Posts Tagged ‘spousal abuse

11
Feb
18

Truth and lies

Nelson Mandela was released from Victor Verster Prison on February 11, 1990. He went on to be inaugurated President of South Africa on May 10, 1994.

At the end of the apartheid era in South Africa in 1994, one of the most brilliant decisions made early on was the creation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. It was based on an act passed in 1995 (Promotion of National Unity and Reconciliation Act) on the belief that “a commission is a necessary exercise to enable South Africans to come to terms with their past on a morally accepted basis and to advance the cause of reconciliation.” It was an opportunity for victims and perpetrators to tell their stories and seek assistance in some cases and amnesty in others–and for the men and women of South Africa to rebuild their nation freed of the burdens of the apartheid era.

I know that I am simplifying a complex process that continues to the this day–but the lessons learned are instructive and cautionary as we continue to grapple with truth and lies in our body politic and in our personal lives.

No, it is never okay to abuse someone–whether physically, mentally, sexually, or emotionally. Just as it is never okay to perpetrate abuses against classes of persons whether they be ethnic, religious, sexual or otherwise. More to the point in what feels like a veritable war on sanity and justice–perhaps we all owe it to ourselves to confront our own truths and lies and an adage I take to heart, which is that cheating at solitaire serves no purpose, except perhaps to “kick the can” down the road as sooner or later truth wins out.

In the case of Rob Porter the current poster child for cheating at solitaire–here we have by all reports a brilliant person, who just happens to be an abusive sod. His behavior was abhorrent in not one, but two marriages, all known and discussed, ad infinitum it would seem, to include discussions with clergy and others as it was all playing out, not once, but twice. Fast forward lots of years and here he is begging his wives to downplay his abusive behavior so that he can get his FBI clearance–with nary a thought to what would happen to them if they perjured themselves. Not to mention the current President of the United States whose twitter rants read like alternative fiction when it comes to taking responsibility for ones actions.

I’ve lived long enough to observe and experience the ebb and flow of progressive politics, gender wars, civil rights fights and the inevitable backlash. I’ve also seen the lip service paid to affording people “equal” rights–while hearing damnable prejudice, sexism and everything else one can think of flung about quite openly.

In a recent conversation at Gleason’s Gym, someone was speaking of his Jewish grandmother who’d left Poland in the early 1900s. He had asked her one day if she’d ever go back and she said, “Never. I have no good memories there. My brother and my cousin were both killed for nothing. Why would I go back?”

We mulled that over for a minute or two, and then he said, “Can you imagine that? That’s why America was like gold to her and her generation.”

After a moment I said, “For her perhaps, but that was life for Black folks: people killed for nothing. Was it gold for them?”

And that, I believe is the crux of things for us. We refuse to see our own truths for what they are: we ignore the truths of our lives as victims and as perpetrators, and in so doing we perpetuate these actions as normative. Think of the parent who insists they are setting their kid straight when language spews out that belittles and diminishes their child, or think of the actions of a President who calls out an entire ethnic group as rapists and criminals.

It really is up to us to say enough as enough, and if not in the formal setting of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission–at the very least in the conduct of our daily lives and in how we hold our elected leaders accountable.

08
Mar
12

Engaging in the ring on International Women’s Day!

Engaging in the ring on International Women’s Day!

I grew up in the sixties and well remember my father informing me at the age of 13 that since I was now “liberated” I could pay for my own lunch.

Bra Burning, Atlantic City 1968, Credit: Media Myth Alert

That was in the late 1960s and while I admit to some confusion when I watched images of college women burning their bras or heard about consciousness raising sessions where women would meet to talk about how to become “unoppressed,” I suppose I could say that I reaped some immediate benefits — well sort of …

When I was 17, I was literally chased around the desk by a lecherous office manager and subsequently fired for not being “friendly.” A woman at the unemployment office took pity on me and figured out how to “stick-it” to the company by giving me the unheard of sum of $75.00 per week for my troubles.

That was how my consciousness was raised: don’t get mad get even.

Doris Day and Rock Hudson, Lover Come Back, Credit: Leo Fuchs

With the blissful joys of late 1950s and early 1960s sex romps filling my head — those Doris Day and Rock Hudson gems which were “teaching” me how to get a man, you know, lie, cheat and don’t put out on the first, second, third or even fourth date, well a few kisses maybe but that was it — didn’t exactly prepare me for reaching my “womanhood” in the disco world of the early 1970s in NYC!

Not to mention, of course, that Rock Hudson was famously gay and Doris Day the victim of spousal abuse and a renowned animal rights activist beginning in the 1980s.

The point is we all change. Whether through “consciousness raising” or time, but when it comes to women, some things don’t seem to change.

We in the United States may assume ourselves to be “enlightened” when in comes to women’s rights — you know, we can drive, support our families, even box, and heck, there are more women graduating from architecture school than men these days so that’s equality, right?

Scratch that surface though and we find the political rhetoric of this year’s Republican campaign season attacking women’s health and birth control! Birth control?!?!? I mean really, what is up with that?!?!?

(Dare I mention that most women on birth control are married and that a good percentage take the pill for non-birth control reasons — despite what certain radio talk show hosts have stated!)

Women are also still assaulted in record numbers by spouses and boyfriends, trafficked for sex right here in the old US of A, and while women have made inroads in the Armed Forces, the “dark side” is the spate of sexual crimes against women — right smack dab in the middle of the theater of war where they proudly serve.

To my way of thinking, we are all in the ring all the time, duking it out for things like adequate child care for our children because let’s face it “choice” is not an option for most women — it’s work or starve — which brings up issues like maternity rights (nothing like leaving your 11 week old baby to go back to work, I know, I had to do it) and that old chestnut equity in pay (still!).

Ask ANY female boxer in the United States if she can earn a living as a fighter and she’ll give you a litany of jobs she has to have to “support” her professional boxing career. Oh, and then ask her about how much respect she receives for plying her trade … think Christy Martin who boxed in pink for years to seem more feminine and therefore a lot less threatening.

I could go on and on — but will end my rant by standing and raising my body into a huge cheer for Christy Martin and Mia St. John who will enter the ring of combat on June 19th for the WBC Super Welterweight World Championship.

To my mind this is the best antidote to feeling the blues about how much further women have to go: two f’n warriors giving it their all in a ring they claim as their own.

And at the end of the day, that’s all it’s about: what Virginia Wolfe famously coined, a place of one’s own to just be without all of the ugly crap that gets heaped on in piles pushing you down.

In the parlance of my childhood “rock on sisters!” — and have a great day!

24
Nov
10

Sad story

Sad story

Championship boxer Christy Martin was allegedly stabbed and shot by her husband, Jim Martin on Tuesday evening and taken to a local hospital near her Florida home.  Known as the “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” Christy is an important pioneer in women’s professional boxing.

The LA Times is reporting that she was shot in left leg and stabbed in her torso and is also reporting that the police had been called to their home earlier in the day on Tuesday.  The LA Times has the story here. Fox News has it here.

Our prayers should go out to Christy for her quick recovery.

Update:  More stories here and here.

For information on domestic violence click here.  And if you or any of your friends and family are victims of domestic violence, you are not alone — you can seek help from the many wonderful organizations that support women in their efforts to free themselves from abusive relationships. 





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© Malissa Smith and Girlboxing, 2010-2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Malissa Smith and Girlboxing with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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