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Men Don't Tell
February 3, 2012 3:36 PM   Subscribe

In 1993, Lifetime released Men Don't Tell, a landmark film exploring female on male domestic violence.

A gloriously mustachioed Peter Strauss faces shame and the disbelief of society as a man who is being beaten by wife on a regular basis.

The whole movie can be seen here on Youtube.
posted by reenum (91 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite

 
This is... hrm. I'm not sure what I'm meant to do with this.
posted by koeselitz at 3:42 PM on February 3, 2012


Hour and a half?

Pretty good so far. Don't want to comment till I'm done though. See you later on!
posted by lazaruslong at 3:46 PM on February 3, 2012 [3 favorites]


Is it is as moving as that one episode of Too Close for Comfort?
posted by Saxon Kane at 3:49 PM on February 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


koeselitz: I'm not sure what I'm meant to do with this.

It's a movie, so I'd say you should watch it. Or you can read a review, like Variety's really dull review of the movie, which is really just a brief summary. People Magazine mostly panned the film, and wrote "the violence is harrowing, but the psychological profiles are disappointingly superficial," but Mens' Movie Guide highly recommends the film, writing "it is one of the landmarks in shattering
gender stereotypes in domestic violence."
posted by filthy light thief at 3:53 PM on February 3, 2012 [9 favorites]


I cut it into a nice chiffonade and drizzled it with a little aceto balsamico and olive oil, then topped it off with some cherry tomatoes.

Served it with a nice grilled salmon.
posted by Ad hominem at 4:09 PM on February 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


When this movie first came out, my mom recorded it. She and my two sisters then made a habit of watching it together every afternoon (this was in the summer) for the next month or so. I began locking myself in my room until my dad got home, as it seemed that such a movie could only put me, the only boy in the house, in danger.
posted by reenum at 4:10 PM on February 3, 2012 [7 favorites]


> She and my two sisters then made a habit of watching it together every afternoon (this was in the summer) for the next month or so.

I don't want to put you on the spot, but I suspect there's an interesting story behind this anecdote...
posted by blue t-shirt at 4:14 PM on February 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


I've heard a lot about this and never actually seen it. Thanks for the post.
posted by Ad hominem at 4:15 PM on February 3, 2012


This movie was kind of a Christmas tradition for my husband & me back in the '90's. I could have sworn the huge blowout at the end had Judith Light beating Peter Strauss repeatedly over the head with a fully decorated Xmas tree while thier child wailed in horror, but I guess I misremembered it. I blame the egg nog.
posted by biddeford at 4:16 PM on February 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


Are we really doing this now? "Look, here's a film from 1993 on the YouTube"? That's not even 20 years ago! What kind of argument can be made for this complete disregard of these folks' copyrights?
posted by Sidhedevil at 4:25 PM on February 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


Also, where does Lifetime even come into this? The movie was produced by Lorimar and broadcast on CBS originally.
posted by Sidhedevil at 4:28 PM on February 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


It's crazy how much money the rights holders are missing out on right now. I'd put the damages in the mid five figures from this very thread so far.
posted by ODiV at 4:31 PM on February 3, 2012 [6 favorites]


That's not even 20 years ago!

You're right - that was only 19 years ago!
posted by Evernix at 4:32 PM on February 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


I would have bought two copies. So that's 100% more lost revenue.
posted by chavenet at 4:34 PM on February 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is a subject that I think people don't know how to approach or talk about. The male role of the aggressor and the female role of the victim are so deeply rooted in society, that anything else *must* be an anomaly.

This thread is 17 comments in and not a word has been said about the actual subject of it.
posted by svenni at 4:36 PM on February 3, 2012 [23 favorites]


Fitting title then, isn't it?
posted by ODiV at 4:38 PM on February 3, 2012 [5 favorites]


It's an hour and a half long film. It was posted an hour ago. I've got another 45 minutes left. I'd like to hope that people would watch it before talking about the link, but eh.
posted by lazaruslong at 4:39 PM on February 3, 2012


This thread is 17 comments in and not a word has been said about the actual subject of it.

This is possibly because providing a link to a 1.5-hour movie-of-the-week on YouTube is not a good way to cultivate meaningful discussion.
posted by grouse at 4:39 PM on February 3, 2012 [4 favorites]


blue t-shirt, I was scared mainly because my mom hated my dad, and as an extension, me. She would often speak badly of him, and referred to a desire to murder him in a graveyard. This movie, with Angela Bower going crazy on Peter Strauss, could only amplify this feeling.

They are still married, 35 years this December. And they still hate each other too.
posted by reenum at 4:40 PM on February 3, 2012 [6 favorites]


It's a 20-year-old TV movie--is it even available on video? I'm not to worried about the copyright issues here.

This thread is 17 comments in and not a word has been said about the actual subject of it.

I'm kind of at a loss for anything to say about it. It's terrible that anyone has to deal with this sort of thing, which is fairly self-evident. I know there's at least 1 MeFite who has told some pretty nightmarish stories about his experiences living with an abusive woman.
posted by Hoopo at 4:41 PM on February 3, 2012


grouse, the first link is only about six and a half minutes long and gives the viewer a taste of what the rest of the movie is like.
posted by reenum at 4:41 PM on February 3, 2012


I actually know a guy who was arrested when he called the cops after his mom stabbed him with a hemostat. They presumed he had been threatening her or something, so they arrested him instead of her. He's (or was) a piece of shit in so many ways, so I don't feel as bad for him as I ought to, but still, it happens.
posted by wierdo at 4:44 PM on February 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


reenum, the first link is to IMDB. The remaining two links are both to the 92-min movie.
posted by grouse at 4:54 PM on February 3, 2012


My bad. Here's the link to the 6 minute snippet. I should have checked the links before hitting "Post".
posted by reenum at 4:58 PM on February 3, 2012


It really is a serious issue. I bet most men have been kicked or punched or slapped by someone they were involved with. This is also an issue, not touched on by the movie obviously, in same sex couples.

I have a family friend who is a doctor. He really wanted to settle down and have children. He took up with a woman who seemed nice enough, they decided to get married. Warning bells started to go off though for me when he told the story of how they decided to get married. He had decided to end things, and she lost it, and started throwing things at him. She came after him and punched him hard enough to give him a black eye. He decided that if she was willing to go to such lengths to keep him, he would stay with her.

Fast forward 10 years, they have had some rough spots, but they also have 3 kids. One day they are driving down the highway and she smashes him in the face with a perrier bottle while he is driving. She broke his nose and his cheekbone and they crashed the car.

Obviously that is a horrific incident, and not representative of most people, but it does happen.
posted by Ad hominem at 5:09 PM on February 3, 2012 [5 favorites]


And now we know why perrier comes in plastic bottles when you buy a 24 pack.
posted by zinful at 5:20 PM on February 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


Just a couple of notes about domestic violence emergencies.

1. Keep your cell phone near you all the time if you think there is going to be a confrontation.
2. If all hell breaks loose, lock yourself in the bathroom or bedroom if there is a lock.
3. Call 911 - especially if someone is beating on the door or screaming - you want to capture that on audio.
4. Not to be sneaky, but don't tell your attacker you are calling the police. Some attackers will abuse themselves, causing bruises, cuts and abrasions, while the police are on the way. Happens more often than you'd think.

A couple more things:
1. If someone is calling the police, don't grab the phone from them or disconnect it. That's a felony.
2. Say you decide to go outside and cool off or go leave the room - and your partner blocks the doorway. Do not touch them. Not at all. Don't gently grasp their shoulders and move them to the side. That is assault. If you are on probation, it could mean a trip to jail for quite awhile.
3. If someone wants to leave the room, and you prevent them from doing that, it could be a range of offenses from unlawful imprisonment to kidnapping. Let them go. No touching!

If you can escape from the house or wherever you are, do so. I knew a guy who had one of those relationships with his girlfriend. She was just flat out crazy, and he was just a rough guy. He was on probation for domestic violence (he punched her out after she cracked him across the back of the skull with a desk phone, broke the handset in two). Anyway, she cornered him in the bathroom and he climbed out the window and found a cop. He had been with the cop for fifteen or twenty minutes when the call on the radio came in - she called the cops and said he was beating her up. The cop he was with went and arrested her for filing a false report.

This chick wasn't the swiftest thing on the planet. She called him asked him to come over and fix the washer. He got there, she'd been drinking heavily, but there wasn't a problem.
He got his tools and repaired the washer, and when he got up to leave, there were four or five cops in the living room. She'd called the cops while he was working on the washer. They arrested him.

As they were driving to jail, his phone kept buzzing over and over with text messages. They got to jail and the cops looked at the texts - they were from her, taunting him for being "so stupid", she was bragging about how she had "gotten him". Unfortunately it was Friday evening, so he got to sit in jail over the weekend, and it wasn't until Monday or Tuesday before anyone at the DA's office could look at the phone and make a decision. He got out of jail on Wednesday, they dropped the charges. I don't think they did anything to her.

He was pretty lucky he didn't lose his job - the guy he worked for was a real dick, but he was one of the best workers the guy had, so he didn't fire him.
posted by Xoebe at 5:21 PM on February 3, 2012 [25 favorites]


Well, anyway, it is no big deal. People can choose to believe his story as they will. Personally I believed him considering how open he was about everything else.

It is obviously no representative of the vast majority of relationships, but women can be as fucked up as men.
posted by Ad hominem at 5:35 PM on February 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is... hrm. I'm not sure what I'm meant to do with this.

Try to figure out how it fits with your preconceived political beliefs and decide whether you should dismiss it for not conforming to them? Or, alternatively, evaluate it on the merits.
posted by Dasein at 5:36 PM on February 3, 2012 [3 favorites]


Xoebe: "This chick wasn't the swiftest thing on the planet. She called him asked him to come over and fix the washer. He got there, she'd been drinking heavily, but there wasn't a problem.
He got his tools and repaired the washer, and when he got up to leave, there were four or five cops in the living room. She'd called the cops while he was working on the washer. They arrested him.
"

I am genuinely unable to understand what would drive any semi-rational human being to remain in a relationship with someone after the FIRST time they try to frame you and get you arrested and incarcerated for domestic assault. Seriously, how do you justify doing that anyone?
posted by Hargrimm at 5:37 PM on February 3, 2012 [3 favorites]


1. People involved in relationships are rarely rational.
2. Questioning why people stay in abusive relationships can be seen as victim-blaming.
posted by rocket88 at 5:55 PM on February 3, 2012 [10 favorites]


hargrimm, I was in a bad relationship and can give you some reasons why you would stay with someone horrible.

I'll tell you about a girlfriend I had; let's call her Crazy. I stayed with Crazy for almost 11 months even though she:

1. Constantly accused me of trying to break up with her.
2. Was extremely passive-aggressive.
3. Threw a hissy fit when I told her I wanted to visit my home country, after having been away for 16 years.
4. Forced me to compromise my religious beliefs.

The reason I stayed with her was because I felt she was too emotionally fragile to dump. And when I did dump her, I tried to remain friends. Well, she was of the idea that we would eventually get back together. When I told her this was not an option, she called me every name in the book and told me to come to her place to get my stuff.

I went to her place, and as I was leaving, I see her car barreling towards me in the parking lot. I leapt out of the way. When I looked at her in the car, I saw an unrestrained rage and insanity I'd never seen before and haven't seen since.

Looking back, there were red flags all around, but I ignored them. I then stayed with her, because in my mind, I wanted to be a nice guy.

It's not as extreme as Xoebe's example, but it is along the same lines.
posted by reenum at 6:02 PM on February 3, 2012 [4 favorites]


Last week I saw a drunk woman slap her partner so hard she knocked him down. He stood up and tried to walk away, but she pounced him. He pushed her away and she fell to the floor, scraping her knees and hands. The dude left, and the woman called the police.

Five minutes later the cops showed up with the guy in handcuffs. Luckily for him a bunch of witnesses talked to the cops and he was released. It took about half an hour to convince the cops that he was the victim.

This happened in North Beach, San Francisco. AFAIK it did nit make the news, but I called the SFPD Northern Station and they directed me to the story in their newsletter.

If I had not seen it, I wold not have believed it. She was bloodied and bawling, he looked perfectly fine.
posted by Ayn Rand and God at 6:30 PM on February 3, 2012 [5 favorites]


Women abusing men is an anomaly. I know that, since "men don't tell," we can't get an accurate reading of abuse rates. But since homicide is much less easy for the victim to conceal, we can at least get fairly accurate domestic homicide statistics. And here, men kill their partners far more than women:

"On average, more than three women and one man are murdered by their intimate partners in this country every day. In 2000, 1,247 women were killed by an intimate partner. The same year, 440 men were killed by an intimate partner. Intimate partner homicides accounted for 30% of the murders of women and 5% percent of the murders of men.
(Bureau of Justice Statistics Crime Data Brief, Intimate Partner Violence, 1993-2001, February 2003. Bureau of Justice Statistics, Intimate Partner Violence in the U.S. 1993-2004, 2006.)"

Source.

Yes, women abuse men. And yes, it's horrible. And yes, we should feel compassion for the men. But no, we shouldn't turn around and say, "Look, you feminists are wrong! Men are abused, too."
posted by outlandishmarxist at 7:06 PM on February 3, 2012 [5 favorites]


I bet most men have been kicked or punched or slapped by someone they were involved with.

wow, we must hang out in such different circles.
posted by jacalata at 7:15 PM on February 3, 2012 [4 favorites]


If someone wants to leave the room, and you prevent them from doing that, it could be a range of offenses...

And it could also be my Dad, the coolest, most laid back, gentle, geeky-mellow man you've ever met suddenly become a mix between Dennis Hopper and Christopher Walken. No, a man gently pushing his daughter back into her room to talk it over some more when she wants to go is not ok.

Men are sometimes abused. This is true. Women, even strong and independent and smart women, are abused far more often, and far more viciously.
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:17 PM on February 3, 2012 [4 favorites]


2. Say you decide to go outside and cool off or go leave the room - and your partner blocks the doorway. Do not touch them. Not at all. Don't gently grasp their shoulders and move them to the side. That is assault. If you are on probation, it could mean a trip to jail for quite awhile.

Wow, really? I was in just this situation when I was getting hit and shoved around the room by a psycho ex. I was literally against the wall at the door and she wouldn't move. Frankly I say bullshit to this one. There was nothing else I could have done but physically move her. It was that or stand there and get abused. Fuck that.

But no, we shouldn't turn around and say, "Look, you feminists are wrong! Men are abused, too."

Men are sometimes abused. This is true. Women, even strong and independent and smart women, are abused far more often


Hey that's very observant but no one is saying otherwise and that's not what this thread is about.
posted by Hoopo at 7:19 PM on February 3, 2012 [18 favorites]


Men are sometimes abused. This is true. Women, even strong and independent and smart women, are abused far more often, and far more viciously.

This comment, and variations thereof, tend to appear in every MeFi thread I've seen where a traditionally advantaged party gets the short end of the stick. You know, wrongdoing is not conserved. It is possible for men to abuse women, and, simultaneously, women to abuse men. It's even possible for a man and a woman to reciprocally and simultaneously abuse each other. We can and should discuss both directions. Talk is cheap, right? Let's spend a little less time arguing how to allocate it.
posted by d. z. wang at 8:03 PM on February 3, 2012 [10 favorites]


The film was shit. Sorry. I watched the whole damn thing. Acting, script, direction, sound, plot, timing, tone, everything.

The issue is serious and worth of discussion.
posted by lazaruslong at 8:06 PM on February 3, 2012 [3 favorites]


Also, worthy.
posted by lazaruslong at 8:07 PM on February 3, 2012


You know, I was really finding it interesting to read about the anecdotes and experiences of men in abusive situations, or people who knew men in abusive situations. I'm a woman, I don't know much about this, and I appreciate hearing more about it.

I haven't really enjoyed the "but women are abused too!" derail. Sure, we are. But I kind of thought the topic of the thread was men in relationships where they are the abused one. (And critiques of the movie in general of course).
posted by forza at 8:12 PM on February 3, 2012 [10 favorites]


It is possible for men to abuse women, and, simultaneously, women to abuse men. It's even possible for a man and a woman to reciprocally and simultaneously abuse each other. We can and should discuss both directions.

That's all well and good, but surely you've seen the folks that will try to actually say both are equal problems that should be looked at just the same and women shouldn't get anything men aren't getting? Some people do this. They have decided that people who pretty much have the advantages in society are actually the downtrodden, and that if these people over here who society always manages to give the short end of the stick can get resources and assistance, that these advantaged people should be treated precisely the same or else it is a travesty.

The issue is worthy of discussion but a few of us have seen where it can sometimes lead, and it's nice to just stop those comments (by people who may just never have really thought it through) in their tracks.

Anyway, if you have netflix and want to cry for a while, watch Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father.
posted by cashman at 8:14 PM on February 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


surely you've seen the folks that will try to actually say both are equal problems

And in a physical sense it wasn't an "equal problem" for me to be honest. I was 6'4" and 200lbs back then and the woman who was hitting me and pushing me around wasn't in the WNBA or anything. I was never really scared for my safety or well-being, and I think that's where a big difference lies--at least without weapons involved, my life is not really in danger. That said when I left the apartment that night with all my belongings on my back, no money, and nowhere to go I didn't have any more options than anyone else in that situation and I could see how someone might just stay with an abusive asshole in that situation. Thank goodness for good friends with good sofas is all I can say about that.
posted by Hoopo at 8:41 PM on February 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


And in a physical sense it wasn't an "equal problem" for me to be honest.

In a cultural context, it isn't an equal problem either. I'm sorry you were abused, and it should never happe to anyone... but you had couches you could crash on.

Most women in your situation, simply don't. The pressures of society for the woman to be the center of the family, while the man gets the authority, is immensely unfair and entrapping. Abused women can't couch surf, especially with two or three kids in tow. They often don't even have paychecks of their own to support themselves and their family with while couch surfing.

It's awesome you got out, and escaped when you could, whenever you could. Most women in your place would simply be unable to do what you did... and their abusers are as large and powerful to them as a NFL nose-tackle would be to you.

A man needs to lean when to say "Enough is enough" when being abused, true...

...but a woman needs the full, physical force of the law and a social safety net to protect herself and her family in a way that most men can't even dream of.

You are an outlier, statistically speaking. Battered women and terrified kids are at the core... and it's not that they choose not to fight back or to escape, but that they can't.
posted by Slap*Happy at 9:03 PM on February 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Perfect timing: I, as well as another advocate from a different agency and an attorney just had a lunch meeting regarding a support group for male victims of family violence. The calls are becoming much more frequent from both men of female-male and male-male relationships. We have no current support groups nor safe shelters for this population. This will change.
posted by psylosyren at 9:11 PM on February 3, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'm not quite sure where this defense of women as the abused thing is coming from. I don't think anybody has said that women aren't abused or even that rates of domestic abuse are the same for both sexes.

And saying that men can fight back while women can't is completely missing the reality of the situation, which is that men can almost never fight back unless they want to go to jail and be charged with domestic violence.

Yes, women do need to be protected, but that protection can't come by forcing men to choose between being abused or being jailed. Presently, it often does. That's one of the reasons why this is such a sticky situation. I don't, by any means, want the police to be even less sympathetic toward women's domestic violence complaints, but at the same time I'd like to figure out a way to avoid jailing men who are actually the victim of domestic violence.

Moreover, I suspect there are a lot more cases where both parties are aggressors than any of us are comfortable with, making the whole thing that much more complicated.
posted by wierdo at 9:16 PM on February 3, 2012 [14 favorites]


I have a friend whose extended family includes a matriarch who by all accounts has been angry all her life. Saddled early with complete responsibility for her siblings, then marrying and having a large family with a man who was often away at work, she coped by raging, ridiculing, abusing and terrorizing everyone. Special fury was reserved for her husband. Her sharp tongue and physical abuse controlled him and the entire family. This pair are still married, still at war in a nursing home nearing ninety years of age. Their children, although all are grown and most are married, manifest every kind of relationship dysfunction. This one woman who never learned how to cope with her tremendous anger has populated her world with a battered husband, kids who don't know how to have a good marriage and, maybe the saddest thing of all, she never has a moment of happiness, even though she has a comfortable life and a beautiful family.

It doesn't matter what gender you are if you have unresolved anger issues you're at risk of abusing other people. Women can be just as rageful as men but are socialized not to show anger and aggression while men have sports and other 'safe' outlets and training grounds for mental and physical aggression.

I believe we should be teaching children a great deal more that will help them develop emotional intelligence. The problems resulting from our failure to do so are particularly evident as they fill our inner cities, courts and jails.
posted by Anitanola at 9:18 PM on February 3, 2012 [3 favorites]


... but you had couches you could crash on.

Most women in your situation, simply don't


WTF are you talking about man? I was lucky to find I had a friend that would let me crash on their couch a few nights and that's male privilege somehow? Every man has bros with couches? I spent the entire night walking in the cold with all my meager belongings in a duffel bag. Look I don't think you're getting the point that your scenarios are doing nothing but diminishing the issue this thread is about. No one here is trying to minimize anything that happens to women, I'm not sure why you keep harping on this.
posted by Hoopo at 9:33 PM on February 3, 2012 [17 favorites]


Abused women can't couch surf, especially with two or three kids in tow.

You're making a bunch of assumptions, there, beginning with "You had a couch to crash on". One of the things abusers do, and tend to be good at, is isolating their victims. My ex did this by alienating my friends and family from me. The final straw was her sleeping with my best friend, so.... yeah, his place was out of the question. I had to sleep in my car for 3 days before my parents agreed to take me in. I had no where else to go.

As for the kids - a woman who takes the kids and runs is a dutiful parent. A father who does is a child molesting kidnapper. This is because of adjudication - an unmarried father without an adjudication of paternity is a legal stranger to that child. I had no choice but to leave my son behind, because legally, I wasn't even his parent. If I had taken him, I'd probably still be in jail.

Did you know you can pay child support for a child you aren't even a legal parent to ?

So what do you do ? Stay with the abuser so you can be with your child, or run for your life ?

And then there is the placement hearings - without a single shred of documented evidence, she was able to restrict me to one hour per week of supervised visitation at her discretion. I was searched before and after. No feeding, no changing diapers. Only the toys she provided and I wasn't allowed to hold him.

She said I was abusive, and so everyone's prejudices kicked into overdrive and she had the full power and force of law at her disposal.

It was recommended to me by several lawyers I interviewed to just write off the kid, move out of town, pay the support, and send a birthday card if I felt like it would matter. If I weren't so blessed stubborn, I would have. I really ought to have - my life would have been sooo much easier with my abuser out of my life.

And to top off all the indignities of being a 6'4" 180lb dude who got beat up by a girl half his size, half the people I tell don't even believe me - like I'd make that up. Of all the stories I'd make up, the one where I'm a pansy-assed pussy who got beat up by a girl is the one I went with.

And because of that, she's never been made to pay for what she has done to me. She never will be.

Other than that, yeah, it was total cake.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 9:38 PM on February 3, 2012 [38 favorites]


You're making a bunch of assumptions, there, beginning with "You had a couch to crash on".

What do you mean? Next you'll be telling me there's such a thing as a "homeless man".
posted by Hoopo at 9:48 PM on February 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


6'5", 250 (when I left, less now). I never hit her, but she sure did hit me. Yes, certainly, the issue is different--I did not fear for my life, and I knew I could always fight back. But, damn, those were some shitty years.
posted by MrMoonPie at 10:09 PM on February 3, 2012 [4 favorites]


But no, we shouldn't turn around and say, "Look, you feminists are wrong! Men are abused, too."
posted by outlandishmarxist at 3:06 AM on February 4


Is anyone doing that?

Meaningless data point: I've been hit by a woman. Pushed through a first-floor window by her, too. That was an... eventful relationship. Some people get violent when angry. It's never a good thing.
posted by Decani at 10:16 PM on February 3, 2012 [4 favorites]


: "I'm not sure what I'm meant to do with this."

filthy light thief: "It's a movie, so I'd say you should watch it."

That makes sense. I only meant that Lifetime movies are usually held up as objects of ridicule, and so that's what I assumed this post was doing at first; but it didn't seem precisely to be doing that, and the subject seems like a serious one.

posted by koeselitz at 10:51 PM on February 3, 2012


You are an outlier, statistically speaking.

Oh, that's comforting. I guess i'm lucky then. I thank my lucky penis that i was a statistical anomaly because i'm a man. If you can't tell, i'm being sarcastic.

... but you had couches you could crash on.

Most women in your situation, simply don't


Wrong. All an abused woman needs to do is say she's abused, and people help and believe, especially friends, especially if kids are involved. If a man is abused, and the woman is manipulative, she will accuse him of abuse, and not only will he most likely not have any friends anymore, he could even never see those kids again, ones who will most likely be abused by the woman too.
posted by usagizero at 11:18 PM on February 3, 2012 [11 favorites]


It would be nice if this thread could focus on the topic of men as victims of abuse, particularly by women. We have many other discussions of the sadly-common topic of male-on-female domestic violence.
posted by swerve at 12:05 AM on February 4, 2012 [7 favorites]


[What swerve said. This really isn't an anti-feminist topic, and doesn't need to go down that path.]
posted by taz at 12:30 AM on February 4, 2012 [5 favorites]


This thread is a shining example of why men don't tell. It's one of the most liberal, thoughtful, sites on the internet on "yeah, but it pales in comparison to this other problem" crap that's coming out. So the men don't tell.

For a period of several years, I was beaten by my wife. Not constantly, but often enough. And every time she did it, she jumped on the phone to tell her friends-who used to be our friends- that I was becoming violent and she was scared. She made up stories about the horrible things I was doing to her, and kept threatening to call the cops on me. A lawyer friend I talked to basically said that in our area, if either of us called the police, I could count on spending three days in jail while she was free with our two kids. After that, it's a he said/she said in my domestic abuse trial and the divorce and custody battle, if that happens, and a pretty good chance that I would lose both. So, the upshot is, if you're an abused man, you shut up and take it up to the point that you're pretty sure you're about to be killed, because pressing that shiny button marked "Help" initiates a roll of the dice, and you only win if they come up 5 or 8.

And then, if the topic comes up somewhere, you get to hear how much harder it is for women to leave. Fuck my life.
posted by Alexander Hatchell at 2:07 AM on February 4, 2012 [30 favorites]


I'm really disconcerted at where this thread has ended up.

Addressing this topic does nothing to diminish abuse against women, and yet I see a lot of commentary diminishing abuse against men... when the diminishment thereof is precisely the topic and problem presented.

I have no idea how so many have missed the entire point.

Honestly, I think there is a lot more privilege given to women in western society when it comes to recovery and escape from abusive situations. You don't see battered men's shelters, or programmes set up to help men find a way out. As many of the men who've experienced this first or second hand have attested, just having someone believe them is damn near impossible. I don't think their size, sex or "couches" (wtf?!) are really going to help in these situations. As a matter of fact, it'll often work against them.

Can we all just admit that this is an equally disturbing issue, even if it doesn't occur at the same frequency, or necessarily illicit the same kind of fear in the victim? We all have different advantages and disadvantages, and I don't appreciate the sentiment that any sex is more disadvantaged in abusive situations than another.
posted by sunshinesky at 2:12 AM on February 4, 2012 [10 favorites]


Dammit, my phone ate part of that comment. Well, you get the point. We're still together, by the way. She eventually got some therapy and some meds that help, and I'm playing wait-and-see. But at least things are calmer and I can be with my kids.
posted by Alexander Hatchell at 2:18 AM on February 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


The traditional view of gender roles can often disadvantage men. Female on male violence is one of those situations. Child custody is another. This is why seeing women as complicated, diverse, flawed human beings - rather than angels or sluts - is good for both genders.
posted by Summer at 2:53 AM on February 4, 2012 [10 favorites]


I was lucky that when I decided to leave, I had a car and enough cash to rent a room found in the "roommate wanted" section, and that she was not too terribly determined to stop me, the last time, anyway. Once she laid down in the driveway behind my car & told me i'd have to run her over if I wanted to drive away. Also, there were no kids, and no property to fight over, so I just waited until she was out on a weekend bender and bailed while she was gone. The one time I called the cops, because she'd been waving a pistol around and threatening to shoot either one of us variously, they asked if drugs were involved, sent a crisis counselor to talk to her & basically left her with phone numbers to call for counseling if she wanted, which of course she did not. Other than that, absolutely no action was taken, though I'm also sure I underreported the abuse, as I was mostly concerned with her trying to kill herself at the time. For some reason, my safety seemed secondary.

There was always drugs and alcohol involved, and she had been violently abused by her father, so there was baggage that I was sadly unequipped to deal with. I have a small scar on my chin from her hurling a ceramic bowl at my head from six feet away, and a chipped tooth from where she kicked me in the head. Mostly though, she just packed a mean roundhouse, usually delivered to the shoulder.

She sobered up not long after I left, and is doing okay, now - we've been able to forgive one another, & we still talk- she's a different person. The healing has been good to see, because I did love her, & knew she was in pain. Her dad finally died & left her enough money to buy a little land out in the hill country, so he's made as much restitution as the bastard was ever going to, and she seems to have done some real healing.

And yeah, I don't talk about it too terribly much.
posted by Devils Rancher at 4:13 AM on February 4, 2012 [7 favorites]


Last week I saw a drunk woman slap her partner so hard she knocked him down. He stood up and tried to walk away, but she pounced him. He pushed her away and she fell to the floor, scraping her knees and hands. The dude left, and the woman called the police.

Been there, done that. Kinda.

One previous partner would wait until I was fast asleep and then attack me while I was unconscious -- pummelling away at my face.

I don't know if you've ever been attacked in your sleep but the instinctive response is to lash out to try and clear the threat away. My first and only unconscious blow caught my partner in the eye, and gave her the worst shiner you could ever imagine.

For the next week or so, wherever we went we were treated like the battered woman and her brute of an abusive husband...
posted by PeterMcDermott at 4:24 AM on February 4, 2012 [5 favorites]


Women abusing men is an anomaly.

Not quite. As I recall, anthropological surveys had domestic violence split pretty evenly between the sexes. And this was a far back as the late 1980s.

Now women account for over 70% of nonreciprocal domestic violence.

And there are multitudes of other studies.

Fact of the matter is violence against males is almost universally ignored.

But since homicide is much less easy for the victim to conceal, we can at least get fairly accurate domestic homicide statistics. And here, men kill their partners far more than women:

And men kill themselves far more often than women. Violence is a tool males are expected to wield efficiently.

Yea patriarchy.
posted by quintessencesluglord at 6:01 AM on February 4, 2012 [7 favorites]


That's all well and good, but surely you've seen the folks that will try to actually say both are equal problems that should be looked at just the same and women shouldn't get anything men aren't getting?

Who said that? Seriously, no need to joust with imaginary peoplem

I've never been hit by a partner. Viciously verbally abused, yes. Hit? No.

Now when I was a kid, my mon would physically abuse us good. When I was 16 she took my table hockey game (the kind with the little hockey players on top) and threw it at me from the top of the stairs when I was climbing up. It took every ounce of control in my body not to take a big swing. I was angry, shamed and humiliated.
posted by Ironmouth at 6:03 AM on February 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


Feminists are not wrong. Nobody should be hit,women or men. I don't care who does the most hitting, nobody should be hit.
posted by Ad hominem at 6:25 AM on February 4, 2012 [9 favorites]


Feminists are not wrong. Nobody should be hit,women or men. I don't care who does the most hitting, nobody should be hit.

It's not quite that simple.

It's fine and good to say that no one should be abused, but as soon as you want to devote actual resources to abused men, well that's a different story altogether.

And if you push for equal status under the law, well you're one of those crazy men's rights weirdos who hates women.

Which is exactly why abuse of men will continue, and no one will really give damn.
posted by quintessencesluglord at 6:57 AM on February 4, 2012 [8 favorites]


This thread really depresses me and, specifically, depresses me about the state of the Metafilter community.

Yes, women abuse men. And yes, it's horrible. And yes, we should feel compassion for the men. But no, we shouldn't turn around and say, "Look, you feminists are wrong! Men are abused, too."
posted by outlandishmarxist at 7:06 PM on February 3


Ummm.. if a feminist is saying "men are not abused" then, yes, that feminist is wrong. Whether it has anything to do with her feminism is another thing, but it's a factually incorrect statement and that's only the first thing wrong with it.

I bet most men have been kicked or punched or slapped by someone they were involved with.

[anecdata]In my circle of friends I have seen any number of abusive physical acts but only ever female-on-male. This may be due to the casual nature of female-on-male violence given societies attitudes about it, so therefore they are more comfortable doing so in public and/or around their friends. I have never actually witnessed male-on-female physical abuse among my friends - which in no way implies it does not happen.. I'm just pointing out that female-on-male violence is so accepted as to happen in front of me.[/anecdata]

Men are sometimes abused. This is true. Women, even strong and independent and smart women, are abused far more often, and far more viciously.
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:17 PM on February 3


This sounds like comparing Stalin to Hitler and, because Stalin killed "more" he is far more worse and we shouldn't really concern ourselves with Hitler. But regardless, this is a pointless argument. I can imagine someone somewhere claiming that whites killing blacks is "no big deal" because they think blacks kill far more whites. I don't think that makes it any better, but I guess you have a different take on it. Then, even, your claims are not bore out in the statistics that we have available to us, as discussed by quintessencesluglord up thread.. if this wasn't such a heated topic I'd almost think you were trolling.

Abuse - both mentally and physically - is abhorrent - and yet practiced every day by:

a) men against women
b) women against men
c) parents against children
d) children against parents
e) children against children
f) groups against individuals
g) groups against groups

And I don't feel comfortable about any of it. I don't feel comfortable dismissing a single occurrence because some other's occurrence was more.. anything.

Goddamn, Metafilter, sometimes you depress me.
posted by mbatch at 9:52 AM on February 4, 2012 [5 favorites]


Nobody here is saying that the existence and special issues of of woman-on-man abuse means we should pay less attention to man-on-woman abuse, but there are people who say that. They poison even conversations that they're not part of.
posted by cdward at 10:47 AM on February 4, 2012


They poison even conversations that they're not part of.

Only if we let them.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 11:32 AM on February 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


I find it extremely saddening that women expect kindness, sympathy and support after an abusive situation, but refuse to do the same for men. As many of the above posters have indicated, men don't have pals with comfy couches and a spare Lamborghini at their beckon call.

Yes, I agree that more women get abused than men. But why does that mean that the abuse of men by women should be marginalized? Not every man can fight off a woman. There are often times when I see an extremely skinny man with a well built woman. There is no way short of using a weapon that the man will ever beat the woman in a physical fight. Still, if she claimed he beat her up, the dude would be carted off in the paddy wagon. On a side note, isn't making the automatic assumption that a woman is weaker than a man one of the most anti-feminist thoughts one can have?

Then I think about the fact that feminists have been able to get away with what can only be called "male bashing" for decades. Hateful and wrongheaded rhetoric against the "male establishment" is de rigeur for a lot of feminists. I tried to take a women's studies in college. There was one other guy in the class and the professor made it very clear we were unwelcome. Personal attacks upon us were tolerated and encouraged. Gender stereotyping against men was being taught as fact. One day, my male compadre got so frustrated about the women railing on men for never helping in the home that he yelled out, "I help cook and clean and so does my dad! My dad doesn't come home, kick up his feet, and put a big boss hat on!" We were ignored. After class, we both looked at each other's spent faces. At that moment, he said, "Yo, I'm going to drop this class." I joined him on the walk down to the registrars' office and got the hell out of that toxic classroom.
posted by reenum at 12:37 PM on February 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


Well I'm disappointed now.
posted by ODiV at 12:40 PM on February 4, 2012


Reenum: I hear you on the male bashing. Bashing of any kind is undesirable, from my view.

I'm conflicted though. Being a man, I'm cognizant of the fact that I am privileged, and will most likely never truly understand the multitude of ways in which that manifests itself.

It's hard for me to get genuinely annoyed or offended at male bashing. I mean, this is a patriarchy and I'm a part of it, whether I clean the dishes or not. And this patriarchy oppresses and abuses women in horrific ways. It's like.....if a bunch of slaves got together back in the day to bash white folks, and I was in the room, I wouldn't be all ready to get pissed and insist that MY family aren't slavers, so how dare they?

I dunno. It's a tough problem. I guess I'm just at the point where my focus is on positive change and if my sensibilities are offended during the discussions and debates on how to affect that change, Im just gonna give a big ole benefit of the doubt and accept that there's a reason my sensisibilities are being offended.
posted by lazaruslong at 12:55 PM on February 4, 2012


To be more clear, I thought there was a good discussion going on the topic and then you have to come in and drop a huge turd casting doubt on your goals and motivations for posting this to the site in the first place.

Feminists have nothing to do with domestic violence against men. The pervasive, nearly suffocating silence surrounding the issue is yet another aspect of the patriarchy and a perfect example of how it is harmful to men as well as women.

You know what? Why am I even engaging you? Thanks for helping to strengthen the perceived link between supporting male victims of domestic violence and misogyny.
posted by ODiV at 12:58 PM on February 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Feminists have nothing to do with domestic violence against men.

That's true. But it's equally true that the men's-rights lobby has nothing to do with domestic violence against women, and I bet we'd see a lot fewer people sticking up for them in a thread about male-on-female domestic violence.

The pervasive, nearly suffocating silence surrounding the issue is yet another aspect of the patriarchy and a perfect example of how it is harmful to men as well as women.

Get that? The lack of discussion and understanding of women abusing men is the fault of...male domination of women! Thanks for clearing that up.
posted by Dasein at 1:03 PM on February 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


I have to agree that yes, the silence on this issue is indicative of the patriarchy. If you disagree, why not make a case?
posted by lazaruslong at 1:07 PM on February 4, 2012


The problem here is the dominant paradigm for relationship abuse is a flawed narrative, and leads to positions which people find objectionable:

"Women abusing men is an anomaly"
"Look, you feminists are wrong! Men are abused, too."
"Men are sometimes abused. This is true. Women, even strong and independent and smart women, are abused far more often"
"You are an outlier, statistically speaking. Battered women and terrified kids are at the core... and it's not that they choose not to fight back or to escape, but that they can't."


This should not be a surpised to anyone, almost all areas that are studied (particularly new fields of research) are often subject to methodological and/or bias problems.

Here are some cherry picked quotes to inspire you to actually read research about this topic, from:
The gender paradigm in domestic violence research and theory: Part 1—The conflict of theory and data.

(1) Unidirectional "severe" female intimate violence was more common than male unidirectional intimate violence (Stets & Straus, 1992b)
(2) Lesbian abuse rates were higher than heterosexual male–female abuse rates (Lie, Schilit, Bush, Montague, & Reyes, 1991)
(3) Only a small percentage of males were violent over the life course of a marriage (Straus et al., 1980)
(4) As many females as males were violent (Straus et al., 1980)
(5) Very few males approved of the spouse abuse (Stark & McEvoy, 1970)
(6) Only 9.6% of males were dominant in their marriage (Coleman & Straus, 1986)
(7) Male violence was not linearly related to cultural indicators of patriarchy across US states (Yllo & Straus, 1990)

There have been several large-scale studies including an impressive array of epidemiological data (e.g., Kessler et al., 2001), consistently concluding that female violence rates are as high as, or higher, than male violence rates in intimate relationships. Even when the CTS/CTS2 is not used to measure abuse, men are found to often report victimization and women often report perpetrating abuse (e.g., government surveys reviewed below).

The authors found that there was no significant difference in the percentage of men (17.7%) and women (18.6%) who endorsed using aggression in self-defense. Furthermore, a greater percentage of women than men reported using aggression to feel more powerful (3.4% vs. 0), to get control over the other person (22.0% vs. 8.3%), or to punish the person for wrong behavior (16.9% vs. 12.5%).

Fiebert and Gonzalez (1997) surveyed a sample of 968 California college age women regarding their initiation of physical assaults on their male partners. Twenty-nine percent of the women (n = 285), revealed that they had initiated assaults during the past five years. Women in their 20s were more likely to aggress than women aged 30 years and older. In terms of reasons, women reported aggressing because they did not believe that their male victims would be injured or would retaliate

Brown (2004) found huge discrepancies in arrest and prosecution of spousal assault as a function of gender. Women were four times more likely to report partner violence to police (81% vs. 19%). Stets and Straus (1992a) found women were 10 times more likely to call police in response to partner assault. Brown also found women were more likely to have the police arrest when reporting (75% vs. 60%) than were men reporting an assault by a woman. The higher arrest of men occurs despite injuries to male victims. When men are injured, female perpetrators are arrested only 60.2% of the time, compared to 91.1% of cases involving in the reverse situation (Brown, 2004, p. 34).

Nothing is as simple as it seems.
posted by zentrification at 1:17 PM on February 4, 2012 [12 favorites]


This is... hrm. I'm not sure what I'm meant to do with this.

Ignore it, it doesn't really happen and shouldn't be spoken of.
posted by the noob at 1:25 PM on February 4, 2012


But it's equally true that the men's-rights lobby has nothing to do with domestic violence against women, and I bet we'd see a lot fewer people sticking up for them in a thread about male-on-female domestic violence.

This is a problem, yeah and in my opinion is mostly to do with a ton of self-proclaimed men's rights advocates being much more interested in the discrediting of sexual assault claims than of the support of male victims of domestic violence. Sorry I seem to be laying this at the feet of us men again, but it's not all of us. Most of us are pretty decent.

reenum, sorry I spoke harshly to you. I know how tough it is to face generalizations and not take them personally. I still struggle with this myself. I'm sorry you feared violence from your mother. No one should have to deal with that. And personal attacks in a women's studies class for being a man are over the line and incredibly counter productive. I do think you're mislaying the blame though. People who are also trying to stop domestic violence against women aren't pulling the attention away from male victims.

I hope this is coherent. Sorry, I'm on a phone.
posted by ODiV at 1:52 PM on February 4, 2012


The lack of discussion and understanding of women abusing men is the fault of...male domination of women!

That is not what patriarchy means. It is not an act, it is a system that has very rigid notions around how gender should manifest itself, notions that can be as detrimental to the happiness of men as to women.
posted by Summer at 2:07 PM on February 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


Ok, from the top: "patriarchy" is not a sly way for feminists to acceptably say "those asshole men". The patriarchy describes a rigid and hierarchical unequal distribution of power and status which is organized along traditional gender lines. The patriarchy is the thing that tells you that real men don't cry, as well as being the thing that tells you that there's something wrong with a woman who doesn't have a baby by 30.

The patriarchy isn't male domination of women; male domination of women is the perceptible evidence of patriarchy and the default outcome of that skewed power system. Men abusing women is not the patriarchy, nor is women abusing men. The broad acceptance and social prevalence of abusive behavior towards women that encourages more of the same is the patriarchy; the stifling of discussion and the rigid definition of gender strength that informally bars men from admitting to abuse by proclaiming their weakness is also the patriarchy.

The patriarchy doesn't cause anyone to do anything; it provides social rewards and power in exchange for the perpetuation of that power dynamic and social stigma and diminishment for contravention of it. It does not command, in the same way that laws do not command but instead confirm penalty for transgression. So, when a woman hits a man and then calls the cops on him to take him away because the presumption is that he is the aggressor, that is the patriarchy talking, because the patriarchy says that men are aggressive and women are docile, so of course he hit her and not the other way around. When a man cannot bear to talk about his rape or his chronic abuse because people will think he's weak or stupid or inept, that is the patriarchy talking. Men reap the social power of patriarchy so long as they perceptibly conform to the bounds of that position. Stepping outside of those bounds, trespassing against the rigid borders of those roles, confers instead shame, guilt, and diminishment. It's the same set of mechanisms. It's the price leveled in exchange for privilege. It's unfair because you never asked for that privilege, nor did you willingly consent to pay that price. You were yoked to that bargain before you were born.

The patriarchy is not why women hit men. The patriarchy is why you almost never hear about it. Those are not the same things.
posted by Errant at 2:08 PM on February 4, 2012 [15 favorites]


There was a very good comment here on metafilter a while ago about this very thing, Dasein - I wish I could find it, but the gist was that the patriarchy is very much a cause of the suffering of men.

If the word is tripping you up, think of it this way: prejudice against women doesn't just hurt women. It also hurts every man who's ever been perceived as effeminate and put down for it, every man who's ever been called a "little bitch" or a "pussy," every man who's ever been beat up because he's smaller or weaker or doesn't live up to another person's idea of what a man is supposed to be.

And yes - it hurts men who are abused by women. It keeps those men silent, reminding them over and over again that real men are too strong to let women hurt them. And when they do speak out, it makes others laugh at them, ridiculing the victims of violence for being "too weak" or "too effeminate."

Sexism hurts all of us. This is an example of sexism hurting men: when other men and even women look down on them for not living up to utterly unreasonable expectations.
posted by koeselitz at 2:29 PM on February 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


The patriarchy is not why women hit men. The patriarchy is why you almost never hear about it. Those are not the same things.
posted by Errant 32 minutes ago


This.
posted by lazaruslong at 2:41 PM on February 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


ODiV: "Thanks for helping to strengthen the perceived link between supporting male victims of domestic violence and misogyny."

You seriously don't see the misogyny inherent in blaming patriarchy for women abusing men? I know you don't believe this, but if I didn't, I'd find it hard not to draw the conclusion that you think women have no agency. (maybe men, too, but your comment didn't imply anything about men's agency)

Maybe I misread, and you were actually writing about why female-on-male abuse doesn't get reported very much, but it sure looked like it was more about the actual violent acts than anything happening after the fact.
posted by wierdo at 2:45 PM on February 4, 2012


Ok, also, I wasn't going to talk about this because I didn't want to distract from the process of men sharing their stories or equate mine with those far more egregious ones, but if it helps:

I was abused constantly and repeatedly by my insane alcoholic mother, pretty much from birth up until the day she blessedly dropped dead of cirrhosis. It was basically impossible to talk about, because mothers are nurturing, so she couldn't have been doing that. It was impossible to talk about because surely if something like that happened, my father would have stepped in as head of the household and put a stop to it. It was impossible to talk about because Indian mothers revere their first-born sons and are revered in return. I talked about it anyway, and got beat up, ostracized, turned out at times, distanced from my culture, whatever.

Now it's not impossible to talk about, and I treat talking about it as an act of affirmative revolution. But I also sometimes have a hard time finding dates, because one of the things that women look for in a real man is love and care for their mothers. I don't have any; ergo, I'm not a real man, I'm damaged goods, there's something wrong with me. I have overcome large parts of the stigma and reclaimed portions of my life, but I have also indelibly transgressed against a structural bulwark of our conception of gender roles, and as a result I am weak or strange or off. So I can either not talk about it and visibly conform to the gender roles and behaviors prescribed for me, and thereby be more attractive at the cost of denying parts of myself; or I can talk about it, make those parts manifest, and incur the social penalty of being a male abuse victim and a man who doesn't care about his mother so he hates women.

Whether or not I date is a fairly minor example, but perhaps you take the point. That's all patriarchy, all the time. That's the trap. Power and denial, or reclamation and separation. That's why men also lose either way, and that's why the system must be destroyed.
posted by Errant at 2:57 PM on February 4, 2012 [6 favorites]


wierdo: Sorry I gave that impression and thank you for giving me the benefit of the doubt.
posted by ODiV at 3:10 PM on February 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Feminists have nothing to do with domestic violence against men.

I don't think that's the case.

Let me add some qualifiers first :

- I am not arguing that feminism has encouraged violence, quite the opposite.
- Part of the problem is rooted in patriarchal notions about men and violence.
- I am also not arguing that the feminist efforts to get violence against women take more seriously were wrong.

- I am arguing that there were unintended consequences of that effort and the feminist movement was either unprepared to address.

Now, my ex beat me up - but it wasn't because I was too weak to defend myself. It was because she was relying on my adherence to the idea that "it's never, ever, OK to hit a woman". Had she been a man, I would have stomped her guts out the first time she raised her hand and never thought twice about it. Hell, I beat the shit out of some guy while his knife was still buried 5 inches in my thigh. If I had been 1/10 as willing to hurt her as she was to hurt me, I would have destroyed her.

So, yeah, that patriarchy helped her out there. She could rely on me never physically defending myself.

But the Feminist movement helped her, too :

The one time I called the cops, they arrived to find me barricaded in the closet. My shirt was torn, I had a fat lip and bloody nose, my face and arms were full of scratches and bruises. Broken shit all over the house. They knew what had happened - and I broke out in tears telling them.

But they were unable to remove her. If I were to file a complaint, I would go to jail. My choices were to sleep in my car, or sleep in jail. This was because one of the successes of the feminists was to get laws written such that the abuser is removed. This is good, but often they were written with the assumption that the man was the abuser, and with no provision for female abusers.

So, she would get off scot free. She got to beat me up, have the cops arrive, and her victim gets punished by them for being so cheeky as to call the cops to begin with.

And again, when we got to family court - she got advocates from the Domestic Abuse project. Were she an actual victim, this would have been a success, but she wasn't.

Anyway, access to my son became the club she was able to use to beat me with when she could no longer use her fists.

And so the Feminist success in responding to and addressing male on female violence enabled her. If I had ever laid a hand on her, she had resources to make my life very difficult. As it turned out, I didn't even have to touch her. She could just say I did, and it would work the same - irrespective of anything she did.

No one would question her. Everyone would help her. And no one would defend me.

And she could count on that.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 4:52 PM on February 4, 2012 [6 favorites]


People should really read and grok what Pogo (and others) are describing.

Human beings- not just one gender, but human beings- will exploit power that they have to get what they want/feel they deserve, or even just to lash out in frustration. You don't have to doubt this, when you can look at any toddler who quickly learns to cry in a manipulative fashion- because that's the only power they have.

Power isn't just in a person's biceps; it can be in passive-aggressive or emotionally manipulative behavior; it can be selectively withholding or denying things to another who depends on them; it can be in using the law enforcement or judicial system. It's not just limited to domestic abuse or gendered issues, either; abusing power can take the form of that one neighbor who studies the law and then sues all their neighbors over petty issues as a form of dominance (until they are declared a vexatious litigator). It can be the MPAA harassing normal people with heavy-handed lawsuits as a form of intimidation. It can be using a physically imposing presence- or understood connections to power (being a Senator's son, off-duty copy, etc)- to scare people into being compliant or subservient without ever stating a threat directly. It can be spitting into someone's food order in the back kitchen of a restaurant, or ignoring their table for 15 minutes.

The methods are virtually limitless, but they stem from the same core place. And it's why it's not that far-fetched much less "sexist" to observe that some people can and do use the legal system as a weapon. Does it happen all the time? No, of course not- but we shouldn't imagine that such things don't happen, or that even acknowledging it is some covert attack on women. And it's further not an "attack" to note that the undeniably good thing of more responsive laws in the last generation to respect real women's issues in terms of workplace sexual harassment or physical/sexual assault might have led to laws and practices that are actually highly gendered and thus still highly unfair or part of the 'patriarchy' (a poor word if only because of its implied gender benefit to the common ear).

And if you're already feeling defensive reading that last paragraph, then that's part of the problem being described in this thread: you should support recognizing the problems as equally deserving of being heard and addressed, and you should support laws that are fair and equitable- because if it just becomes a pissing contest about who is more tragic, then ultimately no one wins. Ultimately, systems of power and corruption, and of "might makes right", become the dominant elements of our social structures.


A few cases come to mind: My point in saying all of this is again not to dismiss violence or crimes against women, or the historical "second-class citizen" status held by women that has only been really changing within my own lifetime.

Rather, it's to stress that all men are not somehow living high on the hog, free from problems. That men can and do deal with even the same issues of domestic abuse, sexual harassment, or even rape- but somehow we're repeating the same mistakes of past generations by claiming that it doesn't happen, that it isn't as bad as it sounds, that men have lots of choices and options, that the men are probably partly to blame, that they're just misogynists (or in the past, that feminists are just "man-haters"), etc.

And honestly, I don't know, but if you can't see that? If you can't see that same pattern being played out, and are actively echoing the mistakes by parroting those lines and at best washing your hands of any guilt by saying "Well, it's fair return for the years of harm women had to undergo" or some other justification? I guess if you're thinking those things, I doubt you've been swayed one bit by a single sentence I've typed.
posted by hincandenza at 6:19 PM on February 4, 2012 [8 favorites]


And if you're already feeling defensive reading that last paragraph, then that's part of the problem being described in this thread: you should support recognizing the problems as equally deserving of being heard and addressed, and you should support laws that are fair and equitable- because if it just becomes a pissing contest about who is more tragic, then ultimately no one wins. Ultimately, systems of power and corruption, and of "might makes right", become the dominant elements of our social structures.

This is precisely what my version of feminism means. A binary view where those with 'privilege' deserve less consideration than those without only helps to turn every situation into a pissing match. Justice and empathy for all. Which is why the term 'your privilege is showing' needs to die a painful death.
posted by Summer at 2:42 AM on February 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


I learned a lot from this discussion, most of it about myself. Part of my problem, being abused as a kid is that I was powerfully inhibited from physically defending myself against physical abuse from my mom because "it is wrong to hit a woman." If it had been my father? I would have beat his ass. I shit you not. I hear tons of stories of men being beat by their dads too. Near universally, as soon as the kid is big enough, when the dad tries abuse, the kid fights back and eventually the dad stops because he won't get beat up again.

But with a mom (or a female partner), one is put in the classic bind--one is not allowed to defend one's self because it is wrong to hit a woman. Not defending one's self is, however, deeply shameful and has poweful implications for trauma down the road.

Just reading this thread and talking about all of this laid bare that dynamic from my past in a very real way.

And perhaps that is why women also do attack men. Those stats up there opened my eyes. I was very surprised to see that women actually physically abuse their partners at a similar rate, perhaps even higher. The stats that show lesbians have the highest rates was stunning. Like everyone else, I assumed men abused at a far higher rate. I guess I was wrong.

Having said all of that--I think man-on-woman abuse remains a bigger societal problem than woman on man abuse. This is because a man is generally stronger and more accustomed to physical violence and when he starts up, he's far more likely to cause bigger injuries. Its also because women have not made up the income gap and often are in economically dependent positions, especially if they have kids--making leaving an abusive relationship harder.

In short, women are more vulnerable to abuse than men and are harmed more when it does occur, at least physically.

What seems clear is that spousal abuse is a general problem, that should be tackled generally. I know of many couples where both partners are physically abusive.

Perhaps we ought to change the orientation of our education in these areas. Both men and women should be taught not to hit and not to tolerate being hit. The idea of it being a general problem also defuses the men v women aspect of it and helps men see it from a perspective of it being wrong from their side--although the stats up above seem to indicate 91% of men think it is wrong--telling us it is a matter of self-control, not morality.

The area that might need more attention is the idea that nobody should hit anyone--that 65% of women think its wrong to hit men seems like a number that is too low.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:33 AM on February 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


While I'm not aware of any men I know who have been abused in this way, that may be because they're used to hiding it from everyone, so I don't like to assume. I do hope that the MeFi guys here who have been victims of domestic violence feel comfortable telling their stories, if they'd like to. It'd help if people didn't drag in "what feminists think" or "what misogynists think" and respond only to things that have actually been said in this thread. There's enough difficulty in this subject to go around without dragging strawpeople into the discussion.

Both men and women should be taught not to hit and not to tolerate being hit.

Exactly. I don't care if you're male or female, young or old, weak or strong - you should not hit other people, and you do not ever have to accept it from other people.
posted by harriet vane at 9:42 PM on February 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


I loved this movie. It was reminiscent of "All the Right moves". Thank you kindly for posting. Much appreciated.
posted by Meatafoecure at 5:09 PM on February 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


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