I’ve been getting a lot of nice emails and links from friends and readers about the “1 Billion Rising” movement. It’s big. It was all over the newspaper in Albuquerque today, with a flash mob planned in our downtown Civic Center at noon to draw attention to the movement’s cause: Violence Against Women.
I suppose people have felt inclined to alert me about this because I’ve been open about having fallen into an emotionally and psychologically abusive relationship — a relationship I am thankfully no longer in. I think people have assumed I’d be naturally sympathetic to the cause because, you know, I’m now part of the Victim Sisterhood.
I’d like to support 1 Billion Rising. But I can’t. I’m too aware of its enormous blind spot to get involved. The movement, like most others around domestic violence, fails to acknowledge that men are just as likely as women to be victims of violence at the hands of their girlfriends or wives.
According to a recent survey by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, 40 percent of all victims of extreme domestic violence are men, with female perpetrators. Nonetheless, only 15 percent of all reported cases involve male victims, because, thanks to gender stereotypes, men know that society will most likely ridicule or dismiss them.
The CDC survey shows that men are far more likely than women to be victims of deadly instruments when they are attacked by wives or girlfriends, too. Fully 63 percent of men attacked by female partners are attacked with deadly weapons, compared to 15 percent for women attacked by male partners.
Still, our society stays silent about this epidemic and continues to frame its “domestic violence education and outreach” around the insulting idea that girls and women are helpless victims and boys and men are naturally brutes who must be “taught” not to abuse them.
The factual truth about domestic violence is far more complicated than our culture makes it seem, and a lot of it, it seems, starts with women. The United States Department of Health and Human Services reports that children are THREE TIMES MORE LIKELY to be abused by their mothers than their fathers.
What I learned from my own abuser is that boys who grow up to hurt women are almost always victims of earlier abuse by their moms. He certainly was. This doesn’t excuse what he did. I mention it to underscore the need to stop blaming only men for domestic violence. In truth, it’s a whole-family cycle that involves men and women, boys and girls. Until we stop blaming only men and assuming that it is somehow in their “nature” to harm women, until we stop thinking the solution is to “teach” males that women are human, until we stop this nonsense about needing to somehow civilize the brutes that are men, until we hold mothers, girlfriends and wives just as accountable for their abusiveness, the cycle will continue unabated and perhaps even get worse. After all, you cannot convince anyone of your own humanity whilst simultaneously stereotyping, degrading and willingly IGNORING their own.
I’ve gotten all kinds of feedback on social media about this today, after I dared to post the CDC survey link and challenged the “1 Billion Rising” movement to stop being “us versus them” with males versus females and start embracing kindness and nonviolence toward all people, accepting that there are male victims and female perpetrators. “Men are much more likely to abuse,” I’ve been told, even though that’s not actually true. “It’s far more serious when a man attacks a woman because of size difference,” I’ve heard.
Yeah? Tell that to Travis Alexander, who was stabbed 27 times and shot in the face by his ex-girlfriend, Jodi Arias, who ambushed him after he dared to break up with her. Oh, wait, you can’t. He’s dead. Arias is currently on trial in Arizona. Her defense claims she was the “victim,” even though there is no evidence that Travis ever hurt her.
Oh, but that’s an aberration, say the activists. Really? Is that so? Okay. Tell that to Daniel Joseph Murphy, who was recently shot by his wife, Gina Ann Murphy, in their Pennsylvania home. She told police it was self defense, that he’d tried to stab her. They later concluded this was a lie and that Gina had planted the knife found on the scene, after she’d shot Daniel. You can’t talk to him about why he and Travis are just weird “exceptions” to the rule of “man, bad; woman, good,” because he, like Travis, is dead.
“But it’s about a system that oppresses women,” griped one critic of my fact-based approach to domestic violence. Riiiiight. That must be why Christine Billis recently intentionally crashed her car into a tree at high speed in Vermont, knowing that her husband wasn’t wearing his seatbelt. The system. The same system that believed her when she initially told them it was a terrible accident, and only later realized, after she confessed to a new guy she met on the dating site OK Cupid shortly after the accident, that she had done it on purpose, “hoping he would die.” Christine got her wish. Charles Billis died in the crash.
All of these cases have been in the news in the United States in the past week alone. It is common, and it is chronic. Yet, you know, it’s not really a problem. Not as far as most domestic violence activists are concerned. If men are being hurt and killed by women, they seem to say, it must be because they deserve it.
The irony, of course, in all of this is that the very same people who overlook male victims will often say that men and women deserve equal rights. That we are equal. That we are capable of doing the same jobs. That we are equally intelligent. That there are no significant differences between us that might hinder us in doing anything we wish to do. I posit that you cannot both believe the feminist rhetoric about equal ability yet ignore the obvious ability among many dysfunctional women to hurt and kill their boyfriends, lovers and husbands.