Equality means equality for everyone.
By Andy Thomas
In a rather succinct book, Erin Pizzey gave the world a simple message that should have changed our society for the better. I will never forget the breathtaking sense of clarity I felt as I read its very first page. Her book was called “Prone to Violence”, and in it she documents her experience of running the first ever domestic violence refuge, Chiswick Women’s Aid, which she founded in 1971.
What she wrote seemed incredible to me at the time, but today it seems incredible that it wasn’t obvious before that moment. Indeed, I find incredible that it isn’t immediately obvious to everyone. I realise now, of course, that the reason for this is that our cultural narrative blinds us to the truth, and we must cut through this first.
It was my involvement with the men’s human rights movement which caused me to read Erin’s book and to seek her out personally. Later, it became clear that we shared an ability to view society from an outside perspective, and she and I became good friends as a result. If it surprises you that the woman who set up the first shelter for “battered women” should want to associate herself with men’s human rights, then perhaps that’s an indication that you need to question the things you’ve always been told.
In my case, I guess I could say that it was Sharon Osbourne, the celebrity, who caused me to question things with the degree of seriousness required to jolt me out of my oblivious state. I won’t be thanking her for it, however.
A few years ago, I stumbled across a clip of a television show which Sharon Osbourne Co-hosts, “The Talk”. In this clip,
Osbourne ridiculed a man over his horrific mutilation and torture at the hands of his psychotic wife – a woman he had been attempting to divorce. As Osbourne mocked his suffering, her fellow co-hosts, all women, laughed along with the audience, which appeared to be all female.
I felt sick at the spectacle.
I recognized on an emotional level that what I was watching was very wrong — these women were unable to see this man as a human being. History has shown us time and time again that once we stop thinking of a group of people as human, it becomes acceptable for society to target them. It was the apparent acceptability of Osbourne’s behaviour that disturbed me most and, from that moment on, I began to take on new perspectives and new priorities.
Erin initially opened her refuge for battered wives. What she found, however, was that the abusive behaviour she encountered was often mutual between partners, and that men and boys were equally the targets of violence. Her shelter took in boys, and she often enlisted the help of men to look after her women and children, many of whom had never known good decent men. She also tried desperately to open a shelter for abused men but found that while offers of money for women were forthcoming, no one wanted to help adult males.
Most significantly, however, Erin was perhaps the first to truly appreciate how family violence and abuse is generational in nature, rather than gender based. Both men and women can be equally abusive in their personal relationships, and the significant factor in this is their childhood, not their gender. This is what she wrote about in “Prone to Violence”, and its message stood in stark contrast to that of the feminist movement of the 1970’s which viewed men as the ones who were responsible for all violence, and that such behaviour is intrinsic to them. This is the belief among many within feminism as well as those outside of it, likely due to the influence of feminist thought, some 40 years later.
Consequently, upon trying to bring her perspective to a wider audience, Erin found herself subject to a campaign of threats and violence, including bomb threats against her family. Gender ideologues, using intimidation against her publisher, were successful in having “Prone to Violence” removed from the shelves. Eventually, Erin fled the country in 1981 after feminists managed to take control of the very organisation she had founded.
What remains of Chiswick Women’s Aid today is known as Refuge, the UK national charity. Feminist ideology is now mainstream, and whenever we hear about domestic violence in the media, we are always told that it is “gender violence”, or “violence against women and girls”.
This is a tragedy for us all.
Erin Pizzey was the first person to understand the true nature of generational abuse — that whenever you encounter a damaged or destructive adult, you are almost certainly looking at a battered or emotionally abused child who has simply grown up. In the UK, we express anguish over Baby Peter whose mother, along with her boyfriend, tortured him to death. However, had Peter survived and played out his own childhood trauma in adulthood, society would have a viewed him as a monster — seeing only his abusive behavior as beginning and ending with him. In reality, abuse rarely begins or ends with one person, or with one generation.
This is not about “bad men” or “bad women”; it is about how we treat children. Each generation replays their learned pattern of behaviour to their own children, and the cycle continues. Erin’s work was prevented from ever reaching the full light of day, however, and she often recounts a remark a prison governor once made to her. “Every abused child is a point on my pension,” she was told.
Once you grasp the true nature of generational abuse, you are only a step away from realizing that if we could ever start to eradicate generational abuse effectively, we could transform the lives of future generations of children. What’s more, we would also empty the prisons in the process.
We cannot allow Erin’s legacy to remain buried.
Abuse within families and between intimate partners has always been with us. I can trace abusive behaviour within my own family back to my great grandmother. I suspect that it doesn’t stop there, that it would go back centuries — an echo from times when life was hard, short, and cheap.
The lesson that Erin Pizzey gave the world in “Prone to Violence” is that things do not have to continue like this — if we could stop the echo of abuse from reverberating forward into future generations, we could transform human society forever.
Andy Thomas (aka “Andy Man”) is a campaigner against family violence and gender ideology. He often writes about the harm and prejudice that men and boys routinely experience, but which society refuses to acknowledge.
He is also a tattooed biker with a degree in Physics and a love of old black and white movies. His favourite movies include Now Voyager, Ninotchka, and Something Wild. He loves all things Marlene, and quite likes Siouxsie and the Banshees as well. His personal blog can be found here.
Following up on my well-commented post from December 27th on legitimizing domestic violence against men through mockery in what I jokingly referred to as the “high-culture” venues of comics, t-shirts, commercials, and greeting cards, I wanted to enlarge upon this by bringing examples of sexism and other forms of discrimination in mockery and in media.
To get started, since many readers of this blog came as a result of direct invitations from me, I happen to know many of you are atheists. So consider the following, taken from an old issue of the Readers’ Digest that I happened to come upon in a barber shop.
(At least the experience wasn’t as personally offensive as an earlier barber shop experience in which laughter met my request for a men’s hair style book, followed by my girlfriend who had finished before me being asked if she would rather wait to pay, the obvious presumption being that she would then not be the one paying. Please note that such “trivialities” are the sorts of complaints routinely heard by our “Human Rights Commissions”. But that experience is the topic of an earlier post on this blog).
Does this not offend or upset you? Do you not wish to write in an angry letter to the publishers, perhaps even threatening to retract your non-existent subscription to their publication? Do note that while the comics I referred to previously mocked violence these go nowhere near that far.
I want to make it quite clear that what I am not asking for is the censorship or banning of images, cartoons or words that offend me. What I am pointing out is how we can all feel deeply hurt by words and images and how unfairly inconsistent society responds to the complaints by certain favoured groups.
Consider the Women’s Media Center, allied with organizations receiving significant government funding like the National Organization for Women, the Feminist Majority and the National Council of Women Organizations. It exists to increase women’s stories and voices and act as a watchdog monitoring misogyny and sexism in the media through its project Sexism Watch. The organization was founded by renowned feminists like Gloria Steinem and Jane Fonda and involves leading journalists, academics and foundation leaders. Clearly, it means business, stating:
Every day when women turn on the news, open the paper, or log on to the Internet, they see a world that, as shaped by the media, is missing something. What’s missing are the women: women reporters, women’s voices, and women stories.
With all that expertise and money, what is Sexism Watch up to? It’s making videos like this, which I saw poted on the blog Feministing recently:
The video includes clips from Harball’s Chris Matthews commenting in a complimentary manner on Hillary Clinton’s dress and appearance and saying things like “cosmetics tonight are very important.” What the video doesn’t include is how – in an example no less sexist – Clinton secured female votes during one emotional speech where she broke out in sobs. She also played the gender card herself when it was required, such as when she said
if you can’t stand the heat get out of the kitchen…and I’m very comfortable in the kitchen
As CNN’s Glenn Beck shot back on his show, if someone had said to her
if you can’t stand the heat get out of the kitchen…but I assume you’re comfortable in the kitchen
this would have been unacceptable. In fact, it would likely have become part of the Women’s Media Center clip scene. But it’s as a result of comments like these that women were always her base of support. It’s called hypocrisy. If you voted for Clinton cause she’s female you voted against Obama cause he’s male, and that’s called sexist.
On the flip side, there were few complaints about journalists frequently harping on Obama’s good looks, like the following (just watch the last minute as longer exposure to the View can be harmful to your intelligence):
or mockery about McCain as an “old man” like the following where MSNBC actually called in Michael Ian Black of comedy Central to make the most of this golden joke opportunity in a piece called “Old Man McCain is Out of Touch”.
Now granted McCain’s internet stupidity is important for voters to know, but this went way too far, especially when McCain was compared to “grandpa simpson” and when Black said things like
we’ll start [teaching him] with what he knows…the telegraph…
…you have to double click on the web browser…there’s not a lot of 72 year old men out there who can double click on anything..
Notice first the ageism and recall how McCain would later in the campaign shrug it off in self-deprecating good humour. Hilarious, yes, but had I the time and money of the Women’s Media Center I could turn all these clips easily found on youtube into a fairly impressive clip sequence of political misandry to rival their own.
Finally, it isn’t just women’s traditional roles that are mocked in political coverage. How about the way in which until quite recently male candidates who had not served in the military were routinely mocked as unmanly and unfit for being Commander-in-Chief. I suppose with female candidates who never know the burden of registering for the draft (a legal duty of every male US citizen when they turn 18) this has become less of an issue, although the fact that women can obtain the highest office in the US without such a burden yet male legal conscription remains should give us pause.
In any case, mocking women’s fashion seems somewhat trivial compared to mocking men who refuse to sacrifice their lives and thereby bullying other men into doing so.