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January 05, 2006

Comments

The Happy Feminist

What Arwen just said. It is odd to me that some of the unfeminist commenters on this thread seem determined to introduce an "us vs. them" mentality regardless of what the feminist commenters are saying.

mythago

Violations send you to jail.

Will, ask anyone who has ever worked in domestic-violence prevention or family law just how effective protective orders are. If you know of an actual incident where a person who was the subject of a restraining order walked into the same place as the person who filed the order, and the subject went to jail, I'd be eager to hear about it.

Restraining orders, as any prosector will freely admit, are a hoop that domestic-violence victims (male or female) have to jump through to convince the police that they're serious.

Richard's just poking y'all to see if you'll throw a fit.

Will

I guess my quick response is that why should a statute called Violence Against Women exist if you are concerned about domestic violence?

You said the officers are trained to handle things gender neutrally, but what message does it send to them to give special privileges to women as victims? Why are women treated differently when they are assaulted?

Caveat: I havent read that statute so I am just going on gut reactions about it. I am happy to be corrected if I am wrong about it.

will

mythago:

I work in family law and criminal law. I also have volunteered many hours helping victims obtained protective orders.

People go to jail for all kinds of minor contact. Moreover, the simple allegation of a violation of a protective order gets you arrested. Once you are arrested, you do not get out of jail until you post a bond. So, in response to your question, I've seen MANY people go to jail. Often, it is a short time. After all, who cares about someone spending a day or two in jail, right?

If you work in those systems, you would know that to be true.

Arwen

If you come up with a comprehensive Act dealing with Violence Against Men that addresses the special needs of men who are being ill-treated by their partners, I think it's worth having a look.

I would suggest that what most needs to happen is education. It's the same painful work that the women's movement has done: dealing with people who mock you and coming back for more, talking to suspicious cops about your experience, fundraising, creating art and culture that reflects your honest pain, letter writing, etc. The "I won't help you if you won't help me" attitude is a little hard to take, Gonzman, for anyone in the second wave who's put in hundreds of work hours over tens of years for free to try to get some recognition on domestic abuse issues. You've already been helped in one major way: domestic abuse is at least on the radar. If this is a war between us, men and women, then I can't offer much help to you.

Due to circumstances of biology, it is true that maternity fraud cases are rare. False rape claims are a different ball of wax: generally, neither men or women like dealing with the humiliation of the rape investigation process. Again, I'll help, but not on this particular topic: not until sexual abuse prosecution means anything anyway. (My sister's rapist pled guilty and got 1 week in prison. And she was 10. So my sympathy is slight for the false reportage side.)

I just saw John Irving on the Daily Show discussing his sexual abuse at the age of 10 by an older woman; people hollered like he'd just said he'd won the lottery. He then without much fanfare explained that it had been a crime which screwed up his sex life for years after. Brave soul. Men like him will help change things for the better. Of course, if he prosecuted, his attacker might only get one week. Grrrrrrr.

Mr. Bad

Way to miss the point Arwen.

You said: "The thing that scares me with Mr. Bad's approach that doesn't take into account level of hurt is that we have worked bloody hard to have domestic violence taken seriously (after all, my Grandfather thought it was part of his *duty* to batter my Grandmother). I'm afraid that the ignorant people who have bullshit stereotypes of men (take it like a man, boys will be boys), will scapegoat 'slap' complaints as an excuse to ignore *all* domestic violence complaints for both men and women.

Also, someone who almost kills his or her partner is creating more hurt than someone who slaps his or her partner; petty crime vs. grand theft. Neither are good; but stealing a chocolate bar is not robbing at gun point is not Enron. "

The point I was trying to make (and apparently you missed) is precisely the opposite of the "us vs. them" approach (which BTW has been the model the feminists have used for 20+ years now - how come you're only now objecting after all these years?). My approach takes away the subjective judgement calls (e.g., who is hurt more, who is more 'afraid,' and all the other one-upsmanship I'm-more-a-victim-than-you-are posturing) and gets down to actually addressing the cause of the injuries before they happen, i.e., violence prevention. The way to do this would be to identify serious and potentially violent inter-partner conflict and intervene before violence occurs. However, this approach would mean that we'd have to start listening to men and taking them seriously, because surely much violence attributed to men is actually self-defense. You'll never end violence against women or men if you don't address women as perpetrators of violence and men as victims thereof.

On the other hand, your approach - which is the feminist approach - puts a premium on some groups (which just so happen to also be the female-majority ones) over others, and because it relies on post-violence criteria to allot resources, requires that violence not be prevented. In other words, using your approach violence must occur before anything is done.

So frankly, your approach - i.e., the feminist approach - seems pretty ridiculous to me if the goal is the end violence against women, men, or whatever.

will

"If you come up with a comprehensive Act dealing with Violence Against Men that addresses the special needs of men who are being ill-treated by their partners, I think it's worth having a look.

...
Again, I'll help, but not on this particular topic: not until sexual abuse prosecution means anything anyway. (My sister's rapist pled guilty and got 1 week in prison. And she was 10. So my sympathy is slight for the false reportage side.)"

"Men like him will help change things for the better. Of course, if he prosecuted, his attacker might only get one week. Grrrrrrr."

Very good points. But why shouldnt the statute against violence be gender neutral?

I am sorry to hear about your sister. In my area, male abusors of children typically (and justifiably) get sentences of many years.

But, why should it be gender neutral?

The Happy Feminist

I am no expert on VAWA either (don't know why it never came up when I was a prosecutor) but I understand that it is actually a gender-neutral statute, other than the title. My gut reaction is that I wouldn't care if the title changed to something gender neutral, but I don't know what the real story is behind the title.

I agree that when you are the subject of a protective order, you are vulnerable. If you come into contact with someone, you could potentially be arrested if it can be said that you "knowingly" violated the order. The arresting officer should have probable cause as to "knowingly" but I would agree that it is definitely possible to have miscarriages of justice. So what does that mean in terms of a gender-neutral system? Well, I guess that we want to make sure that unfair stereotyping does not come into play when judges assess whether to issue a protective order. I'm not sure how to accomplish that-- but this ain't a zero-sum, us v. them game.

Gosh, I gotta go. Rats-- just as the discussion is really heating up.

Mr. Bad

Reality check:

Arwen stated "The "I won't help you if you won't help me" attitude is a little hard to take, Gonzman, for anyone in the second wave who's put in hundreds of work hours over tens of years for free to try to get some recognition on domestic abuse issues. You've already been helped in one major way: domestic abuse is at least on the radar. If this is a war between us, men and women, then I can't offer much help to you."

Arwen, you're making it sound that there were no men helping Second Wavers develop domestic violence programs, build the shelters, provide funding to run them, etc. You can't possibly believe that we weren't helping you and you women did this all by yourselves, do you? What we're asking is that our past assistance be recognized, and if you're going to pull the 'we did it all by ourselves, so you're going to have to do so also' BS then don't expect us to help you any more.

Which sounds like a fair approach to me. Why should we continue to help ungrateful people who slap our faces with 'we did it all by ourselves, so you're going to have to do so also'lines when we ask for assistance in kind to what we provided them decades ago?

Arwen

Mr. Bad: Given that I'm 30, and new to the debate, what was said up until about 3 years ago in feminist circles isn't really something I can answer to. There are feminists who see men themselves as the problem: by and large, though, the VAST majority of us do not. There are many feminisms.

I have no problem with an approach that attempts to listen and intervene before violence happens. That's what I mean by education.

I have no problem hearing that women are sometimes perps. That's also what I mean by education.

Did everyone hear get that I've said that women can sometimes be the perps? That female violence happens? AM I TALKING TO MYSELF?

??

However, I don't predict that we'll fix everybody and their relationships. Perhaps you do.

So, you work on doing whatever it is that you're going to do to prevent this from ever happening again. And I say that SHOULD IT HAPPEN, you have to deal with the criminality, and you'll be damn right that I think a slap should be dealt with differently than a hammer to the forebrain.

And don't you think there are different issues? After all, you're pointing one out - "Men aren't listened to regarding violence." That's what I just SAID, which makes me feel as if you're really not listening here. Perhaps I'm a man. So there's going to have to be a different take. If women are more listened to then men on average - their stories of abuse are more credited - then there's a hurdle that they don't have to overcome. Yet women on average are smaller than men, so there's a hurdle men don't have to overcome. This doesn't look like different issues to you?

Arwen

Oh, for f*ck sakes, Mr. Bad, I said "For ANYONE who was in the second wave", and that's pretty inclusive language. Men are feminists. Hugo's a feminist. Damn.

"If this is a war between men and women..." is a new sentence with a new subject and predicate. If, then. It follows logically because those shelters that feminists fought for were mainly for WOMEN, which I thought was Gonzman's fucking point.

What would you have me fucking say?

Arwen

Sorry, Hugo, I lost my tongue, there. Or rather, my fingers.

Arwen

Also, Mr. Bad, I can't see so much that you're trying to meet me half way, here. I've been coming out this whole thread acknowledging female violence to males, and you're all "smackdown!" "reality check!" "feminists dissing men again!" - not noting that some pretty major feminists are men and that I'm VALIDATING YOUR EXPERIENCE by saying that MEN DO SUFFER VIOLENCE FROM WOMEN - so if this is the "help" you're going to from now on "be withholding", then go ahead and "withhold" it. Okay?


Will: I don't actually know anything about the WAVA statutes in the states. I know that there are other women's specific rights that are entrenched in Canada ( equal rights amendment type stuff ) that aren't in the states, so perhaps there are different legal needs that grow out of that. I'm no lawyer: but I can practically say that there are differences culturally, and in dealing with the legal system, in overcoming problems of spousal violence that are both hard to cope with but that look different depending whether you're male or female. If the WAVA statute addresses those, than the "male clause" that Hugo points out may be nice but not really help men dealing with other assumptions (that males can never be the victims), and so perhaps these things need to be made clear. Otherwise, I'd think that the amendment does in effect make the statute gender neutral by American precedent - at least if the constitution is perceived to be as such. Y'all have a pretty different way of discussing gender, what with the no ERA thing and all.

Arwen

Oh, and finally, Mr. Bad: Terror is generally seen as a weapon in and of itself. Hence, terrorism. So abject fear for your life is a method of control which both women and men have suffered. So I utterly disagree that it's not worth prosecuting: it's assault. If I held a gun to someone's head and made them eat dirt, that's abuse which creates control, and I don't care if hurt didn't happen.

What I find VERY interesting about your statement is that, in both female violence scenarios I know, it was *exactly* fear that the perp used (SHE used), to keep her partner controlled. After all, women (who have a smaller "force") will resort to terrorist tactics like any weak force. So I'm not sure why you'd dereference fear, unless you've never actually dealt with abuse situations.

Richard Bennett

Arwen, get a grip on yourself - five comments in a row, all of them loopy, isn't making a case for your side, whichever one it may be.

A Violence Against Men Act wouldn't be about partner abuse because that's such a small part of the overall violent crime scenario. Most violent crimes are about money, and most of their perpetrators are men who were incompletely socialized because they were raised in a single-parent household. A general-purpose, gender-neutral violence prevention program would have to address the way that boys are neglected in a society that places a higher premium on women and girls than on men and boys.

Anti-MRA "feminists" would never stand for such a program, of course.

(PS to the people who are complaining about and "us vs. them" theme in the comments: go re-read Hugo's original post ending with an attack on men. That's where the divisiveness started.)

Hugo

Richard, for heaven's sake, as DJW said, distinguish between MRA organizations (which do exist) and "men." I wasn't "attacking men", I was criticizing one branch of the men's movement -- a very different thing indeed!

Richard Bennett

Is that any better, Hugo?

The point is that you couldn't celebrate a victory without bashing those you perceive to be on the other side. In fact, the humble Men's Rights Movement (which consists of four web sites, 10 guys and their girlfriends, two dogs and a cat) was happy to have included some gender-neutral language in an otherwise bigoted bill. Stopping violence is everybody's business, and we can all hope that someday Congress will get serious about it and stop wasting money on anti-male advocacy groups like NOW.

Hugo

"the humble Men's Rights Movement (which consists of four web sites, 10 guys and their girlfriends, two dogs and a cat..."

I think many MRAs would disagree with you. For starters The National Coalition of Free Men is a fairly large group (trust me, I've tangled with more than ten of their members, starting with the Los Angeles leader, Marc Angelucci). It isn't just websites and trolls -- it's an organized movement with leaders, money, and a very serious agenda. As someone from the pro-feminist wing of the men's movement, I disagree strongly with the MRAs, but unlike you, I respect their influence and political muscle.

mythago

So, in response to your question, I've seen MANY people go to jail.

I am genuinely amazed. Knowing many people who currently and full-time work in family law and in DV prevention, the current debate is whether abuse victims should get restraining orders at all because it just pisses off the restrain-ee and there are really very few penalties. When I was a humble law student working at Legal Aid in the 1990s, whether you got any enforcement at all depended on whether you were lucky enough to live in one of the few police precincts that took them semi-seriously.

Please understand that I'm not saying that restraining orders are always issued wisely and are never abused. I've just never seen the kind of actual enforcement you describe.

Richard Bennett

Hugo, I used to lobby the California legislature on behalf of divorced fathers, and was introduced more than once by a staffer or member as "the leader of the California men's movement", so if anybody knows how much power, money, and influence this semi-mythical men's movement has, that person would be me. As the president of COPS, the only fathers' organization to lobby in Sacramento, I also know what the budget was and where it came from. With all due respect you're fantasizing. Our annual budget was less that the amount of money that NOW spends each day on office supplies.

The NCFM in the Bay Area during that time had a membership of less than 6 people, counting the girlfriends, and charged no dues and spent no money, and the Bay Area chapter was the only one active in California. If there's a chapter in LA now, well and good but they haven't extended their reach to the halls of power in Sacramento.

I went to Sacramento a half-dozen times a year, at my own expense, while NOW, ACES, and the National Center for Youth Law each had a professional lobbyist working there every day the body was in session, and at least a six-figure budget for pushing out advocacy research to the press through the Public Media Center, funded by the Rosenberg Foundation. I documented their funding apparatus years ago.

You simply have no idea what you're talking about.

Hugo

Hey, take it up with Marc Angelucci. If you haven't heard of him and the LA chapter (founded six years ago, check out ncfmla.org), your knowledge of the California Men's Rights Movement is slim these days. Given that I do debate these guys fairly regularly (and you seem to live in Texas), I think I'm in a far, far better position to judge the relative strength of their movement today than you are.

But I'm done debating the size of the MRA movement with you. I simply think it's ridiculous to refuse to distinguish "men" in the general sense from activists in the specific.

Cheers.

Richard Bennett

Who said I never heard of Angelucci? There have always been so-called men's rights advocates around the Internet who do nothing in the day-to-day realm of practical politics, but you made a claim about money, power and political muscle. They have none. There are exactly two people in Sacramento who lobby for fathers these days, and they're both volunteers. Dozens of battered women's shelters that take VAWA money send people to Sacramento, so if the two fathers' guys are mad about VAWA that would be the reason. There is a law to the effect that government money is not supposed to be used to lobby the government, but it's never been a bar to the manipulation I've described.

Russell

Gosh, you step away from your computer for a few hours and alot happens. The way I read the above posts reminds me of my experiences in talking with men's rights folks. I have yet to find anyone who will talk to me without jumping immediately to an arguement. I will admit that I've met numerous female feminists with an anti-male bias - but that was over a decade ago. Everywhere I go now - and I admit I haven't been everywhere - I hear female feminists understanding men's perspectives. AND, see that in order to end violence in general as well as violence against women, you need to work with men as allies.

Perhaps in the same way that women - who had been silenced forever - had to speak loudly to finally be heard, men's rights folks feel the need to speak loudly. But, I can tell you that there are allies out there - feminist allies - who will work with you, if only you'd be willing to truly engage in conversation.

Richard Bennett

I see you've edited your comment since I replied to it, so I'll try and correct some more of your misunderstandings. I live in Frisco Bay Area, a part of California. People on the anti-male "feminist" side like to say that those of us who are critical of what the feminist movement has become are anti-woman, so I'm simply returning the favor.

Modern feminism, as typified by such groups as NOW, the Feminist Majority Fund, and ACES, is an anti-male hate movement, and no respectable person should be associated with it. Are you completely unaware of their agenda, their money, and their political muscle? If you want to call yourself a "pro-feminist" whatever, it would behoove you to learn something about the people you've thrown in with.

Richard Bennett

My last comment was directed to Hugo, not Russell.

Russell, you strike me as naive.

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