Muse: One Of These Things Is Not Like The Other
Thank you Craig. And though it's not about my personal experience, it is about that of so many who have been and still get abused, those who aren't able to 'toughen up and get over it', but who carry the hidden scars for so very long. People I know who find themselves reflexively pulling back from potential intimacy, even of merely friendship, because that's the lesson they have learnt -- it's not safe to connect. I am not putting this well, but I strongly support your point of view and thank you for it.
And it is still often the case today that men's assault services are run as off-shoots of women's refuge services, at least intentionally (don't know what the current state of affairs is in NZ) and are are even less-resourced than the refuges themselves.
I think some context as to why men have been poorly-served that sense might be of interest. Women fought long and hard to set up the original refuges - they didn't get any handouts to do so. Their focus was getting women and kids out of unsafe situations and into homes where the abusers couldn't follow them. But unfortunately, yes, that focus on getting away from the (mostly male) abusers meant of course that male victims were not welcome in the "safe space".
I don't think anyone who works in the sector would deny the fact that men are victimised and women can be abusers. But their remit was originally and still primarily is for women and children's safety. If the Refuge movement were specifically to extend their focus on providing DV victim support to everyone, I would very happily support this and contribute to their coffers as I do now.
But I also think that blaming Refuge for not catering for male victims (and I heard it more than once) is a bit unfair. It came out of a grassroots feminist effort to take care of each other, mostly by women who'd been abused themselves. There has been nothing to stop motivated men from doing the same themselves (like fundraising for prostate cancer getting same awareness as breast cancer). I've actually been surprised that the queer community hasn't stepped up there, although of course that doesn't help straight men.
But again, I think it'd be useful to have some overarching support organisation. With govt kicking in more than they do now.
I followed your comments on the Hope and Wire review post, where you made a discussion about the dramatisation of a natural disaster, and the effect on thousands of people, about your particular response to the word rape.
“It’s like they are raping the city,” he said. “And what shocking acting. I’m off home now, I’ll wade through old-school stereotypes and several skirmishes with skinheads to get there.”
The word "rape" means:
The act of taking something by force; esp. the seizure of property by violent means; robbery, plundering.
Often it is used to refer to sexual force but that is not the only meaning. Rape was a property crime, and women were property.
And, after four years of having Gerry as an overlord, it does feel like Christchurch has had things taken by force, it does feel like property has been seized by violent means, it does feel like robbery, and it does feel like plundering.
It is a valid word to use, and for some here it is a valid description of what has happened here.
I'm flattered, but also somewhat bemused, you think my superpower is bending any discussion among the habitually bloody-minded Public Address community to my will. But that's not the case, no matter how often I'd like it to be so.
Beyond that, I've precisely zero interest in playing dueling dictionaries, but I'll leave this from the online OED I've got open in the next door tab.
Originally and chiefly: the act or crime, committed by a man, of forcing a woman to have sexual intercourse with him against her will, esp. by means of threats or violence. In later use more generally: the act of forced, non-consenting, or illegal sexual intercourse with another person; sexual violation or assault.
I'm not terribly impressed with Anderson, The Press or Stuff right now. But I will do them the basic courtesy of assuming they're literate and have some feeling for common usage.
Great column Craig, thank you.
I think if people mean "plunder, steal, appropriate, disrespect", etc, etc, they should use those words. English is so rich in alternatives.
Craig, we don't always agree on TV shows, or on what constitutes fair game in them, but this is a really fantastic piece of writing, sharp thinking, clear, and to the point. Thank you.
I do also think there is at least some element of truth to what Jane says. But you're right, lets keep the dictionaries on their shelves.
FYI: I had a private response from an MP who is looking into the SSVT shutdown. Apparently there is much more to the closure than simply funding. There are other avenues of help, I am assured.
Russell Brown, in reply to
Steven, I've removed the unnecessary and offensive last line of your comment. I recognise your real stake in a discussion like this, but that wasn't taking us anywhere good.
Tracy was talking about how and why Refuge developed as a safe space for women suffering violence from men. I think that rather than try and change that identity, we should ask why there aren't those spaces for the men who need them.
I'm with Russell on this, but truly thanks for engaging and I do respect where you're coming from because hell... been there. But this is also one of those times where, you know, everyone's right. Womens Refuge isn't the problem here. This is one area where one size really doesn't fit all -- and there are people out there who are just as focused on meeting the very specific needs of male survivors of abuse. And just like WR, they really do deserve a hell of lot more support (and not just from government) than they get.
Fighting a pervasive and so often invisible culture of abuse shouldn't be a zero sum game, even though it so often seems that way.
Ian Dalziel, in reply to
Fighting a pervasive and so often invisible culture of abuse shouldn’t be a zero sum game, even though it so often seems that way.
Why just the other day I received this charming epistle:
[DELETED. Sort this out in some other way than posting personal emails in a public discussion forum, Ian - RB]
Your semantic preferences are noted for future reference.
Good of you to deny me a right of reply, too…
Please note: this is the first time I have intentionally visited the ‘Muse’ blog – and it will be the last – as that is how the adults behave around here, it seems.
If you have any problems with my conduct anywhere on Public Address, please direct them to Russell.
This would also be a great time to assure folks who've e-mailed me about aspects of this post, especially those who've shared their own experience of abuse, that they will not be published here - or quoted - without your SPECIFIC AND EXPLICIT consent.
Kind of shit that even needs saying, but there you go and here we are.
Moz, in reply to
There has been nothing to stop motivated men from doing the same themselves
I trust you're aware of the fight to get domestic violence and marital rape recognised as issues, then crimes? And the reactions ranging from mirth to things that were not funny? I invite you to think about how those reactions would be affected when it's men who are the so-called "victims" of things that obviously can't possibly happen to men, or if they do it's because the "man" can't follow the "be a man" script?
I've actually been surprised that the queer community hasn't stepped up there, although of course that doesn't help straight men.
They have. But it takes a large city or a very peculiar set of circumstances, not least because often it's men helping men who've suffered at the hands of men. And those services are usually the first to get cut, for the same reason they're hard to establish.
Many women's refuges were slow to recognise the problem of female abusers and it's still a serious problem, as it's not easy to balance treating women who approach the shelter as potential abusers with offering them the help they obviously (seem to) need.
One further complication is that often the organisations providing men's refuges are explicitly religious and often deeply homophobic. Not to mention also practitioners or facilitators of abuse themselves. I think there's a good argument that some or all of that funding should go to groups who are explicitly accepting of their clients. Ideally before they become homeless.
Moz, in reply to
Tracy was talking about how and why Refuge developed as a safe space for women suffering violence from men.
I suspect Tracey was mistaken. Womens Refuge in NZ was started as a place for people fleeing violence. Their about page says
1973 Women's Refuge established The first Women’s Refuge was set up in Christchurch after a group of women came together with a common interest in providing a safe haven for victims of violence.
They only very reluctantly accepted that they needed to be explicit that they only support women and children (officially in 1985), and for a long time fought any claim along those lines vigorously. What Women's Refuge do is very necessary and they do excellent work in trying conditions, but what they do is not enough. Even just for the heterosexual ciswomen in fear of male violence that are their primary focus.
Jane, I'm sorry but I've deleted your entire comment. There seemed no purpose to it but to attack Craig in a way that reached way into the realm of personal correspondence. This is not the place to sort this out.
I'm not willing to talk about my experiences in detail but suffice to say that I support steven crawford wholeheartedly.
"refuge" has been a source of significant pain to many victims of violence as refuge struggled to come to terms with their own prejudices and preconceptions. The Christchurch group had a fairly mixed reputation in the Chch queer community even in the 1990s due to their difficulty dealing with women who were victims of violence from women, and their savage policies with respect to boys. You really, really, did not want to expose an adolescent boy to women's refuge in those days. I like to think it's better now, but I can't bring myself to find out.
The epitomy of my experience was being told by refuge that the only support I could get was enrollment in a group for male offenders. I am still horrified that anyone would suggest that to someone they knew had been abused by men.
That strongly colours my feelings towards women's refuge, and I accept that that makes me not the right person to decide what should be done about them. But I'd also like a little bit less dismissal of male victims from the chorus. Suggesting that men should just start their own group rather than fighting the revictimisation and abuse they get from advocates for women is missing the point. Those things are wrong, and should stop. Especially they should stop coming from people who claim to advocate for victims.
FWIW I do give money to groups helping men and boys, but I'm very much not suited to getting involved on the ground with those groups. I suggest that for many male victims of male violence, help from men is best not delivered in person. Much as we do for female victims of male violence.
For my part, I am appalled that this thread is conflating the biggest natural disaster in New Zealand, with the most ongoing effect on many people in the country’s second-biggest city with the awfulness of rape and domestic violence.
It’s a badly judged, no boundaries combination of subjects that is distressing to me and bringing down PAS.
I’m disappointed and upset by it. Sick to the stomach.
Bart Janssen, in reply to
I tend to agree with you Hebe.
I do think Craig has a strong point about the misuse of the word. But the context and direction that the thread has taken suggest that continuing the discussion can only do harm.
I would love to be wrong. But there are (at least) two very strong emotional pressures at play in this thread and they are not making for a productive discussion.
Russell Brown, in reply to
I think Craig’s motivation in writing was the belief that the two shouldn’t be conflated, but I also am feeling fairly distressed by the turn the discussion has taken. I’ll keep watch and will close the thread if it doesn’t improve.
Hebe, in reply to
A large part of the problem is Craig’s use of language, both here and in the past. It’s violent, bruising and abusive in itself.
And I’m speaking as someone not reticent in distributing profanities far and wide.
His motivation is fine: the execution is not. He is a sensitive person -- to himself not to others.
Jane, in reply to
I'll second that.
I'd prefer you close it now, but I'm going to leave the call entirely in your hands so nobody comes back and says I'm trying to prevent or "disappear" criticism. I'm also thinking very seriously about deleting the entire post, but that's going to have to wait a while.
Post your response…
This topic is closed.