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Abused women “demand” their abuse: How MRAs make the abusers’ arguments for them

Arrestreport

An Orlando man, Faron Thompson, was recently charged with battery and child neglect after an altercation in which he allegedly tried to force his fiancée to swallow her engagement ring when she tried to leave him. (More details here.)

This sort of abuse is depressingly commonplace when women try to free themselves from abusive and controlling men; indeed, if I posted every news account along these lines on this blog I wouldn’t have time to do anything else.

No, I mention this case because something that Thompson reportedly told police reveals a lot about the mindset of abusers. When they arrested him, police say, Thompson complained that:

Women always claim assault, but never accept responsibility for provoking someone.

That is how abusers think.

It’s also how a lot of MRAs think.

Indeed, when I read Thomson’s reported remarks, the y immediately brought to mind something written not that long ago by Karen Straughan, the YouTube videoblogger who goes by the name of Girl Writes What. Straughan describes herself in her A Voice for Men bio as “the most popular and visible MRA in North America,” and given the rapturous reception her videos get on You Tube and on Reddit, this may not be an idle boast.

In the rather revealing Reddit comment I’m thinking of (which I blogged about earlier), Straughan suggested not only that abused women regularly “demand” the abuse they receive, but that many of them also get some sort of sexual charge from it. Oh, I’m sure she’ll deny that she really meant all that, but I can’t see any other way to read the following.
fmragwwdv1

Oh, and in case you were wondering what article she’s referring to in the last paragraph — the one she says isn’t “seriously ethically questionable” — it’s a post from the repugnant Ferdinand Bardamu arguing that men should “terrorize” their partners because that’s the “the only thing that makes them behave better than chimps.” For more about that charming piece, titled “The Necessity of Domestic Violence,” see my post here.

I’m having less and less of a problem with calling the Men’s Rights movement “the abusers lobby.”

I’m sure there are some MRAs who are as repulsed by Straughan’s argument as I am. If you’re one of them, and want your movement, such as it is, to be remembered as something other than “the abusers lobby,” you need to call out all those MRAs who make such arguments. Might I suggest that you start by challenging the “the most popular and visible MRA in North America,” otherwise known as Girl Writes What?

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katz
9 years ago

So if you’re in counselling because you beat your partner, a good way of excusing your actions is to blame her for it.

Or you might report other aspects of the relationship more positively to make it not seem so bad, especially if you can frame the abuse as part of what makes the relationship “good.” Especially especially if it’s court-ordered counseling, I’d imagine.

And why in the nine hells would you ask whether the sex was good after you beat up your partner, anyway? WTF? In what universe is that even relevant? ARGLEBARGLE

LBT
LBT
9 years ago

RE: katz

Though I don’t know anyone personally, I actually do not have too much trouble envisioning a mutually abusive relationship. Have each one specialize in a different form, and use each other’s abuse to justify their own abusing. (So, for instance, I verbally abuse you, you hit me, I use your hitting me to justify verbally abusing you, you use my verbal abuse to justify hitting me.)

Though as far as I know, I don’t know anyone in that kind of relationship, I do know a couple people who are of a temperament that I could easily see them doing such a thing. It allows you to feel you are the victim while still abusing someone else, and as long as you don’t leave or tell anyone, you don’t ever have to have your own abusiveness questioned.

drst
drst
9 years ago

@katz

you’d think GWW might consider the woman’s experience to be important.

If she were capable of that, she probably wouldn’t be an MRA.

Amanda Marcotte (@AmandaMarcotte)

“Reciprocal violence” is how pro-DV folks justify using violence to control women. Backtalk, sarcasm, or self-defense gets classifed as “violence”, justifying the beatings that are used to dominate and control a woman.

Catfish
Catfish
9 years ago

I had to point out to a friend that you can’t provoke rape intentionally, because it is by definition a non consensual act. It was like a light bulb just went on in his head.

I find the provoking “defense” horribly stupid to begin with. Even if someone is getting in your face about something, it does not justify assaulting them. Not to mention I keep thinking that the kind of provoking they mean that leads to this, is intentional and therefore might qualify as harassment. In which case you do have the right to feel violated, but not to attack and abuse.

The biggest problem is that it tends to not matter what the victim has done. There is no clear line to draw when they have provoked it, they just did. And somehow this justifies the attack because of reasons of derp.

Basically, even if there was something that “provoked a violent response” it does not in any way justify the assault. Everything you do with your body parts is your responsibility.

I could imagine someone moving on to a self-defense point of view, but to them I’d just politely remind that assault and self-defense are not the same thing, and is irrelevant to the discussion.

Amanda Marcotte (@AmandaMarcotte)

My ex used to classify my crying when he yelled at me for no discernible reason as provocation that justified violence. If he’d gotten into MRA forums, I’m sure I would have heard that crying when yelled at is “violence”, and therefore the violence was “reciprocal”.

CassandraSays
CassandraSays
9 years ago

The thing about the reciprocal violence argument is that even if you accept it at face value (which nobody should), it still wouldn’t make relationships that worked like that OK. The way that people use it, as a way to say that those relationships are fine how they are and people should stop interfering, indicates quite clearly that they think violence within a relationship is just fine and not a problem.

Amanda Marcotte (@AmandaMarcotte)

The fact that people use it to excuse domestic violence—and yes, extreme skepticism is called for when abuse-friendly men are trying to frame victim behavior—tells you everything you need to know. Getting to the point where it’s “okay” to hit a woman is the only goal here, and they’ll cast around for any reason to get there, even if it’s bananas. What kind of person starts with the presumption that it’s okay to hit and looks for reasons to justify it? I have ideas.

CassandraSays
CassandraSays
9 years ago

I have lots of ideas. What’s funny is that they don’t realize how obvious they’re being.

People who are not abusive don’t think it’s OK to hit someone because they’re crying.

Amanda Marcotte (@AmandaMarcotte)

I think these discussions would be easier to understand if more people read psychological literature that shows that most people don’t arrive to their beliefs by rationally thinking through options and deciding which argument seems the most persuasive. The overwhelming evidence is people choose what they believe emotionally and then find reasons to rationalize that belief.

So, when MRAs are coming up with reasons that abuse is “okay” in “certain circumstances”, remember this: They started with the presumption that abuse is good and are looking to find arguments to support that contention. Who does that? Why are we so quick to assume that they can’t be abusers looking to rationalize their choices? After all, the number of men online who have raped and beaten women and gotten away with it is many, many times greater than the number of men who self-identify as “MRAs”. If you’re an abuser, the MRA community online would be a great place to go and find reasons to justify your behavior.

To be clear, all people—right and left—do the same thing. Feminists also have emotional beliefs that they then come up with arguments to support. It’s just that in this case, feminists decide first that abuse is wrong and then come up with reasons why.

I don’t know about you, but between two groups of people who are rationalizing emotionally determined beliefs, the group that starts with the assumption that abuse is bad is the one that’s a whole lot less scary to me.

ec
ec
9 years ago

MRAs in general seem to have a tendency to think that two wrongs make a right.

Kiwi girl
Kiwi girl
9 years ago

There is the international White Ribbon campaign, NZ website here which is pretty awesome. I have seen the campaign hand out white ribbons at the main railway station where I live, predominantly high ranking (male) police officers in uniform. They just give the ribbons away (to males only), no donations are required. I strongly support agencies such as the police (NZ just has the one police force) standing behind campaigns such as these.

cloudiah
9 years ago

It’s typical of the MRA mindset (I think) that AVfM’s response to the announcement that US women will be allowed into combat roles is that they can’t wait for this to happen: “1 in 5 of body bags being filled overseas should contain the bodies of mothers, sisters, daughters, wives and girlfriends.” Or what I’ve called in the past their “More women should die in shipwrecks” platform.

My brain is still too congested to link it to their defense of abuse, but it feels connected to me. Let’s rationalize (or even advocate for) the worst possible situation for everyone.

Yeah, I’m sticking with feminism.

CassandraSays
CassandraSays
9 years ago

Any time someone starts talking about reasons why sometimes it’s OK to hit or rape someone (doesn’t matter what the reasons are) it’s a giant red flag spelling out the word DANGER. Basically they’re announcing the fact that they would like to do those things and are in the process of rationalizing why they would be justified in doing so. MRAs don’t realize this because the only people they talk to are other MRAs, partly because they know on some level that talking to outsiders would result in their rationalizations being questioned and picked apart.

LBT
LBT
9 years ago

Totally off topic, but auuuuuuugh, I made the mistake of looking at a random blog and it went from nifty concepts to bestiality and excusing cheating within like three entries, and my brain! MY BRAAAAAAAAIN AAAAAAAH! I need bleach! *gouges at eyes*

cloudiah
9 years ago
Amused
9 years ago

Re. “scorching” post-beating sex:

It’s been my experience that the idea of sex after a major fight (not necessarily a violent fight, just a fight that’s prolonged and marked by bitterness and frustration) is really unpalatable. Arguments kill my sex drive. So even after everyone has said their “I am sorry”‘s, and the underlying issue has been resolved, I can’t leap from being so mad and frustrated to passionate and loving just like that. I typically need quite a bit of time — about two-three days — to “defrost”, as it were, before I desire this person again.

But it’s also been my experience that men (the kind with whom I had those kinds of fights) have a real thing for “make-up sex”. Like, seriously, it’s a fetish. They hound you, they sulk, they demand an explanation as to why you are being aloof, they insist that you fuck them right then and there, and they won’t allow you any time to recover. They insist that fucking you when you don’t want to in this situation is a way for them to prove how much they love you. And so it’s happened quite a few times in my life that I had “make-up sex” even though I really didn’t want to, and that my lover no doubt thought was “scorching”. Because when you are that emotionally exhausted and numb, it’s easier to just submit to sex and fake an orgasm and say “yes, that was mind-blowing, dear”, than risk restarting the fight.

titianblue
titianblue
9 years ago

“1 in 5 of body bags being filled overseas should contain the bodies of mothers, sisters, daughters, wives and girlfriends.”

And even then, they can only talk about women in terms of their relationships to men ….

Alex
9 years ago

I’m worried for my sister. She’s in an on and off relationship with this guy who just seems all kinds of wrong to me. I haven’t met him, but from what she tells me, he’s ridiculously jealous (like paranoid conspiracy theory jealous), texts her all day every day even when he’s “working”. She just broke up with him, but still wants to be friends because she loves him.

I just don’t trust this guy in the least. They were together less than half a year, and he wanted to take her to Puerto Rico. Thankfully, she listened to me that time when I said it wasn’t a good idea. More red flag shit: he doesn’t want her talking to any guys at all, thinks her female friends are covering up and encouraging her to cheat on him, deleted her facebook account, made her change her phone number three times, insists he “knows” things that never actually fucking happened, is trying to get her to work for his father’s company (which he also works at, of course), doesn’t want her to go out with her friends. There’s more. I just can’t think of it right now.

It scares me because I live eight hours away and have only been able to see her once in the past two years, so I can’t even meet this guy and tell him what I think of him, and my Mom…she doesn’t trust this whole thing either, but she doesn’t know what to do about it other than make empty threats about what’ll happen to this guy if he hurts my sister. She hasn’t met him either. Sorry for the rant, but ugh…

LBT
LBT
9 years ago

RE: cloudiah

Thank you, that helps.

RE: Amused

Yeah, the concept of post-fight sex is pretty alien to me too. During times of stress, my libido is among the first things to go. (During really rough periods, I sometimes can’t even TOUCH other people, which is horrible when I want more than anything to hug someone I love.) I know for other people, high emotion can get generalized really quickly, but I’m not one of them.

Alex
9 years ago

On post-argument sex: for me, it sort of just…depended. Sometimes I was totally up for make-up sex, and other times, like LBT, I couldn’t bear to be even touched.

Kiwi girl
Kiwi girl
9 years ago

@Alex, the “wants to be friends” could be sending him mixed messages, the least of which is “you didn’t do anything wrong” and the worst would be “wants to get back with me”. Does she have any pets or children? Does he have keys to her place? Is there a women’s group in her city that she can talk to? Is there a counsellor who specialises in DV that she can see? Does she have some friends she can stay with for a while? She needs to stay safe, but none of us are close enough to do anything except offer up some non-escalating suggestions. A women’s group or counsellor would be so much better for her at this point.

CassandraSays
CassandraSays
9 years ago

My feeling is that if the only way you can think of to re-bond with your partner after a fight is to force them into sex that they don’t want then you really need to work on expanding your emotional toolbox. Not just for your partner’s sake, though you should be aware that what you’re doing to them is rapidly veering into rapey territory, but because the end result of that behavior will be a partner who is less bonded to you than they were before.

(The last thing I want right after a fight is sex. I am angry with this person – why would I want to fuck them at that point in time? I think the insistence on make-up sex is partly a way for men to put limits on how long a woman is “allowed” to stay angry for.)

katz
9 years ago

My feeling is that if the only way you can think of to re-bond with your partner after a fight is to force them into sex that they don’t want then you really need to work on expanding your emotional toolbox.

I’m more afraid of the corollary: That the only way you can think of to have hot sex is to start a fight first.

cloudiah
9 years ago

Alex, SO many red flags. What Kiwi Girl says seems right to me, though if your sister is refusing to see it as abusive behavior she may not want to talk to anyone. You might want to send her this too: http://stoprelationshipabuse.org/educated/warning-signs-of-abuse/

And keeping lines of communication open, very important, because it sounds like he is already trying to isolate her. But the fact that she does have supportive family members is very important.

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