Unfinished Business

There are many headlines today declaring that while Alabama bans abortions for rape victims it protects the parental rights of rapists. For example,

When a young woman came to the Family Services of North Alabama office last year for help with trauma, saying she had been raped by her step-uncle when she was 15, rape crisis advocate Portia Shepherd heard something that “killed me, shocked me.”

The step-uncle, who was getting out of jail after a drug conviction, wanted to be a part of their child’s life. And in Alabama, the alleged rapist could get custody.

Don’t hold your breath waiting for Alabama legislators to rush to the statehouse to correct this. And apparently it’s a widespread problem.

I started to title this post “Feminism’s Unfinished Business,” but the issues we’re facing aren’t so much about the shortcomings of feminism but the fact that too many men are screwed up, and I’d like to see more effort coming from men to correct this. Women can only do so much by ourselves.

WaPo has an opinion piece on the incels, whom the writer, Christine Emba, calls “the bleeding edge of a generation of struggling men.” The incels, of course, are the perpetually adolescent losers who live in an internet subculture promoting self-pity and rage at women. I don’t think Emba comes anywhere close to plumbing the depths of the problem. Internet feedback loops combined with poor social skills don’t even begin to tell the whole story.

WaPo also has a very good in-depth piece on Scott Paul Beierle, the 40-year-old incel who shot six women, two fatally, in a Tennessee yoga studio before killing himself. The author, Steve Hendrix, ties women-haters like Beierle to a wide range of right-wing extremism in the U.S. “More and more, we see misogyny as the gateway drug for extremists,” said Heidi Beirich of the Southern Poverty Law Center.

“A deep-seated loathing of women acts as a connective tissue between many white supremacists,” explained the ADL report, titled “When Women are the Enemy: The Intersection of Misogyny and White Supremacy.”

While old-guard white supremacists revered women as the mothers of the race, younger bigots despise them as just one more group responsible for eroding their status.

“Even if you become the ultimate alpha male, some stupid bitch will still ruin your life,” declared Andrew Anglin on the neo-Nazi website he founded, the Daily Stormer. Anglin has credited his site’s anti-women content with bolstering traffic even as other hate sites have seen a falloff.

Hendrix writes that the FBI began tracking hate crimes against women in 2013, but this has provided little information because local police departments are slugs about reporting hate crimes against women. And this, of course, is part of the larger pattern of not taking crimes against women seriously.

People are quick to make connections between mass shootings and video games, but the connections between mass shootings and domestic violence is ignored.

Last year a reader wrote this to WaPo after one of the mass shootings:

These incidents are commonplace in modern America. We can surely expect the same responses: Gun control will be debated, mental illness will be blamed, and politicians will send “thoughts and prayers” while doing little to prevent future attacks. Yet, these conversations often omit an important perpetrator warning sign: a history of violence against women. According to an Everytown for Gun Safety analysis , 156 mass shootings occurred between 2009 and 2016. Fifty-four percent of those shootings were related to domestic or family violence. Prior to the Parkland, Fla., high school shooting, Nikolas Cruz was accused of being abusive toward his ex-girlfriend, having stalked a second female student with whom he was infatuated and having threatened his ex-girlfriend’s new boyfriend. Before Mr. Cruz, Devin Patrick Kelley, Omar Mateen, Robert Lewis Dear, Seung Hui Choi, Adam LanzaJames T. Hodgkinson and Stephen Paddock were also accused of having abused women. In the wake of the Capital Gazette shooting, it is already apparent that Jarrod Ramos’s harassment of a female former high school classmate played a key role in his alleged motivations.

See also:

While it often seems like there’s no rhyme or reason to mass shootings, there is at least one commonality among many of the perpetrators: a history of violence against the women in their lives.

This past Sunday, 26 people were killed and 20 were injured in a church Sutherland Springs, Tex. It quickly emerged that the shooter, a man by the name of Devin Kelley, was a domestic abuser. While serving in the Air Force, he was court-martialed on charges of domestic assault after he beat, choked and threatened his wife with a gun, as well as fractured her son’s skill.

He’s not the only shooter to have exhibited violent behavior towards his intimate partner. The gunmen responsible for deaths in Las Vegas, Orlando, and San Bernadino all have histories of abusing women. But the evidence isn’t simply anecdotal; here are just a few statistics that illustrate how closely linked domestic violence and mass shootings really are.

There is a strong argument that if violence against women were taken more seriously and prosecuted more rigorously, a lot of these mass shootings would never have happened. And maybe someday local cops and judges will figure that out. But I’m not holding my breath.

I believe the Violence Against Women Act is currently lapsed, by the way. The House passed a re-authorization bill that is sitting in the Senate. The NRA has been fighting tooth and nail to keep it from being re-authorized. That’s because it contains a provision that would allow police to confiscate a domestic abuser’s firearms.

And then there is the ongoing phenomenon of rapists who get convicted and given a pat on the wrist. The infamous Brock Turner was just the tip of the iceberg.

The rash of punitive anti-abortion legislation is part of this picture. The all-so-righteous anti-aborts don’t give a hoo-haw about babies. As I’ve written before, cruelty is the point.

No wonder the anti-abortion cause became so central to these men’s lives. It feels good. It lets them act out their inner ugliness, without compunction. And too many women go along with it because they are conditioned to submit to the patriarchy and to measure their self-worth by the approval of men.

It may be that all this pushback against women’s empowerment is the last hurrah of the patriarchy. If so, it’s about time the patriarchy is put down like a rabid dog. I hope I live to see it. But this pattern is not a “women’s problem.” It’s a societal problem, and it’s going to take all of us to change things.

9 thoughts on “Unfinished Business

  1. The connection between women-haters and gun violence is obvious – in retrospect. Take the classic example of the pickup "monster" truck, jacked up so high you need a latter to get in. Naturally, there are truck testicles dangling from the trailer hitch. The joke is that the guy must have a tiny weenie to need that kind of truck,

    So it's a generally accepted characteristic of guys with fears of inadequacy that they compensate. A less obvious feature of that compensation is a fixation about guns, Not gun ownership, but the guy who spends a fortune on multiple guns, bigger guns, high capacity magazines. (No one will ever be able to do the study but how many guys with problems with women are terrified of gay men, unable to consider their own orientation out of fear, or terror, that their internal compass doesn't point due North.)

    More and more women are becoming judges. That may be a factor in changing attitudes about violence against women and the consequences for that.

  2. Violence against women, sadly, is not unique to America. 

    It's a world-wide issue.

    In Russia, there's an old joke:  "The harder you beat your wife, the better the borscht!"

    Don't blame me!

    I didn't say is was a funny joke.

    But I'm sure there are many other such unfunny misogynistic jokes in a wide swath of cultures. 

    We need to fix that.


    I'd start the work with trying to eliminate religion.

    I'm probably wrong, but I can't think of a single major religion where male superiority is questioned – where misogyny is the feature, not a bug.

    Maybe someone can help me out?

    • Maybe this is because religions are formed by men.  Women are too busy taking care of the babies.  Because women are closer to the earth they are more in tune with taking care of life instead of trying to control it. 

  3. We need the equal rights admendment passed.

    We need the right to vote and have it counted admendment passed.

    We need the US Senate. 

  4. Apropos of nothing in particular, I'd heard a legend that there were a group calling themselves "incels" who were actually the kind of geeky, shy, awkward people who wanted to make a connection, but didn't quite know how. It was a helpful community. 

    Later (so the legend goes) it was taken over by people with the far more brutal viewpoint that women are nasty schemers so you have the thing as it is today, incels sounding much like KKKers who want to know why those (hateful, insulting phrases regarding targets of their bigotry) don't come to their recruitment drives. 

    That really bothers me (if true!), because it shows a lot of aggression and hate pushing out decency. Like, if there were a constant slew of misogynistic asses in incel message boards, that would be unpleasant. That "incel" now is more likely to mean a misogynist would suggest that the bad guys won, and were rewarded for doing so. Which, let's be honest, is what we're seeing on the national level right now.

  5. One of the things I see as a prison volunteer are a fair amount of men whose crimes to some or all degrees involved violence against a woman and the appalling thing is that they aren't given any counseling, any treatment, aren't processed any differently than if they had been convicted of dealing drugs or kiting checks.

    Most people in prison know they did something wrong, even if they are smart alecks about it.  Check kiters get that check kiting is against the law and there's a reason they were prosecuted.  But I come upon batterers, stalkers, and abusers who stand out among the other prisoners because they have no sense of having done anything wrong, let alone, remorse.  Who often feel wronged. Who are still fixated. And they are men who believe their right to dominance is pure. They terrified or physically hurt someone, in some cases someone who was a minor or developmentally disabled.  No remorse, no increase in self knowledge, no appreciation of the victim.

    I am the biggest softy in  the word.  I'd set half the inmates free in a second if I could, but these guys creep me out.  And because our criminal justice system doesn't offer offenders any tools to rehabilitate, they will all hit the streets again, just like new.

    • I heard of a program for domestic violence that sounded very impressive. It was like a 12 step program, run mostly by recovering abusers. One vignette: a guy was diverted after a single incident of hitting his partner; they called absolute bullshit on him until he brought in a notarized letter where she said "yes, once, once only, never even a threat before." 

      You see, they *knew* that it was never "just once" because they knew themselves, and had accepted their flaws, and were working on them. (I also thought that, if this was held in a prison, it provided some built-in strong incentive to stay in the diversion program!) 

      More importantly, they knew you couldn't BS your way into recovery; you can say you didn't want to hit, …"but you did, right? You could have picked up a pillow, thrown it across the room, and stomped off, and you didn't. On *some* level, you *wanted* to hit."

      (I don't entirely agree with that formulation – I'd say that they hadn't firmed their commitment *not* to hit. Thing is, we're not non-violent animals – if you haven't decided not to hit, you *have*, in a sense, decided to hit if there's sufficient provocation and opportunity. I think it's fair to take the more strict "so you *did* decide to", in all ways except the most pedantically philosophical.)

      One thing that sounds really powerful about this, is, it's a growth program; people will progress, get better, have pride; they'll have people who'll kick their butts for flinging a pencil across the room (for a person who really could have avoided it) but congratulate someone who had a full screaming fit, but then turned around and punched the wall instead of the person who was upsetting them – if that really is a big deal for them. (Never skipping a chance to remind him that his hand hurts because "…you *still* lost control – nevertheless, good on you.") 

      Eh. Or maybe I'm a naive dreamer. It feels like it *should* work, so it might be something generalizable. 

  6. Truth and a quest for the truth is a noble goal of life many agree.  Some, like our president don't agree, and use and abuse the truth  and fear the reality it brings.  The truth is an ideal, and in some cases only partially attainable.  Well, some new shit has come to light.

    Pi (usually expressed as a Greek letter) is one of those partially attainable truths.  Why you say?  Well in words we can say it is the ratio between the diameter and the circumference of a circle.  This is a true statement.  Only one problem exists.  The definition of the word ratio.  A ratio is a number you see, but what number?  Well we do not know.  We only know an approximation of the number.  It has been studied and analyzed for centuries.  We know certain things.  We know it is about 3 and 1/7th or 22/7ths but not exactly.  We know it's decimal value as 3.1416…and many more places.  We know the sequence of numbers does not repeat and many mathematicians have set records as to the number of places and exactness they have come to the true value of Pi.  Well recently a new record has been achieved and we are closer to the true value of pie than any other time in our history.  

    This is quite an achievement.  It represents an intellectual feat of the highest order, one attempted by many great mathematicians in the past.  Recently, computers have been used to aid in the quest.  The advances in this area now are by those quite knowledgeable about computational skills.  The recent achievement was of that kind, and one can only imagine the person who accomplished the new record.  As your form the image of that person do it with care.  It is easy to make a common error here.  For you see the man who accomplished this feat was not a male.  


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