Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Lost Men

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  • mark taslov, in reply to Neil,


    So I wasted time trying to spread the word that the counselling service being offered to folks in my position may be detrimental. Meanwhile she kept winning awards and disseminated toxic tweets without content warnings for Twitter gotchas. I went as far as to try to highlight the issue to one of her close friends in the hopes that someone, anyone, would intervene and point out that some of this stuff is not ok, but I was essentially accused of fabrication or something, a troubling allegation given the Twitter account is managed by a third party and any misrepresentation on my part would be defamatory (hence all the screen caps).

    Her public response to that was similarly incredibly troubling. I wasn't trying to malign her community - the only connection was that she'd used the community's account to engage me from the outset - so the name was on all the screencaps - the fact of the matter was that I'd been donating to that community prior to these interactions. Eventually I just soft-blocked everyone in that orbit.

    Why did things get so out of hand? Well it's one thing being impacted by violence in a relationship and quite another thing when there are no visible consequences for that violence. The lengths a trans woman has to go to to get police to intervene end up entailing revictimisation and ultimately, as far as the perp is concerned, there are no consequences, people will go to extraordinary lengths to maintain narratives which conceal (caution details of IPV) the fact that this violence is occuring]] in our communities. One doesn't have to dig deep to find these testimonies whispered in forgotten corners by women hospitalised by their partners only to be ostracised by the LGBT community for their trouble.

    On that note it was a great relief to hear Jan Logie announced the introduction of the new Family Violence Offence - in part geared towards addressing violence in same-sex relationships (2:00).

    I feel we should be past this binarism by now. The Thursdays in Black Report (2017) made considerable headway in presenting more intersectional methods of collating the widespread prevalence of sexual violence (affecting all corners of our communities - but we are not far enough.

    Which is why I took such umbrage Neil, because there is considerable destruction in our communities and unfortunately not all of it is conveniently perpetrated by cis males - but the type of narrative this preoccupation with cis male toxicity feeds erases the inconceivable violence affecting some of the most marginalised members of society.

    Which is not to say I don't understand why these narratives are dominant - it's simply that they fail to account for the full extent of what's occuring. They work for those only impacted by that issue - which is most women, but we're currently very much still just scratching away at the surface. A visible example is Chris Brown, we acknowledge he's a monster, but in doing so we invariably neglect to account for his abusive stepfather or the fact that he experienced statutory rape as an 8 year old by a 15 year old girl - something he has internalised as evidence of his prowess. As that MAOA link above stated:

    there are numerous other factors associated, with the most important thought to be early life abuse

    Beyond genetics it's clearer - when looking passed the symptoms - to observe correlation - acknowledging sources and potential for preventative interventions, that is if and when we get past these largely performative - albeit sometimes cathartic - preoccupations, 'obsessions' if you will, with cis male toxicity. As my therapist put it, quoting Maslow:

    "If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail"

    He pointed out to me that contrary to what was claimed - not only am I not the only trans person affected by this weaponisation of gender - many cis people are too - which for me begs the question; why go to such lengths to maintain inadequate frames.

    Certainly we're not going to make as much headway as required posturing and erasing pullulating issues - and attempting to drag those with differing opinions into our own narrow preoccuptations is time poorly spent.

    Anyway, as I mentioned further up, when the Government is funding counselling and we're wasting considerable time in those sessions discussing issues related to someone who works in the mental health system and someone who helps victims of domestic violence then there's something terribly wrong with that picture. As the therapist reminded me; 'all power corrupts'. It doesn't matter how much of a hero any of us is, or how much money is funnelled into the system, if we as a society ignore the precept;

    "first, to do no harm."

    Unfortunately recognizing harm we're causing isn't always as easy as it sounds via textual interaction - and recognising harm others are doing is near on impossible when it's behind closed doors, but that's as good a reason as any not to be beleaguering minorities and people with mental health issues online.

    Anyway I'm done. I don't see change on the horizon for people in my position and as professionals in domestic violence services are going to those kinds lengths to challenge and hush and minimise marginalised voices whose experiences are incongruent with heterocentric narratives then It's considerably less stress to shut up and take the laptop to the face as we're inundated with messaging inculcating us that this violence is just a male problem - just men being shitty to women - than risk attempting to speak out let alone involve authorities. Just as if those working in the mental health system are comfortable publicly second guessing qualified professionals then why would the general public have much faith in that system, and how would that reduce the stigma around mental illness and treatment? Certainly it's going to take more than simply throwing money at these problems.

    But Neil, since you've shown a predilection for armchair diagnosis of personality disorders, I'm wondering if based on what you've seen here whether you would like to -with my consent - have a shot at offering me a second opinion?

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2281 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov, in reply to steven crawford,

    That was a courageous and inspiring piece, the only bit I stumbled over was the conflict between:

    Many intersex activists are bravely working to end this practice and to ensure that intersex people have autonomy and control over their bodies;

    and this:

    a generous and kind society, to continue off the words of our Prime Minister.

    In that it is this 'Government of Kindness' that is dragging its heels on ratifying The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child's recommendations. In this way, what has become increasingly pronounced to me over the duration of this administration is the distinction between kindness and care i.e. the Government engaged in a performative an act of kindness when they flew the intersex flag at Parliament and yet they still don't evince the requisite care to ban unnecessary surgeries on intersex children without their consent.

    The role of the military in forming gender ideals. More overt in the US, but here, every Anzac day theres a spike in patriotic honouring and reminiscing in the glory of the death of men as a corner stone of our national identity.

    Exposed incessantly to war stories at school (conscription and all) and being an avid follower of M*A*S*H I sometimes wondered (cued by Klinger) whether my gender dysphoria was simply a pathological form of conscientious objection. Had it been I'm sure it would have subsided once I passed that age bracket, but such was my impression of the way we raise males to tolerate violence, to be our warriors, defenders, to be disposable; "trash" if you will. While belatedly sanding against this grain, attempting to drum into them as adults that they shouldn't see others as disposable while papering over the role this oppositional (as opposed to spectral or homogenous) socialialistion plays in continuing to cultivate undesirable characteristics from childhood.

    As a trans woman it's such a difficult position to find oneself in this era of heightened gender weaponisation (which incidentally feels like the perfect groundwork for sending another generation of men off to war). Namely I'm acutely aware of the conflict between how when accepted as a woman; the assaults I've experienced are unacceptable, and when not accepted as a woman - I'm classed with the murderers and the rapists.

    WRT these types of double standards I've seen some really troubling stuff in this area this year whereby previously commonly used uncontroversial stats showing that '1/3-4 females and 1/6-7 males experience sexual abuse in their lifetime' are being displaced by MOJ "reported" stats centred on adulthood claiming 24% of women (1/4) and 6% (1/16) of men 'will experience sexual violence during their lifetime' . A massive difference - implying that by adulthood abused boys will have just kind of 'gotten over it'; see "take it like a man" as if this type of erasure ('loss of privilege') isn't simply more fuel for the chaotic bonfire of violence and sexual predation that infests every nook and cranny of this Godzone or whatever.

    An equally troubling instance of these double standards occurred earlier in the year when The Spinoff published (and then retracted) a #metoonz article written by a serial sexual assailant lamenting how not having been taught consent contributed to the litany of sexual assaults she perpetrated against women. It began:

    A lesbian grapples with the implications of #metoo for her community and looks back with regret at the way she handled sexual relationships in the past. Im writing this because Im worried that I too have assaulted a woman.

    "I realised that I didn't really know what consent was. I didn't know how to have consensual sex with a woman. I realised I needed help."

    A #metoonz article from the perspective of the rapist - the mind boggled - there was no mention of any resort to justice, let alone any indication of any attempts to do right by the victims. Inquiries to Toby Manhire and Duncan Greive as to the relative insulation being afforded by the publication to this predator were stonewalled.

    So in short Steven, I feel you, especially at this point, when you're reminded just how inconvenient what you've been put through is to 'the narrative', how unless all the numbers line up wrt to the sex of the perpetrator *and* the sex of the victim then you get treated like you don't matter, because what happens to you doesn't happen enough, that these crimes don't merit equal consideration - how these issues won't be meaningfully addressed by sloganeering, internet arguments and shortform opinion pieces - how our carelessness in this regard continues to erase crime and how this erasure continues to exacerbate these issues by breaking fresh ground for unlikely perps and their defenders.

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2281 posts Report Reply

  • Neil, in reply to mark taslov,

    You’ve made quite a range of points. To address just one.

    Male/female brain differences certainly don’t explain all types of violence. However they do contribute to some such as described in the original post on male gun violence in the US.

    I believe an understanding of this phenomenon is helpful to undertake social intervention to prevent it.

    There are other less direct differences such as male risk taking in adolescence leading to a larger proportion of traumatic brain injury which can often predispose people to aggression.

    I think evidence from brain imaging on male/female differences also offers valuable insight into current debates surrounding transgender rights:

    Although the number of studies examining the brain of people with GI [gender incongruence] is still low, they have taught us that brain phenotypes for FtM [Female to Male] and MtF [Male to Female] seem to exist, and provided evidence for the role of prenatal organization of the brain in the development of gender incongruence.

    In other words in terms of gender a person’s brain may not match their natal body.

    Since Nov 2016 • 380 posts Report Reply

  • Moz, in reply to mark taslov,

    the way we raise males to tolerate violence, to be our warriors, defenders, to be disposable;

    ... and then wonder why, having been raised with violence and taught to valourise violence, so few of them are violent? I'm occasionally shocked by women who are habitually violent toward men and how acceptable that is. I mean the "casually punching him on the arm" type violence... hint: if he can't respond in kind, it's not a "we're good mates" thing.

    It's not just a matter of "violent defense is ok", it's a whole raft of social subtlety around exactly what attacks permit defense and in what context. But that's very rarely addressed explicitly, even in violent occupations. Which is why we see everyone from sports stars to military personnel being educated by the legal system. Why is it ok to use violence to defend unjust laws but not to defend unjust privilege?(1)

    I do wonder why we expect those people to be able to turn off major parts of their personality and experience on demand, when that's considered hugely problematic when we ask other people to do the same thing? It occurs to me that PTSD might be one result of that demand. "just stop being someone who was raped" is mind-bogglingly stupid, but "just stop being a violent thug when you're not at work" is normal...

    (1) Saying "the legal system couldn't work otherwise" is a condemnation of the legal system, not a defense of it.

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 1232 posts Report Reply

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