October is Masculinity Awareness Month

October 6, 2015

Not really, but it might as well be.  Domestic Violence Awareness Month in Oregon roars in with yet another public shooting, in Roseburg this time:

“The elephant in the room with … mass shootings is that almost all of them are being done by men,” Professor Kilmartin says. Male shooters often “project their difficulties onto other people…”

A friend of mine just covered the shooting in Roseburg for the AP. She said there was once this one public shooting like 10 yrs ago done by a woman:

In the majority of cases, the catalyst for the shooting was something that threatened the man’s identity as a man. The main statistic is inarguable—69 [ed: now 71] males to one lone female. Being a man is the single most common characteristic of every mass shooting in the last 32 years. – See more at: http://goodmenproject.com/ethics-values/patterns-mass-shootings-conversation-men/#sthash.TiX1QKYN.dpuf

I would go further to surmise that the vast supermajority of these men are cisgendered, meaning they fit the gender assigned to them at birth, e.g., as opposed to gay, transgendered or other queer identities, because queerness as a political identity often requires owning up to and exploring ourselves, which means shedding vs embracing patriarchal impositions of identity.  Men who do not identify as “queer” must find a similarly-effective way to accomplish this same task of owning and exploring themselves, and ultimately shedding and embracing any patriarchal impositions of identity inasmuch as they do not accurately reflect or represent their (constantly changing and evolving) person.

Banning guns to prevent male-pattern violence is like trying to prevent food poisoning by removing the food — it’s just the vector.  Guns don’t kill people. Patriarchal masculinity kills people. It terrorizes us all in both public and private ways. And it happens through a lot more means than guns.

Patriarchal masculinity represents a social embodiment of coercive control (e.g., alongside white racial and upper socioeconomic class identities) to maintain a rigid social hierarchy.  Domestic violence is a kind of private terrorism that results from patriarchal masculinity.  Please note that I’m not saying that coercive and controlling women don’t exist — they do inasmuch as they internalize and enact patriarchal behaviors (which is relatively rare though certainly not unheard of).  But the first victim in every case is the person who becomes the violent vector for social reproduction of coercive control.  It creates an internal, ongoing crisis within the person.  Like a communicable parasite, it changes the person’s attitude, behavior, their perception of themselves vis-a-vis the world.  Then, ironically, in an effort to escape the crisis, they start doing the social bidding of the controlling identity, and become agents of coercive control, first in their intimate lives…

…and later, in more public forms:

Men who commit violence rehearse and perfect it against their families first. Women and children are target practice, and the home is the training ground for these men’s later actions.

A recent study found that more than half of the 110 mass shootings in the United States between January 2009 and July 2014 included the murder of a current or former spouse, an intimate partner or a family member. Everytown for Gun Safety, the group that released the study, found a “noteworthy connection between mass-shooting incidents and domestic or family violence.”

This connection is not limited to mass shootings. An analysis of the criminal justice history of hundreds of thousands of offenders in Washington State suggests that a felony domestic violence conviction is the single greatest predictor of future violent crime among men.  (from http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/03/opinion/to-stop-violence-start-at-home.html?_r=0)

Male-pattern violence forms a type of “aggrieved entitlement,” where masculine-type people have become “pissed off about an inability to cash in on privileges previous generations of men received without question.”   In other words, as the gender hierarchy collapses, the racial and class hierarchies intensify the pressure they exert on masculine-type people to reclaim some modicum of social privilege and repair and stabilize the hierarchy.  Men who don’t deal with their toxic masculinity will find themselves immersed in a sort of private hell (a la Eliot Rodgers) that infects their person, their relationships and ultimately their public expression of self.  The low-hanging fruit for men who walk this path involves directly imposing themselves on others.  For men who don’t have access to racial or especially class privileges (wealthy men can impose themselves using money and the economy), this often becomes a very physical imposition.  The most empowered forms of this imposition are often the least visible.   Wealthy masculine-type people like Donald Trump can stand in front of a camera while their economic clout works its magic behind the scenes, put to tasks of buying and even killing people.  My partner reminds me that the CEO of Hershey’s chocolate can live completely isolated from the slavery that supports his wealth.

I think some masculine-type people fear that the destruction of masculinity will result in a bunch of “spineless pussies unable to stand up for themselves.”  Based on my personal experience, nothing seems further from the truth.  The more I reject and abolish masculinity within and around myself, the more I feel I can act with clarity and courage to help protect and liberate myself alongside those whom I love.  For example, when I intervene in a situation, I no longer feel constrained to act within a narrow range of what masculinity accepts as legitimate, and I have access to an entire range of tactics and strategies to bring effective resolution.  When a dude is maneuvering someone who is way too drunk into a sexual encounter, I don’t need to fight as a “good guy” against “bad guys” and I don’t worry about being seen as a “pussy” or “cockblock.”   I can focus on survivor safety and empowerment and de-escalation and anything else that seems effective at maximizing the success of the intervention without worrying about whether my “manhood” is at stake.  Others in my life who have rejected masculinity in their own ways (queer people, feminists, even and especially other cisgendered men, etc) also represent some of the most courageous and effective people I have ever met.  Without masculinity, our struggles become more effective.  What does it mean (for me) to “reject” and “abolish” masculinity?  That’s something for another essay.

So to stop the terrorism, we need to target it at its root:  the toxic, patriarchal masculinity that exists in a larger, rigid social hierarchy among interlocking race and class hierarchies.  Masculinity is so fundamental to our social structure that it forms a sort of lynch-in that either enables or undermines progress toward liberation.  All people can choose to become either agents of social control or agents of liberation, and for men in a patriarchal culture, this means confronting and ultimately rejecting the masculine ego.  More and more I come to believe that people who happen to have external genitalia don’t need masculinity — rather, masculinity needs us, the people, and all forms of intersecting oppressions need patriarchy.  It represents a fundamental social unit of oppression and a primary enforcement mechanism for rigid social structures.  I do not argue that oppressions still exist, but by rejecting and sabotaging masculinity, we both greatly weaken the kyriarchy of intersecting oppressions and we vastly increase our capacity and potential for liberatory practice.

So starting this year, I will begin to think of October as Masculinity Awareness Month, or Coercive Control Awareness Month.  Domestic violence awareness suffices as a means to the same end.  However, I think it focuses on a symptom of the underlying problem, and we ultimately need to start looking seriously at the inherent pathology of masculinity alongside our efforts to render domestic violence increasingly visible and support and celebrate those who continue to survive in its midst.

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Tool: Understanding and Breaking Coercive Control

January 4, 2015
  1. Introduction
  2. The Audition (video clip)
  3. Analysis:  The tactics of control
  4. The Way Out, The Way Forward
  5. Concluding Thoughts

Introduction

This post revolves around a short two-minute animated video (“The Audition,” directed by Daniel Cohen, created from a series of still photographs of fists).  The video features Joanna Lumley and Patrick Stewart literally playing out a domestic violence process.  It shows how entitlement, escalation, calculated outbursts, and honeymoon/reconciliation periods all converge to reinforce a system of coercive control — the same power dynamic underlying all forms of oppression and a major force of colonization.  In this way, domestic violence exists as a microcosmal reflection of the relationship between many people and the existing social order.

The video does an excellent job of dispelling the myth that domestic violence is mostly about physical violence (ie, people inflicting physical pain upon others). Domestic violence is coercive, controlling violence — the systematic (non-consensual) imposition of one’s will on another to create and reinforce a stagnant and arbitrary power dynamic for its own sake.  Coercive control is often slick and subtle, and may or may not include physical violence. Physical violence may serve coercive control, or it may serve as a form of defense against coercive control. We can only tell the one from the other when we understand the relational and social context of the violence — the social power dynamic.

The Audition (video clip)

TRIGGER WARNING — THE VIDEO MAY RETRAUMATIZE

TRANSCRIPT: The Audition

Setting: a female auditioner, clearly a professional with a lot of industry experience, calls on some finalists from an earlier audition to demonstrate their ability to represent the “face of domestic violence” by accurately portraying an abusive attitude.

Auditioner (voiced by Joanna Lumley): Now, thank you all for attending. You’ve all been superb. It’s a testament to the depth and range of aggression out there that any one of you could have been the new fist-face of domestic violence.

So, now, who’s still in for the chance to be the poster-boy of painful abuse? Um, I’d like to see number three, number seven [both appear clearly excited in front fo the camera] and number twenty three [appearing calm, almost bored] again.

Number three, let’s see you in action again.
[cut to Fist #3]
Fist #3: [flips the camera the bird]

Auditioner: Very good. Strong but silent, but this time I think you’re missing that little bit of magic. Number seven?
[cut to Fist #7]
Fist #7: [growls menacingly at the camera]

Auditioner: Very believable. I can almost feel myself bruising when I watch you. But I think this time you’re just a bit too obvious. Number twenty-three?
[cut to Fist #23]
Fist #23 [voice by Patrick Stewart, with a smug, confident drawl]: Hello, everyone.

Auditioner: Lovely start, keep going.

Fist #23: Do you know that on average you can beat a woman 35 times before she calls the police? Surprising, isn’t it?

Auditioner [excited, very pleased]: Very good!

Fist #23 [smugly]: Thank you, I am classically trained.

Auditioner [clarifying]: I was just thinking, the message we really want to get across–

Fist #23 [interrupting, irritated]: Yes, I think I know what the message is.

Auditioner: If I could just finish…What we–

Fist #23 [interrupting, agitated, pointing aggressively]: Listen, sweetie, I’ve been in the business a long time, and I don’t need someone like you telling me what to do.

Auditioner [flustered, confused]: But I…I just–

Fist #23 [shouting aggressively, pounding fist violently]: DON’T YOU TELL ME WHAT TO DO!!!

Auditioner [scared, terrified]: Sorry, sorry…

Fist #23 [calm again]: I’m so sorry. I don’t know what came over me. Shall we do another take…dear?

Analysis: the tactics of control

Notice how fist #23 creates the power dynamic by first interrupting and usurping control from the auditioner (who technically should have final and complete say in how the audition unfolds…afterall, they are auditioning for her). He uses demeaning language to reinforce his interruptions, then erupts in rage to cement his control of the situation and force his victim into a momentary position of apologetic submission. The auditioner apologizes almost automatically, as if she did something to provoke his rage, clearly trying to avoid further confrontation. Fist #23 capitalizes on the apologetic submission by quickly returning to a state of calm with a subtle and patronizing implication that she “provoked” him into his fit. Lastly, Fist #23 cements his dominance by moving everything back on track as if nothing at all had happened (except that he just terrorized her and completely usurped her agency), still using demeaning language as a tactic of control (“…dear”). He appears calm, while she is clearly shaken. Now they have an understanding, a working relationship: He can calmly order her around from a position of empowered entitlement, pretending like he’s requesting something when in fact he demands it. She now has a pretty good idea of what will happen if she either a. does something he doesn’t want, or b. doesn’t do something he wants. He will flip the switch randomly from this point on, to keep her in constant fear (aka, “walking on eggshells”) of when and whether he will snap.  In other words, she has been colonized, victimized, forced into the social role of a tool and artifact of oppression, slavery and control.

In the business, we call the abuser’s abrupt tactical shift in behavior “crazy-making.” It’s over and done with long before you’ve had time to even process what’s happening. You never quite know when, where or how you will “provoke” another violent outburst. You start self-policing (“walking on eggshells”), doing every little thing you can to please him, or at least to avoid his rage.  Only it doesn’t work, because compliance and submission (the flipside of power and entitlement) demand random reinforcement.

Crazy-making explains why, when outsiders encounter incidents stemming from longstanding forms of systematic oppression, they often find a hysterical victim and a calm, collected and rational abuser. Often, they misinterpret the situation and paint the victim as the aggressor, supporting and strengthening the abuser’s social position.  Sometimes, the victim fights back, and outsiders’ mythical and incoherent belief in “victim aggression” means the victim often goes to prison, sentenced as an aggressor, not as someone defending their life and liberty from a terrifying, controlling onslaught.

Victims live under intense scrutiny and control.  As a result, they have to carefully plan any means to defend themselves without alerting their abuser.  Ignoring the context of coercive control, the establishment confuses victims’ self-defense with “pre-meditation,” even though it’s often just part of a larger personal safety strategy to break free of coercive control. Sometimes, the coercive control that abusers impose on victims gets so bad that victims often defend themselves knowing they’ll probably go to prison for it.  Sometimes, defensive outbursts come as a surprise to both the victim and the abuser.  In other words, abusers create a situation where victims are either willing to either die trying to leave, or willing to defend themselves, go to prison, and effectively substitute one form of coercive control to break free from another. To quote Patrick Stewart from another clip:

“A couple of months ago, having read a report in The Guardian about women who were all completing their sentences for having murdered their partners…I was so moved by the stories of these three women, that I think for the first time ever I was compelled to send off a response to the Guardian, which they printed. One of the things that I said was that I was not a violent child… but if my mother had, at any point between [my ages] of 5-12, picked up a knife or any other weapon against my father, I would have held her hand as she did it. I would have locked the door while she carried it out. That’s how bad it was, to be growing up inside a violent household.”

That’s how bad it gets?  No, it gets worse, actually.

The Way Out, The Way Forward

Abusers make leaving the relationship one of the most dangerous things an abuse victim can do.   So it’s equally understandable when someone decides to stay, keep their head down and weather the storm for a bit longer.  If someone doesn’t intervene and neutralize the source of control, then these are the four possible outcomes:

  1. The victim dies (murdered or suicide)
  2. The abuser dies (murdered in defense)
  3. Both die (abuser murder-suicide; note that abusers will often threaten suicide as a control tactic, but are more likely, if really suicidal, to commit a murder-suicide — another manifestation of empowered entitlement)
  4. Victim remains under abuser control

So, the victim must choose between prison, death or slavery to the terror of a living death in the constant shadow of coercive control.  I believe this is what people mean when they say, “No justice, no peace.”  Historically, when others have intervened, it has been victim-focused, and often victim-blaming in various ways (structurally speaking, any intervention that does not include accountability for the abuser and neutralization of the source of the threat is victim blaming).  In his book Coercive Control, Evan Stark points out a difficult truth that the domestic violence shelter movement has actually not made any progress toward its mission to protect the lives of abuse victims, who still get murdered by abusers at the same rate as before shelters appeared.   However, in giving victims the perception of a safe option, the shelter movement has effectively protected the lives of abusers who would otherwise have been murdered by their victims in an act of self-defense. To effectively protect the lives of victims, we must intervene proactively to neutralize the source of the ever-constant threat and terror the abuser creates in the life of the victim.

This intimate form of oppression is bad enough — but it doesn’t stop there.  We live in a society where the dynamic of coercive control manifests in various ways that intersect with or nest within one-another.  For example, a similar dynamic exists between black people (esp. black men, but also people of color generally) and the police state (including the prison-industrial complex), native people and the US and Canadian corporate governments, or between bosses and workers, or the 1% and the 99%, or hetero people and queers, etc, etc.

Due to the nesting and intersecting nature of coercive control, the intimate partner abuser may in turn suffer any number of other societal abuses at the hands of others, inside other institutional contexts (the indignities of wage slavery and subservience to the police state being two of many examples).  No clear “abuser/victim” dichotomy exists in an abusive, colonizing society.  That does not excuse an abuser’s perpetuation of coercive control from their particular position of empowered entitlement.

I often think that people abuse, not only because that’s how we learned to “relate” to the rest of the world, but because, deep down, we all desire liberation, and the established social order has convinced us wrongly that we can somehow find freedom by clawing our way up a rigid social hierarchy — by participating in and perpetuating a master/slave dynamic.  When we accept empowered entitlement and coercive control as our relational MO, we confine ourselves to social roles that destroy us and prevent our personal and relational development while reinforcing the very systems and institutions we seek to escape in the first place.  Liberation means relinquishing control and empowered entitlement as much as it means fighting off the coercive control of others.  When we do these two activities together, we gain the opportunity to build solidarity, where people help one-another in their autonomous struggles for liberation.

That said, abusers from the privileged side of the equation tend to behave intractably — that is, they actively refuse and resist change as an inherent part of the institution of coercive control.  I think this happens in part because nested and intersecting forces of colonization reinforce one-another and consistently reassert themselves.  Our desire for liberation conflicts with our social privilege.  The more privilege we have, the greater the conflict.  Besides, willingness to change and relinquish control would defeat the purpose of coercive control in the first place!

For example, in keeping with Evan Stark’s analysis of the DV shelter movement,  consider that cops still murder black people at the same rate that white mobs lynched them a few decades ago.  If the goal is the valuation of black lives (#blacklivesmatter), then we see that the institutions themselves rarely change in noticeable or meaningful ways, even when everyone involved wants the change.  Nor can they ironically impose meaningful change on anyone.   They do what they were designed to do:  control people through the imposition and strict enforcement of narrow social roles, upholding and reinforcing empowered entitlement and master/slave power dynamics.  When we legitimize the institutions, we play a game of whack-a-mole.  Sure, lynch mobs don’t happen as often as they used to.  But it’s still technically legal to murder a black person (that is, you can expect that the “justice system” won’t indict and prosecute you for the murder, as long as you’re not also black).  To value the lives of black people, we must actively abandon and destroy the “white” and “black” identities that form the master/slave dynamic of institutionalized racism, otherwise coercive control will simply continue to reassert itself in different ways.   Passive “white colorblindness” is just another version of what Howard Zinn called trying to “stay neutral on a moving train.”  People getting their heads bashed in can’t afford to “turn the other cheek.”

So when a good friend of mine holds a sign at a protest saying, “I respect black rage,” I understand and agree.  I see her carefully and forcefully acknowledging and abandoning her white identity for a greater, liberatory solidarity.  Respect it and support it.  The only way to protect life and liberty in the context of coercive control is to neutralize the source of empowered entitlement and the institutional means through which it manifests and imposes itself on victims.  That source exists within us and others.  Attack and undermine its social legitimacy.  Destroy its power.  This may involve struggles between individuals, but it must move beyond the individual interactions to target the social roles of empowered entitlement and victimization that coercive control requires.  That involves coordinated, direct action as well as chaotic, individual leadership.  Just as angry mobs can reproduce empowered entitlement, they can also destroy the thin veil of control that the existing social order uses to keep most people submissive and compliant in the face of overwhelming injustice.

Concluding Thoughts

We can’t make abusers change, but we can protect ourselves effectively from their onslaught. MLK, Jr, understood this (he carried a firearm “for protection,” surrounded himself with armed bodyguards, and a journalist described his home as “an arsenal.” Many understood the need for effective self-defense at the height of the civil rights movement:

Having fought in World War II, Williams led his local chapter in advocating armed self-defense after a nonviolent campaign for local desegregation failed. In his book, Negroes With Guns, he describes one occasion when he had to protect himself from a lynch mob.

As the mob is shouting for gasoline to be poured on Williams and his friends, and begins to throw stones, Williams steps out of the car with an Italian carbine in hand.

“All this time three policemen had been standing about fifty feet away from us while we kept waiting in the car for them to come and rescue us. Then when they saw that we were armed and the mob couldn’t take us, two of the policemen started running. One ran straight to me, grabbed me on the shoulder, and said, ‘Surrender your weapon! Surrender your weapon!’ I struck him in the face and knocked him back away from the car and put my carbine in his face, and told him that we didn’t intend to be lynched. The other policeman who had run around the side of the car started to draw his revolver out of the holster. He was hoping to shoot me in the back. They didn’t know that we had more than one gun. One of the students (who was seventeen years old) put a .45 in the policeman’s face and told him that if he pulled out his pistol he would kill him. The policeman started putting his gun back in the holster and backing away from the car, and he fell into the ditch.

“There was a very old man, an old white man out in the crowd, and he started screaming and crying like a baby, and he kept crying, and he said, ‘God damn, God damn, what is this God damn country coming to that the n*****s have got guns, the n*****s are armed and the police can’t even arrest them!’ He kept crying and somebody led him away through the crowd.”

We know we’re onto something good when sad, old abusers cry in frustration as they witness the disintegration of their social privilege.  Effective self-defense is a form of direct action that directly threatens the legitimacy of institutions of oppression.  It is one of the first ways we defect from and sabotage the existing social order.  In doing so, we create space and agency for more direct action to destroy the source of the threat requiring the defense in the first place.

let’s not forget about Robert F. Williams, Ella Baker, Fannie Lou Hamer, Malcolm X and then later the Black Panther Party—all of whom advocated for violent retaliation, scaring their oppressors, and therefore opening up space for non-violent demonstrators to protest under safer conditions.

Inside that space, we have boundless opportunity to explore new forms of relating and interacting, only if the defensive response also undermines, delegitimizes and destroys other intersecting or nested forms of coercive control instead of reproducing them (e.g., sexism, intimate partner violence along with institutionalized racism).  The New Civil Rights Movement must tear down and destroy all intersecting and nested institutions of oppression and their related identities of empowered entitlement.  To liberate any one of us, we must liberate all of us.  To liberate all of us, we must manifest solidarity as mutual support of autonomous liberatory struggles.   And we must continue to destroy those institutions, identities and social roles wherever they threaten to grow again, otherwise we will create a “meet the new boss, same as the old boss” situation.  We have lots to destroy.  So let’s get on with it.


121812 single spark

October 7, 2014

121812

my friend, I see you
as you walk so calmly amongst us
as if you were nothing more
than a simple guy with a smart strut
sliding between us
smooth as silk cuts through strands of smoke
searching.  I search, too.

I hear you
laugh as you take a joke
and file it away, for later
the same as I see the wheels in your rational head
twisting and turning, thoughtful dead
I feel the empty hunger in your heart
pumping and burning, and
I sense the doubtful blood in your veins
yielding to the yearning.

you are kind and gentle
to us, perfectly flawed
you are a good friend
to some, and we stand blind, in awe
but all it takes is just one, to me
no turning back, you embrace
what you’ve become

I am here to help you
realize what you’ve done
because i see you, in the dark
and in the moment that we meet
will be a single spark
so it’s with a heavy hand
and an open heart I offer you
fair warning and a fresh head start:

watch your back, monster
you might hide from others
but I see you for what you are
I know your victims, some survive
I see them in the skies at night
and I feel their scars

you won’t be the only one
stalking its prey, by night
and by day, any where, any way
might be the perfect time to strike

you won’t be the only one
calculating, cold, cautious of his choice:
vulnerable, accessible, lacking credibility
those without a voice
whose silent terror falls
with the cycles of the moon
because they put their trust in you

relish their fear
you will know it soon.
living too much in your brain
run away, hide, explain it all
the pain you cause
you will feel it, too

the moment when we meet again
we won’t be so lonely, because
you won’t be the only one
refusing to take, ‘no’ for an answer, anymore
I know exactly what it is about you I abhore
you’re nothing special, nothing unique
not talented, nor gifted
nothing, and no more.

Do you see me, now?
because i see you in the dark
and in the moment that we meet
will be a single spark
through the lens of history:
your life, your death
our one, and only mark.


“why not dogs?”

March 31, 2011

This is a rambling response to a question someone I respect posed in her blog:

How can you advocate for a bill to “protect animals and their owners from harm” and eat another animal that night for dinner?  How can you allow another animal to go through the terrifying, horrendous, oppressive, and murderous process that it takes to get its body or its products onto your plate?  Because it’s not as cute as a dog?

domestication itself is oppressive.  we shouldn’t “own” anything.  we shouldn’t have “pets” — that’s just another euphemism for anthropocentric system of the enslavement and control of other species.  and we shouldn’t be thinking in inherently abusive and exploitative terms such as “resources” (“sustainable resource management” is an oxymoron). [all that begs the question, what SHOULD we be doing?] Read the rest of this entry »


Same old question: Where are the men?

November 2, 2010

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. However, according to sociologist Dr. Evan Stark, the term “domestic violence” is a bit of a misnomer: Up until they try to leave, abuse survivors experience “coercive control” — a spectrum of instrumental violence consisting of intimidation, isolation, and physical abuse meant to maintain an abuser’s power. Thus, the abuse survivors experience is not necessarily domestic, nor is it physically violent. As such, abuse survivors often face three difficult options: Stay with the abuser and live in terror, try to leave and risk serious harm, or try to neutralize their abuser.

Toward the end of last year, several women and children in the Portland-metro area tried to leave their abusers behind. As a result, their abusers murdered them. Under the lead of the Portland Women’s Crisis Line, the community responded with a vigil. During this month of October, 2010, my thoughts turn back to my experience at that vigil last year…

As horrific as these murders are, an abuser’s final homicidal tendencies are just the tip of the iceberg of what abuse survivors experience daily in our communities. They live their lives in an atrocious terror that is completely preventable, and their murders are flash points, like lightning on a stormy horizon. The storm of violence will continue to surge in our communities and terrorize our loved ones if we keep ignoring the warning signs and their underlying causes. When will we commit ourselves to acting as a community?

Let me clarify who I mean when I say, “we.” Read the rest of this entry »


violence against women is not the problem

November 2, 2010

As a bit of a preface, I am writing this as an activist working to end men’s violence against women. So this essay is largely a self-critical analysis of how I situate myself amongst the strategic landscape of the movement for gender justice.

Abuse, as Dr. Evan Stark argues in his book Coercive Control, is fundamentally a crime against liberty. Physical violence is, at most, merely instrumental to the purpose of subjugating women. Physical violence has been a powerful force in keeping women down, but is by no means the only (or even most) effective tactic available to agents of patriarchy (of any gender ;). Since feminists have successfully unearthed Read the rest of this entry »