Sunday, July 17, 2005

Love, Hate and Misunderstanding

I’m pleased and astounded by the comments about the "Feminist" post below. Thank you to everyone who added his or her thoughts and ideas. It really gave me a lot to think about. In particular, I’ve spent some time today thinking about the extreme feelings of those who might be called Man-Haters. That whole thought process got me thinking about Woman-Haters too.

A few years ago I ran across a web site dedicated to wife beating. It was a serious site that supported the practice of wife-beating. The owners of the site offered arguments to support their position as well as information about avoiding prosecution. I’d rather not provide a link because every visit to the site gives it legitimacy by adding numbers to their site counter.

Maybe these Wife-Beater people think they’re being funny. Perhaps they believe it’s their right and responsibility to keep women in line. I’ve even heard it said that some men think they have a right to loosen a few teeth if dinner isn’t on the table at exactly the right time?
Hey! If she doesn’t like it, she should just leave …

… except leaving is the most dangerous time for her, and she probably knows it.

Stop reading a second and look at the clock.

On average, every seven hours a woman is murdered at the hands of her partner. Women are three times more likely than men to be murdered by an intimate partner.

According to the FBI, 132,000 rapes were reported last year. They also estimate that 2 to 6 times that many rapes were unreported (264,000 to 792,000). THAT’S IN ONE YEAR PEOPLE ! ! !

I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge that men are the victims of both domestic violence and rape. These crimes are more likely to be unreported due to the shame and humiliation associated with gender-stereotypes about such things. When men are victims, they are just as deserving of our complete compassion and understanding.

I realize that this is the kind of information most people don’t want to know about. Hell, for all I know, you may have shut down already. You may have created a defense for why some or all of this information isn’t true. If you have, I understand. That would be a much nicer world to live in. Keep in mind however, these are merely general facts. I purposely protect you from the real horror that I’ve witnessed.

Sadly, intimate violence is a topic I know too much about. If you don’t already know, helping victims was my career for a number of years. This knowledge allows me the insight and awareness to comprehend the profound terror, shame and humiliation that victims of such crimes experience.

I’ve spent time with women who hate men. In reality, the large majority of those who would be called Man-Haters, hate what men represent to them. Even then, they often make concessions for a number of men in their lives who they don’t hate. Some of them might only hate certain types of men. In my association with these women, I’ve come to accept and understand how and why some of them have such strong feelings about men.

Some men sometimes do horrible things. Even fewer men frequently do horrible things. Don’t you hate it when you belong to a group that gets a bad reputation because of the actions of a few of its members? Those kinds of generalizations leave you frustrated and angry about unjust labels and stereotypes.

When I was working as a Rape Victim Advocate, I had my own way of coping with the horror of sexual violence.

After being at the hospital for 4+ hours with a woman who’d been raped; after holding her hand while she underwent a humiliating forensic medical exam; after sitting with her as she answered a thousand embarrassing questions from a detective; after explaining to her boyfriend/husband/mother/roommate/sister/etc. how to help her; after crying in the car all the way home,
when I walked into my house, I had one thing on my mind.
I wanted to make Love. I wanted to have beautiful, gorgeous, hot sex!

Sometimes my lovers thought that was an odd response, but it made perfect sense to me.

Does it make sense to anyone else?

Noteworthy Past Post:
Gimme Lots of Men


At 12:09 AM, Blogger Larry Jones said...

>Does it make sense to anyone else?<

I'll raise my hand on that one. I can think of two horrifying traumas I've gone through that made me want to mate. In bad times we reach for the comfort of each other, I guess, but in general I think we could do with a lot more love-making and a lot less spouse-beating, although I could use a good spanking every once in a while.

At 2:07 AM, Blogger figleaf said...

Hi Theresa,

To be honest I've always taken assult of any kind too seriously to be anything but wound up after helping someone deal with it. Even though I haven't experienced it, I do know what you mean though.

In my reply to your previous post I mentioned a faction of feminists who, for mostly very, very good reasons, nevertheless gave feminism a bad name. The old "Stay Angry" motto, while satisfying to people in the depths of their rage, shock, anguish, and resolution to never let it happen again, also tended to choke their ability to recover.

I personally can't fathom women-haters. I don't get it. I can't imagine what slight could be so vast as to condemn an entire gender. My inadequate response is to imagine little boys who never grow out of the "eww, girls are yuky" stage.

On the other hand I can totally relate to man-haters for reasons too numerous, and tragic, to count. For all my ability to appreciate it's foundations, however, I regret it all the same. It's as painful, scary, and alienating to be damned for being of the class of "men."

The pain and fear I can accept and cope with. The alienation, however, widens rather than narrows the gap. It increases rather than decreases whatever degree of sympathy one might have for [gender]-haters of one's own persuasion.

I have no quarrel with, nor qualms against, hating an individual perpetrator nor have I much sympathy with those who either actively, passively, or through denial, abett him. I only regret the trap that leads do constructions like "X hurt me. X is a man. Y has nothing to do with X. Y, however, is also a man so I hate him too."

At 8:48 AM, Blogger Mr 5.25 said...

Makes sense to me. Then again, I have a one track mind.

At 9:49 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It does and it doesn't make sense to me, both at the same time, but my guess is that this is a difference in context.
I worked in group homes with sexually abused children for about six or so years and when I came home, I both wanted to be held but jumped when my ex-wife touched me. It got even messier when my ex-wife started remembering/understanding the abuse that happened to her and, sometimes, had problems not conflating me with her abuser. Then, I wanted to be held by anyone else. We worked through a lot of it, but not all of it. It contributed to our divorce after 13 years.
I also had to work with some of those who were abusers during this same time period. Although the vast, vast, vast majority of people who were abused went on to live pretty healthy lives, I never met an abuser that wasn't abused, first.
That's another complexity to this discussion that I'm no always sure to do with. It doesn't do all that much good to demonize anyone, in the long run (although in the short run it can be exactly what helps get someone through). The cyle of violence (hero-victim-enemy) is the thing to break and it rarely seems to be broken when one person is demonized. If anything, it can add to the momentum of the cycle. There is also this continuum between personal responsibility and societal responsibility that, depending on the situation, can become much fuzzier than I am comfortable with or have figured out how to deal with.

At 11:50 AM, Anonymous ed said...

Seems like a natural reaction to me.

Theresa, is that web site still operating even after a couple of years? I can't believe action wouldn't be taken to take the site down.

Figleaf, I can understand victims hating all men. In your X and Y scenario, you can't expect them to think rationally like that, can you?

At 12:17 PM, Blogger Blazngfyre said...

It makes perfect sense to me.

And I am a survivor.

At 12:29 PM, Blogger theresa said...

Larry - I remember making Love the night of 911 and all through that first week. I had three lovers at the time. I wanted to find the truth, peace and beauty in each of their beds. Likewise, when my lover's parent's died, he came to me for comfort.
... and my Little Red Riding Crop is at the ready whenever you want.

figleaf - Your ability to step away and look at these issues without feeling defensive or personally attacked is refreshing. It is sad to see people stuck in their anger and rage due to abuse. However, there is no formula or timeline for healing.

mr 5.25 - I don't think you are as single-minded as you seem ... however, I do believe that you understand.

popeye - I'm sorry that abuse hurt both you and your ex-wife. Such things can reek havok on any relationship.

For myself, I fiercely protect the boundary between rape and sex. I fought too hard to regain my own power to enjoy sex after I was assaulted many years ago. I'm sure that part of my desire to be intimate after witnessing another's victimization is to reaffirm that boundary.

Your discussion about demonizing individuals and responsibility is worth much more attention. Thank you for adding that to the discussion.

Ed - I have no idea if that site is still operational. I hope not. When I sat down to write last night, it was simply one of half a dozen examples that I could have used to make my point.

At 12:33 PM, Blogger theresa said...

Sister Blaze - I'm so glad that you're around. You totally get it!

At 3:56 PM, Blogger Queen Of Pink said...

For years after, I wouldn't have been able to understand that statement.

But now that I've learned to reclaim myself, it makes perfect beautiful fantabulous sense.

At 8:39 PM, Blogger Clark K. said...

A hatred of one or the other sexes usually stems from feelings of abandonment or wronging by one of them. In your example Theresa, you sought out your lovers after 911, but what happens if you need them and they are not there? You feel abandoned and alone and those feelings, unless dealt with, manifest themselves in contempt and irrational behavior.

Like Popeye said, the cycle of hate does nothing for anyone. Only understanding will heal the wounds. For some people however they never get that understanding or it comes too late and innocent persons pay the consequences as a matter of cirumstance.

The 'eye for an eye' theory or revenge factor just make things worse.

At 10:21 PM, Blogger theresa said...

QoP - You're a Hot Chik with s whole lotta strength, wisdom and Love. I'm sure when you made it back, you were better than ever!

Clark K. - Yep! You hit it dead center.
We are each fallible human beings. We can't expect anyone else to make us happy, or meet all of our expectations and needs. Perhaps if we spend more time trying to understand and less time judging, we'll have half a chance.

As for my own reaction to abandonment, I tend to choose option C. Self-Blame ... still very destructive, but in a different way.

At 12:15 PM, Blogger Kyle Stich said...

My most used line: "Did you just accuse me of being a 'man'?

As for the part about wanting to get some action after helping a rape victim, perhaps you like it a little rougher and cherish that your partner can give it to you that way without crossing the line into full out abuse? Just a stab in the dark.

I grew up in a houseful of women who were victims of severe domestic violence, and as a result, I took too much care in how I made love to a woman, go super soft and gentle whenever in coitus. I never impressed any of them.

Then I hooked up with my wife, and as I maintained that soft-and-gentle rhythm, she looked at me with desperation and told me to stop teasing her. That helped me learn that most women want tumultuous sex, as long as it doesn't cross the line into sheer violence.

Not to mention, traumatic situations can have profound, and generally, unexpected effects on us.


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