If Your Man Knew What to Say, Here’s What He Might Say If He Knew You Feared His Potential For Violence...
Excerpted from Warren Farrell's Women Can't Hear What Men Don't Say.
(Permission to reprint granted by Warren Farrell.)
The Politics Of Abuse: The Great Inequality
In the arena of relationship arguments, women are about as much the masters as men are on football fields. But
women’s misuse of relationship power is legal; men’s misuse of physical power is illegal. The illegality of physical abuse makes men more restrained in the use of their physical power than women are in the use of their relationship power. This might be called “The Great Inequality.”
We are now in a bind. We have discovered the need for a two sex approach to domestic violence, but federal and state governments give tax exemptions to organizations like the United Way which fund this feminist blame-the-male approach. It would be naive to think that these interlocking bureaucracies (governments, foundations, and feminism) will change by readers passively absorbing this information. Politicians must know their constituencies are divided – not united – in the view of man-as-perpetrator, woman-as-victim. Foundations must know their tax exempt status is being called into question due to their discrimination against men. They must see copies of letters written to Congresspersons and Senators. And be offered solutions.
If we wish to help men and women to help themselves, I believe we will need to do the following:
Train equal numbers of male and female counselors (worldwide) to take a non-sexist, systems approach to battering – the approach outlined in Part I.
Establish Family Communication workshops to be available to everyone, without it being associated with domestic violence. A much cheaper investment than prisons.
Require the police department to transfer all domestic violence calls to a 24-hour domestic violence hotline funded adequately enough to send out a man and woman to work with an in-crisis couple.
The police are used only when the man or woman desires the police after the other alternative is offered.
If the hotline is used more than once, a user fee must be paid by the couple if they do not commit to attend the free Family Communication workshops.
It Is Cheaper To Empower Than To Imprison
Can mandatory communication workshops be enforced? Yes. If the first-time batterer is given a choice between mandatory arrest or a mandatory communication workshop... it won’t take long for workshops to be fuller and prisons to be emptier. Taxpayer money will be sowing seeds of love rather than breeding anger. It is cheaper to empower than it is to imprison.
In conclusion, when domestic violence is seen as a two-way street, it frees us to transfer from a “men must give up their power” model for treatment to a “walk a mile in each other’s moccasins” model for treatment. It frees us to focus not on a scapegoat oppressor, but a mutual responsibility dance; not on punishment, but prevention. It frees us not to treat a slap as terminal cancer, but as a signal we need to make our love healthier. We have an opportunity to make a paradigm shift from the world of victimhood – of learned helplessness defenses, battered women’s shelters and syndromes, mandatory arrest policies, and restraining orders – to the world of relationship training in elementary school; workshops on “how to hear criticism” and “how to give criticism” – the world of redefining love.