Love you like you want me to

It would appear, that rather like the economy, the discourse around domestic violence has this week returned to the 1970s.

The week kicked off with The Mirror reporting an interview Dennis Waterman gave to Piers Morgan, in which Waterman not only puts forward his view that clever women ask for a slap because, being bright, they ‘win’ arguments by being verbally quick; he also attempts to suggest there are bands of domestic violence; the occasional slap being somehow different to being a ‘beaten wife’.

Demonstrating his complete lack of acceptance of responsibility in his own words:

‘It’s not difficult for a woman to make a man hit her. She certainly wasn’t a beaten wife, she was hit and that’s different.’

‘The problem with strong, intelligent women is that they can argue, well. And if there is a time where you can’t get a word in… and I… I lashed out. I couldn’t end the argument.

The Daily Mail, as the Daily Mail is wont to do, rolled out the estrogen factor in finding a possessor of a womb willing to act as a clumsy apologist in an attempt to explain away Waterman’s stance that violence is sometimes contained to one woman only, as if in some way, that makes it ok.

To demonstrate the point, the writer uses the example of her ‘fiercely clever friend’, Jean, who had three relationships involving violence. Apparently the men had never hit a woman before or after Jean, and Jean would never put up with ‘a proper beating’. Jean’s view was:

‘with a bit of a slap, at least you know who wears the trousers, don’t you?’

Did she, perhaps, encourage her friend to get some help examining her relationship model? Doesn’t appear so.

Quoting an unnamed psychiatrist, she develops her point, by telling us that apparently research shows that the common denominator in cases of domestic violence is women having an IQ at least 10 points higher than their partner. Additionally, she goes on to say that the psychiatrist told her that the problem is:

They don’t want to ‘wear the trousers’… It doesn’t make them feel womanly enough. However much goading it takes, they’d rather be slapped than be victorious. When push — quite literally — comes to shove, these women prefer to have a dominant man to whom they might defer as an authority figure.

Of course, she eventually pulls it back (she really has little choice otherwise) saying well below the line that we have to have zero tolerance in domestic violence and making the important point that:

Not every two-little-slaps turns into routine, full-blown domestic violence. But almost all routine, full-blown domestic violence began with two-little-slaps.

In fairness to her, she made the point rather more firmly on the Jeremy Vine show (today hosted by Aasmah Mir, available on iPlayer here from around 70 onwards), although she did also have a wee giggle about her friend ‘Jean’. So if she pulled it back, what is the problem?

Well, look at the front page. How many perpetrators do you reckon will have seen that and nodded in agreement? How many survivors do you think will have seen it and mentally added it to the ‘I deserve it’ monologue that runs through their minds, put there by the perpetrators?

Judging by the comments BTL on the Mail piece, and listening to some callers on Jeremy Vine, quite a few see this as endorsement of their views – that sometimes, a woman* deserves it, and the man* is justified if he is pushed into using his fists to make a point. We are unlikely to know how many survivors add it to their internal monologue because, of course, they are the last people who are going to speak out.

I know I have laboured this point in respect of rape, but can we please start to watch what we say, how we say it, and consider the impact the language used has on both perpetrators and survivors.

To challenge and to change the behaviour we have to change the mindsets. While not all of us can go out and do direct work with perpetrators and survivors, we can make a difference in our own way by taking more care of not only how we talk about it, but in refusing to accept the way the media do, too.

*I have used gender terms in the way I have due to largely talking in this instance, about male perpetrators. I of course acknowledge that domestic violence involves female perpetrators and male survivors too.

18 thoughts on “Love you like you want me to

  1. Thank you for going to bat on this one. The Mail’s running a campaign of attrition – otherwise, why would they roll out so much crap so frequently – unless they hope one day we’ll all lose the will to fight on and let them slide.

    The whole premise of “she was asking for it” because she’s too dumb/pretty/smart/mouthy is obviously repellant horseshit.

    As I haven’t seen the research supposedly linking higher IQs to DV risk, it may be premature for me to label that as horseshit just yet.

    All I do have to say is that having worked as a housing legal aid lawyer, the DV women I met were fleeing their homes because their husbands/partners were treating them like his own personal property, rather than as a fellow human being.

    They say the clues happened long before the first punch. Little things they ignored with the hope it would keep the peace. Rather than stopping a DV problem before it started – with hindsight, they saw it just gave their “partners” the green light to up the ante.

    And speaking of discourse – while we may have won our rights to be recognised as fellow human beings in the 70s, somewhere along the line “feminism” became a cue for “not quite woman” – which is pitiable as “women’s rights” is meaningless to girls and young women these days.

    I despair that, in Hackney, home of the “sex tax”, many young girls attempt to find status by “joining” a male gang. Abuse by their male peers is the norm.

    How that attitude is going to change when the dinner party set finds DV “understandable in certain circumstances” is beyond me.

    • Thanks for the comment. I can’t find the research linking IQ and DV (of course, it could be part of any study), so if you do, please let me know.

      Clearly it doesn’t happen in the dinner party set. Or, they are just so used to defending their friends in that manner when it does…

      I’m in the middle of reading what is so far a fascinating paper on the language of lad’s mags and rapists, the overall question being ‘are lads mags mainstreaming dangerous sexism’. If you want a copy, shout, I have your email address from the comments.

  2. Hi Millie!

    Just read your thing. Jeez, what is the world up to. On the other hand, I do have a couple of minor points.

    It is worth remembering that we all have a duty to act reasonably. Dennis ‘Domestic Violence’ waterman is right; there is a difference between a little slap and regular full on drunken beatings. That doesn’t prevent both situations being over the threshold for responsible or reasonable behaviour.

    Law does allow for situations where violence can be justified, and this includes against women: self defence, or the prevention of crime. I have met some seriously scary women, but it would have to be a very extreme situation to even contemplate using ‘reasonable force’. (So far ‘winning the argument intelligently’ isn’t part of common assault, either.)

    I do believe that to retain their position as the fourth estate, the media has the responsibility to educate fairly and to portray at least a legal view on the world rather than purely sensationalist. Otherwise there is a risk that the reasonable man test is no test at all.

  3. The horseshit that is being perpetrated continually by women with a victim mentality is that they assume that society accepts its ok to mentally abuse your husband/partner. It isn’t. The women who choose to play with fire get away with it so often that they are up in arms when the other half eventually snaps.

    • if one feels they are being “mentally abused” in a relationship, surely the answer is to leave that relationship – rather than regressing to an adolescent response of “snapping” and blaming the victim for with a “see what you made me do” mantra.

      • Perhaps (as some women once-upon-a-time felt) some men may feel they are imprisoned within their relationship in that the financial and emotional consequences of leaving far outweigh the ‘keep-your-head-down’ option.

        I possibly need to revisit my earlier statement because I don’t wish to be interpreted as a supporter of what Waterman said.

        Rather, I think he is so thick that he can’t even verbalise what he was truly feeling. So, my interpretation of what he said is this: society rightly abhors the conduct of wifebeating… what it does not do is recognise that there are a similar proportion of women who are spiteful, vindictive and downright emotional bullies… and sadly, it is them who appear to be the recipient of violence in the home. There are many aspects of DV that need to be addressed, and it’s physical manifestation is surely the tip of a very large iceberg.

        Frankly, I think Waterman was particularly brave to say what he said. Even more sadly, a more intelligent man would choose not to have this debate at all.

  4. Hi Wiggy,

    I read your post, and I was going to take you to task, pointing out that pretty well everyone out there must be able to see the difference between (on the one hand) a discussion as to the mechanistic causes of DV and (on the other) a justification of it. Surely no-one is daft enough to equate one with the other and assume that just because there is an identifiable slippery slope, it is ok to slide down it with abandon, I was going to ask.

    Then I got to Notawifebeater’s comment…

    OK, I’ll concede on this one. You’re right, so I’ll clearly have to try *really hard* not to let your intellectual superiority (on this occasion…) drive me into abusing you.

  5. “the common denominator in cases of domestic violence is women having an IQ at least 10 points higher than their partner”. Or, to put it another way, “men who beat their wives are thick”.

    There is a valid point to be made about the fact that understanding the causes of domestic violence is not the same as condoning it. And, yes, there is also a significant difference of kind, not just of degree, between someone who routinely employs violence and someone who has an occasional or one-off loss of control. (And maybe, too, “Jean” needs to learn how to avoid making bad choices of partner).

    But the casual acceptance of violence is neither big nor clever (see paragraph 1). And there is also a world of difference between “I was so angry that I lost control and did something I should not have done” and “She deserved it because she provoked me”. Denis Waterman and his apologists seem not to realise that.

    • Hi Mark,

      I wanted to clarify that perpetrators of domestic violence do not ‘lose control’. This is a common myth. In fact the perpetrator makes a choice to use violence as a method of gaining, or maintaining control in order to achieve something. The notion of ‘losing control’ is an old, well tested argument that has no place in this society.

      • If you read carefully, that’s the point I’m making – there’s a difference between someone who does simply lose control as a one-off or when under extreme pressure (which may often be nothing to do with the person who ends up on the receiving end of it) and someone who routinely excuses or uses violence.

        There is no such thing as a person who is 100% capable of never losing their temper and lashing out, and anyone who claims they have that much self-control is either a liar or a fool. All of us occasionally do things we know we should not do and later regret, and sometimes – not very often, but it does happen – that something involves an act of violence. And sometimes acts of violence are themselves the result of other factors, such as trauma or mental illness. To say that someone in that position has made a choice to use violence as a means of control is like saying that someone who is depressed has made a choice not to be happy or that a soldier with shell-shock is just a coward.

        We’ve come a long way from the days when sufferers of mental illness were routinely told to “pull yourself together” and blamed for their own inability to cope. It would be a seriously backwards step if domestic violence campaigners were to lose sight of this. Sometimes, there really are cases where the perpetrator isn’t in full control.

        (Incidentally, I don’t think Dennis Waterman is mentally ill. I think he’s just a twat).

  6. No, there’s not a sliding scale. If you have to hit someone to win an argument, you’re a thug, and a stupid one. You’re doing it to make yourself feel less stupid. Think it through.

    Sexist as it sounds, there’s never a good reason for hitting a woman.

    ps I don’t know my IQ. I suspect I may be quite dim.

  7. Mad Carol Sarler seems to think that men who hit are just overgrown toddlers who, smacked by their mums to settle disputes, seem to think that lashing out as fully grown adults is how it’s done. It’s true that often, in the heat of a fight, the desire to lash out is overwhelming. But this excuse that clever women are intended to humiliate thuggish men who, unable to win with words, will resort to good ol’ fashioned blows, debases both sexes. And what’s the excuse for men who hit less intelligent women?

    Incidentally, another excellent piece on the Mail article here –

  8. As an ex Police officer this is a subject I find fairly interesting, having attended quite a few DV jobs in my time – as have most Police officers. My comments may not meet with the approval of all but I have found that there are women who deliberately wind up their husbands/partners to achieve some form of reaction, just as there are thuggish men around who see women as property and treat them as such. In these PC days, misogyny and misandry may be hidden but they are there, simmering below the surface. I once asked a women, who had been treated abominably by her live-in lover(?), why she stayed with him. She said it was exciting! It is said that women go for the jack-the-lad bastards instead of the nice, trustworthy but boring, blokes because they offer a more exciting life – give or take a couple of broken ribs or bruises. Similarly, men may go for the women who oozes sex appeal but thinks Einstein is the bloke who created the monster! While I do agree that men are from Mars and Women are from Venus, there are no, and I do mean no, circumstances when a man should hit a woman (apart from spanking in consensual role-play, but that’s another story!).

  9. Has anyone been able to source the psychiatrist who promoted this theory?
    Sorry Milly, well done and thank you…

    Have they though? I am just trying to imagine how a victim of this kind of behaviour would feel if they sought support and help from a psychiatrist who held this kind of view, clinically I mean. If it were me I would want reassurance that the partner was the one with psychological issues and that my illness and reason for seeking help was a reaction to them, not because I had invited it…?

    Its just another layer of nonsense placed on top of what is essentially not that complex. No one, regardless of gender or IQ should hit, bully, demean or mentally abuse their partner. Is that that all that matters?

    • I tried to find the study, but the problem with not naming the study or the researcher is they can be the devils own to find – the ‘research’ could have been part of anything.

      Also, I wonder if it is correct to broadly state a 10 point distinction as indicative of anything – surely in folk with high or low IQs a 10 point distinction matters not really in terms of intellectual functioning, but may have an impact where it keeps one in the ‘average’ bracket but puts the other in ‘higher functioning’?

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