(Hi! I’m an unworthy, but grateful, guest-blogger who goes by Ilyka Damen. If it is all the same to you I’d like to end the introduction right here, because introductions make me throwing-up nervous.)
You can tell how much Awareness the U.S. thinks women’s bodies merit by the way we declare October both National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and Domestic Violence Awareness Month. That’s an awful lot of awareness to pack into one month, but this way you get it over with all at once, freeing up the other 11 months of the calendar for awareness of real issues affecting real human beings.
At the risk of sounding as though I am trivializing breast cancer, it’s impossible not to notice which issue receives most of the awareness in October, and that it is coincidentally the issue involving fun bags. As Twisty noted earlier this month, breast cancer awareness does not equal breast cancer activism, and concern for healthy breasts does not equal concern for healthy women:
I mean, from where I sit, breast cancer isn’t about boobs. It’s more about, oh I don’t know, death.
Dead women sell no teddy bears, pink is more feminine than black or blue, and a little thing like your broken nose never stopped a dude from ogling your rack, so there you go: A lovely autumn month in which Redbook, Glamour, Good Housekeeping, More, Women’s Day, Ladies’ Home Journal and Self all feature extensive breast cancer awareness, but nothing at all about the one in four American women who have been, or will be, abused by an intimate partner during their lifetimes.
I’ve taken to expecting online news sources and blogs to cover a wider range of issues than can be managed in print, thanks to what La Lubu terms the “multiverse,” and so a wider and more diverse set of people publishing online ought to have domestic violence covered, even if Ladies Home Journal doesn’t. But a Google news search on the topic isn’t encouraging, and by “isn’t encouraging” I mean “it sucks.”
A search on “VAWA” brings up article after article by everyone’s favorite mullet, and a handful of useful pieces like the one I linked above by Lucinda Marshall. There’s also an article from the Times of India that I think can be fairly summarized as, “Ladies–protect yourselves! Emigrate to the U.S. on a fiancee visa, so you have a quick return option if it turns out your intended intends to beat your ass.” It’s one of those pieces you read shaking your head, thinking, “Good information to get out there; depressing that it needs to be said.” And no news roundup on intimate partner violence would be complete without a press release by the tools at RADAR (Respecting Accuracy in Domestic Abuse Reporting), so that turns up too. It’s got a link to a page citing “over 100” studies that show women are just as likely–if not more!–to get punchy and kicky. You know you’re looking at a men’s rights crib sheet when all of these studies (1) involve teeny sample sizes, (2) were conducted by men, and (3) smell like Grandpa, meaning, they’re old. You would think such a pressing issue as accuracy in domestic abuse reporting, and the respecting of same, would be driving current research into the present, instead of leaning on 200-person self-reporting surveys from 1985. You would be wrong.
The obvious problem here is that the MRAs are positioning themselves, and arguably already have positioned themselves, as the framers on this issue. When ostensible feminists like Cathy Young pick up their talking points and recast them in feminist language, i.e. “Shouldn’t it be a woman’s choice whether to press charges against her partner? I thought feminists liked choice,” you know the backlash is on, baby. Now git me a beer.
So this is the sneaky part of the post where I flip things around and put you to work: What reportage have you found on intimate partner violence that hasn’t been a poorly researched effort led by guys who resent the loss of entitlement to smack their bitches up? If you’ve found some good ammunition for countering the claims of the MRAs, please, pass it on here. This is not an issue on which feminists should cede ground.
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