Saturday, June 28, 2014

Intimate Terrorists

A discussion on the talk show Outnumbered and an online article from the HuffPost reported research claiming women’s aggression is just as violent as that of men. I'm perplexed as to why we want to continue finding someone to be the villain.  Courts already struggle with calling it domestic violence because of the implications and consequences that label brings. We are at an impasse; our heels are dug in so deeply that fault has become the objective.  I once spoke on a panel where men were cheering the praises of research with findings very similar to these. One audience participant proudly announced, “It’s terrific to finally know that men are right!” I retorted, “Why do we have to be right, why can’t we just make it right?” I knocked him off the blaming bandwagon and it was hard for anyone to argue my suggestion as it made sense.
Nevertheless, it seems someone has to be wrong, which creates a lose/lose situation in which nobody can really win. Family violence is everybody’s business and responsibility to thwart...everyone deserves to feel safe regardless of gender. We would be foolish to pretend that society doesn’t endorse violence whether is patriarchal, matriarchal, racially motivated or from affluenza (a disease sparked by wealth and privilege)…we see it everyday. Perhaps the difference now is that women’s aggressive behavior is being glamorized, promoting more violence. The study also noted that women are most aggressive toward men, while men are more aggressive toward other men. So what? Violence is violence no matter how it's packaged. We have bred protective instincts out of our DNA by rationalizing that couples fight, relationships are hard or finding a damsel in distress is good for the soul. It’s not. Let’s recognize the word stress in distress and stop minimizing poor communication skills by writing them off as bad days. Behavior is progressive and gets worse over time when people aren't given boundaries and limitations. The study also focused on young people in their late teens and early 20s. This is a time when hormones are raging and the brain's frontal lobe is not fully developed. These young adults aren't always capable of recognizing consequences. They don’t have a voice yet. They haven’t fully emancipated from their parents to develop healthy coping skills. They haven’t matured or discovered who they are yet. Is it fair to research an under-developed population and treat them as representative of stereotypical behavior or to make blanket statements that one sex is more aggressive or controlling than another? What’s the point? We need solutions not more problems. The money used for this study can have been better allocated to programs that teach resiliency, protective factors or assertiveness training.

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