“Invisible Violence”: Translation into English of the article “Die verschwiegene Gewalt”

This is a translation into English of the article “Die verschwiegene Gewalt”, published on 8 September 2016 in the Reutlinger General-Anzeiger by Markus Hehn. Because articles of this quality about men affected by domestic violence and the people who try to help them are a rarity I decided to make this article accessible to non-German speakers.

Advice: The Pfullingen (town in South Germany) psychologist Sandra Hermann supports men who have been beaten and humiliated

PFULLINGEN. The girls night is in full swing and the chick flick on tv is reaching its dramatic peak. With feverish excitement the four women are holding each other by their hands as the pretty woman is having a go at her husband. When she suddenly slaps the guy the women in the sofa scream in delight.

And while one woman quickly rewinds the movie for another round of fun the other three dig in to the sweets on the table in front of them. The scene ends with a cheerful off-stage voice saying »Always a moment to celebrate«.

While Sandra Hermann gets the commercial’s punchline she does not think it is funny at all. Just imagine a group of men roaring with laughter when a woman is slapped on tv, she points out: „Would we still laugh if the roles were reversed?“

Fear of being seen as victims

For the psychologist from Pfullingen the video is just among instances of violence against men being portrayed as admissible. In her daily work she witnesses men suffering from physical and emotional violence, happening most of the time in their own homes.

»Many men do not even seek counselling though«, she says, »because they are worried that they will not be believed.« The stereotype of men as the dominant sex makes it harder as well to admit to themselves that they are being battered. »At all ages men receive less help which makes them think they have to go through it alone.« When a victim does come round to seeking help and consults Sandra Hermann her first concern is to explore all options while being an active listener. Whether a police report will be filed or whether he will come to therapy with his partner depends on the individual case.

Hermann points out what can be done, »what will be done will be decided by her clients though« Her clients are generally 30 years and above. There is no upper limit though, neither when it comes to age, nor the types of violence with which men see themselves confronted.

This ranges from physical violence in nursing care to emotional violence in relationships and includes insults, such as »You loser«, threats, such as »If you do that you will never see your children again« or frequently monitoring the mobile phone.

Men’s counselling network

In order to be able to help more men Hermann joined the »Men’s counselling network« in April this year. Its website lists contact points that are free of charge across the whole of Germany. Sandra Hermann is one among three in Baden-Württemberg, who are offering these entry point consultancy services on a voluntary basis.

Since the other spots are in Karlsruhe and Heidelberg, Hermann’s catchment area from Pfullingen is substantive. It’s only the absence of publicity that keeps her from being overrun.

The importance of publicity

Hermann though works on changing that. Public outreach is a major part of her efforts. »It’s a top priority«, she says. In that the 42 year old is supported by Andrea Sautter. The lawyer heads the Reutlingen branch of the »Weißer Ring«, a German non-profit that supports victims of crimes and their families – that obviously inludes men.

Sautter – together with Sandra Hermann – wants to create public awareness for the issue of violence against men. »Even the people affected often have a distorted image«, she says. Practical actions include displaying leaflets at police stations. »That is so important«, Hermann adds, »in order that people know that they are not alone and that help is available.«

It is important for the two women to emphasize that this is no backlash against the services for women. They use the example of shelters to stress this point. While the roughly 400 refugees for women across Germany are publically funded the four accommodation facilities offered by the men’s counselling network are funded exclusively through private donations. Hermann and Sautter state that there are not too many services for women but too few for men. They would wish for more support on the part of the public authorities, but there seems to be a lack of funds and political will.

That is why not much research is carried out in this area. Conversely the lack of knowledge is used to justify that there is no need for domestic violence shelters for men. Argumentatively, a vicious cycle, Herman states with disappointment. The problem: »There is no lobby and studies are costly.«

At this point Hermann recommends a look at our European neighbors. In the Swiss town of Brugg exists a men’s shelter where public funding is working. Clear-cut figures are proof of the demand: there are 60 to 70 monthly requests.

Breaking a taboo

Sandra Hermann has mixed feelings when looking at the future. The topic of male victims of violence is still taboo. She knows that it will take time before the general public will become receptive to this issue. »I am hoping for everyone affected that things will change«, says Hermann. »Because as things are right now it’s all distorted and one-sided. But when people want to live together help can never be one-sided.« (GEA)

http://www.maennerberatungsnetz.de

Mandantory paternity testing at birth

An mra friend of mine asked on his fb whether people thought paternity testing at birth should be mandatory. Since it is estimated that historically 5 – 10% of children were not biologically related to the fathers who were raising them and since this number must have risen dramatically in the current polyamorous hook-up culture this is a valid proposal.  I had a discussion on this topic a few months back on my old fb profile. Since that is gone and I no longer trust fb to not take this profile away as well and since my answer is too long for a fb post I will lay it out in this blog post.

My answer: Definitely!

Benefits

1) It would bring more harmony to families. There would be less tension over unresolved conflicts. Thus, less likelihood for domestic violence to occur. Less likelihood for children and adults to develop personality disorders or other serious behavioural problems. Children would grow up in stable families and become a blessing instead of a curse to those around them. They would help build strong communities and contribute to the betternment of mankind.

2) Resulting from the first and main reason it should be obvious that more harmony in families leads directly to greatly reduced government spending on police, social workers, hospitals and doctors, etc. Reduced crime benefits everyone, locals and visitors alike. Hospitals and doctors treating domestic violence cases and children/youths who have gotten involved in violence could be freed up to deal with e.g. cancer treatment.

3) Ending the current hook-up culture. If someone wants to be intimate with a different person every weekend or weekday they are free to do so. However, the research clearly shows the damaging psychological effects of establishing and immediatly breaking close bonds. Even people who haven’t experienced childhood or other trauma are getting increasingly psychologically insecure these days. And, no, I don’t want to reverse history.  There is no need to go back to Victorian times and have a chaperone accompany a young lady on her every outing. It should be possible to expect women to take responsibility for their own actions in the year 2016 😉 Just as we are expecting more of school children and professionals in their fields these days than we did 100 years ago we can expect young women to think of the consequences of their actions. Unfortunately, at the moment the consequences are a life that will be bitter when lived out – raising children on their own or in a dysfunctional relationship – but ahead of time do not look bad enough to keep women from sleeping with every Tom, Dick and Harry.

And while feminists would claim that there is still stigma attached to promiscuous women, they have already found a way of getting around that in allowing any woman who regrets what she did last night to easily get out of societal stigma and her own personal regrets by accusing the man of rape, thus making a mockery of actual victims of sexual assault and making men increasingly wary of getting involved with women in any way.

Thus, eliminating hook-up culture by implementing mandatory paternity testing at birth would at the same time bring down false rape accusations, which are running rampant at the moment, especially, at American and Candadian college campuses. As Camille Paglia said: “In the 70s we fought for freedom from ‘in loco parentis’ to be allowed to go wherever we wanted, whenever we wanted, so that we could make our own mistakes and learn from them, just like the boys. And today women want to be protected again.” Today’s young women are asking men to protect them. It seems they want an actual patriarchy. As a woman living in this society I sometimes wonder – when I look at my ‘sisters’ whether feminists aren’t right after all. Men have started to vote with their feet. It is men’s disapproval of women’s current behaviour, men’s shunning of women because their mere company has become a liability to a man’s life that is slowly leading to a sea change in matters concerning the lives of men and women. I personally don’t mind being mainly surrounded by men at men’s issues conferences – makes me feel like a fish in the water actually, since I grew up a tomboy – but I am deeply disappointed by how little responsibility my fellow women are taking for the course our society is taking.

4) Re-establishing trust or better than that: creating a new and better kind of trust between men and women. It is obvious to anyone that the situation at birth – when the woman definitely knows that she is the mother of the child but the ‘father’ has to blindly trust her is a deeply unequal one. In very rare cases the mother goes home with a child that isn’t hers and these cases of babies being mixed up in the hospital are always seen as deeply tragic. Ironically, when the father is affected in this way, no one seems to care. All this incessant talk about inequality but people seem to be blind to it when it’s men who are affected by it.

I see men talk about the costs of raising a child. Ironically, it tends to be those men who would happily spend 250,000 on raising a child that they have fathered, that they are getting to spend time with, that they are seeing grow from a girl into a woman or a boy into a man: a child that won’t suddenly be ripped from them, turned against them and only come back to ask for more money. Unsurprisingly this situation sends many men to an untimely death. Isn’t it ironic how feminists always claim they want men to be more emotional and when they are they call it misogyny and lobby to make laws against it.

A child is an investment in the future and so was a spouse once. You pooled your resources together because together they were worth more than individually. Now they are worth less after a few years when you have to separate them again. For many women they are worth more due to unjust laws but does that mean that women have all the power now and that their lives are filled with endless joy? You don’t need to read the much hyped book by the palliative care nurse Bonnie Ware ‘The Top Five Regrets of the Dying: A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing’ to know that material posessions don’t bring happiness. Men’s high suicide rate is a clear indicator of men’s suffering from the current situation. But so is the insecurity and neediness of the vast majority of women I interact with on a daily basis. When I look into their faces I see the living dead.

Most of all a relationship with a child or an adult – romantic or friendship or familial – is an emotional investment that can only fail so often before a person becomes so wary of the accompanying pain of that failure that making that investment feels no longer worth it. That is the point at which we are at the moment. I can observe that very clearly in the experiences of a friend of mine with online dating. It’s not only not wanting to go for a meal – because who wants to spend 20 Euros, assuming the bill is split – on a person they might never see again – but the sheer unwillingness to actually get to know the other person. A chat over a drink is not getting to know someone. People get to know each other when there is sudden disharmony after the initial ‘the other person can’t do no wrong phase’ and they need to figure out what that is caused by: their attitudes/behaviour or the other person’s? something between them? something outside of them? Most people don’t get to that stage these days, whether online or offline. Big cities are increasingly referred to as single capitals and people on the look-out know that there is an overflow of supply of men and women looking for Mr or Mrs Right out there. They read books telling them there is no such person, that this whole concept is made up by Hollywood to sell cinema tickets. But they don’t learn anything from these books. I am an avid reader and I get lots of inspiration from great books. But neither I, nor anyone else is changed by reading a book in isolation. Books can never change people. Only people can change people. People that get so close under our skin that we want to do the hard work to become a better version of ourselves, making us as a result a better person to be in a relationship with (romantic, friendship or familial).

The benefits outlined above should reason enough to argue for mandatory paternity testing at birth. However, I will list the problems with the procedure that should be taken into account as well.

Problems

1) In a discussion I saw someone mention costs on the already overstretched health system. That is not an actual argument as they would be far outweighed by the spending savings outlined in benefits 2) Also, they would obviously come down a lot if this was carried out in high numbers.

2) And this is the only real problem I see: Most people think that because we refer to the natural sciences as hard sciences that the results are always accurate. That is a widespread myth. Faulty results in medical tests are much higher than most people know. Sadly, practioners and makers of the equipment prefer this information to not become widely known. One major reason, according to the author of the book ‘Risk Savvy – How to make good Decisions’, Gerd Gigerenzer, is the suing culture in North America. Another is the high income that can be generated from operating (cancer) patients, regardless of whether the operation is actually necessary.

A common pre-birth test at the moment is screening for Down Syndrome in the baby. For good or worse the number of children born with the genetic defect has gone sharply down since testing has become widespread. However, again and again women who had been told their baby was going to be born with Down Syndrome but decided against an abortion, gave birth to healthy babies.

Thus, babies with a positive test should be tested again and a counsellor should be present at all stages of the process in order to not damage perfectly healthy relationships. However, I expect the accuracy of the technology to increase sharply over time with its widespread use.

This article is not locked at this moment in time. Since I started writing I realised how many aspects there are to this issue. I have touched on quite a few but I will certainly keep coming back to this topic.

 

 

 

Warren Farrell on relationships between men and women

I hope I live to see the day that Warren Farrell gets his honorary phd in psychology. He must be the person most knowledgeable about men and women on planet earth. The difference between reading his books or listening to his talks and reading anything by the most well known academic on men’s issues, Michael Kimmel, is that listening to Warren Farrell immediatly makes me think of men that I know and I get this ‘aha’ feeling of having witnessed the behaviour that he is describing, whereas with Michael Kimmel and his absurd theories that bear no relation to any men I have ever interacted with, I just wonder what has been done to that person.

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One major difference between the two is certainly that Warren Farrell has run hundreds of couples workshops and has thus spoken directly to a huge number of men and women as well having observed them interact with each other. Michael Kimmel on the other hand has spent his life sitting in his office and making up theories. There is certainly a huge grain of truth in the accusation of academics being in an ivory tower, cut off from the real life that the rest of the people are living.

My own experience from the past year in a social science department can certainly attest to that. When I said that one reason I was interested in men’s issues was that relationships between men and women are falling apart at an alarming rate I was met with a surprised look by a young phd student who asserted that quite on the contrary, relationships in our generation were improving. I must admit that I myself used to think this way until I started looking into the issue and finding out that more children grow up in single parent households than in complete families these days. And it is no longer parents of teenage children who are getting a divorce amid a midlife crisis. An increasing number of couples these break up right after the baby is born, robbing the child of a close relationship with their father, depriving them of the opportunity to learn how relationships work and putting all the burden of caring for an infant, that should be resting on two shoulders, onto the woman alone. I spent the past year trying to support a close friend in that endeavour and have to say that it’s crazy. My friend did a stellar job and her little daughter is growing into a wonderful little girl but no one would deny that things would have been more pleasant for everyone involved, had the father been there. That is what the people who claim that, anyone who criticises the growing tendency of single motherhood and is looking for a way to stop this trend, is attacking single mothers, refuse to see. Studies over studies have shown (and so does common sense) that children who grow up in single mother households are disadvantaged as compared to children from intact families. It is quite ironic how people in social science departments, who have overwhelmingly grown up in intact families, refuse to see that their ‘tolerance’ is actually doing harm to people.

So why are relationships increasingly failing? Are we not meant to be together? Will we now, that the economic pressure to live together, spend our lives apart and only meet for procreation? Maybe some people will. But in general it has been established that both men and women derive psychological benefits from stable, long term relationships. The children growing up in these have better prospects in life. The feminist influenced media seems to think it’s too much choice, porn and of course the patriachy. That it is their very patriarchy theory that has driven us further apart is something that followers of the ideology do not like to hear. To me it is blatantly obvious that you cannot have a relationship, that by definition requires empathy, with someone who you see as powerful and privileged in society. You cannot emphasize with their struggles in life if you have been made to believe that they experience no struggles. You cannot realise that some words or actions of yours are hurting them if you think that they have a higher social status than you do. Warren Farrell expresses it poignantly in the second part of this talk:

“Believing that men are dominant makes us feel very fine about stepping over them because we feel like an ant, hitting an elephant. If the male is so strong and dominant he can’t possibly be hurt, so we don’t have to examine our behaviour in relation to him.” (min. 32:00)

This line explains in a nutshell why feminist theory is harmful towards men and is wrecking relationships between men and women. At the time when I started engaging with feminism as a reader of The Good Men Project it seemed benign at first with its talk of equality and ‘men should express feelings’ but once I came across patriarchy theory I knew that this was no force for good. A little while before, my long term relationship had come to a sad end. It had started out as a dream come true but suddenly I got it into my head that his family was perfect whereas mine was a mess and if they ever found out about my background they would no longer treat me as nicely as they used to. Without going into any more details it should not be too hard to understand that seeing another person’s life as flawless and devoid of strugles makes it impossible to any longer relate to them and thus have a relationship. I realised the big mistake that I had made and vowed to never again declare another person’s life as devoid of struggle which has helped me in my friendships as well as romantic life. Then I encountered feminism and saw that it was all about teaching women to make the mistake that I had made and basically ‘objectify’ men, to use one of their cherished phrases. Needless to say, that became desperate to find people whose views were more aligned with my own. When I read the title ‘Myth of male Power’ I knew that I had struck gold. The book has now been issued in an updated ebook version. But the original 1992 version is avilable as audio book on youtube and shall be uploaded in this blog soon.

Today I will share a talk that Warren Farrell gave in February 2015 at the Institute for the Advanced Study of Human Sexuality.

Part 1

Part 2 of the talk and the parts that I found most useful:

“That women say who they want is crucial. Why is that so crucial? Because the data shows us that marriages and long term relationships that are more successful are more dependant as John Guttman has found on what? On the woman being happy. The woman being happy is the key ingredient in making the man happy. The man being happy is not that important in making the woman happy.”  (min. 26:00)

In the months after my long term relationship ended I suddenly remembered a situation where I was wearing a piece of clothing bearing the tagline Happy in Love. My partner looked at it and asked: “Are you?” to which I obviously replied: “Sure.” and didn’t think much of it. When that situation came back to me I realised that him making me happy had meant a lot to him and my increasing unhappiness was what made him fall out of love with me. I suddenly saw that women want to be reassured by their partner that he loves them whereas men want to have confirmation that they are making her happy. Instantly my brother and father came to mind and the almost physical pain that it causes them to see the women they are close to being unhappy. This simple revealation helped me understand many situations betwen men and women which usually seem puzzling to an outsider.

Thus, when I was recently listening to Paul Elam’s latest essays on masculinity in which he describes the extent to which men are dependent on female approval (on his new youtube channel An Ear for Men)

Part 3

“A woman needs to learn to be assertive. The originial choice power is chosing the guy she wants becasue that guy that reflects her intuitive sense of values and taking the risks to ask for that guy rather than doing what veto power gives the woman which is the ability to say Yes or No but often leaves her with having to settle for the 14th choice person. Somebody who might be her 14th choice person because she was never taught, trained, socialised to go up to the first 13 choices that she had a greater amount of interest in. So many women marry men that they feel deeply ambivalent about which is deeply sad. And when we study really good marriages one of the really crucial ingredients is that the women who were interviewed say: “I took more, for some reason I reached out to him. I don’t usually doo that but I did this time. Some version of that or “I am very assertive as a rule and I reach out and ask for what I want. Those women are happier as a rule than women who exercise veto power rather than what I call original choice power.”

Part 4

In part 4 Warren asks the audience to think about what their fathers enjoyed doing and what they ended up spending the majority of their days on, i.e. what paid enough to secure the family. Where feminists speak of a wage gap, realists can see the sacrifice that their fathers made in order to maximise their earnings that the family needed to survive.

Part 5