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.



  2. Yes nasty and violent women do exist.

    I was married to an abusive woman for thirty-nine years. She hid her abuse and I did not talk. Who would’ve believed me?
    After the divorce, people came out of the woodwork with shocking information. I was living with a cunning lascivious harlot. After surviving arsenic poisoning, I run for my life. In divorce Court I was the villain and she was the victim. She had destroyed my reputation and the kangaroo Court destroyed me financially. People I called friends turned into enemies.
    After I had written a book about myself and the kind of life I lived, I was overwhelmed with nasty comments about her secret life. I learned that she is the worst of the worst. Everyone knew but me. I asked some of them, why didn’t you tell me?
    I could talk about it for hours. The whole story is in the following book.

    “LIVING THE DEVIL’S DAUGHER” By: Webster T. George

  3. Jan,
    Very well written -- I wish all of the courts and police read and understood what you wrote. If they did, we could start to change the tide of domestic violence. But, until that time, it will continue to grow unabated.

    Thanks for all the good work you do -- to help bring understanding to the "real" domestic violence.

    Keep it up, we all need leaders like you!

  4. Yeah, I know about this, sadly. My wife hits me. Not often, and not hard (she doesn't really know how to hit), but she does. Maybe once or twice a year. And all I can do is put my hands in my pockets and take it, because I know if I even grab her hand to stop her, I'm the one who'll be going to jail.

    I love my wife, I really do, but she needs help with her rages. I can't say that to her, though, becuase that will provoke the rage. Bad situation.

  5. You don't love ur wife u think u do... what happens is that u forgot to love urself....
    Check on Borderline Personality Disorder BPD you might be surprise that what seems to be an isolated fight is a pattern of her state of and white thinking... jumping in to conclutions an show her bad representationit can take years to realize what are u into ....but time after time will get worst... best advise... run far... you been domesticated to take the beat...u probably already miss when she doesn't beat you... asked ur inner dought friend ... can this be what's happenniong to me...? sneaker and run!!!!

  6. If we are not going to take women's violence and abuse as seriously as we take men's, why should we take women's opinions as seriously as we take men's? After all, according to ideological feminists' own -- and correct -- definition of hate crimes, an act of violence is merely an opinion acted out, a view transformed into behavior.