How I became an MRA: Domestic violence advocacy

It should come as no surprise to readers here that feminists only support the rights of women who agree with them, and have no qualms throwing disagreeing women under the bus.  To that end, few women (with the possible exception of Phylis Schlafly) have earned as much ire from feminists as Camille Paglia, despite the fact that she describes herself as a feminist.  The fact that she described the MRM as “absolutely necessary” probably doesn’t help her at all.

The woman has a treasure trove of comments poking fun at mainstream feminists and showing them for the prattling, hypocritical idiots they are.  One of my personal favorites is “Leaving sex to feminists is like letting your dog vacation at the taxidermist’s.”  The same, I think, can be said for domestic violence advocacy.

I can speak on this with firsthand experience.  As a child, I grew up in a house rife with domestic violence, nearly all of it perpetrated by my mother.  She yelled at and beat myself and my sister, but she was far, far worse to our father, who never hit her back, and never raised a finger in his own defense.  Until I was taller than her, I lived in constant fear of my mother, and poignantly aware of just how much violence women are capable.

It was a relief for me to discover that I wasn’t alone in having to live with the fear of domestic violence.  A girl at my school (let’s call her Zoey), who’d had similar experiences to mine, introduced me to a number of people bearing helpful alternatives.  She told me about a police officer who had been documenting her abuse at the hands of her mother, and about the many advocacy groups that existed to help children and women who were in abusive relationships with no way out.  I never met the police officer Zoey had talked to, but the advocacy groups were glad to have me on board.

Feminists often say that women are unable to leave abusive relationships because of financial dependence.  It apparently never occurs to them that men (and boys) could be in similar situations.  After Zoey’s friends made it abundantly clear that what was being done to me was illegal, I threatened on several occasions to call the police on my mother.  My mother was a researcher in the School of Nutrition at the local university, and somehow she made more than my dad, who was a professor in the Modern Language department. She was the one bringing home the bacon, and my dad warned me that if I called the police, my mom would lose her job and our family would starve.  That was enough to dissuade me, but I still kept up my work with Zoey’s friends on behalf of those who could afford to lose an abusive parent or partner.

Zoey’s friends were a group of activists, led by several students in the Women’s Studies department at my parents’ university.  They usually had me sitting at their tables, distributing flyers and answering canned questions.  I suppose, reflecting on it, that my presence was part of a silent PR effort on their part to dispel the “myth” that feminists hate men.  I didn’t mind my position at first, since it was easy. When I attended their meetings, they mainly discussed tactics for reaching the public.  Remembering how much my father suffered under my mother, I realized that they had been saying very little about adult female-on-male violence.  Since they’d been so kind to me, I thought that maybe they were just unaware of what a massive problem it was.  They were quite passionate about helping battered women, so I thought they genuinely cared about what they were doing.  I approached one of the Women’s Studies majors (let’s call her Lily) who led the group about the problem of violence against men.  When I told her about it, she gave a patronizing smile and said “Honey, I know there are men out there who are being treated cruelly by women, but it’s just not a problem worth our time.  There aren’t men out there fearing for their lives, getting their phone calls cut off, or who are financially dependent on women and forced to stay with them.”  I was too stunned to tell Lily about my father’s position.  She also told me about how most domestic violence calls made to police are made by neighbors reporting incidents, and police said that neighbors rarely reported incidents of female-on-male violence.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have the knowledge then and there to tell Lily that when a woman hits a man, society usually assumes that the man did something to deserve it.  I did, however, do some research of my own, and here I discovered Warren Farrell’s work, in particular his citing of studies by Murray Straus and Suzanne Steinmetz, which showed that women are every bit as likely as men to hit.  I didn’t bother taking the time to read Dr. Farrell’s other works, but instead printed out what I thought was necessary.

Another time, I volunteered to help out with a church-sponsored therapy group designed to “cure” abusive men of their violent tendencies toward their wives or girlfriends.  I asked each of the men there to tell their stories, and in 90% of the cases, the stories they told were about their wives or girlfriends hitting them first.  I listened patiently, and at the end of the meeting, I calmly and casually reprimanded them for not exercising more self-control when they were being assaulted.  Since, however, I am a rational, equality-minded person, my approach never completely sat right with my conscience, and I thought this incident worth mentioning to my advocacy group.

I brought my findings to the next meeting of our group, which by then had partnered with MAVAW (Men Against Violence Against Women), an organization better known to us here as the White Ribbon Campaign.  When it was my turn to speak, I said that we needed to add a focus on violence against men…I even mentioned the need to help out gay men who were in abusive relationships.  Most of those present acknowledged that violence against men did exist, but they said it wasn’t a concern of theirs because it was so rare.  I passed around the studies I’d found, and asked them to look at them.  Oddly enough, the ones who were the most receptive to my message were the women present.  The MAVAW White Knights present immediately started barking at me like a bunch of bulldogs, accusing me, among other things, of being a misogynist, of trying to ignore violence against women, and trying to sow discord within the group.  Never mind that I’d been campaigning with them for four years, trying to get the general public to take violence against women more seriously; never mind that I had made some rather scathing remarks about abusive men; apparently, my expansion of my sympathies to include abused men somehow meant that I hated women, and obviously beat them myself.

After the meeting, I spoke to Lily about what had happened.  She said that she hadn’t realized that the studies I cited even existed, and she would start working to include men as a group in need of help.  Though I was relieved to hear that, I was devastated when she asked me to leave the group.  I asked why she couldn’t force the men who had verbally attacked me to leave, and she said it was because they needed them as allies.

A note about Lily: unlike most Women’s Studies majors, she was a sweet, open-minded person.  Though I wasn’t present at any future meetings to confirm it, I heard later that when she had tried to push a pro-male agenda, she was kicked out of the group as well.  I was more surprised by the group’s actions than by hers, since she was next in line to be in charge of the group.  Then, I decided to give The Myth of Male Power a read.  The rest, as they say, is history.

Though I’m sure the feminists would love to tell you otherwise, my becoming a Men’s Rights Activist hasn’t made me at all hateful of or cold to women.  I still believe that men who brutalize women are the scum of the Earth.  However, I also believe in the “trust, but verify” rule.  Women who make accusations of domestic violence should be made to face the same scrutiny as anybody else making an accusation of a crime, and anybody who says otherwise has an agenda.  When a woman hits a man and he hits her back, this is not a male-on-female crime; this is reciprocal violence.    Likewise, the idea that women are hurt more than men by being abused is a load of crap.  Women can do plenty of damage, physical and emotional, and they are far more likely than men to use weapons, kick, bite, or hit with objects.  The only reason that violence against women is presumed to be so much worse is because women bruise far more easily than men.

I know first-hand what abuse can do to a person.  Nobody, whether they are male, female, gay, straight, bisexual, transsexual, a man who likes to wear women’s clothing, a woman who likes to wear men’s clothing, black, white, Asian, Hispanic, Christian, Muslim, atheist, feminist, or MRA deserves or should have to experience being abused.  If you are being abused, and you have not been trying to provoke your abuser, I will fight for you, no matter which of that combination of groups you fit into.  Feminists disagree with me on that. It’s funny how they try to paint me as the biased one.

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