Thursday, December 17, 2009

Warnings To Not Alienate Men

I came across a discussion which again turned to putting great effort into not alienating men when talking about violence against women and men's groups which put out misinformation to minimize both the rate of men's violence and the rate of women's victimization.

There is something inherently troubling to me about the call to effectively walk on eggshells when talking to men or trying to reach out to them as partners in reducing sexual and domestic violence. I guess it comes down to the fact that the core problem is something about the men who will quickly reject becoming partners in reducing or eliminating sexual and domestic violence and who will effectively side with abusers and rapists by refusing to acknowledge the gendered nature of this type of violence.

In comments of various blogs, men who initially claimed to be allies have declared that they will do even less to combat violence against women than they did before. Sometimes they will go so far as to declare if they see a woman being raped they will ignore the crime because feminists who oppose rape offended them.

To me these declarations expose those men as never having been true allies with women who are trying to stop sexual and domestic violence. This is the problem not how some women interacted with these men prior to their declaration that they would allow violence around them to flourish.

This harsh response from some men seems to come back to their issues of power and control. If those men cannot dictate how discussions about these issues are framed then women will suffer the consequences and since more than a thousand women die from sexual and domestic violence in the US alone each year thousands of deaths are positioned as acceptable by men who claim to be opposed to violence.

There is something troubling about people's attitudes if they are inherently more suspicious of girls and women who disclose being victims of domestic or sexual violence than they are of boys and men who deny being perpetrators of domestic or sexual violence. The mantra "women lie" seems to have taken hold and effectively screened out reality when violent boy's and men's clear motivation to lie becomes invisible.

When it comes to gang violence which is dominated by boys and men I see no calls to walk on eggshells when talking to men because of the gendered nature of this violence. Maybe the difference is that much of this violence is directed at other boys and men. Or maybe it is that the primary identification that men look at in this type of violence is gang membership while sexual and domestic violence cannot be localized to certain problem sub-groups of men.

A recent article in the Santa Fe Reporter highlighted the contrast between a particular MRA's PR and his self-positioning as a victim of the system because of his gender and his past behavior.
On the face of it, Joshua Gonze is a successful man.

A wealthy, fit and handsome 47-year-old executive at Thornburg Investment Management, Gonze has shared his financial expertise with CNBC, Bloomberg and USA Today. A vocal Libertarian, he campaigned for Ron Paul’s presidential campaign and organized “tea party” protests. A prominent member of Temple Beth Shalom, Gonze has described himself as “a happily married father in Santa Fe.”

Those words may have been true two years ago when they were published. But there is another side to this powerful man’s life, one that casts a troubling light on the views he has espoused.

Publicly, Gonze supports a controversial cause known as “fathers’ rights.” Less known is that for years, Gonze has been able to suppress and counter domestic abuse claims made by two former spouses. His latest ex-wife claims that on Aug. 18, Gonze threatened her with a 10-inch kitchen knife and “waterboarded” their 2-year-old daughter during a dispute over custody. On Dec. 1, in an open courtroom in Santa Fe, Gonze withdrew his own petition, in which he claimed his wife had lied about the incident, and that she was the “abusive” one prone to “hysterical rage.”
One of the biggest successes of men like Gonze is how blatantly anti-woman they can be while escaping the types of labels MRAs slap on women who they identify as their opponents. They throw around bogus labels like PAS (Parental Alienation Syndrome) but their own efforts to alienate their children and others against their spouse or ex by making allegations against that person must never be labeled in a negative way lest we alienation truly non-violent or non-abusive men.

The problem with calls to talk to all men as if they are fragile creatures is this supposes that by default men side with domestic abusers and rapists and that any upset they feel based on gender differences related to violence will cause them to permanently become the allies of men who harm women and then claim they are the real victims.

I believe we need to address this directly with men. If they respond to the facts of how common sexual and domestic violence is by men against women and children by feeling defensive then they need to deal with those feelings. Yes, this might be difficult and it is much easier to view women who speak out against men who are violent as handy scapegoats. It is much easier to view one confirmed false report as what is most important in determining who they view as their allies rather than thinking about over 200,000 sexual assaults each year against those age 12 and above.

But if all some men want is what is easy then they should be honest about their easy support for this type of violence.

Labels:

Bookmark and Share
posted by Marcella Chester @ 10:21 AM   10 comments links to this post

10 Comments:

At December 17, 2009 12:57 PM, Blogger Anemone said...

I'm feeling grateful I'm old enough to no longer care about being "nice" most of the time. I think telling it straight gets more respect in the long run, anyways.

 
At December 17, 2009 1:34 PM, Blogger JENNIFER DREW said...

Our male-centered and male-dominated is always very quick to blame and hold women accountable for crimes they have committed but when it comes to holding violent men and male bystanders accountable for their actions - then suddenly men's 'fragile feelings' supercede telling the facts.

If we cannot name the biological sex of perpetrators because horrors - they happen to be male then this in itself ensures male violence against women and children will continue to be invisible.

Quite right if men when directly told the facts that in the US each and every year males rape and/or sexually assault 200,000 women and girls, react by becoming defensive and believe they are being targetted personally because they are male - then such men must deal with the issues, rather than reject them out-of-hand.

Yes it is hard for all men and boys to accept the evidence but rather than dismissing the evidence - they need to begin the long process of reading and analysing how and why so many males commit violence against women and girls. Treating men as if they are 'fragile flowers'who will wilt immediately the taboo words 'male violence against women' is mentioned, not only insults men's and boys' intelligence it also serves to hide and maintain male invisibility in respect of which biological sex is committing said violence against women and children.

Women have never been given the 'privilege' of having their biological sex hidden, because the media always places the word 'woman/girl' first in their headlines whenever a female person is reported as having been charged or convicted of committing a crime. Why should men be treated differently? Is it because naming men as perpetrators goes right to the heart of challenging male power and domination over women and children?

Feminists have never claimed 'all men commit rape and/or other forms of sexual violence against women and children but certainly all men benefit to varying degrees by not challenging and speaking out against those men and boys who do commit violence against women and children.

It is not that all men and boys are innately violent to women and girls -rather it is how our patriarchal society teaches and awards men and boys for committing violence against women and children.

A Deafening Silence by Patrizia Romito deals with this issue of how and why our male-dominated society continues to claim to be opposed to male violence against women and children but insists on not naming the biological sex of those male individuals committing such violence.

Romito also analyses pseudo syndromes such as 'false memory' and 'parental alientation syndrome' both of which are pseudo syndromes not based in fact. However, they are designed to once again deflect attention away from the male perpetrators and instead scapegoat women - because as we know women are always responsible for causing men to commit violence against them.

Note: the latest method of hiding male accountability is the use of the phrase 'gender violence.' This phrase tells us nothing regarding which sex is committing said violence but it certainly works to hide the male perpetrators.




I believe we need to address this directly with men. If they respond to the facts of how common sexual and domestic violence is by men against women and children by feeling defensive then they need to deal with those feelings.

 
At December 17, 2009 5:17 PM, Blogger Julian Real said...

It is so damned enraging and irritating: we men want it every way it suits us: to be seen as powerful and in control of women, to be pimps, procurers, purchasers of women and girls and boys, batterers, rapists, and child molesters, which patriarchy encodes, mandates and enforces, and also to be seen as the innocent victims of women.

I try not to give a [bleep] about other men's "hurt feelings" when discussing women and girls (and boys) being sexually assaulted by MEN with any man. And of course I do care, because who is raised not to?

But when men get defensive, I ask "What are you defending?" And when they pout I tell them to stop acting like a child about an issue that requires men to be adults. (If men are adult enough to be abusers and oppressors, then we're adult enough to own that we do and hear about its consequences on women's lives.)

Here's my quarter of a century conclusion: men don't really care to be allies of feminists or seemingly apolitical women. Men care to pretend to be allies when it suits men to do so. (It's sometimes called "the contrition phase".)

Men will commiserate until the charges hit close to home--to the man in the mirror. Then they'll claim to be victimised and hated (read: unworshipped) by those big bad feminists, and then resume their patriarchal boy-bonding rituals and practices and show what they're really made of (NOT biologically): misogynist sticks and sexist stones that, when they acknowledge such things exist, will claim their many modes of oppressively defensive posturing to be an appropriate form of self-defense.

Men give "self-defense" an interesting twist of meaning: adult males self-servingly get defensive when charged with what men as a class do to women. As Audre Lorde, Pearl Cleage, and Andrea Dworkin have each said in their own ways to the oppressor: we don't have time for your guilt and you learning to cry over what you do isn't terrifically important. And we don't have time to take care of your emotional pain while you are killing us.

 
At December 17, 2009 5:17 PM, Blogger Julian Real said...

Everyone is raised to take care of men, in some way or another--both men and women are raised to do this as a default mode of being pro-patriarchally human, socially and interpersonally. I struggle against this socialisation every day when speaking with men.

Those of us who experience, see, name, and oppose patriarchal violence are still, always, expected to be nice to the men who won't own it or get its impact and effect--on women.

Because men, structurally, are the population of interpersonal terrorists and killers, I have to consider the consequences of upsetting and angering them--that's what I learned when a boy.

But it's beyond Stockholm Syndrome. It's beyond PTSD: it's normalised, expected behavior by everyone in society, both intimately related and structurally unrelated to one's own trauma history. It's what we all are just supposed to do: take care of the men.

Patriarchs manage to invisibilise and trivialise all the many ways men traumatise children and women--and men then cry "ouch" when called out on it.

I work very hard not to cater to other men or baby them or suffer their indignities with grace, or deferentially put up with their put downs, or allow them to walk off without consequence, or to stay unaccountable in the face of their harmful actions.

And I work very hard to not expect any woman to take care of me emotionally. And that is difficult. And very necessary. Because any profeminist shouldn't be encouraging women to care more about men--or any one man--more than she cares for and about herself and other women.

I note how, when women are wounded--especially and particularly women of color, it's their own selves that get the bandages and tape and they tend to those wounds in silence and in too much shame. I know it's not terribly different for white women, but in my experience WOC really don't have anyone to go to and assume they'll encounter support and understanding.

If men feel pain, we can get our own first aid kit: oh, wait, we don't need one. The war is unilaterally and fully deployed against women.

I've noticed with increasing alarm how when men are hurtful, they are identified as hurt. And when women are hurting, they are portrayed as manipulative.

A woman once recommended this to me: treat men with precisely the degree of humanity they demonstrate; they deserve nothing more.

I agree, and catering to men has NEVER gotten me anywhere with men on these issues, except occasionally duped into thinking they gave a sh*t.

"Fragile feelings".... please. It's always about the boys and our feelings, as if THAT must perennially and perpetually be the issue. It isn't: it's what men do that harms and HURTS women individually and as a class.

I know there's lesbian and gay battery but I despise the term "domestic violence" and a white radical feminist lesbian who has been active in that movement for a long time told me why it got changed from "wife-beating" which at least implied there was a husband/man doing the beating, to "DV" which tells us nothing at all, except that "something" is going on at home.

"Gender violence"? I don't think so.

"Men warring against women" using every terroristic tactic imaginable--and many that are unimaginable--with no sign of a truce... THAT'S the white het male supremacist elephant in the room.

 
At January 09, 2010 8:24 AM, Blogger Gogonostop said...

Sorry, domestic violence is not gendered. A look into daily life shows this reality - women are at least, if not more, violent toward the opposite sex. Out of me three long-term relationships I have been struck several times by two of them - never have I struck them. And they have laughed it off.

Abyss, you can engage men much more easily if you stop with the "patriarchy is the sole/primary cause of all domestic violence" mantra...it's very off-putting, and many people can see right through it. Traditional male roles are provide/protect - not "batter" - and most men are not batterers.

But if you continue with the rhetoric of "rape culture" and "violence against women culture," men will - at best - shrug it off, and at worst bristle up, take offense, and argue back - as anyone would at a misguided attempt to denigrate their entire sex.

More pragmatically - in terms of your own interests - look at it this way: by telling people that their sexuality (masculinity) is constructed around evil (which is simply not true), you basically do a good job as a recruiter for the Men's Movement.

 
At January 09, 2010 9:30 AM, Blogger Marcella Chester said...

Gogonostop,

The scientific research doesn't agree with your limited example. Many women have never struck a man except in self-defense and could give examples of men's ongoing domestic violence (not just being struck several times) which are far more severe, rape for example, than your evidence of women's domestic violence.

You would not accept their more extreme experiences being harmed as proof of anything more general about men's violence yet your personal experience is supposed to be proof about women's violence as a whole and about men's lack of violence as a whole.

The intimate partner murder rates are provably gendered with men much more likely to be the murderer than the murdered yet you wipe those murders away with your flip response.

I've never said or written the quote you assign to me. I've never said that most men are batterers. I've never denigrated an entire sex. Those are your projections. This means you arrived alienated and don't let reality of what I write to interfere with what you claim I write.

As for the traditional male role being provide/protect and not batter, risk factors disagree that this is a protective factor for sexual or domestic violence.

You disprove that you fit within the provide/protect category when you let my rhetoric (much of which I've never said but hey why let a few facts interfere) prevent you from protecting women from domestic and sexual violence.

You make it clear you have no interest in my interests. That's honest, but my interests are to stop sexual and domestic violence.

I've never told anyone that their sexuality is constructed around evil. This is a falsehood you are promoting as if it were fact to recruit others to be MRAs.

 
At January 09, 2010 9:50 AM, Blogger Marcella Chester said...

Gogonostop,

Also your limited description of your relationships with women is vague enough that it doesn't prove that you've never been abusive to women. Abuse can show itself in many actions other than striking a woman.

You also don't give the context of those strikes to prove that they were not done in self-defense.

This matters because you presented your experiences as evidence of the gendered nature of abuse.

 
At January 09, 2010 12:53 PM, Anonymous Julian said...

Part one of more than one part, in response,
To Gogononstop

Sorry, domestic violence is not gendered.

Wrong. And I'll explain why you are.

A look into daily life shows this reality - women are at least, if not more, violent toward the opposite sex.

As Marcella already points out, this is fabricated nonsense.

MRAs love to point out how women hit men and men hit women so doesn't that mean the sexes are equal?

Well, if we myopically look only at hitting, the answer still would be No.

Why?

Because we have to look at at least two things: what are people hitting in order to do: to defend oneself against aggression, or to control and dominate another person through the use of aggression?

Does the hit amount to a slap, a punch in the arm that leaves no bruise, or throwing a woman across a room, or breaking the bones in her face with their fist?

You see the diffence, I hope.

Women, systematically, are sent to hospitals due to "men hitting women in intimate relationships". Men in intimate relationships with women are NOT sent to hospitals with broken faces and arms, badly bruised bodies by a gendered being who BEHAVIORALLY HATES AND WISHES TO DOMINATE AND TERRIFY the other gendered being. There is no "epidemic" of women kicking men in the balls, but there is one of men who slug their pregnant wives and girlfriends in the stomach. Women are terrified and terrorised by their husbands' and male partners' violence against them, which, again as Marcella notes, comes in many, many forms. For more, see here:

http://sosiaalikeskus.wordpress.com/read-this/about/everyday-male-chauvinism/

You might recognise yourself A LOT in those descriptions. Please don't read it in a defensive posture. Please learn what you can from it.

Out of me three long-term relationships I have been struck several times by two of them - never have I struck them. And they have laughed it off.

And how many broken bones did you have to have repaired? And do you have pics of the bruises?

I'm sorry you were hurt and I'm sorry you were humiliated. And I'm sorry women are hurt and humiliated and beaten to death and murdered outright by the men who say "Honey, I love you soooo much".

Abyss, you can engage men much more easily if you stop with the "patriarchy is the sole/primary cause of all domestic violence" mantra...it's very off-putting, and many people can see right through it.

Many men see right beyond it, is what I hear you saying. Because men, like whites, do not wish to own the power we have or the privileges or the entitlements, and so we make up the most ridiculous stories about "reality" to invisibilise just that: the structural and institutionally supported rights we have to do violence to those we oppress, usually without any negative consequence to us.

 
At January 09, 2010 12:54 PM, Blogger Julian Real said...

Part two of a reply
To Gogononstop

Traditional male roles are provide/protect - not "batter" - and most men are not batterers.

And you base that statement on what? An idea? I prefer looking at reality. Do you know what "the rule of thumb" is? And what it refers to? Look it up if you don't. That'll clue you in to traditional Western male roles. Remember how in heterosexual weddings the language used to be to the woman only "Do you promise to love, honor, and OBEY?" And how once wed they were proclaimed to be "MAN and WIFE"? That tells you a whole lot about traditional Western male roles.

But if you continue with the rhetoric of "rape culture" and "violence against women culture,"

When is rhetoric not rhetoric? When it's also reality. Nice attempt to deny reality. It doesn't fly, though.

men will - at best - shrug it off, and at worst bristle up, take offense, and argue back - as anyone would at a misguided attempt to denigrate their entire sex.

No, not anyone. Many men have learned a lot from the women working, as Marcella does, to challenge, address, and end men's gendered violence against women. I know lots of men who greatly appreciate this work and who feel such work has allowed them to be more self-aware, more compassionate, and less misogynistically abusive to women. And then there are MRAs, who are akin to White Nationalists in a white supremacist state. Delusional and in denial. MRAs are Male Nationalists in a male supremacist state.

And why does Marcella, or anyone, have to gear their language to appease and appeal to you? You're clearly not getting it anyway. Nor do you demonstrate any sincere desire TO get it. So please own your intellectual dishonesty, and the politically self-serving (men-as-a-dominator class preserving) nature of your arguments.

More pragmatically - in terms of your own interests - look at it this way: by telling people that their sexuality (masculinity) is constructed around evil (which is simply not true)

As Marcella has already stated, STOP PUTTING WORDS IN HER MOUTH. Have the ethical decency to quote her in context and quote her accurately. She has never said what you claim, and you claiming that she has is spurious, and well, malicious. (If not evil. Wink wink.)

you basically do a good job as a recruiter for the Men's Movement.

And you became her career counselor when? She does one of the best, most fair, most accurate, most careful accounting of men's violence against women of any blog I know of. Lorde knows, you MRAs do the worst job of it. Your groups are sad, callous, and vindictive.

Tell me, why don't you call out their overt racism, virulent misogyny, and blatant homophobia? Why don't you model your own integrity on Marcella's?

If you want to be taken seriously yourself, sir, you might try by starting with that bit out housekeeping. Or are you all too manly to do household chores?

 
At January 09, 2010 2:11 PM, Blogger Marcella Chester said...

Thanks, Julian.

Gogonostop, I've been thinking about your accusation that I'm, "telling people that their sexuality (masculinity) is constructed around evil (which is simply not true), you basically do a good job as a recruiter for the Men's Movement."

The only way for men to interpret what I actually write on this blog in this way is if their formed sexuality incorporates a disregard for girls and women and their basic human rights so that these men's view of male sexuality embraces some level of sexual violence.

When I speak out against sexual violence which many people deny or minimize I am therefore speaking out against their formed (or deformed) definition of male sexuality.

Their mistake is in claiming that this subset of formed male sexuality comes from biology.

 

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home