Up Front by Emma Hart

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Up Front: Any Port in a Storm

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  • Craig Ranapia,

    did someone call Craig?

    Not the time. Not the place. Not cool.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Morgan Nichol,

    So dinner and a movie later, and I really didn't expect this to be continuing.

    Oh go away with the passive aggression. An apology immediately followed with suggestions about how to do things better. Good one.

    You are mistaken.

    Perhaps I will try to explain where I was coming from a little further, as much as it pains me to waste my time doing so.

    Once upon a time I helped counsel groups of young men and boys in anger management classes with action education (part of YouthLine, though I don't know if it still exists, this was about 15 or 16 years ago), one of the many things we did was try to encourage the boys to own what they said. It's a very kiwi habit to say "you" when we mean "I", so we'd try to have them say "I'm frustrated when people do X" instead of "you're frustrated when people do X".

    (Unfortunately once you notice this habit, it can't be unnoticed. If I've just reprogrammed you, well, join the club.)

    These boys were, frequently though not universally (some of them really just seemed to be little shits by nature), victims of physical and sexual abuse. I remember one boy in particular - surly and aggressive, and just about as initimidating as a teenager can be - being encouraged to own his words (and thereby his thoughts), and this along with some very direct talk from one of the other counsellors, lead to tears, and a breakthrough - as it became clear that he had been (but wasn't presently being, as he had been moved out of his family home, and into a boys home on Richmond Rd) abused by his father.

    It was this evasiveness of ownership in language that I felt I saw in Emma's post, and this is what I was intimating at in my too hasty comment. And it was for this reason, based on real life experience with victims of abuse, that I said that I thought it would have been more powerful if she'd owned her words rather than putting them on to me.

    But just as you don't know me, or what is behind my words, I don't know Emma. I don't hear her voice in her writing, or have this implicit understanding of her tone that some of you claim to have. I don't know the first thing about how she lives her life. And clearly it turns out that what I said - as genuinely as I meant it - was misplaced.

    So I apologised to her directly, and she has had the grace to accept me at my word.

    Now please put away the pitchforks.

    Auckland CBD • Since Nov 2006 • 313 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie,

    But just as you don't know me, or what is behind my words, I don't know Emma. I don't hear her voice in her writing, or have this implicit understanding of her tone that some of you claim to have. I don't know the first thing about how she lives her life.

    I don't know Emma either, but her piece certainly resonated with my own understanding of human nature. It's not clear to me if you're admitting to some kind of perceptual disability, or implying that all who responded positively to Emma's piece are somehow deluded.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4591 posts Report Reply

  • Morgan Nichol,

    I don't know Emma either, but her piece certainly resonated with my own understanding of human nature. It's not clear to me if you're admitting to some kind of perceptual disability, or implying that all who responded positively to Emma's piece are somehow deluded.

    Awesome. I knew I was wasting my fucking breath.

    Auckland CBD • Since Nov 2006 • 313 posts Report Reply

  • stephen walker,

    no, no, you weren't wasting your breath. it was an interesting perspective. but your earlier comments did come across as having the wrong end of the stick. about who Emma's essay was about. and how she wanted people reading to experience it. she wanted the reader to put themselves in someone else's shoes. empathise. that's all. maybe re-read her essay if you think it worth your time.

    have a nice evening!

    nagano • Since Nov 2006 • 645 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle,

    This may seem sort of redundant, but in the interests of not being a snarky asshole (my usual modus operandi), Morgan: you do get that Emma is the daughter in this story? Not the mother. Right? She's not telling her own story, so she doesn't have to 'take ownership' of it. She's asking us all to imagine - as she imagines in this piece - what it was like to be her mother, and then, more broadly, to empathise with all people who are abused by their partners. This isn't a question of deflection *at all*. As stephen says, you seem to have grasped the wrong end of the stick. The one with poo on it.

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3828 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie,

    Awesome. I knew I was wasting my fucking breath.

    Oh come on Morgan, my comment was posted in good faith. I know it was late, but if you must respond surely you can manage more than a hissy fit.

    You describe a fellow counsellor whose "very direct talk" resulted in an eventual breakthrough with a difficult client. I'd suggest that this counsellor was employing more than a mechanical technique of encouraging the troubled adolescent to "own his words". They probably employed a degree of imagination, in order to empathise with where the poor kid was coming from.

    This is precisely what Emma invites her readers to do in her first sentence.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4591 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    Morgan: you do get that Emma is the daughter in this story? Not the mother. Right?

    And there goes the diagram.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    Hey guys. Morgan did email me yesterday evening and apologise, and I'm okay with it, okay?

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4650 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    While this is fun for the whole family.

    Morgan has both apologised and tried to explain his misunderstanding.

    Much as what he said was not good, I fail to see how further dragging over the coals is any use. With Emma's permission, perhaps we could return to the business at hand of saying how well she wrote the piece and discussing it?

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle,

    Kyle, that is entirely too sensible, and I must rebel against it. I am now compelled to tell you that I think you're full of shit. ;)

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3828 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    Kyle, that is entirely too sensible, and I must rebel against it. I am now compelled to tell you that I think you're full of shit. ;)

    Perhaps this pretense is evidence that you're still trying to escape from something?

    ...

    What, too soon?

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Robert Urquhart,

    You write wonders Emma :) Thank you for sharing. Fortunately my immediate family has never had to deal with this issue (as far as I know) but imagination has never been something I was short of....

    On a personal note I was involved in the recent rebuild of the Christchurch specific Women's Refuge site (http://www.womensrefuge.co.nz/) ... it's a bit surreal seeing it on the billboard campaign around Chch.

    Christchurch • Since Mar 2009 • 161 posts Report Reply

  • Mikaere Curtis,

    Great post, Emma. I just about stopped reading because I had that horrible feeling that it was going to end like this. But I'm glad I persevered and the very next thing I did was click the link and drop a couple of Kate's.

    When we bought our house 11 years ago we couldn't afford it, so we took on flatmates to help cover the bills. One of our flatmates was a solo mum who's sister was in an abusive relationship in Brisbane. She asked if we could take her in. We agreed and the sister bravely made preparations and before long she took her two daughters to airport and made her way to Auckland.

    Fortunately, the partner moved back as well, and didn't sue for custody in Australia (which would have been highly problematic for the sister). And he never came around, but did make a dick of himself around the child access arrangements.

    So, we had a total of 5 adults and 4 kids living at our place for some months. It was fully worth it, and we'd do it again.

    The sister went on to get a degree in IT, has a successful career, and her eldest daughter is now our babysitter.

    Tamaki Makaurau • Since Nov 2006 • 528 posts Report Reply

  • Megan Wegan,

    And then there's things like this

    Welly • Since Jul 2008 • 1275 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford,

    This has been a difficult thread to comment on. But I want to acknowledge your blog there Emma. That in itself was a donation to the Women's refuge. Because it's not only about money, its also about us understanding.

    Atlantis • Since Nov 2006 • 4316 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    New rules to help rape victims:

    Rape victims will be given sweeping new protections during trials, with planned rules requiring judges to agree before a complainant's sexual history can be raised in court.

    Defendants accused of rape could also face a new test of consent meaning a woman would effectively have to have said 'yes' to sexual activity rather than simply not saying 'no'.

    Courts would be required to consider what steps an accused person took to establish consent under rules designed to make rape cases less harrowing for victims.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Robert van Bakel,

    This happens every day? I believe it of course although my life has never been touched by male abuse of female relations; I think. Except for the time I beat my little sister, but then she replied in kind.

    Emma, I feel nothing for this women, or the score, hundreds like her; not in NZ anyway. Apparently your writing tugs the heart strings, and makes known a great ill kept secret. No it doesn't,. We've known about spousal abuse for decades, in the scientific literature, and eons before that in ALL cultural spheres, everywhere in the world, at all times; what's your point exactly? Men are bad! I know that, I am one. And yet I've never beaten the women I've known intimately, even the stupid ones, and believe me, women can be unbelievably more stupid than men, generally: Something about maternal protection of their children, upon becoming mothers, blinds them to the suffering of those outside their genetic interest, it causes a maternal selfishness which men, usually, do not suffer from; hence the great evil and great good men do, and the forever mediocrity of women, tied as they are to their little bundles of joy.
    Rob.

    China • Since Jul 2008 • 12 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Stowell,

    Remarkable load of rubbish in a short post, Robert. I'm not sure what YOUR point is, exactly, but I'm guessing you are desperate for a verbal savaging. Good luck with that.

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 2091 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Williams,

    FFS Rob, what's compelled you to write this?

    Emma's post was pretty staight foward. Abuse of women by their partners is not uncommon, needs attention and readers could assist by donating to Refuge.

    I didn't understand it to mean all men are bad, just that a number do some very bad things. I don't understand why you feel the need to defend all mankind against criticism of the violent ones, or to denigrate women and mothers in doing so.

    ...the forever mediocrity of women...

    Fuck off. That's my mother, sister, wife and three kids you're talking about. That's hundreds of remarkable people I know personally. What a ridiculous statement, just ridiculous.

    Sydney • Since Nov 2006 • 2273 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    On the plus side, it's the kind of comment that reflects solely on its author.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • 3410,

    I think the fact that men can be unbelievably stupid has been well demonstrated today.

    Auckland • Since Jan 2007 • 2618 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    what's your point exactly? Men are bad!

    Let's pretend for a moment that you actually believe that's my point, despite the fact that it's not said or implied anywhere in the piece. If you have trouble believing that's not my secret agenda, perhaps you could pop off and read this and this, and possibly notice that since the very first column I wrote here, I've been saying the exact opposite.

    This particular column was written to address people who simply cannot understand how an intelligent woman can get herself into this kind of situation, or how difficult it is to get out of it. I thought perhaps that, given I do understand that, I could share that understanding for people who haven't had my personal experience of it. Do you understand that?

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4650 posts Report Reply

  • Robert van Bakel,

    Thank you Paul, if you were ever more ashamed of your own sex I think perhaps re-orientation might be called for.

    Emma, I said these facts have been known in the scientific literature for decades, one of my ill-received points is, 'what's changed?' And further, if nothing's changed can we make IT better; no! Therefore the answer is not human, it appears to be more fundamental, less fixable, (unless over vast generations). I mean, is there an evolutionary reason for beating your partner, and is there an evolutionary reason for staying?

    As for the fictional women you've plausibly created, I have a question for her: "Are you insane, leave!"
    Rob.

    China • Since Jul 2008 • 12 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    Do you understand that?

    ...

    As for the fictional women you've plausibly created, I have a question for her: "Are you insane, leave!"

    I'll take that as a 'no' then.

    Also, considering the rest of your comment ignored everything I said, I'll leave you to have this conversation by yourself. You clearly don't need anybody else for it.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4650 posts Report Reply

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