Thursday, December 24, 2009

I have an idea for a start....

I still have at least one more post about my vacation coming down the pipe (my day in Washington DC) gender discussion is always on and I can't afford to fall behind.

Okay looking back through Feministing at the posts I missed while I was out I found this (via this).

It is an article authored by Patricia Nicholson in which she spoke on a keynote presentation by clinical psychologist Dr. Lori Haskell at Women’s College Hospital as part of a memorial service for the 20th anniversary of the 14 women killed at l’École polytechnique.

Haskell chose to go a different way and instead of talking about women she spoke about men and and some are part of the problem and how how men can be part of the solution. She focused on three points in her article. I want to focus on one, prevention.

Making Prevention a Priority

Haskell used a medical analogy to illustrate how wrong it is to only focus on the current status of victims in hopes of looking for a way to be rid of the problem.
‘We wouldn’t address a pervasive health problem such as lung cancer by focusing exclusively on what the lungs are like once they are diseased. Instead we would develop theories about what causes the cancer, what can we do about it and then address those behaviours or environmental factors that contribute to the cancer. And we would definitely end the conditions that allow it to develop,’

It is vital with any problem to look at how to keep it from happening rather than just how to treat it once it happens. Haskell manages to lightly touch on what I think is one reason prevention is not the priority that it should be when it comes to dealing with the subset of men that commit violence against women.
...So what has been noticeably absent is a sustained parallel focus on understanding the perpetrators...

For a long time now when a man becomes violent (and not just against women but children and other men as well) he is often written off as just a violent man (because violence is very often associated with the male gender) and is dealt with. Thing is a lot of men who become violent were often victims themselves when they were younger. However this gets lost in the short sighted rush to come down on men like a ton of bricks. Often this treatment is for the sake of political brownie points ("Hey I treated this male criminal harshly! That means I'm tough on crime and protect women! Give me your support!) or money ("Hey I have this shelter open for abused women! That means I care about women! Give me your money!). This is a problem.

The problem with this is that these violent men are not having their deep seated issues addressed. As I said above a lot of people who a become violent offenders were often abused themselves thus starting and continuing the cycle of violence that can poison a family for generations. Helping these boys when they were abused would have probably done them a lot of good and could have very have prevented them from becoming violent to the women in their future lives.

However there is a stigma on male victims of abuse. Something to the effect of, "If he was abused then its because he was too weak to protect himself." (If its heterosexual abuse at the hand of a women then it might change to "He's male and all guys want sex with women all the time anyway. He must have wanted and I would not be surprised if he actually raped her." If its homosexual abuse at the hands of another male then it defaults back to the presumption that its his fault because he could not protect himself.) Such presumptions pretty much tell male victims that they are on their own when it comes to being abused and thus they are left to find their own way to overcome it which is not good.

A victim of a crime should never be left without help. When that happens all sorts of things can happen. The victim may internalize it thinking they deserved to be abused. They may very well internalize it thinking they deserved it and keep it in until it gets to a critical mass at which time they can no longer hold inside and lash out. The victim may display a number of reactions to people who match the description of their abuser ranging from avoidance to open hostility. They may conclude that since they were violated they may think that the only way to make things right or reclaim their own power is to do to someone else what was done to them (which may or may not include targeting those that fit the description of their abuser).

If people want to get serious about getting men involved in preventing male against female violence then I think one crucial step is for people to start taking (especially young) male victims more seriously instead of just writing them off because they are the wrong gender to be a victim. No one wants to talk about how (hypothetical) Johnny was abused as a child but when he grows up and abuses his wife all of a sudden everyone wants to talk about his abusive ways but the conversation will rarely if ever go over the abuse he suffered as a child.

But to do so would actually help do something about violence and the ones that profit from it don't want to see their revenue sources dry up.

Until people can think of males in some other capacity other than a violent abuser it will be a hard time trying to get men involved with ending violence.
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