A (slightly belated) Return to Feminism Friday!

Nowhere to Run—Fox News on Domestic Violence 

My summer job happens to be in a company where the only TV (in the lunchroom) is turned to Fox News 98.5% of the time.

The other day, one of the morning stories was dealing with domestic violence. Fox tends to cover a lot of missing mom (not necessarily woman) and missing children stories. A coworker noted that with the missing mom/woman stories, the primary subject often seems to be the husband/boyfriend. So when the story about domestic abuse came up, I was intrigued. And at first I thought the story was okay—it dealt with a very real problem and seemed pretty straightforward.

Then I thought about the dialogue between the main news anchor and the reporter about what options were open for women who are victims of domestic abuse.

The conclusion that both of them reached was that there are very few—(read: no) options for these women.

At one point the main anchor asked, “What’s a woman supposed to do? Run into the woods?”

To the people at Fox News, women’s shelters clearly don’t exist. I’m not going to argue with the fact that leaving an abusive relationship is dangerous—because it is. But women do have places to go—they just aren’t recognized for what they do. There are more animal shelters in the states than women’s shelters—an interesting fact. To some degree, it does say a lot about where society stands that abused animals are more important than women’s well being.

Another point that the fox news anchor kept driving home was that women need to be careful of who they were dating. It was all about the women’s decision—the news anchor and reporter said nothing about the fact that men have a responsibility to control their behavior. The men, according to the segment, were simply psychotic and therefore the implication is that men have no responsibility in their actions. If they beat up their partners—well clearly that is a bad situation but the woman clearly should have recognized the fact that he was overly violent in the first place.

For a man to be excused because of his ‘violent’ or ‘aggressive’ nature is absolute crap. The news anchor actually made an interesting comment when she noted that men get used to expecting certain things of their women and when they don’t get it, they get angry. But that was as far as the comment went—there was no exploring where that viewpoint comes from, it was just stated as a fact. Of course, I’m crazy to expect anything else from the news channel, but it’s still an important aspect because it needs to be addressed in a public forum.

One cannot say men are naturally aggressive whereas women are naturally passive and just leave it. It’s not nature—it’s social conditioning. Boys are encouraged to play with GI Joes and play at sword fighting whereas girls are encouraged to play with unnaturally shaped Barbie dolls and dream of their future wedding. Children that digress have to deal with the socially conditioned and hard to shift ‘reality’ as their parents and their community berate them. Otep

Women are aggressive. Look at the Otep Shamaya, the lead singer of a metal band. She doesn’t go onstage and sing about love, or courtship or heartbreak in a whispery, quiet or soothing voice. She screams/yells/growls about things that have made their way into her experience. She is raw, she is powerful and, most of all, she is aggressive. She is in every way equal to her male counterparts, perhaps even surpassing them.

And as far as men go, not all of them have psychopathic needs to dominate. To say that they do is not only missing completely the idea of men having a social responsibility to do unto others as they would have done unto them, but it’s making them into stupid animals that haven’t got the ability to take responsibility for their actions. It’s like people are saying, “oh, men can’t help it. That’s just the way it is.”

And that is completely ludicrous. To say something like that is as harmful to men as it is to women.

The issue of domestic violence/intimate partner violence needs a radical shift in point of view. I’ve addressed domestic violence in a purely heterosexual view—because that is how Fox viewed it and—to be frank—so does an overly large part of the population—but intimate partner violence is not unique to heterosexual couples.

It’s important to recognize that abuse can happen between any two people regardless of gender and that abuse takes many forms—from physical to emotional. A woman can abuse a man and a woman can abuse another woman just as easily as a man can abuse a woman.

Remember that there are many aspects to abuse.Because the topic is so significant, we need to know the facts. And we need to rework education on intimate partner violence—explore where ‘violence’ comes from and recognize that it’s not only men that have the tendency toward violence.

So keep these in mind and educate yourself about these issues…and don’t listen to Fox news! (though I’m sure I don’t need to tell many of you this!)

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