Friday, July 14, 2006

A Last Word

The last two days have been, well, interesting to say the least. I did know when I posted that letter that it could possibly generate some heated discussion. I had even requested that you all discuss the merits or lack thereof of the proposal and had hoped for some thoughts on what else could be done. My goal was to bring to light the fact that there really are women who’ve been victimized and seen little justice, at least in my experience. (Some of you clearly got that, probably had gotten that ages ago, and were absolutely on the same page. Thank You!)

Long before it became apparent that the discussion would veer off course, I had written the second post. I wanted to clarify that I was most interested in achieving justice for women who were cowed and trapped in cycles of violence and for women who were forced to have sex against their will. Actually, I was undecided about posting it as revisiting their stories was horribly painful for me, knowing the details, but wouldn’t impact readers the same as I purposely withheld the specifics. The decision to post solidified as I realized that some of my readers thought we were discussing more minor, less clear-cut cases and didn’t seem to have the breadth of experience that I’ve had with true victims of abuse at the hands of much larger, crueler people--totally missing my point. Although my main focus was women who’ve suffered because they are a much higher percentage of those victimized, a broader discussion of what to do about serious abuse in any of its forms would have been welcomed too. As I had mentioned, I know men who’ve been on the receiving end, and I certainly don’t consider that a trifling or joking matter. It would be more accurate to say that I am anti-abuse regardless of who is doing it or who is victimized. Period.

I guess some guys really can’t comprehend what it’s like to be small and vulnerable and a target of lust and dominance. Being married fairly young, I was removed from many dangerous situations because I was no longer in the dating scene and rarely unescorted during social events.

However, at 18 I did come close to being a dead body in the woods. Having just gotten into my car, I reached over to lock the passenger side door only to realize there was a man there. As soon as my hand hit the lock, he turned and walked away. There were no other cars in that section of the parking lot. There was no other reasonable conclusion but that he was trying to get to me. Have any of you guys nearly been kidnapped and forced to have sex? And maybe even killed so you couldn’t tell? Have you ever even feared it?

Have you ever been followed around a store by someone outweighing you by 2x who kept insisting that you give him your phone number and that you leave with him right then because he wanted to go out with you? Then despite multiple attempts to explain that you are married…happily married…not the cheating kind…not interested…really Not Interested, felt panicked because you couldn’t seem to get away and because leaving might be worse? And that wasn’t even a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

What stunned me most is that some really didn’t seem to understand that a person can be completely innocent and still be harmed. From some comments, I was left with the impression that if a man were to beat me that, to a man, you would all condemn his actions, but in the back of your mind some of you would think “But she probably was annoying and instigated it.” As there wasn’t any comment on the fact that I really do know several women who’ve been raped, not even of the he said/she said variety, that that doesn’t come up on your radar at all. This is, honest to God, most women’s deepest fear. I can only guess at what some would say about that. I suppose, for example, that I could have been to blame for the guy trying to get into my car or the guys who’ve followed me and pressured me to “go out with” them regardless of how many times and ways I tried to explain that I wasn’t interested. I do, after all, exist. (Okay, I know none of you would say that. I’m just venting after the suffering of some of my friends was marginalized.)

There really are women (and I’ll grant you, men, too) who are locked into patterns of violence. Locked in, because as they’ve been told, they’ll be killed if they try to leave. I know a few who did face more violence as they tried to remove themselves from the sick relationship. And one who died as the result of her decision or rather because the man didn't care for her decision.

By now I’ve probably lost half my readership anyway, so I suppose this post is more therapeutic than anything else. I am, after all, a woman, and needed to tell you how I feel. I needed to do it for me. And I want you to know that while I have frequently maligned the "femi-nazis", a couple of the comments did make me stop and think that maybe, just maybe, they do have a point. Those were some uncomfortable moments, I assure you. I gotta say, I thought that how we deal with abusive men would be controversial. I never dreamed that the real controversy was whether there really are abusive men. For those of you who got me, and for those of you who are sticking around, thank you, and I promise we’ll be moving on from here.


At 7/14/2006 4:00 PM, Anonymous Andy said...

I think the nature of the discussion that developed from your posts illustrates why it is so important to keep the issue on the table.

You're right. Though my illness has made me physically quite weak, I still do not have to contend with the fear you describe simply because I am male. Guys who are prone to abuse aren't just targeting people because they're weak. They're targeting women specifically.

Part of me wants to understand this. Then again, I am kind of glad that I don't. I think that's what we need to shoot for as a society. Men who don't understand this, not because they are foolish, but because the concept is so alien to them that the ability/tendency to abuse boggles the mind.

At 7/14/2006 7:11 PM, Blogger Anna Venger said...

I don't expect you to understand the kind of mind that can stalk or kidnap and molest a woman. I surely can't.

Thank you for your support, Andy.


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