go until I tried to knee him, I missed. He let go and backhanded me into a wall.
    He had a habit of forcing me into corners to talk when I was upset- I often had bruises on my arms form his hands but I didn’t pay attention. I didn’t realize until the back hand how much stronger men were in general. I am a strong woman and was then as well but it was not hard physical work for him to knock me three feet back and a foot up to hit that wall. ”

    Here’s the thing that’s also getting left out of this public conversation – men have more upper body strength than women, even if they’re the same size. That’s why the “men shouldn’t hit women” rule exists. This comment and Rhonwyyn’s in combination made me think, why is it that some people do not seem to grasp the fact that men’s greater upper body strength means that all things are never equal in terms of men hitting women versus men hitting each other? Have these people just never had occasion to realise how profound that difference in physical strength actually is?

    Personal anecdote about how I came to realise just how significant that physical difference is. I was a big strong kid, 5ft tall by age 9, and a tomboy who always roughhoused with the boys. Which, pre puberty, was fine, and I really could give as good as I got. So it wasn’t until I hit college age that it really hit me that hey, guess what, once you’re an adult things just don’t work that way any more.

    I was running down the stairs into the Tube in London on a rainy day, and I slipped. My friend was right behind me and he saw me slip, stopped, grabbed me round the waist with one arm and lifted me right off the ground, and then carefully put me down on the step below him. Now to give a sense of scale – I’m a pretty sturdy girl, not at all dainty or wispy. Friend was a short skinny Japanese guy, about 5ft 7 and maybe 125 pounds at the most. I was definately heavier than he was. And yet he had no problem lifting me right off my feet with one arm. And right at that moment it hit me – a woman the exact same size as him couldn’t possibly have lifted me like that, almost effortlessly. With both arms and a lot of effort, sure, but not with one arm like it was no big deal. So I’m standing there on the stairs going…holy shit, this person is so much stronger than me it’s ridiculous. He could overpower me in a second if he wanted to. And this is a guy who’s short and slight and not at all stereotypically strong looking. So what about men who ARE big and strong looking?

    So yeah, in my case it took a while but it finally did click that hey, men are a lot stronger than women, even if you try to equalise for overall size. And then you read comment’s like Rhonwyyn’s, or all the many comments that seem to assume that maybe Brown and Rihanna just had a fight and hey, no one’s to blame for her ending up covered in bruises, because maybe she hit him first. And I’m going…no, sorry, that isn’t how things work. Men’s greater physical strength means that they have an obligation to never forget how much damage they can do if they lose their tempers and hit women. Sorry, but there’s just no getting around that. How is it that a significant chunk of society does not seem to grasp this basic reality?

  129. I was just reminded about an interview with Miep Gies – one of the people who helped hide the Frank and Van Daan families. She does presentations to schools about Anne and the Holocaust. She said the most disturbing question she gets is “What did the jews do to deserve this?”
    If I remember correctly she suggested that asking this question isnt so much about doubt as it is a defense mechanism so people can tell themselves “it can.t happen to me.”

  130. If I remember correctly she suggested that asking this question isnt so much about doubt as it is a defense mechanism so people can tell themselves “it can.t happen to me.”

    Totally, which goes back to what Liza was saying ages ago. All that “I’d never let that happen to me!” and “I’d leave if someone ever did that!” stuff is also a way of telling ourselves it can’t happen to us, so we don’t have to worry about it. If the victim is actually blameless, then it could happen to anyone, which is way too much scary for some people to process.

  131. I am another one who winces when I hear man refer to a woman as “female”.

    I don’t care about the semantics of it, it is just that in my experience, a man who calls women “female” does not really like us, no matter how snaggy he professes himself or seems to be, and yet a man who refers to women as women, tends to have a genuine affection for us, even if he is a bit rough around the edges.

    For me these days, after learning it the hard way, a guy saying “female”, especially when referring to us n a generalised way, as in, “You females…” is a red light that he is going to turn out to be a twat, even if a closet twat. I have yet to be wrong!

  132. So yeah, in my case it took a while but it finally did click that hey, men are a lot stronger than women, even if you try to equalise for overall size.

    I perhaps-intentionally date very small guys…

    Are there any charts anywhere expressing the variations in average strength, and how a strong woman compares to an average man? The subject comes up a lot in fantasy/gaming but usually just trails off into guys showing off and talking about how no puny woman could equal their might rather than actual data.

  133. Emmy, there’ve been scads of studies of comparative strength, endurance, etc. I imagine if you google it, bunches will come up.

    My stepfather used to use some of the data — he designed mountaineering equipment, and used to try his best to make packs, etc. adjustable to work as well with women as men. From what I recall, men are on average about 20 to 25 percent stronger. Women, on the other hand, have greater endurance and a lower center of gravity, which makes us more stable in some situations.

  134. I have tried, but i don’t know precisely what to search for, and therefore generally end up in conversations like the ones I’ve already mentioned. That’s why I was hoping somebody had a link handy. :)

  135. Okay, I’m back after work and after some thought on the subject and after trying to draft a post on Sugar For Sugar about this whole thing and bla bla bla.

    Anyway, I don’t want to retract what I said per se, but I want to apologize. In talking about my hopes for the future and what I feel the societal/ cultural mindset should shift to if we can just get it to bloody shift already, I think I struck a nerve, and I finally think I see why. This post, I think, was less about how we can or should go about changing mindsets or creating a brighter tomorrow or whatever. I think this post was more about sympathy and comfort and a place where it is okay to get pissed and say things, even maybe things you don’t mean fully, because everywhere else you’d be shot down as the “too sensitive feminazi” or whatever.

    In musing too hard about my own peacenik views I forgot that, quite frankly, sometimes it’s cathartic to throw stones, to pick a villain, to bandy some empty suggestions of creative violence, what have you. Doesn’t mean we truly want violence to win the day, just means we’re upset and need an outlet.

    So, for anyone who was wondering why on earth I would possibly be reluctant to chuck a few epithets at this guy, I’m sorry, chuck away, I forgot for a moment that it’s not because we’re bloodthirsty, it’s just because we’re blood-spattered.

    I just… I hope someday we’ll be able to be in a place where there isn’t rage like this, because it isn’t needed, because we’re all coming from a place of love and the Kenan Thompsons and the Ne-Yos of the world say not, “who can we blame,” but “how can we all help?”

  136. “I’d never let it happen to me” tends to push my buttons because my approach to not repeating the pattern of my parents’ marriage seems to have been to be completely incapable of contemplating any sort of a relationship ever. Short of that (and it’s not exactly a course of action I’d recommend) it’s a wee bit condescending to assume that you’re just not that sort of bastard-magnet like women who end up in abusive relationships and it’s not their fault exactly but, y’know, you can sort of see why it happened to her even though obviously she wasn’t asking for it as such

    Hmm. This sort of almost-invisible othering really does make me twitch quite a bit so I may not be up to a coherent comment. I shall stop before I become insane.

  137. Great discussion, as always. I have been outraged by the apologists. And every time I hear a woman say that she’s not a feminist, and that feminism is unnecessary and archaic, I want to scream. THIS situation is why.

    Valerie, I wanted just to clarify, because I don’t think you meant to imply with this bit–“What I find most distressing is in the post that you’re referring to, the child was being hit in public. That shows a significant lack of respect for the child’s dignity”–that it’s more dignified to beat ‘em at home?

  138. That shows a significant lack of respect for the child’s dignity”–that it’s more dignified to beat ‘em at home?

    Actually, yes, I think it is.

    My mother is/was emotionally abusive, and it was always, ALWAYS, worse when she did in front of other people- I felt humiliated, and worse, I felt like the people who were around when this happened would now be in on the secret of what a bad kid I was.

    Now, I’m sure that there’s a bunch of stuff in here about the line between punishment and abuse and unhealthy patterns of keeping unpleasant personal matters behind closed door- but I’m way too close to unpack those. All I can say is that, as a kid, it hurt way worse to be abused in public.

  139. One of the things I really like about weighing 300lbs is that most guys CAN’T just pick me up with one arm! Hurray!

  140. Thanks Larloo, unfortunately this little girl is definitely being raised to believe that men are superior to women. She would not be taught in home, at school or at church that women and men are equal partners in a relationship or any other part of life.

    Yeah, it seems like there’s a strong correlation between people who believe that hitting is an appropriate form of discipline and the idea that women and girls were made to be submissive.

    Lalaroo, if I’m reading you right, you’re essentially saying hitting a child is acceptable in our culture for discipline while hitting an adult partner isn’t. Given that women are often viewed and treated like children how exactly should we draw that line between disciplining children and abusing women?

    Hitting (more politely, spanking) is still pretty acceptable in the U.S. But I would say that most people who spank their child would not spank their partner, because the relationship is different. Even in complementarian relationships, almost all practitioners believe that though the husband should have the final say/be the ultimate authority, he cannot force his wife to obey. (However, there is some upsetting Christian Domestic Discipline stuff on the internet that would disagree.)

    Personally, I don’t think hitting is acceptable, so there’s no line that I need to draw. I was spanked, and I believe it made me more physically aggressive, and quicker to want to hit when I’m angry.

  141. I appreciate what was said about this community’s purpose not being to educate. I’m an educator, and one who hears some outrageously egregious opinions and jaw-droppingly ignorant perspectives on a fairly regular basis. I do see in retrospect that I was recoiling at the swift judgment and verbal slapdown at what I saw as an opportunity to educate.

    It’s a very good point about the freedom of expression being exercised here. I apologize if my comments were taken to imply any sense of encouraging repression or even good manners. I’m admittedly an idealist and a bit of a peace-loving good ol’ fashioned hippie, but in NO WAY a “let’s be ladylike” kind of gal.

    “Particularly since I heard a lot of ’stop being mean! women aren’t supposed to be mean, they’re supposed to be nice and understanding! be nice and understanding!’ in the request to be nicer. Consider: would the same comment have been made if this community was mostly made up of male posters?

    Yeah, didn’t think so.”

    Wow I just have to say you couldn’t be more off there. There is nothing in me that thinks women are supposed to be nice and understanding. Nothing. I would absolutely have made the same comment to a community of mostly men (and would probably have been accused of making the request because I’m female.) I get it – but you’re way off on my perspective there. I’m this ridiculously, whole-heartedly idealistic across the board.

    I hear you on the value of an uncensored exchange of ideas by strong women shooting straight. And I guess I was disappointed when the opportunity to educate was used instead to insult and mock and express outrage. I think this is because I have personally gained and learned so much from this site, its contributors and its commenters over time. But I do understand now that, while educating is a valuable and awesome aspect of this forum, it’s not its sole or even top priority. Thank you for taking the time to express that.

  142. Wow I just have to say you couldn’t be more off there. There is nothing in me that thinks women are supposed to be nice and understanding.

    Sorry that I misinterpreted, then. The implication that women should be solely nice is pretty common with statements like that, in my experience, but I’m sorry that I brought that expectation to the table where it wasn’t relevant.

  143. I know that kids often buy into the Manichean viewpoint WRT violence. They can’t reconcile a heinous act with their image of the beloved parent, so they start to assume that he/she had good reasons to do (or was baited/tricked into doing) what he/she did.

    That’s why Blaming the Victim — even (or especially) if the victim is you — is such a common coping mechanism. There’s a part of us that wants people to be all-good or all-evil; we don’t know how to deal with people who do horrid things, but who we otherwise love and respect.

  144. I was thinking about the difference between drug addiction (which leads to some pretty nasty behavior) and abuse of kids/partners, WRT who gets blamed and why. It seems like with drug addiction, it’s fairly easy for people in our society to make the person vs. action value judgment distinction- this is a Good Person who did a Bad Thing. Perhaps that’s because there’s a clear feeling of drugs as something that can be recovered from, or perhaps it’s because drugs are easy to blame. (If it weren’t for the drugs, they would never have done that!)

    Although there’s something of a parallel between anger management therapy and drug recovery, and between anger management issues and drugs, it’s not nearly as compelling. Someone who abuses isn’t told to go to abuse rehab, and in fact, I’m not sure abusers are generally thought of as redeemable. Certainly anger management issues aren’t separable enough from the human being to blame as a separate entity, so for either theory of why drug use is forgivable, abuse is much less forgivable. (Of course, drug use isn’t exactly looked favorably upon. But from my experience, it’s more forgivable than abuse.)

    Perhaps if there was some way towards cultural ‘redemption’ from abuse (abuse rehab, if you will) it would be easier to swallow the idea that someone you know is an abuser, because they are still potentially redeemable? I could also see ways in which that could be potentially harmful, too, so I don’t know. Thoughts?

  145. I hate when people say “a female.” It’s so dehumanizing.

    And here’s the thing about not “letting” it happen to you – that’s so not how it works.

    It’s not about race, wealth, education, etc. My aunt was in a long abusive relationship with her alcoholic 2nd husband. She’s definitely not stupid – she’s a nurse and has gone back to school to get other degrees since her RN. He isn’t (er, wasn’t – he’s dead now) stupid either – he was a fucking surgeon for christ’s sake. I suppose saying that means I probably don’t have to point out that they were not strapped for money. Race wasn’t an issue – she’s white, he was Malaysian, but that’s not what it was about. They didn’t fit into the “po’ white trash” stereotype or the stupid uneducated woman barefoot with babies stereotype or any of the others. They lived in a four-bedroom house in an affluent suburb, not a trailer park (just playing into the stereotype with that) or the ghetto or anywhere else we’re supposed to believe these kinds of things are sequestered in.

    Nope, not a situation you can put into a neat little box.

    The situation was that he was a violent drunk. He hit her in front of her kids (from her first marriage), probably hit them too (also it wouldn’t surprise me if he abused their poodle), he slashed a water bed, made obscene rude phone calls, was arrested on DV calls several times, put my dad’s life in danger because he would frequently have to go and step in, etc. When I heard a tape recording of one of their fights (she started doing that for the divorce proceedings) it was chilling. My parents had kept me as sheltered from him as possible, so I knew he was an abusive ass but I didn’t know how bad. I also didn’t know for a long time that it was unusual to get a phone call at 10 p.m. and hear your dad just go “trouble” and scurry out the door.

    There are an infinite number of situations that can result in abuse – it doesn’t mean that the victim is weak or stupid or can’t help herself (or himself, but you know, it’s usually herself). There are a lot of reasons why the victim can’t leave right away. Money, fear, nowhere to go, having had their self worth eroded over the course of years, etc.

    As I said, he’s dead now. I can’t say that anyone was all that broken up about it – the divorce settlement arranged it so my aunt was benefactor to a healthy life insurance policy. Besides, it always seemed unfair that so many good people die of unavoidable cancers every day but this abusive drunk survived multiple bouts of cancer and other diseases from the drinking (and smoking – he did that heavily as well).

    This situation got me out of jury duty once. It was a domestic violence trial and they dismissed anyone who said they or a friend or relative had been in an abusive relationship. Which makes sense, because there’s no fucking way I’d ever be impartial serving on a DV trial jury.

  146. Re: the use of “female” I don’t think that it can be OK based on we’re-all-animals because really, who uses “female” when talking about animals in a personal rather than a scientific context? At the very least it’d be “female animals”. And if it’s a specific pet or such people tend to use “girl” or similar. Twee, yes, but I think it says something about the word and how impersonal it is.

    Also, just because it shouldn’t be degrading to refer to a woman by a word that implies she is an animal doesn”t mean that the intention and the implications are any less appalling. This isn’t animal in the sense of we-are-all-animals, it’s animal in the sense of unthinking unfeeling lesser creature placed on this earth for man’s convenience. It ties into ideas of women as both dumb subordinates and creatures whose base desires are unacceptable and to be controlled. It’s a slightly more sublimated variant of the more blatant use of animal comparisons on racist contexts, and it’s no more OK because it also degrades non-human animals.

  147. You know, I don’t really give a shit how long someone’s been reading here. If you don’t like the way we do things, which includes NOT always patiently 101ing our way through idiocy and abuse, this isn’t the blog for you — and if your response to realizing this isn’t the blog for you is to say “oh, but I’m just so worried that you’re HURTING the MOVEMENT by not running things the way I personally prefer,” then you’re a concern troll. Quacks like a duck, etc. If you don’t want to be treated like a concern troll, try not concern trolling.

    “A female” is reducing the person to an adjective- she is nothing but her description – which I think is why it can feel dehumanizing.

    This is very, very astute.

  148. Elizabeth’s comment about weighing 300 lbs and most men not being able to lift her with one arm, a lot of times I say to myself nobody could ever mess with me because I’m just too fat to be messed with, and it would be a waste of that person’s time. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. We had a a client at my job who was big like me and ended up in the hospital due to severe abuse from her very thin husband. Testosterone combined with adrenaline is a dangerous mix, especially if that guy is pissed off to the nth degree.

  149. Getting way off topic from the original thread, but I was thinking about that “female” vs “woman” language and there’s one situation in which it’s interestingly switched. When talking about people in non-gender-typical professions, people will say “woman doctor/lawyer/firefighter”, but “male nurse/teacher/librarian”. You do hear “female doctor”, but “man librarian” just sounds *weird*. At least to me. For all I know, it’s actually a regional thing. But I feel like in this situation, the use of “woman” turns a “woman lawyer” into a Completely Separate (and lesser) Species of Lawyer, whereas “male teacher” just sounds like a demographic comment. Though in both cases, genders get specified far more often than is actually necessary.

  150. What is this “I won’t pick no sides” crap. It’s become sickingly apparent that our culture feels that we’ve evolved because we tolerate ANYTHING including a man beating a women for whatever reason. “I haven’t heard both sides”, how evolved of you. I completely agree with you here Kate. When it ends in a man beating a women there is no reason to hear the other side.

  151. ” people will say “woman doctor/lawyer/firefighter”, but “male nurse/teacher/librarian”.”

    Far more common here is “lady doctor”, which comes with its own set of sexist and classist baggage.

  152. re: ‘female’ and ‘women’ – the comment about the same people referring to ‘females’ but ‘women lawyers’ is, ime, really common. And I’m a native (UK) English speaker.

    For me, ‘female’ is an adjective. It describes something/someone. So it’s a ‘female’ horse – a particular subcategory of horses. A ‘female lawyer’ is a lawyer first, and she happens to be a female one.

    Woman is a noun, used for people/things. I am a woman. It describes what I am – I’m not a type of thing. I’m a female person and a woman. And, to my ears, things like ‘women priests’ and ‘women lawyers’ carries a really nasty undercurrent of ‘a WOMAN, who happens to be a lawyer’ or even ‘a WOMAN pretending to have a job! How quaint’. Which is fine if you’re talking about, I dunno, something where the fact that she’s a woman is the dominant issue. But if it’s in a professional context, the important thing is that she’s a lawyer/doctor/priest/whatever. It shouldn’t matter a damn that she’s a woman as well.

    I’m not sure I’ve explained that very clearly. I’m shutting up now!

  153. Yes to the adjective thing too. Anything where the emphasis is not on “person” (I think “man” and “woman” probably qualify as being the most neutral gender-specific equivalents) is Doing It Wrong. The one that springs to mind is “gays”.

  154. SugarLeigh, I hear what you are saying. There are different stages for dealing with crime. There are times in my life when I have the “buy the world a Coke” mentality. There are times in my life when I have the “screw the bastards” mentality. When it comes to the law, I am extremely pragmatic: I want to achieve the maximum of the equation calculated by not punishing innocent people multiplied by stopping the damage. This means I err much more on the side of criminal rights than vengeance; I absolutely don’t believe that revenge is the business of the law.

    And when it comes to my relations with people I know personally, I try to assume they mean the best in all things.

    But when it comes to social condemnation? That’s what society is for. Miss Manners has this fabulous rant about people who claim that we can’t continue to shun somebody who has served his or her time in prison, in which she points out the difference between the law’s role and society’s role. I know that’s not what you are saying here — and believe me, at every step of the way I have understood what you are saying here, about aiming for good faith, peace love and understanding, trust in humanity. At a personal level, I think that’s all great.

    But in a societal level I think it’s really important to make people do enough crimes understand they will be shunned. Even if they are fundamentally good people, even if they have the capacity to be loving, productive members of the human race, I believe that society’s most important power is the power to shun those who disobey society’s rules.

    Sometimes that works against us — thus fat politics. Society has decreed it is wrong to be fat. But I don’t think our job is to change society’s shunning power, I think our job is to change what society finds shunworthy. I think our job is to convince society that is just fine but beating on women makes you a despicable person.

    And I think that’s true even if most people who beat on women aren’t despicable people. I think it’s important to set the standard that certain behaviors will move you beyond the pale.

  155. (To clarify, I mean that I haven’t heard female professionals just called “woman professionals” for no reason – it’s always in the context of discussions about gender. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen in other ways, though.)

  156. Yeah, Volcanista, I think people are talking less about how women refer to themselves in a discussion about gender, and more about how people will refer to a “woman doctor” or “woman scientist” in a conversation NOT about gender, with the clear implication that “woman scientist” is less than “scientist.”

  157. I was wondering when this Chris Brown/Rihanna crap was going to migrate over here. I was kind of hoping it never would because the whole thing pissed me the fuck off.

    To put it bluntly, what she did or didn’t do does not matter. He beat the shit out of her, end of story.

    Anyone who has the unmitigated gall to defend him is clearly an idiot. I don’t care if he is “getting help”, because nothing short of completely rewiring his brain is going to fix it. Oh, and I’m glad he lost his endorsement deal with Wrigley.

    Honestly, this whole situation isn’t that much different than the R. Kelly drama a few years ago. Where were all the people that said what he did to that girl was illegal, demeaning, and disgusting? I didn’t hear them over his screaming crowds of fans(of both genders) saying “that bitch is lying, he’d never do something like that.” Really? The man who sings songs about how a woman “reminds him of his Jeep” wouldn’t be capable of treating a teenage girl like a toilet? REALLY?

    Same BS, different package. This is why I haven’t watched a Lifetime movie since I was 14.

  158. “He may not be a “bad” man, or a “monster,” assuming such a person actually exists. But he is sick.”

    “But in a societal level I think it’s really important to make people do enough crimes understand they will be shunned. Even if they are fundamentally good people, even if they have the capacity to be loving, productive members of the human race, I believe that society’s most important power is the power to shun those who disobey society’s rules.”

    I read an article in Newsweek or Time (?) about schizophrenia and the pharmaceutical industry. Which, long story short, the pharmaceutical industry is full of shit. The point of the article was they created a pill for schizophrenics and then prescribed it to everyone who had any kind of problem and they gained A LOT of weight fast. Go figure. But, one of the sticking points of the article for me was that throughout the country, mental health facilities have been closing. For this reason, people with illnesses such as schizophrenia were either left untreated with no one to care for them, or sent to a jail, OR because they had no one to care for them, ultimately ended up in jail. This really stuck out for me. I don’t believe anyone is evil. I believe anyone who murders, rapes, steals, etc. is SICK. Something is wrong in their head. And simply sending them to jail over and over is not going to teach them to stop doing wrong, but just keep them away from society. So to me, it’s not having compassion or forgiveness for the crime, but taking steps toward helping that person fix what’s wrong in their head. After all, we’re all one step away…
    And then….

    “Although its legal in all fifty states of the US, hitting your children is illegal in most EU states. So basically we’re behind every other post industrial nation in this regard. ” Not in just that regard, I think. I’ve always got the feeling that the US celebrates violence more than other post industrial nations. The whole “boot in your ass” mentality. And both of these problems are just another reason for me to feel depressed rather than proud to be a US citizen. Because for a country that’s supposed to be so far advanced, we just plain suck.

  159. He was treating his son and daughter equally. But to me he was showing the daughter that being hit by a man who loves you is okay.

    Actually, as far as I’m concerned he’s teaching his kids that violence is fine if you do it for a “good” reason.

    I grew up in a physically and emotionally abusive home and I have a very clear memory of being in our spare room after my father had beaten me one time & come up to make me apologise for whatever the fuck I had supposedly done wrong that would give a grown man reason to beat a child. I turned to him and said, “How come I’m not allowed to hit my sisters, but you’re allowed to hit me?”

    I can’t even remember what his response was (which means probably more of the “I do it for your own good, to teach you what’s right” bullshit), but I still think that’s a good question today. Either violence is a reasonable way to solve problems/get a point across or it’s not. A clue: it’s not. End of fucking story.

    Yeah, it seems like there’s a strong correlation between people who believe that hitting is an appropriate form of discipline and the idea that women and girls were made to be submissive.

    That’s been my experience.

    This is one of the reasons I’ve come to believe that spanking kids (of either gender) is not okay, even though I was spanked a few times as a child and it didn’t do me any obvious harm. I don’t want “S/he hits because s/he cares!” getting wired into any young brain.

    This too.

    And, you know, maybe that many people getting pissed off is, like, an important data point whose significance runs deeper than good manners.

    WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU GOOD MANNERS ARE EVERYTHING. GOD.

    Anything where the emphasis is not on “person” (I think “man” and “woman” probably qualify as being the most neutral gender-specific equivalents) is Doing It Wrong. The one that springs to mind is “gays”.

    I feel the need to point out that I and most of the gay people I know use “the gays” to describe us a group all the time. But when straight people use it I get twitchy. I suspect it’s one of those situations where those who own the word can use it as they like, but anyone not part of the minority group should use other, more preferred language.

  160. I don’t know, Deborah. I pretty much take the opposite view. On a personal level, one should keep people around them who build their lives and help them feel happy and fulfilled, and turn away those who would harm them or drag them down. But on a larger scale, I personally believe shunning “bad” people is precisely one of society’s worst problems. Because society doesn’t have the proper ability to decide who is bad.

    No, really, they don’t. Look what they do. Right now they’re shunning Rhianna instead of her attacker. Yesterday, it was shunning Jessica Simpson for gaining two milligrams. Society is panting, at the drop of a hat, to slap a scarlet letter on everybody, and they AREN’T wanting to do so to protect a soul. It’s so they can feel superior.

    So, no, the Power to be Assholes is NOT a boon of our society. It is a deep sickness. And I’m not for it. My duty is never to hate. Just as you can’t hate somebody for their own good, you can’t hate somebody for society’s good either.

  161. ChloeMireille: To put it bluntly, what she did or didn’t do does not matter. He beat the shit out of her, end of story.

    You know, this helped me put words to what I think galls me most about how the mainstream reaction so often proceeds in cases like these: the way in which the *fact* of a woman’s having been beaten is treated as though it’s somehow her “side of the story,” her contribution to some kind of debate. Like, “Oh, look, a beaten female body. Ooooooooh…(gawks)… Well, okay, now we’ve heard from her. In the interests of fair debate, what does the other side have to say?”

    Because, you know, A) anything significant that a woman has to communicate, she can communicate by having her body gazed upon… but then also, B) whatever she thereby communicates is only important by virtue of a man’s having pronounced upon its importance.

    Well, shit. I quit the world.

  162. I don’t buy the “people who hit are sick” or “miswired,” partly because I, and most of the people I’ve talked to, have these impulses. I don’t think it’s something that naturally goes away when we’re adults. I think there’s little discussion of how close many of us come to actual violence on a regular basis – that many of us have fantasies about hurting people (often fleeting fantasies, maybe even subconscious), or ourselves, and OFTEN these are carried out in lesser ways – how often have I hurt myself by starving myself? I learned in middle school that poking pencils into my own flesh and that of others was Not Okay, but later I learned that it was not just okay but GOOD to run until I was nauseous and shaking. Sure, I was hurting myself and not someone else, but some people (mostly men) are taught to turn that aggression outwards.

    I don’t mean this as a pass on any behavior – I am ashamed that I hurt other people, and sad I hurt myself, and Chris is a dangerous man – but part of the problem is we don’t recognize how many people there are who are close to violence.

    And True Confessions:
    I don’t think I’d ever systematically emotionally abuse, and I’ve never punched anyone other than my brothers (when I was young). I don’t have most of the risk factors – my dad was not (very) abusive, and I’ve made so far without ever being in a fight of any kind. I don’t have weapons on hand, and I’ve never seriously considered cold-blooded violence. But can I rule out the possibility that, in a moment of rage, I’d hit someone? I’d like to think that I would never be violent. But I can’t. What I can do is continue to deal with feelings of anger and violence, and pray that it remains locked inside. I think along with acknowledgment that we might all end of with a partner that is violent, some of us need to also consider that we might end up the abuser, and why it is that we don’t.

  163. Tangentially, I’d like to mention that even though women (on average) are not as physically strong as men (again, on average), this does not mean that we cannot defend ourselves. Feminist self-defense courses like IMPACT can teach you that you do have the tools to fight back if needed no matter your body shape, while also revealing to you just how much you restrict your life because you fear violence from men.

  164. I feel the need to point out that I and most of the gay people I know use “the gays” to describe us a group all the time. But when straight people use it I get twitchy.

    I’m much the same with Crazy Mental Nutjob, yes.

  165. True Confessions time… Anita, that is one of my greatest fears, that I will become abusive (mostly, that I will become verbally/emotionally abusive, like my stepfather –and an ex was heading that way). I live with that fear just about every day.

  166. RP, while self-defense classes are invaluable, getting to a point where you can fend off a partner determined to hurt you may require a lot more training. Keep in mind that many abusers are also trained – police, military. (And that’s not even going into emotional elements of abuse.)
    Everyone should have self-defense, though. (And then some.)

  167. ***Kate, love and understanding does not exclude holding someone responsible or even punishing them as necessary. My parents love me deeply. When I was a little creep, I got spanked and sent to my room. They understood. They loved. But I’d done wrong and how else was I to learn? They loved me enough to show me how to behave. (sugar leigh)***

    Is this a joke? Are you being sarcastic? If so, I’m sorry for not being clever enough to get it. But if you’re serious here… well, I’m just stunned. In a thread about domestic violence, you’re saying that “punishing as necessary” can appropriately include physical violence? That “how else is a child (i.e., a person) to learn” except by physical violence? That using physical violence on them is “showing them how to behave”?

    ***SugarLeigh, there is a sexist tradition of considering women subhuman, closer to nature and really a kind of wild animal, and it’s often been used to justify keeping women out of the public sphere. I think it’s less about acknowledging that *all* humans are animals than it is about classifying *some* humans as less than fully human. (sweet machine)***

    Which applies to children as well.

  168. Linda, thanks for catching that part of SugarLeigh’s comments. I missed it the first time — and I don’t think it’s a joke, which makes me sad, SL. I agree that that doesn’t mean your parents were “bad people,” but there are lots of ways for children to learn that don’t involve physical abuse.

  169. Anita, when I was about 13 I started to notice just how violent I was — how easily I lost my temper, how little it took to make me hostile and belligerent, how many conversations turned into an argument I had to domineer, how hard I would hit my younger sister if she was making me angry (and how hard she would hit me back). It terrified me because I really was becoming my father.

    I made a concious choice at that point not to go down that path, because damned if that fucker gets to determine the rest of my life for me. Apart from a few times in the early days where I couldn’t restrain myself and lashed out at my sister (which I’m still ashamed of), the only person I’ve hit since then is him, when he tried his old shit one of the last times I was home. (I’m not excusing myself; it absolutely is not okay to meet violence with violence, and if I were a better person I’d have found a better way. But damn it was satisfying to finally be big enough to hit him back. I have a lot of trouble reconciling that with my attitude to life in general.)

    So in conclusion: yes, I worry about it. I haven’t let myself lose my temper in about 10 years because I honestly don’t know what will happen if I do. That + social conditioning means I’ve had a lot of problems letting myself feel angry, hurt, impatient, etc, because I associate negative emtions with that terrifying loss of control. SP has actually been wonderful for me in that respect because I feel like I’m finding a healthy way back to my own emotions. And there are so many situations where anger is healthy, and necessary, and really pretty beautiful. I just had to see that I could do that without pairing violence with it, and it seems I can. So it’s nice to be able to experience those emotions again. (Still can’t properly lose my temper, though.)

  170. I knew what I posted would tick off many of the readers here. I didn’t realize how verbally abusive* you would get, but I should have expected it. What I said about “guys will be guys,” etc., was a comment on the common attitudes I’ve seen on many different online forums and in the media. I’m surprised none of you agreed, but then, maybe you don’t read mostly male-frequented sports forums and the comments sections on news reports. Isn’t the point of Sanity Watchers warnings to alert SP readers to such statements? I was hoping we could have some intelligent conversation about those attitudes and how to counter them, but it didn’t happen.

    Violence is wrong at all times – if you want proof of my belief in that, all I can say is that I’m a pacifist. I understand how hard it is to control one’s self and emotions. I can’t imagine how hard it must be for men to control their tempers with testosterone added into it. However, they MUST control their tempers and actions. ALL of us must control our tempers and the resulting actions. Why? It’s the default setting for society.

    That’s why there should be equal outrage when someone – regardless of gender – beats up on another person – again, regardless of gender. However, society and media haven’t caught up to that. Things haven’t improved much for women since the cavemen dragged their women by their hair back to their caves.

    I haven’t read everything about the Chris Brown/Rihanna affair, but if the media is following true to form, a lot of what has been “reported” comes from a desire to know all the intimate, gory, gossipy details, totally shrugging off the seriousness of domestic violence. I would think a situation like this would provide an excellent springboard for a united voice against domestic violence, not just on an Internet forum, but in the media.

    *I’m surprised that verbal abuse is tolerated here, considering that so many of us have been verbally abused about our size, skin color, etc., and bear the emotional scars to prove it. “Sticks and stones may hurt my bones, but words can never hurt me” is patently untrue. Verbal abuse is a significant part of domestic violence. How many of you, if we were having this conversation in person, would have lashed out at my previous comment with your fists instead of, or alongside, your words? The propensity to violence – verbally or physically – is inherent in ALL of us, male or female, man or woman.

  171. I’m surprised that verbal abuse is tolerated here, considering that so many of us have been verbally abused about our size, skin color, etc., and bear the emotional scars to prove it.

    IF YOU DO NOT LIKE IT YOU ARE WELCOME TO GO AWAY I DO NOT KNOW HOW MUCH FUCKING CLEARER WE COULD POSSIBLY BE

  172. Rhonwynn, can you explain this?
    “Why? It’s the default setting for society.”
    The default setting for society actually appears to be domination, abuse, war, and suffering (see last 3000 years of history.) That’s part of the problem, actually.

    I think the big difference for me between man-woman violence is that is it institutionalized oppression. It reinforces power structures that keep women down and terrorized (communities of women, not just those struck) in a way that man-man violence doesn’t. (And, of course, there’s exceptions: see lynching, war, etc. But in terms of, say, bar fights, the long term social ramifications of such are minor, compared to man-woman domestic violence situations.)

    Which is why while all of us don’t want people hitting people, it’s worthwhile to make special note and observation and pay special attention to those cases where violence is extra-specially icky. (See also: hate crimes, rape culture.)

    I also think that while many comments were strong (even harsh), it’s crossing a line to imply that those who objected to your dismissive tone and words would have followed up with actual violence.

  173. I personally believe shunning “bad” people is precisely one of society’s worst problems

    You’re kidding me, right?

    I think that assigning “good” and “bad” status to people instead of evaluating their specific actions and calling them accountable is one of society’s worst problems.

    And then after that I think that getting into doublethink to excuse the wrong and hurtful actions of so-called “good” people is a MUCH worse problem than “shunning” bad people.

    Especially in regard to domestic violence.

    I’m just assuming that this is coming out of some lack of knowledge/experience on your part (for which I am very glad, because I would love it if nobody ever had any experience of domestic violence, don’t get me wrong).

    “Shunning” is not the problem. DENIAL is the problem when it comes to domestic violence. RATIONALIZING is the problem when it comes to domestic violence. EXPLAINING AWAY is the problem when it comes to domestic violence. BLAMING THE VICTIM is the problem when it comes to domestic violence.

  174. IF YOU DO NOT LIKE IT YOU ARE WELCOME TO GO AWAY I DO NOT KNOW HOW MUCH FUCKING CLEARER WE COULD POSSIBLY BE

    You could ban them, which, to be honest, would feel more respectful to a lot of the rest of us.

    That said, it’s your place, your rules, and I know I don’t get to vote people off the island.

  175. You could ban them, which, to be honest, would feel more respectful to a lot of the rest of us.

    We all have different ban thresholds at different times — sometimes we like to agree first, sometimes we just do it. No clear rule, as the comments policy says. :) And we usually like to be able to say “if you don’t cut out x specific behavior, next time you will be banned.” But you’re wrong that you guys don’t have a say. If someone’s making you uncomfortable you can always email us — we’ll factor that in to the decision, for sure.

    ETA: If you meant it would feel to you that we would be being more respectful to the bannable party, with all due respect I don’t care. If they’re on the edge of being banned, I probably don’t have any desire to act respectful towards them, as they’ve almost certainly not been giving us the same courtesy.

  176. WHOAH, back that train up! TOTALLY missed out on what I meant. That’s okay, it’s my fault for not constructing the sentence properly, I can totally see why you saw it that way, my bad, but um, whoah, shit, just NO.

    First, a spanking (which in the context of my own experience is hard enough to humiliate but not to hurt) is not “physical abuse.”

    Yea, there are other methods of punishment, and getting yelled at was a more common (and just as effective) punisher for me. All I’m saying is, when I did wrong, I got schooled. We whine about permissive parents with out of control brats who feel dangerously entitled and have no capacity for empathy, yet we squeal if punishment includes an occasional swat? Good grief.

    I said I wish society was more empathetic about people in general, including even criminals who do wretched things. Retrospect, this was really not the time to wax philosophical about that, so, I’m sorry, honest. This was the time to say “GOOD GRIEF, does this situation ever suck!” and leave it at that. I get that now. Anyway. I got the impression it was assumed I meant let’s not punish him for doing a bad thing. I explained, NO, of COURSE you punish someone for hurting someone else, or they don’t learn, when I was bad, I got punished. And then I got told it was bad for my parents to have spanked me as a kid? Geez, they didn’t even do it that often.

    Here’s the part where I messed up in clarity. It’s not “how else was I to learn” (but get specifically a spanking) it’s “how else was I to learn” (but to get punishment for acting wicked).

    Hope that clarifies.

  177. I can’t imagine how hard it must be for men to control their tempers with testosterone added into it.

    Oh you guys, the menz can’t help it. The poor menz, you guys.

    ALL of us must control our tempers and the resulting actions. Why? It’s the default setting for society.

    Well no, no it really isn’t. Chris Brown failed to control his temper and “the resulting actions” were assaulting a woman, and right here in this post (as well as all over the media) you can see his friends and many other people — men and women — defending him because “we don’t know what she did to deserve it”, “you know how females can get”, etc. Expecting that men will “control their tempers” insofar as it involves not assaulting a woman IS NOT the default setting for society (which society, by the way? your ethnocentricism is showing. I’ll assume you meant US/Western society, how embarassing for you). That you’ve chosen to live in a happy dreamworld where the genders are equal and now we can just focus on the violence issue — why are you still focussing on the violence, you guys? we’re past all that! — is nice for you, but those of us who live in the actual world are probably going to keep looking at the role of misogyny, sexism and gender relations in all this. Since, you know, THERE IS ONE.

    I would think a situation like this would provide an excellent springboard for a united voice against domestic violence, not just on an Internet forum, but in the media.

    AND THE FACT IT HASN’T HAPPENED TELLS YOU THAT — GUESS WHAT — THE WORLD IS NOT A HAPPY SUNSHINE PLACE WHERE THE SEXES ARE EQUAL. MAYBE WE SHOULD HAVE A COMMENTS THREAD ABOUT HOW THAT LEADS TO THE TRIVIALISATION OF GENDERED VIOLENCE.

    God. What?

  178. re: the fear of being emotionally abusive. I’m afraid of that too, and I don’t know how to even find out. Every time I try a Google search, I end up with stuff about men abusing women or MRA-skewed stuff, not some honest definition of what emotional abuse looks like when a woman does it, or what is NOT emotional abuse but an ordinary bad day, or even, most importantly, how to stop doing it if you think you are abusive.

    I don’t even think I can ask a therapist, because if the answer is yes, then if I am a danger to others, then they have to report it to the police, which would be counterproductive to helping me, if I indeed have a problem.

  179. Damn. *why are you still focucssing on the sexism, you guys? we’re past all that!

    Mocking is much less effective when you fail to type it right.

  180. That’s because mere mortals cannot gaze upon your mockery in its full glory, Caitlin. You have to throw in some typos and whatnot to mitigate the effects.

  181. I knew what I posted would tick off many of the readers here.

    Then why would you post it — and then act surprised when people responded with anger?

    Let me quote one of the lines from that comment again:

    This totally goes against my understanding of feminism. If women are equal to men, then why the big deal about a woman getting beat up by a man? Shouldn’t she be able to stand up for herself and give as good as she gets? I mean, women are no longer the weaker sex, right?

    That is such a breathtakingly ignorant remark, on so many levels — which have been addressed in comments above — one assumes it almost has to be willfully so. If it’s not, well… welcome to the internet. People don’t always understand what you mean.

    It can be very difficult to tell whether someone is legitimately confused or deliberately trying to stir the pot when a comment is so incredibly offensive and anti-feminist. Thus, some people will respond with patience and others will respond with anger and cries of “Troll.” And in this case, we chose to let both kinds of responses stand, because frankly, Rhonwyyn, I have no idea if you deserve the benefit of the doubt here. For all I know, you are saying things you know will piss the readers here off just because you want to watch the sparks fly, not because you think it will inspire a valuable discussion. Furthermore, this is not the first time you’ve dropped a jaw-droppingly inflammatory comment into the mix, then acted as if you didn’t understand what people were so upset about.

    And as I have made clear in both the comments policy and the post that’s already been linked twice in this thread, I am under no obligation to give anyone the benefit of the doubt or spend any time playing detective, trying to determine if someone really wants to learn or just wants to stir up shit.

    If people don’t like that, they’re free to leave. If we end up with 0 readers because too many people don’t like it, well, that’ll be a learning experience. But as it is, I am not going to apologize for being harsh with someone who comes here and asks, “If women are equal to men, then why the big deal about a woman getting beat up by a man?” PLEASE.

  182. Oh, um, Jupiter Pluvius, I don’t know if you read the rest of what I said, but uh, no, really, the reason it is precisely a not-good thing to accept that shunning people is some sort of civic duty is because society at large has a super-skewed idea of what “bad” is.

    Think of all the problems that the mentality of “shun the evildoers!” is causing right now:
    ~homosexuals don’t have equal rights and are often subject to violence, this is seen as okay because they are “bad” and we should shun them. They don’t get help if they need it because they are “bad” and we should shun them.
    ~sex workers can be beaten, raped, murdered, and heavens knows what all else, because they’re “bad” and need to be shunned for their inherent badness. When they go to the police for help they’re shunned by the police and everyone else.
    ~fat people… um, we’re in SP, ’nuff said.

    on and on and on.

    Are we evolved enough to let go of “shun the evildoers” yet? Nope, I don’t think we are. But unfortunately, we’re ALSO not even evolved enough to make an intelligent decision on who, as a society, we should be shunning. Which is why I do indeed think it is a hideous problem.

    But I think now I’ve strayed too far from the actual subject of domestic violence. So unless specifically addressed I’ll be knocking it the hell off. Sorry, everyone. No, truly. I’m genuinely sorry, I got too immersed in utopian thinking and it wasn’t appropriate at this time, and I definitely didn’t figure that out until I’d already stepped on toes! :P

    Live and learn I guess, but as a perfectionist I get irked at myself for making mistakes like this. ARGH.

  183. fillyjonk wrote: But you’re wrong that you guys don’t have a say. If someone’s making you uncomfortable you can always email us — we’ll factor that in to the decision, for sure.

    ETA: If you meant it would feel to you that we would be being more respectful to the bannable party, with all due respect I don’t care

    No, I meant that if you banned them, it would make it even clearer to them that this is the wrong place for them.

    And yes, both of those posters are making me literally sob with rage and frustration.

  184. SugarLeigh wrote: Think of all the problems that the mentality of “shun the evildoers!” is causing right now

    I think that that’s a symptom of the larger problem, which is to decide that some people are Good People and some people are Bad People rather than evaluating the benefit or harm of actions and calling people to account accordingly.

    And with domestic violence, which is what we’re talking about, the harm caused by “shunning the evildoers” is so completely dwarfed by the harm caused by doublethinking away harmful actions because “He’s really a good person! Really!”

    If we could get past the “metaphysical cooties” concept and actually evaluate the harm and benefit of actions and call people to account for them, the “shunning evildoers” thing would resolve on its own.

  185. No, I meant that if you banned them, it would make it even clearer to them that this is the wrong place for them.

    Yeah, I can see that! :) Kate talked a little above about our benefit-of-doubt calculation, but just for future reference, if you think someone should be banned and we don’t seem to be banning them, absolutely let us know. A preponderance of complaints will certainly tip the scales against someone if we’re trying to decide whether they’re thick-but-educable or deliberately stirring shit.

  186. Anita –

    My comment about society’s default is based on two things: the laws in the U.S. and the general outcry against violent behavior. Violence is not tolerated, except in self-defense, and even then the nature of the defending behavior comes into question in the court of law. Socially, if violence were not a big deal, it would not be considered newsworthy, whether on the personal level (A talking privately with B) or on the national level.

    Also, I didn’t imply that anyone would act with physical violence. You inferred that’s what I meant. In actuality, I was asking the readers here to be honest with themselves and ask whether they would have actually resorted to physical violence – it’s a lot easier to do than we’d like to believe.

    I think that at our basest, we are all evil, mean, violent people striving to be kind and good, or at least, trying not to be physically violent and abusive. Why is that? What makes us legislate against violence? What makes society want to remove violent people from among our midst? It would make for an interesting humanities research paper; I’m sure someone(s) will have written about it, so I’ll have to look them up.

    Fillyjonk – Please take a deep breath, because I know this is going to tick you off. But if you consider what I’m trying to say, I think it’ll make sense:

    It’s ironic (or intentional?) that you would encourage people (Estrella and myself, at a minimum) to stop reading a blog that they appreciate because they can’t handle the verbal abuse and insults in the midst of a discussion on domestic violence. I’ve heard that a big part of why women stay with abusive men is because they feel like outside of the abuse, their lives are OK. They have a roof over their heads, food on the table (unless that’s part of the abuse), a home for their children, and when he isn’t abusive, he and she get along just fine and have some fun times.

    Similarly, I really enjoy reading this blog because it provides me with things to think about that I don’t get anywhere else. Most of the posters and commenters here have thoughts and ideas that I encounter nowhere but here. I enjoy the discussions on being fat, debunking fat-related myths, issues regarding fatness, etc., because I can relate. I’m challenged by the discussions on race, politics, feminist theory, gender issues, etc., because I am unfamiliar with them. In everything, I benefit by reading this blog.

    However, I don’t benefit from the “bitchy-ness,” either toward myself or others, but since I fully comprehend that it’s part of the default setting here, and I’ve weighed everything in the balance, for all the reasons I listed in the previous paragraph, I stay. What you have said to me and others like me is “if you don’t like it, leave.” But where would we go? Where would we find all of the good stuff we get here? The situation reminds me of how I felt when I lived at home. I would have liked to escape the abuse, but I had no options for relocating and surviving on my own, so I stayed until an opportunity opened up.

    So although this blog and everything involved is completely and utterly removed from a domestic violence situation, I see similarities. Maybe that’s because of our default human nature? Who knows. But I like this blog, and I intend to keep reading it. :-)

  187. Buh? But… but that’s exactly what I meant.

    Okay I am so sorry, in fact I’m sorry I’m even staying around, I hope I’m not upsetting anyone, it’s just that I feel like I’m learning something here…

    So. Wait. Okay. What I mean in terms of not shunning people is exactly exactly what you’re talking about– making judgments on a case-by-case basis and holding people responsible for the actions they take, not “oh, so and so is gay, or got convicted of robbery, so that means they are evil, let’s hate them forever and treat them accordingly!”

    Putting someone in the proverbial doghouse and keeping a sharp eye on them until they prove themselves to be something better is not shunning. Shunning is writing them off for the rest of time no matter what they say or do. Or, you know, stoning them to death, but thankfully at least around here that option finally got taken off the table. There has been SOME progress.

    So I think I’m actually on the same page as most of you, I’m just making things more complicated than they are.

    ARGH again.

    I’m so confused now.

    Sorry, everyone. :P I’m getting decidedly embarrassed. Now I don’t even know what to think. In fact, I don’t even know what I am thinking.

  188. Fillyjonk – Please take a deep breath, because I know this is going to tick you off.

    That right there is grounds for banning, which is about to happen.

    A discussion of verbal abuse and how it can A) go hand in hand with physical abuse and B) cause its own profound damage is welcome.

    Telling us we are being verbally abusive because we tell off people who DELIBERATELY POST THINGS THAT WILL PISS US OFF, WHICH YOU HAVE OPENLY ACKNOWLEDGED DOING TWICE NOW, is not welcome.

    If you want to keep reading, go nuts. You won’t be commenting anymore.

  189. I also don’t recall anyone telling me that my comments were making them “literally sob with rage and frustration.” If you read the “why I’m such a bitch” post — like, you know, read it — you will notice that we tell people off in service of creating an environment that the majority of our readers find safe and empowering. That’s one in which people AREN’T telling them that if they’re getting beat up on, they should just hit back, what’s the big deal.

  190. you will notice that we tell people off in service of creating an environment that the majority of our readers find safe and empowering. That’s one in which people AREN’T telling them that if they’re getting beat up on, they should just hit back, what’s the big deal.

    God, a thousand times word.

  191. I’m surprised that verbal abuse is tolerated here, considering that so many of us have been verbally abused about our size, skin color, etc., and bear the emotional scars to prove it.

    Well, but like you said, we’re all equal now because we’ve proclaimed ourselves so; and that means we now have license give as good as we get. What’s the problem? Except perhaps that doing so makes us inferior to teh pacifists — who btw are never ever ever ever sexist, as the Amish and the sixties counterculture have shown us.

  192. “Also, I didn’t imply that anyone would act with physical violence. You inferred that’s what I meant. . . [ . . .] In actuality, I was asking the readers here to be honest with themselves and ask whether they would have actually resorted to physical violence – it’s a lot easier to do than we’d like to believe.”

    . . . which is pretty much implying that they’d be physically violent – especially after saying they were verbally abusing you, and that’s a prime component of domestic violence.

    I am so fucking confused.

  193. SugarLeigh wrote: Buh? But… but that’s exactly what I meant.

    Okay I am so sorry, in fact I’m sorry I’m even staying around, I hope I’m not upsetting anyone, it’s just that I feel like I’m learning something here…

    So. Wait. Okay. What I mean in terms of not shunning people is exactly exactly what you’re talking about– making judgments on a case-by-case basis and holding people responsible for the actions they take

    Yes, I see that we agree on that.

    Where I’m differing with your comments is that you got hold of the issue by that end, when in the particular case of domestic violence, “shunning” isn’t a problem. We haven’t gotten far enough into “perpetrators being called to account” for “shunning” to even be an option.

    I know that this conversation has gone a long way from the original post, but the original post is all about denying, rationalizing, and victim-blaming. To me, denying, rationalizing, and victim-blaming are a much bigger issue in re domestic violence than shunning.

    Now, both denial and shunning stem from the same fundamental bug in our human code, and I definitely see that we’re on the same page about this.

    A) SugarLeigh, I admire and respect you tremendously no matter what our coefficient of agreement is.

    B) I should be very clear and say that this is a really triggery topic for me, both because of my involvement in advocacy for survivors of domestic violence and because I am often hearing people talk about the unfairness of “shunning” sex offenders (and yes, that does happen and happen unfairly), when as a survivor of sexual abuse and assault myself that feels like a drop in the bucket given the much larger number of sex offenders who are never held accountable for their actions.

    So talk of “shunning” as being one of the “worst problems” may not be something to which I respond perfectly rationally, and I apologize if I’m misunderstanding or misrepresenting your argument because of my own trigger points.

  194. fillyjonk wrote: I also don’t recall anyone telling me that my comments were making them “literally sob with rage and frustration.”

    Oh, no, fillyjonk. I didn’t mean your comments. I meant Rhonwynn and estrella’s comments.

    I’m sorry if I was unclear. What I meant was:

    a) when you said “How can I make it any clearer” my thought was “You could ban them, and that would make me a lot happier and I expect a lot of other people as well, because these commenters are making me sob and I’m not used to feeling so much impotent rage over an Internet discussion, especially here”

    and

    b) I was in a childlike place of wanting you guys to make the people who were upsetting me go away, because even witnessing you calling them out so thoroughly and well was making me more and more angry with their hateful stupid comebacks.

  195. Nono, JP, I totally got you! And I took it seriously — I really mean it when I say “tell us if someone is making you feel that way.” What I meant was that even though Rhonwyyn was comparing me to an abuser, it was a major point against her that people were reporting feeling that unhappy and attacked by her comments. We actually yell at people to protect the majority of our community (and the level of discussion), not just to get our jollies.

  196. My comment about society’s default is based on two things: the laws in the U.S. and the general outcry against violent behavior. Violence is not tolerated, except in self-defense

    Not tolerated by whom? The rape conviction rate is about 3%. YOU ARE LIVING IN A FANTASY WORLD.

    Also, I didn’t imply that anyone would act with physical violence. You inferred that’s what I meant. In actuality, I was asking the readers here to be honest with themselves and ask whether they would have actually resorted to physical violence

    “I didn’t say that anyone would act with physical violence, I just asked whether you would act with physical violence, which I think you would. But I didn’t say you would. Hey, look over there!”

    Fillyjonk – Please take a deep breath, because I know this is going to tick you off.

    Yeah, FJ, why don’t you just CALM DOWN. *boggle*

    But if you consider what I’m trying to say, I think it’ll make sense:

    I don’t think it wiiiiilllll…

    Ah, it doesn’t. A group of people on an internet comment thread have responded angrily to a post in which you essentially BLAME WOMEN for becoming victims of domestic violence because “Shouldn’t she be able to stand up for herself and give as good as she gets?” You’re comparing this to domestic abuse. Do you understand you’re TRIVIALISING DOMESTIC ABUSE on a thread ABOUT THE TRIVIALISATION OF DOMESTIC ABUSE?

    You couldn’t make this shit up.

    If you want to keep reading, go nuts. You won’t be commenting anymore.

    Oh thank the good lord.

  197. Well, fillyjonk, it’s nice when what you *want* to do matches up with making the space safe. :)
    (And also amuses me. One of the nice things when trolls slip through is watching them get roundly castigated.)

  198. Well, fillyjonk, it’s nice when what you *want* to do matches up with making the space safe. :)

    Yeah, I was about to say “though to be sure there’s no shortage of jollies, especially when Caitlin and A Sarah get involved.” :)

  199. “I didn’t say that anyone would act with physical violence, I just asked whether you would act with physical violence, which I think you would. But I didn’t say you would. Hey, look over there!”

    *snort* Brava, Caitlin!

  200. Thanks, Kate. I was OK with letting R. stick around as an example of TOTALLY NOT GETTING IT, but that last round of vomit-inducing, evo-psych,”our default nature” crap was really enough.

    SugarLeigh: I can’t speak for JP, but I think you’re doing OK. It reads to me like you tried to cover too many ideas at once and they got muddled is all.

  201. Tricia wrote: SugarLeigh: I can’t speak for JP, but I think you’re doing OK. It reads to me like you tried to cover too many ideas at once and they got muddled is all.

    I may have gotten muddled, too, because of my own trigger points.

  202. Do you understand you’re TRIVIALISING DOMESTIC ABUSE on a thread ABOUT THE TRIVIALISATION OF DOMESTIC ABUSE?

    No, see, it all makes sense if you just think about it for a sec! Or don’t think about it. I forget which.

    What you have said to me and others like me is “if you don’t like it, leave.” But where would we go? Where would we find all of the good stuff we get here?

    Yes, this is exactly parallel, since we control your access to the internet, we block you from being able to start your own blog, and we make it totally impossible for you to read other FA blogs that quote what we say. Despite having no fucking clue who you are.

    Thank god this all went down while I was offline, because I am supposed to be studying now, and it’s hard to study when you are incoherent with rage.

  203. My favorite part of this whole comment thread has been watching Sugar Leigh and Jupiter Pluvius navigate around deeply-seated emotional triggers, the perils of e-communication, and the pitfalls of agreeing at cross-purposes to have their conversation in a civil and respectful way that allowed them to gain greater understanding of each other’s positions (and possibly their own)–while Trolly McTrollerson and Polly Playnicenow bawled about how we’re so MEEEEEN to people who disagree with us and how can we expect to REACH PEOPLE if we’re such BITCHES OMG and we’ll never get anywhere if we keep acting like this.

    Oh lulz.

  204. RP, while self-defense classes are invaluable, getting to a point where you can fend off a partner determined to hurt you may require a lot more training. Keep in mind that many abusers are also trained – police, military. (And that’s not even going into emotional elements of abuse.)

    Word, Anita. My tangential comment was more about how we are taught that we are helpless, and that can keep us in abusive situations. I know that’s how I ended up in a verbally abusive relationship for too damn long. The ideology of female weakness and helplessness is a brick in the wall of patriarchy, and so I wanted to say how I helped knock that brick off in my life.

    The great thing about a feminist self-defense class is that it’s all about having a toolbox full of potential responses, and you get to decide what the best one is. Fighting back isn’t always the best response, or might not be practical in a particular situation. In all cases, you are taught to respect your own choices and other people’s choices, and not to second-guess them.

  205. Liza-the-second, Kate was just saying the exact same thing to me! Only she wasn’t as funny about it. “Trolly McTrollerson and Polly Playnicenow,” hee hee.

  206. RP, sweet! I definitely think having more tools is good – especially in an environment that understands the kinds of oppression women are working against. (Learning how to shout for help is much harder for me than taking out a kneecap. WTF, right?)
    I just didn’t want anyone to walk away with “but if the women in DV just took a weekend class . . . ” not that I thought you were saying that. :)

  207. FJ, it’s actually something I see here not-infrequently, and I think we’re all at least subliminally aware of it (it’s part of the reason we hang out here, you know) but I think it needed to be pointed out–people are getting so frustrated and upset (UNDERSTANDABLY), sometimes it’s nice to be reminded that not everybody on the internet’s an asshole–that, in fact, most of the people here are reasonably awesome.

  208. it all makes sense if you just think about it for a sec! Or don’t think about it. I forget which.

    That might be our next tag line. I really need to do a new banner.

  209. Caitlin at 4:25 pm – “How come I’m not allowed to hit my sisters, but you’re allowed to hit me?”

    Another thing I never knew about hitting children is that it teaches children on an instinctive level that parents hit children, and makes it harder to suppress that themselves when they are adults and raising their own kids. Adults who were never or very very rarely hit as children find it easier to not-hit their own children.

    I personally find violence extraordinarily tempting.

    SugarLeigh at 4:28 pm – Right now they’re shunning Rhianna instead of her attacker. Yesterday, it was shunning Jessica Simpson for gaining two milligrams.

    I’d say that shunning and castigating are not the same thing.

    Anita at 5:37 pm (and Bald Soprano at 5:48) – But can I rule out the possibility that, in a moment of rage, I’d hit someone? I’d like to think that I would never be violent. But I can’t. What I can do is continue to deal with feelings of anger and violence, and pray that it remains locked inside. I think along with acknowledgment that we might all end of with a partner that is violent, some of us need to also consider that we might end up the abuser, and why it is that we don’t.

    My greatest fear, I think. I know for a fact that I have been abusive to my partner and my children, particularly my eldest, and it’s one of the things that’s hardest to cope with.

    … and that’s all the responses I’ve got now.

  210. Heh. Cheers, FJ and A Sarah. In the words of my mother: if you didn’t laugh/mock, you’d cry.

    Yes, this is exactly parallel, since we control your access to the internet, we block you from being able to start your own blog, and we make it totally impossible for you to read other FA blogs that quote what we say.

    Right? And blocking someone doesn’t just, e.g., stop them derailing comment threads in a way that is frustrating and triggering and harmful to the people who MAKE UP the community they allegedly find such value in, it also MAGICALLY STOPS THEM from EVER READING SP AGAIN. They can learn no more! Ever! Why do you hate feminism, Sweet Machine?!??

    I seriously wonder about people who claim to be long-time lurkers who value the blog and community they’ve found here, but simultaneously claim that they can’t understand why their comments provoke the reaction they do. And then in response post more of the same, worse variations of the same, or angry defensive posts about how we’re all a bunch of shrieky bullying harridans.

    Well, no. We’re not. You allegedly know that. Moreover, you allegedly value that and take a lot of good from it in the form of reading the discussion that goes on here. None of us have an obligation to educate anyone else, but if you want an education there is always one to be found here. I’ve seen approximately a million occasions* where someone posts something that sounds anti-fat or anti-feminist or whatever, and gets roundly called out on it. The ones who actually give a shit about those ideas or this community say “Sorry, what I meant was…/I’ll bear that in mind in future/I didn’t know that, can you show me where I can read more about it?” or any of a hundred other variations, the person who was offended says “No bother”, everyone learns something and discussion goes merrily on. It’s awesome and it happens here more than I’ve ever seen it anywhere else. So if you are a “long-time lurker”, you know you have that option. You choose not to take it.

    So when this group of people respond so negatively to you, why not take a moment to ask yourself why that might be so? Why not assume we haven’t all simultaneously gone insane, and SP remains as interesting and educational and challenging and whatever as you thought it was yesterday, and that maybe your comments are the fault here?

    SP is not your fucking abusive partner. God.

    *conservative estimate

  211. “That might be our next tag line. I really need to do a new banner.”

    I nominate “insufficiently motivated”.

    (Apologies for thread cross-pollination.)

  212. I nominate “insufficiently motivated”.

    Seconded!

    Please. It’s between that and “Vodka and Votever the Hell I Vant” for which I most want to sew on a pillow.

  213. @Bree–of course! I didn’t mean AT ALL that larger women can’t be/aren’t abused. I’m sorry if it came across that way. I was just thinking about the commenter above (I can’t remember who, sorry) who talked about her male friend being able to lift her with one arm.

    I don’t like to be picked up. My husband used to do it occasionally–with both arms and a lot of back strength–and I always hated it, so he stopped, but I am just glad I’m not easy to pick up.

  214. Hey all I mostly wanted to post some quoted that I found about all this that made me respect some celebs sooooo much more than I did before and gave me hope that at least a few celebs had brains in their heads and didn’t feel the need to go all “election time candidate” and give a quote that seems to say something but in reality says nothing and makes no stand so they can piss off no one like some of the celebs out there tend to do. Cause “omg if I take a stand for anything i will lose fans and my 15 min will be ooooover.” These people however.. they rock my world !!!

    First off Jay-Z I just wanna hug that guy, beyonce has a good one I tell ya. i guess after hearing about what happened he said “Chris Brown is a dead man” he then went on to say
    “This is a real situation, You have to have compassion for others. Just imagine it being your sister or mom and then think about how we should talk about that, I just think we should all support her. She’s going through a tough time. You have to realize she’s a young girl, as well. She’s very young.”

    Gayle King:
    “I can’t think of anything that makes me support anything that Chris Brown is saying at this time. And my heart just aches for Rihanna .”

    Kanye West:
    “All I want to say is, it’s so devastating. As a person, I don’t care how famous she is or even if she works at McDonald’s. [Abuse] should never happen. It should never come to that place.”

    Molly Sims:
    “It’s so sad. I don’t think anybody knows the whole truth, but I guess the truth really doesn’t matter when [abuse] is the result. That should never happen, no matter what. And I love his music. That being said, I think [about] Rihanna : No girl, no woman, no mother, no sister, no friend, no one deserves that. Absolutely.”

    and Roseanne.. well shoot I just love her :
    Roseanne: “Make me want to beat the crap out of him…he uses the language of the perpetrator just like every sleazy bastard who ever smacked his wife, kid mother or girlfriend around uses. you dirty bastard, I hope you go to prison for ten years. IT’S YOUR FAULT, ASSHOLE! as for all the mealy mouthed hollywood and music scene chicks that can’t bring themselves to condemn a misogynistic bully, let me say this: your time as whores for propaganda is ending, bitches.”

    It is sad that these quotes aren’t reported on as much as the ones that work so hard to stay neutral, or condemn Rihanna saying she must have done something… grrr makes my blood boil it does. as for Terrence Howard who I actually used to like well not anymore
    Terrence Howard: “Chris is a great guy. He’ll be all right,” Howard says. “And Rihanna knows he loves her.”

    Pfffffft really? Is that how you show love cause if so I want no part of it.

    Now I gotta say I might have been one of those people who would say well what did she do to deserve it, except that I had a very dear friend when I was in high school who belonged to the Italian mafia, he was into some serious stuff but he told me point blank “Real men do NOT hit or touch a woman in anger, I don’t care what a woman might do NOTHING should provoke a real man to do that, a real man will walk away or if need be hold her hands til they calm down enough to deal with the situation but a real man will never intentionally hurt a woman. A man usually is stronger than the woman and that makes it his responsibility to control his strength and not use it against her. ” I tell you that has stuck with me for over 15 years now and that is what I always think about in situations like that.

    Sadly it is knowing that most people don’t think that way and that the victim is always scrutinized that kept me from reporting my rape, and to this day i still keep it a secret from people in my real life including my family cause I couldn’t face having to be scrutinized as though it was my fault. I couldn’t deal with all the questions i knew would come at that time.. so I hid it. I have some anger about that because it shouldn’t be that way .

  215. I don’t even think I can ask a therapist, because if the answer is yes, then if I am a danger to others, then they have to report it to the police, which would be counterproductive to helping me, if I indeed have a problem.

    snowday, this sounded wrong to me but I am not a therapist so I asked a therapist. She said that duty to warn “applies only to direct and credible threats of suicide, and direct and credible threats of homicide/physical assault. Mandated reporting applies only to child abuse, and in some cases, elder/vulnerable adult abuse.” So you are safe to talk to your therapist about your worries.

  216. Scattered Marbles, I absolutely am not disagreeing with you, mocking you or anythig else negative. I’m mostly just using something you said as a jumping-off point.

    “Real men do NOT hit or touch a woman in anger, I don’t care what a woman might do NOTHING should provoke a real man to do that, a real man will walk away or if need be hold her hands til they calm down enough to deal with the situation but a real man will never intentionally hurt a woman. A man usually is stronger than the woman and that makes it his responsibility to control his strength and not use it against her. ”

    Liss wrote a post about how we use the word “real” a while ago, and the way it’s used here is bothering me. Men who hit women are “real men”, whatever that means. They’re not women, they’re not llamas, they’re not figments of our imagination. They are men before they hit a woman. They are men after they hit a woman. They don’t cross some magical boundary when they do it. They’re not identifiable beforehand because they’re not displaying “real man” traits.

    It’s the sort of othering discussed upthread, where we turn a man who uses violence against women into a monster or a separate class of some kind, because then they couldn’t be our brother/partner/father/postman/friend/whatever. It reads as a way of avoiding dealing with the reality that in this society, almost any man might turn violent (especially if given the “right” provocation). And the fact the phrase “real man” tends to be used to police other men in their upkeep of gender roles makes it even less appealing.

    So I see what your friend was saying, and appreciate the sentiment, because at least it means there a few less women getting hurt out there. But really, it’s just sexism in another (happily less harmful) form.

  217. Men who hit women are “real men”, whatever that means. They’re not women, they’re not llamas, they’re not figments of our imagination.

    So true. They are still real Men, they are, in fact, Really fucking BAD men!

  218. No I understand where you are coming from and that was what he and I were kind of talking about when he said that.The reason why he wouldn’t call some males men or man instead calling them boys. He told me that he considers any man that would treat a woman like that an immature little boy who hasn’t grown up or matured enough to handle himself correctly.

    In his crowd men who did stuff like that were looked down upon and not respected, and he was trying to describe that to me, and the reasons why after I questioned him about it. That quote came directly from him so I didn’t want to change it even though I do understand that yes all men are REAL men,

  219. The reason why he wouldn’t call some males men or man instead calling them boys.

    I’m still not digging any of this, Scattered Marbles. Maybe it made more sense to you in the context of knowing the guy?

  220. Hmm… I’d kind of prefer that a guy not beat me up because beating me up is wrong , rather than because beating me up is not MANLY. Obviously, not-beating for any reason is better than beating, but I can’t help feeling that this kind of bragging machismo is part of the problem.

    Especially coming from a guy in the Mafia. Not the best people to go to for moral guidance about societal problems, I hear.

  221. I’ve had the sneaking suspicion that Rhonwynn and JupiterPluvius are men. I acknowledge that I could be totally wrong.

  222. No no no ,Scattered Marbles. Like I said at the very start, I absolutely didn’t want to make you feel like I was attacking you. I wasn’t! I wasn’t even attacking your friend.

    It just made me think about the problem of categorising “real men” vs, according to your friend, “boys”, when men over the age of 18 who hit women are still real men, you know? Particularly since I think there’s the attitude (not necessarily from your friend, but from society in general when that term is being used) that if he’s not a “real man” then his violence is outside the norm of “acceptable behaviour” and not society’s fault — we didn’t make him that way. Whereas in fact our society is pretty much set up to create men who think violence against women is trivial and acceptable. I don’t know. It bothers me, and the further explanation of your friend’s reasoning isn’t stopping that feeling.

    However, that isn’t in any way your fault. You didn’t even say it. I was just unpacking why I find it problematic, which is different than saying you shouldn’t post it. I’m glad you did.

  223. Hmm… I’d kind of prefer that a guy not beat me up because beating me up is wrong , rather than because beating me up is not MANLY. Obviously, not-beating for any reason is better than beating, but I can’t help feeling that this kind of bragging machismo is part of the problem.

    Yes! That’s what’s been bugging me and I couldn’t put my finger on it. The idea there is virtue in not beating a woman, and it puts you in this exalted class known as “real men”. There’s a lot wrong with that, even if women not getting beaten is the (still better than otherwise) result.

  224. if need be KH, FJ, or Sm please feel free to delete my posts. I did not mean to start up a whole new hornets nest with it.

    Not at all! I agree that the “real men” phrasing is problematic, but as others have noted, it wasn’t wrong of you to relay that. Nor do I think your friend meant any harm by it. It’s just that a discussion of what constitutes a “real man” and how we use that phrase to other certain men is naturally going to arise when we’re already talking about gendered violence.

  225. I’ve had the sneaking suspicion that Rhonwynn and JupiterPluvius are men. I acknowledge that I could be totally wrong.

    No, I’m a ciswoman. I just like using the name of a male god on the Internet for various reasons.

  226. Just want to add another voice to the chorus thanking Kate for banning R. Comparing this space to an abusive home was minimizing to actual abuse and way out of line.

  227. ***First, a spanking (which in the context of my own experience is hard enough to humiliate but not to hurt) is not “physical abuse.”***

    Well, that’s an interesting definition of “spanking”. Regardless, it’s not the definition that the entire rest of the world uses. The point of hitting someone as punishment may very well be to humiliate, but it is also to inflict pain. And if you’d like to explain to me why such a thing would be considered physical abuse if done to a large person who’s been around a while and actually has the legal right not to be hit, but not to a small person who hasn’t been around so long and does not have the power to protect themselves with the help of the courts, I’m all ears.

    And, humiliation as a tool of manipulation (or, “motivation” if you like) in the context of what is supposed to be a loving relationship is emotional abuse.

    ***We whine about permissive parents with out of control brats who feel dangerously entitled and have no capacity for empathy, yet we squeal if punishment includes an occasional swat? Good grief.***

    I wonder if Chris Brown’s friends are thinking the same thing about that bitch Rihanna.

    As for the implication that I should not be allowed to be pissed about bad parents and the “brats” they create unless I acknowledge that spanking is okay… I’m just at a loss as to how you think this makes any sense at all.

    ***I explained, NO, of COURSE you punish someone for hurting someone else, or they don’t learn, when I was bad, I got punished.***

    Actually, not “of course”. Not everyone believes that punishment is effective for creating moral people and changing behavior. At some point people may become animal-like enough that all you can hope to do is condition them to avoid harming others, with the use of pain. Some people believe that all people start out that way — original sin. Those of us whose children have been treated with gentleness and kindness and respect from the beginning and *shocker* have gentle, kind, respectful children, don’t. There is an alternative to controlling people with pain. It’s called “nonviolent communication” and “gentle discipline”.

    ***And then I got told it was bad for my parents to have spanked me as a kid? Geez, they didn’t even do it that often.***

    Yes, it’s bad, and it’s bad whether it’s done once or a thousand times.

    If you believe that hitting children is anything *but* bad, and you call yourself a pacifist, you’re misrepresenting yourself.

  228. Linda, how did you take the term “punishment” and AGAIN take it to mean ONLY “physical pain” after I just explained in the exact post you were referencing that’s NOT what I meant?!

    Punishment means “you do bad, you get fuckin’ schooled.” It can run the gamut from yelling “no” to time outs to a swat on the tush to, fuck, tribal council and getting your head cut off, depending where you live and what you did.

    I’m sorry for being so abrupt, but for heaven’s sake, a difference in opinion about childhood discipline (or dog training, or whatever, since apparently you also think that animals are lower than humans and that behaviorist theories are still in the stone ages where only painful punishers are used to change behavior) hardly makes my stance on peace null and void.

    I got spanked occasionally as a child. I do not find that tantamount to abuse. You don’t have to agree, but neither is it necessary to call me a liar and diminish MY experiences, telling me that MY perception of what happened to ME in MY life is FALSE. I’m sorry, but I feel that’s out of line. The spankings, which were few and far between, had zero long-term trauma or lasting effect of any kind. Sorry to bust your black-n-white little worldview bubble there.

    My parents may not be perfect (whose are?) but I’m certainly not going to play as nicely as normal if you’re going to question my own ability to gauge how I’ve been treated and accuse my parents of grievous, serious misdeeds against me in the same breath.

  229. Some people believe that all people start out that way — original sin. Those of us whose children have been treated with gentleness and kindness and respect from the beginning and *shocker* have gentle, kind, respectful children, don’t.

    So no Christians treat their children with gentleness and kindness and respect from the beginning? Awesome, way to not stereotype, Madame Bigot.

  230. Those of us whose children have been treated with gentleness and kindness and respect from the beginning and *shocker* have gentle, kind, respectful children, don’t.

    I’d also like to remind everyone that lots of abusive parents raise gentle, kind, respectful people who would never lay a hand on another person. Yes, there’s a strong correlation between suffering abuse and inflicting it, but it’s hardly 1:1. And the reverse is true as well: not every abuser was abused. As much as we’d all like to think that “good parenting” will make our children think and act just the way we want them to, it ain’t that simple.

  231. Those of us whose children have been treated with gentleness and kindness and respect from the beginning and *shocker* have gentle, kind, respectful children, don’t.

    Hahahahahahaha. Ahem, sorry.

    Hey let’s have a nature vs. nurture argument, guys! That’ll be fun. We can keep the blog exciting today!

    And, yeah. There are many different opinions on the subject of gentle pats to the bum as one part of disciplining children, and my guess is we have people on all sides of that argument here. I’m kind of on the fence. But in any case, I kind of think it’s a bit of a derail, Linda.

  232. I just wanted to say that nothing I posted was in any way imaginable intended to provoke literal or figurative sobs of rage in any one. I haven’t said anything to deliberately stir the pot just for stirring’s sake. After absorbing the collective response (and choosing to disregard a few choice directives), I posted to thank another commenter for opening my eyes to another perspective on the nature of this forum. I meant that genuinely, and still do.

    In reference to conflicts/differences of opinion/unintended offenses, and how they normally work here – “everyone learns something and discussion goes merrily on. It’s awesome and it happens here more than I’ve ever seen it anywhere else. So if you are a ‘long-time lurker’, you know you have that option. You choose not to take it.”

    I thought I was taking it, and my familiarity with this blog and the way things generally work are part of why I’ve been taken aback. I spoke up about harsh comments toward someone, not having read that person’s comments to be incindiary and intentionally anger-provoking, nor having recalled any prior similar comments. I realize now that others took the post in a very different way, and responded accordingly.

    “It can be very difficult to tell whether someone is legitimately confused or deliberately trying to stir the pot… Thus, some people will respond with patience and others will respond with anger…”

    I hear you on this. The angered responses seemed so intense, and my instinct was patience and benefit of the doubt. It feels like the outcry at me was for being TOO patient, TOO nicey nice, even though my point was that the angered responses seemed TOO furious and derogatory. I realize I was in the minority as far as reactions go. I guess I had hoped that wouldn’t mean my opinion was invalid. I never said (as was implied) that I thought anything was “HURTING the MOVEMENT” – my reaction was honestly more along the lines of “isn’t constructive criticism more, well, constructive than flat out rage or rudeness?” I understand more clearly now that my ideals for an exchange of ideas aren’t everyone’s, and I’m sorry to have offended with my own personal Nice policy. I get that it’s not yours, and I truly do value the open exchanges here. I didn’t think my comments were stupid, as they’ve been called – but if you did, okay. But I do want to clarify that nothing I’ve said has been hateful (as was attributed to me as part of “them”.) If you read hate in my words, it was definitely not coming from me or my intentions whatsoever.

    All that said, though I’ve been frustrated at feeling misunderstood and judged, I’ll say again that I respect and value this community and its contributors.

  233. As much as we’d all like to think that “good parenting” will make our children think and act just the way we want them to, it ain’t that simple.

    Quite right. My personal theory is that this is because children are actually human beings, with their own personalities and wants and inclinations.

    And I agree with Volcanista – this is not a good place to have a “spanking – good or bad?” discussion. Those almost never turn out well, and it would be off-topic to begin with.

  234. Some people believe that all people start out that way — original sin. Those of us whose children have been treated with gentleness and kindness and respect from the beginning and *shocker* have gentle, kind, respectful children, don’t.

    Well I very often have grouchy, obnoxious children who destroy the furniture and shove and yell “MINE!” but that’s neither here nor there, seeing as how they are them and I am me. (Though I am also frequently grouchy and sometimes yell “MINE!”)

    Ahem. Anyway. What I do want to point out is that popular misconceptions of the notion of original sin abound — o HAI, Alfie Kohn! — but it’s actually a somewhat complicated concept where historical context matters a lot, especially if you’re talking about Augustine. Not that anyone should really care; I just adore Augustine and it makes me sad that he’s so misunderstood. Augustine’s understanding of original sin is actually a really powerful theological tool for understanding *structural* sin that runs much deeper than individual intentions or personality traits.

  235. I’m not quite clear on what exactly the “Shunning” conversation is talking about – mandated societal shunning? Individual shunning? Something else?

    Because individual shunning is simply an individual drawing her boundaries. I recently shunned an ex-friend: he attempted to molest the child of a friend of mine, I plan to never ever see him again (and any friends who plan social events with him present will have to go without me). We’ve also made efforts to spread the word amongst friends who are parents to please be careful, but have found that a few of them just choose not to believe it. I find shunning a perfectly reasonable approach to drawing my family’s boundaries. Not just for safety reasons, but because I’ll probably throw up if we’re ever in the same room.

    Another friend and I have had no choice but to face the men who indecently assaulted (me) and raped (her) us, because our social circles – despite being fully aware of what happened – have decided that it’s really not that important and the blokes don’t deserve to be shunned. The net effect is that we have to either withdraw ourselves from those circles completely, or risk being triggered every single time we socialise.

    Who’s benefiting from that? Who’s being punished?

  236. Also, it’s worth pointing out that the major theological rival to original sin, in the west, has been some variant on “You’re quite good, and can keep getting better and better and better and one day you’ll be PERFECT if you devote yourself to self-improvement and careful practices of holiness,” which… you know, I think we’ve all seen how bad that mindset can be. (And O, God save me from the people who think they are getting holier and holier every day by being conoisseurs of their own moral correctness!)

    I’m not saying those are the two alternatives, but give Augustine credit for smelling bullshit where there was bullshit.

  237. A Sarah, I have such a blogcrush on you that it makes me interested in religious history. I thought my Lutheran confirmation classes had taken care of that problem for good!

  238. Bah! Sweet Machine, we were commenting at the same time. The blogcrush is so totally mutual that it makes me want to go point my pointy-finger at your Lutheran confirmation teacher and deliver a stern lecture about the perils to one’s soul that come from making religious history boring. :)

  239. “It feels like the outcry at me was for being TOO patient, TOO nicey nice, even though my point was that the angered responses seemed TOO furious and derogatory. I realize I was in the minority as far as reactions go. I guess I had hoped that wouldn’t mean my opinion was invalid. ”

    estrella: I’m probably picking nits at this point, but just to be clear, you didn’t get called out for having your own “nice” policy. You could have responded to R. in your own way and I don’t think anyone here would have said a peep. You got called out for telling all the angry folks they were wrong and your way was sooooo much better in what I read as a really condescending way.

  240. Because individual shunning is simply an individual drawing her boundaries.

    temporarily anon, a) I think that’s an incredibly apt and insightful way of putting it, and as a parent I *really* hope that our family has people like you in our lives; and b) I don’t even know what to say about your having to face your attacker socially. Reading that your social circles didn’t decide to exclude him from their company, despite knowing what happened, makes me want to scream.

  241. “You know, this helped me put words to what I think galls me most about how the mainstream reaction so often proceeds in cases like these: the way in which the *fact* of a woman’s having been beaten is treated as though it’s somehow her “side of the story,” her contribution to some kind of debate. Like, “Oh, look, a beaten female body. Ooooooooh…(gawks)… Well, okay, now we’ve heard from her. In the interests of fair debate, what does the other side have to say?” ”

    So much word. I blame Fox News for creating a situation in which all stories are presented this way, but it’s particularly bad in any case where they have an opportunity to throw in some bonus misogyny.

    RE The points about self defence classes for women – I think they help more in the sense of teaching women that they’re ALLOWED to fight back than anything else. My old kung fu instructor told me that the biggest challenge he had with new female students was persuading them that it was OK for them to hit people – most of them did just fine with non human targets and exercises but balked when presented with an actual sparring partner, particularly if it was a man. I think just getting women past that socially programmed sense that they’re not SUPPOSED to ever physically challenge men is hugely valuable.

    OTOH, the strength differential remains. Back when I was doing kung fu you could give me a man of any size who was less technically skilled and I could beat him easily, but give me a man with equal skill and my size or even smaller and he’d win every time. And that’s in a situation with rules, where certain things just aren’t allowed.

    RE The point someone made about bigger women feeling like that makes them safe – agreed, that’s not actually true. Just because a man can’t lift you easily doesn’t mean he can’t hit you or that a punch is going to hurt any less. I knew a couple as a kid where the scrawny, unfit husband beat up the big, athletic wife. She probably had at least 50 pounds on him and was in much better shape, but that didn’t keep her safe when he went into alcohol fuelled fits of rage.

    Which, again, is why the social rule about men not hitting women exists. Pity so many people assume that rule no longer applies as soon as a man and a woman are sleeping together.

  242. Yep, Tricia’s got it. It’s not about any individual deciding that niceness and politeness is a priority; it’s about the highly gendered context of telling women that they should be nice instead of angry.

  243. “I’m just saying, couldn’t we take it down a notch and use some kindness?” doesn’t sound like condescension to me, at least it was never intended to come off that way. Saying I think there’s enough hate in the world already that we could spare some of the calling each other “fucking fools” doesn’t mean I think my way is “sooooo much better.” As far as condescension goes around here, read through and I don’t think I’d rank anywhere near the top of that list. And most of the callings out I got were about how there’s no room for politeness and good manners around here – which I actually get now, if you’d read my more recent posts. I didn’t tell anyone they were wrong; I did express how I felt. Which is, apparently, wrong.

    I’m pretty sure you are picking nits, and that’s fine. It would just be really awesome if my heartfelt apology for causing anyone grief could be accepted for what it is, even while agreeing to disagree on some points.

  244. Estrella, frankly I found your apology passive-aggressive… “I’m sorry you couldn’t handle how nice and mature I am.” You were called out for lecturing people about how they should change the “tone” of an online space where you are only one of many participants. Nothing you’ve said since then has convinced me that you really understand that. This is not a matter of one person misinterpreting you or being oversensitive. You rubbed a lot of people’s fur backward and you need to do some thinking about why that might have happened.

    The fact that you’re asking people to stop challenging you because of the simple fact of your apology, even though you haven’t actually stopped doing what you supposedly apologized for, makes me really doubt your sincerity.

  245. Wow. I really must not be communicating clearly. It seems like a top priority in responding to me has been to put words in my mouth. I’ve been making a genuine effort here, and this just feels like banging my head against a wall.

    There was no aggression – passive or otherwise – in what I’ve said. I’m sorry if I phrased things in a way that seemed so. I’m not looking for a cookie (CALORIES!), I just think continuing to berate someone who has expressed a genuine desire to understand (whether you interpret it that way or not) and who harbors a sincere respect for this space.

  246. Wow. I really must not be communicating clearly.

    No kidding.

    I just think continuing to berate someone who has expressed a genuine desire to understand (whether you interpret it that way or not) and who harbors a sincere respect for this space.

    I wasn’t berating, I was explaining. If do you sincerely respect the space, then I thought you might want to learn/understand what you’re actually doing to set people off, so as to avoid it in the future. None of your responses seem to indicate that you’re actually getting the point.

    If it’s just all about how we’ve mis-judged you, and been big meanies, and shit, well that’s a different situation.

  247. Wow. I really must not be communicating clearly. It seems like a top priority in responding to me has been to put words in my mouth.

    And that? Is why FJ just called you passive-aggressive. “I must really not be communicating clearly, because you keep twisting my words!” Which is it, Estrella? Are you owning a communication problem or accusing everyone else of trying to make you look bad?

    If you don’t want to keep banging your head against a wall, then stop banging your head against a wall. You’re not banned at this point, but I highly recommend you quit this thread while you’re… not so much ahead. I, the blog owner, appreciated your apology and said as much. That’s the time to walk away from a heated thread, not demand a better acknowledgment of your apology.

  248. Wow. I really must not be communicating clearly.

    GOOD.

    It seems like a top priority in responding to me has been to put words in my mouth.

    BAD.

    You’re halfway there. Let me spell this out: if you genuinely mean well, you are communicating badly. YOU are communicating badly. You need to think about how to communicate better. It is not everyone else’s responsibility to try to filter everything you say through the assumption that you don’t mean it to come out how it sounds. It is not everyone else’s reponsibility to tamp down their offense just because you made an apology you swear is sincere and then carried right on doing what you apologized for.

    I just think continuing to berate someone who has expressed a genuine desire to understand

    Nobody sees you doing that. So think about why. And not while simultaneously complaining about how nobody understands you and everyone’s misinterpreting you and it’s not your fault because you’re trying so hard.

    Because if you’re trying really hard and nobody’s getting it? Occam’s razor says the problem may not be with everybody else.

  249. Aargh – edit for submitting comment too soon:

    I just think continuing to berate someone who has expressed a genuine desire to understand (whether you interpret it that way or not) and who harbors a sincere respect for this space is unnecessary.

    I do get it – I’m still not going to feel cool about people being told to fuck off except in the most extreme circumstances. But that’s me. Who I am. Not saying – here or anywhere – that that’s maturity, or that that’s better than you. It’s just me, and I get that I am one of many many many who feel otherwise. I realize I should’ve expressed myself differently to begin with rather than offending so many with what was interpreted as an attempt to police the tone around here. That wasn’t my intent, and I’ve definitely done some thinking about better ways to approach things. While an avid reader of online discussions, I’m pretty much brand new to participating in one. Though I think it’s safe to label this attempt: FAIL.

  250. I realize I should’ve expressed myself differently to begin with rather than offending so many with what was interpreted as an attempt to police the tone around here. That wasn’t my intent, and I’ve definitely done some thinking about better ways to approach things.

    Awesome, that’s all I wanted to hear.

  251. That wasn’t my intent, and I’ve definitely done some thinking about better ways to approach things. While an avid reader of online discussions, I’m pretty much brand new to participating in one. Though I think it’s safe to label this attempt: FAIL.

    Yes, that’s safe. :) Now seriously, you’ve been through the baptism by fire. I’m sure it sucked, but you survived. Think some more about what people were saying and why — Tricia, for instance, was really reasonable and respectful up there — and try again in another thread on another day.

  252. Heh, so glad A Sarah got there with the “even healthy happy children whose parents respect them have bad days sometimes because they are people just like everyone else” thing before I did because my blood pressure was on the up there.

    My children refuse to talk to me before I have my coffee in the mornings. The two-year-old brings me my cup and bops me with it until I fill it up.

  253. I’m just glad I didn’t get banned (yet) for my egregious comma splice.

    It was touch and go for a minute there!

  254. My children refuse to talk to me before I have my coffee in the mornings. The two-year-old brings me my cup and bops me with it until I fill it up.

    I think I should start doing this with Mr Machine.

  255. My children refuse to talk to me before I have my coffee in the mornings. The two-year-old brings me my cup and bops me with it until I fill it up.

    Man, I wish my dogs had thumbs.

  256. OTOH, the strength differential remains. Back when I was doing kung fu you could give me a man of any size who was less technically skilled and I could beat him easily, but give me a man with equal skill and my size or even smaller and he’d win every time. And that’s in a situation with rules, where certain things just aren’t allowed.

    CassandraSays, that’s just why Impact/Model Mugging was formed. A woman who had a black belt in karate was raped, and she and all her friends decided that obviously martial arts training was not enough. Impact is all about fighting like a woman (fighting from the ground using legs, not arms) and fighting really dirty. One quote I remember from class was “he can’t restrain you and protect all his vulnerable areas at the same time”. Also, doing full-force fighting means you get lots of practice in hitting back hard.

    And yeah, a lot of it is learning how to set boundaries verbally. I once unleashed my Impact voice on my husband when he tickled me longer than I wanted, and boy howdy, did he back off fast. And yes, it is a very good thing that he and some of my male friends saw the final class where I fought off attackers when I was standing, and when I started off lying down with my eyes closed.

  257. ***As much as we’d all like to think that “good parenting” will make our children think and act just the way we want them to, it ain’t that simple. (Kate)***

    Urgh. Well, my comment (“I was nice to them, and surprise!, they learned to be nice”) was unhelpfully simplistic. I didn’t mean to imply that anyone who is treated kindly and compassionately is going to be perfect by whatever definition, or that there aren’t other factors that determine behavior. Just that hurting children isn’t necessary to them learning good behavior.

    Regarding my use of the term original sin — I’ve heard it used by people in espousing the belief that children are inherently bad, which they associate with the notion of the “necessity” of corporal punishment, and that’s what I meant it to refer to. I apologize to any who felt that my use of the term implied that Christian parents are not kind, etc. That was not my intent.

    ***But in any case, I kind of think it’s a bit of a derail, Linda. (volcanista)***

    In a discussion about domestic violence, which is a parallel issue (outrage at domestic violence is just not logically or morally compatible with support for controlling or punishing children by hurting them, either physically or emotionally) and in which violence against children in the name of “discipline” has already been brought up to address a part of that discussion, it seems appropriate to me to respond to that. In any case, I don’t think it’s ever inappropriate to challenge a statement about the necessity and goodness of hurting children, regardless of the relevancy to the topic at hand.

  258. I didn’t mean to imply that anyone who is treated kindly and compassionately is going to be perfect by whatever definition, or that there aren’t other factors that determine behavior. Just that hurting children isn’t necessary to them learning good behavior.

    Gotcha, thanks for clarifying that.

  259. Oh Linda, I think I must explain something and perhaps apologize to you.

    I’ve made it a habit to look for opportunities to say things that screw with the Perfect Mom rhetoric that’s so pervasive these days. It’s one part of my activism.

    So when I said basically, “Well, my kids are often obnoxious, but I don’t so much fret about it” etc. it was part rejoinder to you, but it was also me doing what I try to do generally — i.e. not give the expected answer or read the lines from the cultural mom script. It wasn’t a lie: my kids are often obnoxious, as am I, and I really *don’t* worry about that too much. But it was still somewhat calculated, or at least, it’s what I try to do in general to screw with the motherhood script and hopefully show its inadequacy.

    BUT: that’s just me and how I’ve chosen to resist. I don’t mean to suggest that people whose lives happen to conform in certain ways to the script are the *real* Bad Mothers — just like people whose bodies happen to conform more closely to the current ideal don’t have Bad Bodies.

    Anyway, I hope that gives more context. I think reading back that it came across as 100 percent snark at you. Which… I mean, it’s true I was enjoying the banter and was in a silly mood. But the wider context is that I personally look for any opportunity to say things that, while they are true descriptions of my life, still fall under the heading of “What You Are Not Supposed To Say If You’re A Good Mother.” I feel like that’s a way I can help broaden the definition of what mothers are supposed to be.

    So I certainly apologize if, for lack of that context, my remark was harsh and pointed. Hopefully that blunts it somewhat? I forget that people can’t read my mind. :)

  260. I’m way late to the party, but I just wanted to point out that domestic violence isn’t about “anger”. It’s about control. It irks me when people talk about abusers “controlling their anger” or sending them to anger management courses. That’s not what makes an abuser. It’s also not stress or addiction or anything else. It’s the need to control your partner.

    Anger management does NOT address the root cause of abuse. I’m not sure what does. It’s just a way for abusers to minimize their reactions as a healthy emotion that just needs a little management…. couldn’t be farther from the truth.

  261. All. Right. And Sugar has hit the limit. Should pretend I didn’t see it. Not going to, though.

    Ladies and Gentlemen, I would like to make it official that Sugar is neither perfect nor a perfect lady, and that my hippie worldview leaves plenty of room for a good old-fashioned snarkbeasting when deemed necessary. This is my version of self-defense, model mugging be damned. Us catty wimminfolk and our sharp, sharp tongues, you know.

    Linda, I directly addressed your concerns. To you, by name. Not that I needed to, since I’d already explained how badly worded my previous post had been, and apologized for such because even I can see how easy it was to misconstrue my meaning based on the way I said it, and emotions on this subject were raw enough without my mishap.

    Clearly, your Internet Listening Mechanism is busted. Let me spell a few things out for you.

    One: your continued insistence that I advocate abusing children has crossed the line from ignorant to insulting. Do kindly shut the fuck up.

    Two: I have a close family, and considering all my parents have done for me and continue to do, I’m infinitely more insulted at the implication they were/are abusive. If you don’t want to kindly shut the fuck up, at least direct further vitriol at ME, as I am the only one here to engage you, and at least now, I somewhat deserve it.

    THANKS, AND PEACE OUT!
    Love,
    Sugar

    P.S. for future ref, this is 2009. MLA format (that’s Modern Language Additions) dictates that insults concerning one’s parentage in this day and age properly begin with “yo mama.” just fyi.

  262. One of my favorite blogs pointed out that at every turn someone ways saying that she must have done something to make him beat her. She had posted the leaked pic and also pointed out that it shouldn’t matter what she did. Looking at that picture disturbed me because her injuries looked like he had really gone to town on her.

    Clearly Brown was stronger than she was and in all cases if she attacked him first restraining her as a form of self defense would have been the best choice available to him if he were unable to walk away. No one, no matter what they do deserves to be beaten. If you’re that angry walk away if you can.

  263. the world is messed up period when it comes to violence against women. Then you have the show business factor. Many people have wanted a music career, to be at that level of celebrity for so long that they were willing to sacrifice just about anything. The fact that a fellow star’s career may be over just terrifies them. It’s messed up, I think they are more terrified about his career being over then what actually happened. I wish some of these celebrity opinions aren’t published.

    The violence is all too human. It will stay with those two forever whether the news forgets about it, whether their careers move on. Celebrity isn’t worth everything because obviously it can’t save you from this kind of situation. If I saw the news print anything I would like it to be a reminded that this problem affects both rich and poor and no one should think “this wouldn’t happen to anyone I know.” That’s what I’d like adults to know. Even the men need to hear that people just like them do things like this. If they learn about anger, how to control it, make up their mind that they never will resort to that kind of violence…force themselves to consider the topic BEFORE a situation occurs….that would be a good thing.

    It’s like alcoholism or so many other things…when you’re drunk you may not be able to make the right decisions…when you’ve had too much to drink, if you are acting in a way that is hurtful to someone. The time to face your behavior, consider what it’s done to your life, if you’re drinking to avoid problems, whether you need to stop drinking – is when you’re sober. And sometimes a good education about alcohol before someone develops a problem can prevent one from even happening. It’s not fun to think about, but sometimes it has to be done.

    For the kids, the message should be plain and clear, this kind of violence is wrong. Girls need character education as much as guys do, I’m not going to lie. But in this situation, where the female is a victim, no one should be talking about what she did. Because it will dilute the messasge that young people, boys and girls, need to hear, that this kindof violence is wrong. The message I want young people to hear is “what he did was wrong” not “I can understand why he did it” (which may have some truth, but it doesn’t make it right, and kids may hear it as an acceptable excuse) and “this shouldn’t ruin his career” (which isn’t true, people have to take responsibility for their actions, his have way worse consequences than just his career, and if that’s people’s main worry that’s messed up and not the priorities I want kids to hear)

    Let a counselor worry about Chris Brown as a person and how he’s handling it. How he deals with it is private and his own business. But because the story has become public, how the media covers it and the messages it sends by how it talks about him affects people. And like Kate, that I am concerned about.

  264. what an interesting thread. I’ve seen the pictures of Rihanna and it looks like Chris Brown gave her a right kicking, and whatever his ‘reasons’ were, they were not not not enough to justify leaving the woman he is supposed to love looking like that. Nothing could be reason enough.

    I’m interested in people further up the thread discussing violence towards children in relation to DV. I don’t believe anyone has the right to hit anyone else if they are not under immediate threat, and I soooo include children in that ‘anyone’. Thing is, I work with families who cause anti-social behaviour and I have never yet come across one of these families who’ve agreed; when I explain to parents that by hitting their children (and I don’t mean a spanking for discipline, I mean beating the child as a means of dispersing parental anger) they as parents teach their children that violence is the best and quickest answer to a disagreement they look at me bewildered and puzzled. Often I hear “My parents hit me and it didn’t do me any harm”. And then I ask how did you feel when your parents were hitting you? Did you think in that moment ‘I am being hit because I did wrong and I will no longer do this wrong’ or did you hate them for it and take that rage and frustration elsewhere with you? And I say to these parents that if you are so angry that you want to hit your child you are too angry to discipline them effectively.

    I know this sounds wishy-washy bleeding-heart liberal to these parents, and they think it’s bullshit. And I ask them to think about it, and next time their child does wrong to just stop for a second and see if they can punish them another way. Sometimes the parents agree to do this, and they get a good result (child stops misbehaving, household stress levels don’t escalate etc). More often they think “Fuck you, you fucking do-gooder” and carry on hitting the children. Who may or may not one day hit their parents back, but will almost certainly go on to hit someone else…

    My parents weren’t physically abusive but my dad was incredibly verbally abusive (being called ‘stupid’ still makes me cringe in fear) and would get amazingly, hugely and inappropriately angry at me, my brother and my mum, and still does (he thinks nothing of calling my mother a ‘stupid fucking bitch’ in the middle of the supermarket if she gets the wrong item); my mother is utterly cowed by him, refuses to acknowledge the violence inherent in their relationship and their parenting of us and uses passive-aggression to retaliate. In some ways it would almost have BEEN better if he’d hit us… She is 60 now and has spent the last 35 years hating her husband- how sad is that? The most tragic thing of all is that now he’s retired and can fully control her and everything she does she says they’re the happiest they’ve ever been…

    For my money any partner who abuses (physically or emotionally) their ‘beloved’ wants locking up and the key throwing away so they can’t go on to do it to someone else… And my greatest fear is turning into my dad, like my brother has…

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