Saturday, November 27, 2010

We Need to Stop Excusing Women's Violence

For the past few weeks one of the the stars of MTV's hit show, "Teen Mom," Amber Portwood, has been the focus of a whole lot of media attention for her domestically violent behavior caught on tape towards the father of her toddler child Leah and boyfriend, Gary Shirley. Every news outlet from CBS to CNN to TMZ has written or spoken about the on-camera verbal and physical assaults that Amber has directed towards Gary. Gary, to his credit, has never physically retaliated.
Although I don't know Gary personally I know thousands of "Gary's" in similar situations. Gary, like other men in these situations who do not hit women or defend themselves against a woman's violence, know the rules of the game i.e. if a woman hits you stand there in take it because if you defend yourself you're going to jail. There is no excuse for abuse, unless it's a woman doing the abusing.
For years women's violence against men has been ignored, minimized and excused. However, this young women's violence, caught on tape, has been hard to ignore or brush off. Had her violence not been caught on tape it's likely that it would still be going on behind closed doors and no one would be the don't tell.
To view a 55 second clip of her physical and verbal abusiveness towards Gary click here And there is a lot more where that came from. One wonders how long the camera crew and producers would have let Gary get away with hitting, slapping, choking and berating Amber before stopping or reporting the domestic violence had roles been reversed.
Still some will choose to make excuses for Amber's verbal and physical violence because Amber is a female and Gary is a male. Nothing new there, those entrenched in domestic violence issues have been making excuses for women's violence for decades.
Take, for instance, Lynn Harris's article for Salon, "Is female-on-male violence on the rise? '"Teen Mom's"' Amber Portwood has turned a spotlight on women who hit. We take a closer look at the supposed trend," (catch the "supposed" innuendo there?). Ms. Harris claims that women use violence out of frustration to get attention i.e. women are weak and needy of attention, while men use violence to assert their power and control over women, i.e. to keep them in their place and subservient to men. However, according to the comments made it seems few viewers of the show agree:

"I live in ambers hometown and...this crazy bit?h is 100 percent real! The stories about her fighting her neighbor over a parking spot, true! Her abusing Gary, true! She is an embarrassment to her entire town...." "...I think Amber and Gary need help, but i defiantly (sic) think Leah is better off with Gary then Amber I do not think she is safe with Amber." "...Gary is far calmer and needs to have custody of Leah...Now she dumped Gary and has a new guy that she's bringing around the baby. Has that new guy seen the show? Cause he might want to buy some protective gear."
"...GREAT JOB GARY 4 putting LEAH first! Amber would love it if u were 2 b sneaky & disobey the laws..thus hurting Leah. Keep that monster AWAY until she is fit & allowed the privilege 2 b a mother again. If it ever even happens!" "I am so happy that the Amber abusive chick is getting what she deserves. Not only does she smack Gary around, but she is a risk for the baby. what if she goes crazy? like the time she locked the baby in the room because she was crying for her daddy. She can snap at any x and at anyone it is scary to have a person like that in your home."

Bill at Bill's Pro-feminist Blog in his posting on (although not on the subject of Amber's violence but women's violence against men in general), "But women do it to! On acknowledging female violence towards men," also makes excuses for women's violence. He reiterates what Ms. Harris says about women's violence, ""First, we need to understand how women’s violence in relationships is often very different from men’s violence in relationships,"" and then he discusses how, and I'm paraphrasing here, women's violence is less injurious and more about attention seeking while men's is about, "...putting you back in your place, bitch."" Additionally according to Bill men are in full control of their faculties, their use of violence is patriarchal in nature used to dominate and control while women use violence is because (here comes the excuses) they have a mental illness and/or abuse hard drugs i.e. they can't help it. Hello, mental illness and hard drug use is not exclusive to women just as using violence as a means to control and gain power in a relationships is not exclusive to men.

Now back to Amber Portwood and Gary Shirley's (and their toddler who witnessed Amber's abuse of her father) situation, even with hard documented evidence of verbal threats and physical assault it took seven weeks before the police decided to charge Amber with two counts of felony and a misdemeanor. At this writing there has been no arrest because the DA still hasn't even filed the charges yet. I think we can all agree that the investigation might have taken tops 48 hours if Gary was doing the hitting and berating on camera. He would have been arrested and locked up before you could say "Patriarchy." ;-)

Although there are plenty of gray areas when it comes to domestic violence some still choose to continue to look at domestic violence as a black and white phenomonom; men's patriarchy and men as a group are the cause of domestic violence. These same people continue to turn a blind eye to research that doesn't fit their beliefs (see Dr. Daniel Whittaker et al Dr. Denise Hines, and Dr. Murray Straus for info on female domestic violence and male victimization) and continue to perpetuate the myth that women's violence should be excused for the most part because it's not as harmful or being used as a means to control and maintain power over an intimate partner. This thinking does a grave disservice to male victims, female perpetrators and the innocent children who are caught in the middle. As long as society continues to view female violence as harmless there will be people who believe that, "...shes not going to hit the baby she hits him because shes frustrated hes a big fat lazy bum I'd hit him too in fact I'd kick him to the curb." and male victims and their children will suffer the consequences.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Give Under Served Victims of Domestic Violence a Lifeline

We are in the Pepsi Refresh Project challenge for the month of November. Please Vote for our Project to win by going to the Pepsi site, signing up and voting daily. Thank You!

Our Project:


  • To raise awareness about the 834,000 male victims of dv annually
  • To educate and empower victims and others with our publications
  • To offer concrete help and support to male victims


The "Men are victims too" project has been in development over the last ten years of listening to and supporting tens of thousands of men in relationships with abusive partners. Research has shown that little information, outreach or supportive services exist for men (and their children) who want to remove themselves from the violence. Yet studies indicate men make up at least 25% of the reported cases of domestic abuse each year. Additionally, abuse against men is highly under reported due to the stigma associated with being a male victim.

We have informational booklets, brochures, and posters for and about male victims that we will make available to those who worked most closely with victims; Emergncy Room personnel and police departments. These materials will be invaluable tools for victims and beneficial to those in a position to assist them. This funding will be used to increase public knowledge of male victims and enhance our ability to offer victims services.

How will the 50K be Used?

Budget Notes: The budget will not cover the cost of printing and mailing add'l materials requested from the original mailings, a social media relations professional donating 100 hrs of his time to help us promote our message on the internet or a Google grant that allows us up to 10K in free advertising a month.
$ 25,000 Printing of approx. 30,000 posters, booklets, & brochures
$ 5,000 Purchase of 2500 large envelopes and postage
$ 2,500 Stipends for volunteers
$ 16,000 Funds for victim services- more public awareness=more helpline callers
$ 1,500 expenses

Thank you for voting!

Vote for this idea

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Real Men Do Cry

What a well written, compassionate article about male victims of spousal abuse. Bravo! Real Men Do Cry The hidden pain: domestic abuse targeted toward men

Real men don't hit women, but sometimes women hit them.

Jason Chivers (whose name has been changed to protect his family) is a middle-aged Calgary teacher of average build. At home, his wife would engage in sporadic episodes of violence that Chivers won't talk about even now that he's left the marriage. At the time, despite the violence, he says he didn't want to leave because of his kids.

Research into the area of domestic abuse targeted at men indicates that men fear going to jail on false charges, the loss of their children, and having to pay for both the family house plus an apartment on just their income.

Yet when Chivers and his wife sought help, the counsellor's first advice was to just get a divorce.

"I spent a lot of time in the office, living there . . . for weeks at a time," says Chivers. "Eventually I got the divorce, but not until I had tried everything else first. . . . The whole system is a disaster for men."

Although it's not often talked about, abuse against men happens in households across the city, in numbers and types nearly the same as women: according to StatsCanada, in 2005, seven per cent of women and six per cent of men experienced abuse. The difference is, men don't tell.

Read more: