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.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.
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.”
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: Violence Against Women