Yesterday was a tough day. It was just one of those days when society was exceptionally ignorant to misogyny and gender-based violence, which is challenging for someone who works in the DV field. First there was news of the ridiculous statement made by The View. The View’s Whoopi Goldberg has in fact said before that a man has every right to hit a woman if she strikes him first. I’m in the camp that no one should be hitting anyone. However, I know self-defense needs to happen sometimes and that in abusive relationships, self-defense doesn’t always play out in the way we’d expect it to. It seems like the woman in the video that spawned this rant on The View wasn’t acting in self-defense. But who knows if she is being tortured by this guy in general? In a situation like DV, self-defense sometimes happens not in the moment of abuse but at another time because apparent or not, the danger is always there. The movie “Burning Bed” captures this so well (okay I know that’s a cliché DV reference). But bed burning self-defense aside (which btw was not done when she was in literal, immediate danger), there’s a powerful moment in the film when Farrah Fawcett’s character, who has been brutally abused by her husband lunges at him when he is just sitting there. I think most people who watch the whole movie get it when she does this. She’s being terrorized by her husband in general and wants to do anything to make it stop. But if you hadn’t seen the rest of the movie and only saw that clip you’d, understandably, be like, “What the heck is wrong with her?” And so my point is when we see a brief video, like the one referenced on The View, we just don’t know the overall context.
Again, I do not advocate for anyone hitting anyone. I do however understand that when you’re being abused, you may make decisions you wouldn’t otherwise make and self-defense may be atypical. I think that society gaining a better understanding of partner abuse dynamics is a more effective approach to this reactive, defensive violence than saying “oh okay go ahead and hit her” to the person who’s quite possibly creating this toxic, abusive environment in the first place. I mean what Whoopi Goldberg said isn’t really much different than when the Men’s Rights Movements did this.
Oh the Men’s Rights Movement/Groups. The groups that recently did this to a well-known and reputable anti-violence against women group. I mean, it’s well-documented that these groups are overall very, very hostile towards women. Upworthy.com (a site I do actually love) would never post something that is probably just really polished MRM propaganda? I mean, they feature this on their site. So they wouldn’t, would they? I mean, when I saw this video which is called “You’ll Think She’s Just A Naggy Girlfriend. For Exactly A Minute And 25 Seconds. Then It Changes.” I figured it was about the ways that men, especially abusive men hold words like “nag” over women who assert themselves. I mean, Upworthy would know better than to use that word to seriously describe a woman, right???
Nope. The video, which you can view by clicking on the last link, could have easily been made by the Men’s Rights Movement. It was directed by a woman but we all know there are women involved in the MRM. To me it looked like total propaganda. And if you read the info below the video it says it’s been re-posted by the Mankind Initiative, a group that a basic Google search reveals has gotten shout outs from the MRM.
These were my immediate reactions after watching the video…
Domestic violence is sometimes absolutely (and unfortunately) perpetrated by women towards men. However that is not common. What is common is that batterers as well as groups like men’s rights activists are adept at manipulating facts and making the survivor look like an abuser. This video shows a woman in a traditional role and what she is saying is exactly the kind of thing that abusers claim their partners say. In reality, their partner is being abused and is simply taking her power back. For instance, the woman in the video says “you think I do nothing all day.” This is based on a harmful, traditional myth that stay-at-home wives do nothing all day. This is used to mock, insult and oppress women. Abusers know this and frequently use this against their partners. And if the survivor sticks up for herself, her words will likely be manipulated so it sounds like she is an entitled, controlling partner when in fact the opposite is true. In addition, the use of the word “nag” in the subject line is highly offensive as this word has long been held over women who assert themselves by men to put women in their place.
I was horrified and so very disappointed to see this on Upworthy. That this video is being promoted on a website dedicated to social justice is just so not okay. I can only hope others pick up on this and urge Upworthy to educate themselves on the nuances of intimate partner abuse as without proper understanding the facts can be easily distorted by abusers. Batterers and Men’s Rights Activists have been working hard to undermine the decades of tireless work Domestic Violence Advocates have done. Upworthy needs to be an ally and needs to consider whether or not such videos are an act of manipulation on the part of those trying to maintain harmful gender norms.
So it was a tough day. On a different, positive note… KITTIES!