Tag Archive | Domestic violence

Repost: Sexism Sucks for Everybody, Science Confirms

Last week the Smithsonian Magazine reported on a fascinating study about sexism.  In the study researchers discovered toxicity in traditional ideas of masculinity.  It is eye-opening stuff which I hope will help you in your life and your relationships. Author: Ben Panko.

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Donald Trump is a classic example of a man who needs to feel strong and more powerful than everyone else at all times in order to feel worthwhile as a person.

“You don’t need science to tell you it sucks to be a woman in a sexist society. While American culture may have progressed since the time of Mad Men, women today inevitably still encounter those who would demean their abilities, downplay their accomplishments or treat them as sex objects. In Sweden, women can even call in to a “mansplaining hotline” to report their experiences of having things condescendingly explained to them in the workplace.

But being sexist, it turns out, also sucks for the men themselves. That’s the conclusion of a meta-analysis published today in the Journal of Counseling Psychology that aggregates the results of nearly 80 separate studies on masculine norms and mental health over 11 years. The meta-analysis, which involved almost 20,000 men in total, found that men who adhered to these norms not only harmed the women around them—they also exhibited significantly worse social functioning and psychological health.

The US Constitution’s 2nd Amendment: Police, Not Guns in Every Home

American gun patrioticThe 2nd Amendment of the United States Constitution is interpreted by the National Rifle Association to mean that every American is guaranteed the right to own and carry firearms anywhere, at any time, in any context s/he wishes.  Common sense is not part of their position.  Guns should be at the zoo, at Starbucks, at your kid’s playground, even in your child’s school.  Guns should be everywhere because the Constitution says so!

Except the Constitution doesn’t say that,  Instead the full text of the 2nd Amendment is:

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

14th century Italian militias.

14th century Italian militias.

Now as I talked about three years ago on Yahoo Voices and reposted a year ago, the idea of the militia has a specific historical context grounded in Anglo-Saxon tradition.  It is, at its core, a feudal institution pre-dating professional armies where local men and women responded to local emergencies by arming themselves and protecting their towns and villages.  Mercenaries (soldiers for hire)  were for centuries rather unreliable folks with rape/pillage habits — something American colonists experienced with the Hessian mercenaries hired by the Crown.  Before the emergence of completely professional national armies, soldiers for hire had the habit of abusing the local population, of taking what they wanted.  So locals tended to maintain their militias to protect themselves against such abuse.

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Times have changed in the United States and United Kingdom. Professional soldiers are hometown heroes and heroines — not threats to the safety of civilian populations. Invasions from foreign powers on home soil is essentially unknown to most Americans and British — the main modern exceptions to that happened during the 2nd World War.  Our armies have professionalized and this is a good thing. Because since the beginning of professional soldiering, the professionals have always possessed superior skills, protection, and weapons compared to their civilian counterparts.

And that is what a militia is:  civilians responding to emergencies.  It’s volunteer police, volunteer fire department, and neighourhood watch organizations. I’ve seen arguments for including USA state national guard units under this umbrella — except those are trained and equipped much more similarly to the full time army, navy, and so forth — and they are paid to do so!

Two London constables on duty.

Two London constables on duty.

So what then does the 2nd Amendment actually guarantee Americans?  If you treat the word “militia” properly, what is the 2nd Amendment actually protecting?  In my analysis as a historian, the 2nd Amendment guarantees us POLICE FORCES and FIRE DEPARTMENTS which do the same job that our militias once did.  Police forces/constabularies and fire departments protect local populations from danger — from within our localities and from outside threats.  When a riot breaks out, it’s the police — not a Federal soldier — that is sent in to deal with it.  When Federal soldiers ARE sent in to deal with riots we habitually treat this much as our ancestors did with mercenary soldiers — and perhaps rightly.

In the Autumn of 2001 New York Penn Station was protected with Federal soldiers carrying high power weapons through the station to police it, a response to 9/11.  Believe me, that terrified me as I walked through the station to catch or depart from my New Jersey Transit trains!  A regular NYPD officer in regular uniform with regular equipment felt safe to be around.  But Federal troops?  Utterly terrifying!

gun murder 2We need our police officers and constables.  We need this modern form of our ancient militias.  We need to honour and respect the work our officers and constables do and trust them to do their job — rather than delude ourselves into thinking we can do their jobs better than they can and therefore arming ourselves.

Gun are not the solution.  As a matter of fact, they aggravate our problems.  A woman is 500x more likely to be shot/killed during a domestic dispute when firearms are kept in the home than she is when family firearms are kept in a neutral location such as a gun club.  There is a reason why the murder rate in the United Kingdom is so much lower than in the United States.  This twisting of the 2nd Amendment is why.

Some of you are likely to attack me for writing this.  That is fine with me.  Be my guest.  Because as a woman who was hurt in a gun “accident” as a child, I fiercely uphold that the gun laws in the United Kingdom are the best way to go.  I’ve seen what guns everywhere all the time can do and it disgusts me and terrify me.

Leave the guns to the police and the constables.  Leave them to the real modern militias. And please, in the name of sanity, stop thinking that having a gun around makes you safer!  IT DOESN’T!

Going at it alone: more lessons from Josh Duggar

josh-duggar-reason-for-abuseRecently the Duggar family went on the record in an effort to lay to rest the scandal concerning Josh Duggar’s molestation of his sisters when he was fourteen years old.

In the interview the Duggar parents admit that Josh informed them of his behaviour three times across 2002 and 2003 and that each time the family decided it was best to deal with it from within the family boundaries instead of going outside of it.  When that did not work on the first attempt, they went to their church for help.  On the third time in 2003 they sent Josh to a faith-based camp for help.  But in all three cases it was dealt with entirely from the tiny confines of their close-knit community instead of informing the law and allowing the state to step in.

In 2012 I wrote a report for Yahoo Voices concerning rape and incest within the insular orthodox Jewish communities, a report that was re-posted into this blog before Yahoo dismantled Yahoo Voices.  In that report I called for an end to victim-blaming in religious communities.  Sadly with the Duggars his victims are also defending his behaviour, no doubt partially because the Duggar parents are in denial themselves regarding just how serious sexual violence is.

Until we start treating sexual crimes as serious, until we stop making excuses for those who violate the physical integrity of other people, and until we genuinely punish the perpetrators of these crimes while providing a strong and protective support system for those hurt by them then of course we cannot expect to stem this epidemic of violence and sexual violence.  Even in 2015 we treat rape as “no big deal.”  Women and men both do this, including victims of assault and sexual assault.  We keep making excuses and telling those hurt to shut up and “get over it.”

Now as a healed survivor, I am the first to say that experiencing assault and sexual assault does NOT BREAK YOU.  It doesn’t taint you.  It doesn’t make you less of anything.  In fact it becomes an opportunity for transcendence, to grow into something greater and be a better person — no different than any other form of hardship.  This isn’t lessening the horror of the experience; what I suffered WAS HORRIFYING.  A healthy human being MUST BE HORRIFIED by violence and especially sexual violence.  At the same time, our societies have this habit of not only dismissing survivors when we speak up (been there!), but also treating us as the walking dead.  So we are dismissed first for daring to speak up and second when the wounds heal — as they must heal.

It’s a culture that favours those who rape, beat, and kill and treats those who receive this treatment as surplus population who had better just die off quickly so our societies can pretend there’s not a problem.

Most alarming to me is the matter of the insular community.  Why?  Because I see its danger as someone whose insular community made it easy to continue these acts of violence and to continue dismissing me when I sought help.  Yet, unlike the Duggar girls, I went to adults for help — but they wouldn’t  help because of the insular community.  It was easier to call me “evil sorceress” or “seductress” (right because four year old girls instinctively know how to seduce men 10x their age into sex?) than place that phone call to social services that would have taken me to safety.

The larger problem is therefore not Josh Duggar — a man who doesn’t deserve to have his children grow up with him — but the communities themselves.  We can only help people in need when we go beyond our castle walls and allow the larger secular community to intervene, to enforce laws written to protect children and provide safe home environments for everyone.

Yes, our governments are not perfect; there has never been a truly perfect government.  But when we fail to trust others beyond the boundaries of our small communities we set ourselves up for exactly the epidemic of violence and sexual violence plaguing our societies.  Protecting the community becomes more important than what is right and just for the people being hurt.  This was the case at Penn State and it is the case with the Duggar family.

What is your take on the Josh Duggar matter?  Reply to this post with your comments below and let’s get a serious conversation going!

The Myth of Perpetual Trauma

Originally posted June 25th, 2012

“You really need to see a therapist” advises a perfect stranger responding to my comment on a news blog where I discuss the gross under-reporting of sex crimes and domestic violence. My remark is sociological in nature, referencing data I learned in my university education which included sociology, social psychology, and pre-counseling psychology courses. The person reading it regards my data as “angry” and “hurt” in nature and assumes that I am a survivor of some sort of domestic violence or sex crime who needs professional help.

She was correct in assessing that I survived something, but completely off-base in her assumption that surviving something automatically means that the person is so traumatized by the event(s) that she presently needs professional therapy. Knowing nothing else about me, she could not know my personal medical history, much less the details of the crimes, yet she felt it appropriate to stick her head into very private personal business. Her underlying assumption was “if victimized, then need help.”

As well-meaning as her intent was, it is faulty in its logic. Every single person and every crime is different. We each respond to the stressors in our lives differently.
Sometimes a stressor like domestic violence or rape un-nerves us, undermining our capacities to live normal life. In these cases, it is probably advisable to seek professional help in getting back to a more productive mental state.

But the point of therapy is not to stay in therapy forever; the point of therapy is to get BETTER and NOT be in therapy any longer. The point of therapy is to HEAL – just as you heal from a physical woundIt is SUPPOSED to end; if no end is in sight, then the treatment isn’t working and a new therapist and/or approach is needed, just as you would do for any physical condition – like my chronic migraines where prescription drugs didn’t help, but a change to holistic therapy DID in reducing my physical pain.

Just as a stressor may unnerve us, it may equally INSPIRE us; we can and typically do respond to stress POSITIVELY. Surviving domestic violence or a sex crime often provokes us to make positive changes in our lives, allowing us to break destructive habits, increase in wisdom/insight, and grow deeper in our chosen spirituality. We learn from every experience in our lives; the most stressful events are generally the best teachers.

Despite living my life today with physical scars on my body that will never really go away from the crimes I suffered, I can honestly tell you that I would not change anything about my life, even and especially the mistakes I’ve made.
I am not less of a person. I am not weak for surviving criminal behavior. All of these experiences have given me insight, forced me to grow religiously, and developed inner resources and skills I would never have been able to. Through the crimes I suffered, I came to finally overcome several bad habits I’ve had that, in hindsight, have been rather self-destructive. Under the stress of coping with these hurtful events, I have discovered that I BLOSSOMED as an individual. My insights and understanding of the world is rooted in them.

Have I ever gone to therapy? Absolutely, many times over the course of my life, and using many different approaches. But therapy did its job: to help me cope and move on.

Surviving a crime is not a life sentence, no matter how brutal, horrible, or long-lasting. We all heal and move on. Surviving is not weakness, not something to be pitied. The strongest people in the world all survived some sort of serious trauma. Remember that next time you hear someone suffered something; odds are really good they are tougher inside than you are!

Analysis: Top Ten Storytelling Cliches that Need to Disappear Forever

This hospitaler, a stand in for both Lord Knight Corann and for Lord Knight Elendir, stands as the perfect medieval knight.

This hospitaler, a stand in for both Lord Knight Corann and for Lord Knight Elendir, stands as the perfect medieval knight.

This afternoon I gave across one of the most poignant columns on writing and the writing process I’ve seen in a rather long time.  The subject:  literary cliches.

http://litreactor.com/columns/top-10-storytelling-cliches-that-need-to-disappear-forever

It is very hard to disagree with Mr. Hart here; he hit a lot of the bigger cliches right on the head — and shown us why knocking someone unconscious is a REALLY BAD IDEA to put in a story.

Avoiding cliches is difficult.  Write in an archetypal character — like Lord Knight Corann from The Great Succession Crisis — and you run the risk of such a character being called cliche.

One matter I do have a bit of disagreement on was his talk about bad parenting.  True, people do over use that device, but his description here really comes off to me, as someone who endured a violent childhood, as rather — dismissive.

In my humble opinion, Mr. Hart does not appear to really understand the psychology of abuse nor how it provides a genuine obstacle to success — not insurmountable — I am living proof of that — but an obstacle nonetheless, something people must work at to overcome.

Domestic violence is not something to talk about lightly, as if it is no big deal.  Rather, it is a serious matter that must be addressed by our society through prevention (as Sir Patrick Stewart of Star Trek fame talks about) first and foremost.

Now should a challenging childhood really be the main motivator for villainy?  Absolutely not — yes, that is overdone.  But it should also never be described as if it is no big deal.

We as writers possess a social and moral responsibility.  Ours is the greatest power for social change.

The cliche about the pen and the sword is genuinely true.  As strong as physical might may appear, it is the power of ideas and words, filtered through the talents of writers, journalists, and authors, that changes our world most.

Endeavor always to make the world as better place through your pen and your works — published and otherwise.

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