Monday, June 1, 2009

What We're Missing in DV Debate

I was recently turned on to the writings of K. J. Wilson and Susan Murphy-Milano by a posted question by a poster who calls himself "MadShangi." His questions about these two feminist writers were so intriguing that it sent me to the library to request their books by interlibrary loan.

While reading Defending Our Lives: Getting Away from Domestic Violence & Staying Safe by Susan Murphy-Milano, a profound thought occurred to me: we are asking all of the wrong questions about domestic violence.

The typical debate on the issue of domestic violence revolves around a few predictable axes: are men or women more often the victim of DV? By how much is DV over reported statistically? How often is DV falsely alleged?

These are important questions, but they are only mildly important when the central question is asked: Isn't DV really just a chimera?

Whether DV occurs a lot or a little - ultimately, it is all fake. Whether it is a male vs. female or female vs. male problem, it is all fake. And no matter how many times someone intentionally makes up a lie about it (and statistics and experience suggest that is more often than not), it is all ultimately a lie, even when it meets factual legal requirements.

Murphy-Milano's book begins by the story of her own life. As a child, she became acquainted with very real violence first hand. The stories of her seeing her mother's head being banged into an iron bedstead are harrowing. One can only imagine how horrifying it was to see one's mother taped up, beaten to a pulp, and apparently only inches away from life support in a hospital. And then, there was the murder.

Her father, an Illinois policeman, murdered her mother and then killed himself, leaving a note saying,

"To whom this may concern. This is business only. I did what I had to do. No one leaves me and gets away with it...."

One can only imagine the very real emotional trauma experienced by a little girl who watches her mother go through a nightmare such as this, and then comes home one day to find both parents lying dead in the home.

But up to now, I have related very real crimes: assault, battery, murder.

But in Murphy-Milano's book, directly opposite the page which contains this sentence:

"My father had shot my mother in the back of the head at close range..."

... is a chapter titled "Recognizing Domestic Violence."

We move from the clearly definable lines of assault, battery, and "shot my mother in the back of the head" to nebulous concepts like "wife abuse" (which I learned was the "most common" crime in the U.S.) and "domestic violence."

"Oh," say you, a typically-informed member of the general public, "they are the same thing!"

Really now?

Because in an attempt to define "domestic violence" (and let's face it, if it looked like what happened to her mother, would it really need defining?), Ms. Murphy-Milano proposes such answers as:

* Name-calling or yelling.
* Using angry expressions or gestures.
* Humiliation, either in public or private....
* Accusations of infidelity....
* Constant questioning of the other person's judgment or decision-making abilities.
* Threatening to leave....
* Ignoring or minimizing the other person's feelings....
* A desire to have sex for the wrong reasons.
* Insistence that you do things his way.
* Clinging to you constantly....
* Unpredictable behavior.

Then she plainly states, "Domestic violence is a combination of threats, control, insults, and insane jealousy."

Notice how glibly and blithely she glides from "he shot my mother in the back of the head" to "clinging." As if the two were first cousins. As if the two were even remotely related by species.

Why does she glibly and blithely so glide? Is it because she is such a raging idiot that she does not comprehend that there is a difference between the two? Or is it because she is manipulating her audience with the first story in order to gain acquiescence on her minor points - "clinging" and "angrily gesturing?" Are we to consider her serious? Honest? Sane?

Now, don't get me started, I see the Catch-22 she is pleased to place men (notice the masculine pronouns) in. Both "threatening to leave" and "clinging to you constantly" are domestic violence? Who exactly determines what the right reasons are for having sex? Why is insisting on having his way domestic violence, but insisting on having her way is assertiveness? And unpredictable behavior? Who on this planet is more unpredictable than a woman who is under the tender ministry of PMS? Murphy-Milano is good enough to warn us that "unpredictable behavior can become life-threatening!", so take heed, men!

Like I say, don't get me started on the utter childishness of all of this.

Except that the nonsense that is this book is now the law in most of the 50 states of the USA.

Now, don't get me wrong, it isn't the law in the sense that some legislator voted on it. But rather it is the effective law, as enacted from the bench in thousands of domestic relations courts throughout this land. Because the ideology of Murphy-Milano's book informs thousands of feminist organizations and women's shelters who are responsible for the continuing legal education of judges and lawyers everywhere.

Nobody denies that Murphy-Milano's father was a criminal, and that what he did was a crime. But what exactly is the relationship between "he shot my mother in the back of the head" and

unpredictable behavior... [and] ignoring or minimizing the other person's feelings?

Yeah, I know, this is how ghastly murderers act prior to their murders. I get that. I also get that this is how everybody on earth acts on alternating Wednesdays and Thursdays. They do it before having a bath, and after eating cucumbers, and in some strange concurrence with swimming. So we can, by the same logic that makes "unpredictable behavior" and "ignoring or minimizing another's feelings" either DV or the precursor thereof, design a new DV statute which reads

Any person found to have eaten cucumbers or to have engaged in the sport of swimming at any point in the past 30 days may have his movement restricted and his access to wife, children, and home denied...

... because studies have conclusively shown that all abusers have engaged in swimming and eating cucumbers. There is certainly as much correlation between cucumber consumption and domestic violence as there is between anger and domestic violence.

Except for one thing: women are not neurotic about cucumbers. Well, most of them anyway. And herein lies the tragedy that is feminism - feminism has provided the forum for the most neurotic and emotionally damaged of women to project their neuroses upon the rest of us. Apparently one woman's neurotic, irrational fear of a man raising his voice or gesticulating when he talks translates into a reason to undermine, or even destroy, the whole institution of marriage and even society itself.

"Domestic Violence," as it exists in the law, is simply a projection of the fears of neurotic women. Their "perception" of fear or danger or being "controlled" has no more correlation with reality than does the schizophrenic's perception of pink, flying elephants. It may be very real to him, but it is not real.

To this extent, the whole Domestic Violence Industry and subculture functions as a representation of feminism itself - all modern feminism is really just an attempt to project and objectify (make real) the subjective and neurotic fears of women: fears that they will not be treated well, fears that they cannot do all that men can do, fear that they are weaker, fear that they are not strong enough to chart their own course.

I have argued dozens of times that the concept of "domestic violence" is to the law what the concept of "widget" is to economics - a thoroughly empty word willing and able to be filled with whatever meaning a person might desire. But let's be honest for a second. If "domestic violence" is what Ms. Murphy-Milano says, then we are all domestic abusers. Both plaintiff and defendant, child and parent, husband and wife. Any person who has ever thought his own needs superior to those of another is guilty, and must be imprisoned forthwith.

This can't be serious, except that it is. Men are in jail right now whose crime is "failing to take their spouse's feelings into account."

I have sat in on over 100 domestic violence protective order (DVPO) hearings in my state. Only one of them alleged what an average man on the street would even recognize as "violence," and then so oddly that one was left with the feeling that he had happened into an episode of The Twilight Zone (The complainant claimed that her husband beat her with a riding crop, then admitted that she bought the same from a porn store for that very purpose - turns out she was into S&M play, and then simultaneously claimed to have been burned with hot coffee, beaten with a rod, strangled nearly to death - all without the benefit of any bruises. Thankfully, Ms. Murphy-Milano set me straight on this one when she wrote that one is always to "be supportive.... Believe her. Don't say 'That's impossible' or 'I find what you are telling me hard to believe.'"). Yet I have only ever seen one DVPO that did not result in a finding of civil liability, and often arrest.

What the general public doesn't know, and probably doesn't want to know, is that "domestic violence" has nothing to do with "he shot my mother in the back of the head" and it has everything to do with "failing to regard her feelings."

One who was being less than charitable might assume that Murphy-Milano's view of what constitutes "domestic violence" is informed less by a real concern for finding a cause and effect relationship than by a desire to treat all men as if they are abusers, and all relationships as if they are inherently abusive.

I know, that is taking things too far. I'm a conspiracy theorist....

"The nuclear family must be destroyed... Whatever its ultimate meaning, the break-up of families now is an objectively revolutionary process." Linda Gordon

"We can't destroy the inequities between men and women until we destroy marriage." Robin Morgan

"I claim that rape exists any time sexual intercourse occurs when it has not been initiated by the woman, out of her own genuine affection and desire." Robin Morgan

"All patriarchists exalt the home and family as sacred, demanding it remain inviolate from prying eyes. Men want privacy for their violations of women.... All women learn in childhood that women as a sex are men's prey." Marilyn French

"All men are rapists and that's all they are." Marilyn French

"Since marriage constitutes slavery for women, it is clear that the women's movement must concentrate on attacking this institution. Freedom for women cannot be won without the abolition of marriage." Sheila Cronin

"Men's sexuality is mean and violent, and men so powerful that they can 'reach WITHIN women to f**k/construct us from the inside out.' Satan-like, men possess women, making their wicked fantasies and desires women's own. A woman who has sex with a man, therefore, does so against her will, even if she does not feel forced." Judith Levine

"Heterosexual intercourse is the pure, formalized expression of contempt for women's bodies." Andrea Dworkin
You get the idea.

So here is my theory: anytime that you are in a courtroom and you are listening to a "domestic violence" hearing, and there are no charges of assault, or battery, or what have you, you are listening to a lie whether or not the legal elements are met.

You are listening to the institutionalization of a lie. It is a lie in one of three ways:

1) It is a lie because it suggests that there is no difference between "he shot my mother in the back of the head" and "he failed to take my feelings into account."

2) Or, it is a lie because it intentionally blurs the line between "he shot my mother in the back of the head" and "he failed to take my feelings into account."

3) Or, it is a lie because it is the product of a neurosis that is genuinely unable to see the distinction between "he shot my mother in the back of the head" and "he failed to take my feelings into account."

What we are missing in our discussions about DV is this: we treat the category itself as if it is legitimate, and we argue about how to properly apply the category.

But listen, if I beat you, I get convicted of assault. If I shoot you in the back of the head, somebody utters the word "homicide."

But when I hear "domestic violence," what am I actually hearing?

After reading Murphy-Milano, I think I am hearing "I feel victimized, but I don't have any evidence to prove it."

I am no longer going to argue that a certain percentage of claims of "domestic violence" are false. They all are false. One hundred per cent of them.

Because any claim that is real will be called "assault," "battery," or "murder."


  1. Using the non-obvious violent definitions of DV, Jon Gosselin of the Jon and Kate plus 8 show is a victim of televised DV.

    When he left and, granted, engaged in publically embarassing behavior, he was castigated by the media and belittled for his complaints.

    I'm here due to a referral by courtwatcher. I like the woman who writes the blog, she even monitored an abuse of justice against a man, BUT... she appears naive in some ways.

    Abuses of justice against men are common and even institutionalized while when they happen against women, they are clearly tragedies or legal technicalities. (In one case, a man who assaulted a woman didn't technically violate his probation so the judge couldn't penalize him).

    How did I get to her page? I came through the incredibly delusional written by a woman, Heidi Collins or her daughter (hard to say which is which since Heidi writes under her children's names on a regular basis). The woman, and her daughters, are at war with ALL of her ex husbands in the states whom she fled from when she lost TWO custody battles. Think about that for a moment. How insane must a woman be to lose TWO custody battles in a system where 85% of custody is awarded to women?

  2. We're glad you are here, regardless of the route that you took to meet us.

    And I agree, "delusional" is being quite kind to the author(s) of americanchildrenunderground. Perhaps merely linking to her blog would prevent me from having to write any more articles with similar titles to my "Feminism is a Mental Disorder." One picture is, after all, worth a thousand words....