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Author Topic: Just in from Cathy Young: "The other aggressor in domestic violence"  (Read 7206 times)

Brent

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"The other aggressor in domestic violence"
CATHY YOUNG - 12/1/2003

LLEGATIONS of domestic violence involving celebrities are nothing new, but two such stories in the news in the past couple of months have had a relatively unusual twist: The accused perpetrators were women and the alleged victims were men.
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First, there was the lawsuit against Liza Minelli by her estranged husband, David Gest, claiming that the singer-actress had subjected him to repeated physical abuse. Then actor Christian Slater's wife, Ryan Haddon, was arrested on charges of battery after smashing a glass on her husband's head and causing a cut that required stitches. Yet despite such incidents, the public perception of domestic abuse as something that horrid men do to helpless women persists. People who have challenged this stereotype (myself included) have been called everything from anti-feminists to backlash peddlers to apologists for abusive men.

The news story I read on Slater had the headline "Haddon Glasses Slater". Cute. If Christian Slater had hit his wife in the head with a glass, splitting her scalp open, would they have run such a dismissive headline? Would the headline have said "Slater Glasses Haddon"? NO, it would have said that he attacked causing severe injuries. There would have been no cute dismissal of his assault and battery upon her. But she can attack him and the paper hides her violence under a cutie-pie term like "Haddon Glasses Slater". ...Brent



Well, now someone with strong feminist credentials challenges a lot of the conventional wisdom on domestic violence and ways to combat it, and confirms a lot of the things we dissenters have been saying for years. That someone is Linda G. Mills of New York University, a professor of law and social work and author of the new book, ''From Insult to Injury: Rethinking Our Responses to Intimate Abuse.'' Mills, 45, is a feminist who has spent a decade working on behalf of battered women. Moreover, as she reveals in her book, she herself, 20 years ago, was a battered woman -- though she would prefer the more neutral term, ''woman in an abusive relationship.''

Drawing both on research and on her own experience in the field, Mills concludes that the conventional feminist paradigm of domestic violence as a form of patriarchal oppression is woefully inadequate. It is manifestly irrelevant for abused lesbians and gay men; it also has little meaning for women of color, who do not see the men in their community as powerful oppressors. Even for white women, it is a vast oversimplification of a complex reality. ''Years of research, which mainstream feminism has glossed over or ignored, shows that when it comes to intimate abuse, women are far from powerless and seldom, if ever, just victims,'' Mills writes. ''Like men, women are frequently aggressive in intimate settings.''

''From Insult to Injury'' is full of such heresies. Thus, Mills asserts that women who stay in abusive relationships often do so not just because of ''women's socialization within a patriarchal system'' but for complicated emotional, familiar, and cultural reasons. In many cases, she says, this decision has to be respected. She claims that policies of mandatory arrest and prosecution in domestic violence cases not only disempower women -- who aren't given any say in the handling of the case -- but actually endanger them, since an arrest may trigger an escalation of further violence. She suggests that mothers' physical violence toward children, particularly male children, plays a key part in perpetuating the cycle of abuse.

Mills does not deny (and neither does anyone else) that male violence toward women is more likely to result in physical injuries than the reverse, and that women in abusive relationships are more likely than men to be in danger. But she argues that this is no reason to disregard female violence, which needs to be acknowledged not only out of fairness to male victims but out of concern for female victims as well: A woman who starts a physical confrontation with her male partner may well find herself severely battered. To understand and prevent male violence, Mills concludes, we must understand female violence as well, whether it's physical assault or psychological aggression.

Where do we go from here? Mills is critical of the current ''lock 'em up'' dogma; instead, she would like to see a practice of ''Intimate Abuse Circles'' in which the spouses could discuss the abuse in the presence of other family members, relatives and friends. While she stresses that batterers must be held fully accountable for their actions, she also wants to see more emphasis on healing rather than punishment.

Currently, Mills's plea for reform is unlikely to have much effect. The ideology that views men as wolves and women as lambs is too deeply entrenched, and despite some feminists' claim that the media are eager to leap on any ''antifeminist'' bandwagon, Mills' thought-provoking book has received little coverage. Her message needs to be heard by politicians, judges, prosecutors and many others. It took the ''mainstream'' feminists about 30 years to establish their monopoly on the public debate about domestic violence. Mills's book may be the first step in dismantling that monopoly.

Cathy Young is a contributing editor at Reason magazine. Her column appears regularly in the Globe.

http://www.boston.com/dailyglobe2/335/oped/The_other_aggressor_in_domestic_violence+.shtml


Indigo Mom

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RE: Intimate Abuse Circles?
« Reply #1 on: Dec 01, 2003, 12:09:38 PM »
WTF is this?  Now who is their right mind is going to want to sit in a cute little circle, with their abuser right there, and talk to their close friends and family about what went wrong?  Christ, when I was getting my ass kicked all the time, my parents didn't even know! I was so humiliated, I never told people. I can see it now "hey mom, I need you to come with me and monster to our Intimate Abuse Circle meeting next week so we can discuss what he did to me and why".  NOT

Jeesums...what a bullshit idea.  Man or Woman...you beat on someone, you go to jail.  What's wrong with that????  Commit a crime, do the time. Abuse circles...for crying out loud.

I had a thought about this whole DV mess.  I wonder...(and yes, flame away) what would happen if in each act of DV, the victim was allowed one good, solid punch to the face of their abuser.  Court ordered by the Judge. Would people continue to batter their mates?  Maybe this is wishful thinking on my part...cause I'd LOVE to give monster a reality check right upside the skull for what he did to me and my child.  

let the flaming begin.

StPaulieGirl

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From Insult to Injury
« Reply #2 on: Dec 01, 2003, 12:44:14 PM »
Abuse encompasses more than heads going through drywall.  It can be a systematic campaign to demoralize your victim through mental abuse.  Never discount mental abuse.  Unfortunately, mental abuse is almost impossible to prove.  I'm talking about guys who are abused.  I'm sorry to have no sympathy towards David Gest and Liza Minelli, as imo, they're an aberration.  I'm sorry, but Liz Taylor and Michael Jackson went to their wedding.

StPaulieGirl

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RE: Intimate Abuse Circles?
« Reply #3 on: Dec 01, 2003, 12:53:43 PM »
I know.  Don't you love psychobabble?  The article dosesn't address ways to cope with abuse...reality wise.  The humiliation is almost as bad as the pain.  Maybe worse...

tryn2begooddad

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RE: Intimate Abuse Circles?
« Reply #4 on: Dec 01, 2003, 12:53:58 PM »
I like your idea of letting the abused sock one to the abuser...would it apply to men who have been abused by their wives as well or just for women who have been abused?


Indigo Mom

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RE: Both ways! I'm not one sided!
« Reply #5 on: Dec 01, 2003, 12:59:08 PM »
Like I said, I would L-O-V-E to whack monster.  I've also posted before about how years ago, I had assaulted my husband.

Now, lemme tell you WHAT!  My hub is a foot taller and over a hundred pounds heavier than me.  If I knew, in the back of my head, that I'd have this guy socking me in the nose...I'd be bowing down and thanking him for putting up with me rather than whacking on him!!!  I might have even cooked him a GREAT meal that night!

Peanutsdad

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RE: Intimate Abuse Circles?
« Reply #6 on: Dec 01, 2003, 04:12:24 PM »
Actually, Im in favor of public stocks. Put the batterer in the old new england stocks on the street corner with a friggin sign on em. Be it male or female. Let passersby throw bags of dogshit at em. THEN give em one court ordered punch to the nose by their victim.

Peanutsdad

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RE: Intimate Abuse Circles?
« Reply #7 on: Dec 01, 2003, 04:14:50 PM »
Furthermore,,, I am an intellectual thinking man, yet I am also a former marine with 10 yrs service. THAT means, I have an ingrained response to any type of attack on my person, and its hard as hell to STOP that response. So when my pb attacked me, it took everything I had NOT to respond and break her ever lovin psychotic neck.

tryn2begooddad

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RE: Both ways! I'm not one sided!
« Reply #8 on: Dec 02, 2003, 05:03:47 AM »
Indy, I have read your posts and I know it was as tupid question and call it playing devils advocate but I had to know if it was a one sided street. My gf and I are not violent but we are in the same situation where I tower over her in height and weight I shudder at the damage I could do if I was to hit her it wouldnt be pretty.

tryn2begooddad

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RE: Intimate Abuse Circles?
« Reply #9 on: Dec 02, 2003, 09:07:35 AM »
Peanuts, but if you had struck back who most likely in your opinion would have been arrested...you or her??? And I understand what you say about being trained in the Marines to act a certain way I am still trying to break from the mold of the submarine service that was ingrained in me for 10 years

 

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