There’s been a fair amount of bullshittery going around lately, but today seems to be a special kind of day. It’s one of those days where everything seems to pile on at once.
You have white people all across the board getting mad at Saida Grundy, a Black woman professor at Boston University, for calling out toxic white masculinity and the legacy of white supremacy. Apparently she did it in a way that wasn’t nice enough for them and it hurt a lot of feelings.
The white supremacists have come out in full force decrying her tweets as “racist,” because we all know racism is when Black people point out how toxic white masculinity and the white male ego is.
Please white men (and women), spare me your tears. The only reason her tweets elicited such a visceral reaction from you is because of your investment in white supremacy. You have a vested interest in keeping the system of white supremacy going and protecting toxic white masculinity at all costs. Saida Grundy’s tweets go directly against your goal, so you felt the need to attack. This kind of thing happens whenever a Person of Color (specifically Black Women) directly confront white supremacy. What she wrote wasn’t anything too new or surprising. For a good number of us, it was a common sense kind of thing. But please, do stay mad white people. Continue to prove Saida Grundy’s point for her.
While that was predictably horrible, what really drove me off a cliff today was an essay by Dr Sallee McLaren, an actual clinical psychologist. The title of said essay? “The part women play in domestic violence.”
“Hold on a second,” I hear you saying to your computer screen. “This could possibly be about how women can be abusers and how that needs to be addressed.”
“Oh you poor, sweet, naive little baby.” I say, shaking my head slightly while trying not to cry. “You’re about to get a horrible surprise.”
Red flag number one (if it didn’t come from the title alone) comes from the second little headline.
Women can only command real power once we socialise girls to take themselves seriously and develop mental grit.
I know what you’re thinking and yeah. That definitely means what you’re thinking it means. Our dear doctor thinks women just need to toughen up a bit if they wanna stop domestic violence. Don’t believe me? Here, have some more quotes.
To explain what I mean, I want to tell you about a scenario I frequently see played out in various forms in my work in relation to domestic violence. Let’s say we have a male and female couple who are living together and he is becoming increasingly violent towards her. In my work, I have to retrain her exactly as much as I have to retrain him to correct this situation.
I’m sorry Dr McLaren, but you have to “retrain her”? It sounds like you’re talking about a dog and not a traumatized woman who has been, or currently is being, abused by her partner.
It happens like this. Early on in the relationship he becomes aggravated for some reason and raises his voice at her. She tolerates it, lets it go by, thinks to herself “he’s not too angry – no need to rock the boat”. At that stage he is at 4/10 in his level of anger. By not objecting she has just trained him that 4/10 is acceptable. So he continues to regularly reach that level.
Then a few weeks or months later something more aggravating happens and he yells at her and swears “you bitch”. He is now at 6/10 in his level of anger. She tolerates it, lets it go by, thinks to herself “that’s not much worse than before – no point in just aggravating him more”. By not objecting, she has just taught him that 6/10 is doable and calling her a “bitch” is OK.
Eventually he escalates further and she fails to object, teaching him at each stage that his level of anger is tolerable and has no consequences. Before you know it, he has reached 9/10 and he is smacking her head into the wall and calling her a “fucking c—“.
Did you just? She “taught” him???
I– I don’t even know what to say. Dr McLaren is seemingly dead set on this “training” analogy. Thing. Mess. It’s a mess. She’s speaking like the abusive man is a misbehaving dog and the abused woman is an irresponsible owner giving positive reinforcement for bad behavior. She’s speaking like she views herself as an obedience trainer who has to teach the owner how to properly train her dog while also correcting the dog’s bad behavior. Unfortunately for her, abusive relationships don’t work that way.
It’s been shown in studies that attempting to leave an abuse relationship is the most dangerous time for the victim. How do you think he’d act if she attempted to show resistance to his abuse? Do you honestly believe he’s just gonna apologize for the emotional and/or physical abuse if she just gives a very firm no? Or do you think he’s gonna view her resistance as a challenge to his authority and lash out at her? Option one may be what happens in Fantasy Land, but over here in reality, option two is much more likely.
You would think someone would have clued her into this at some point while she was going for her degree. Even if they didn’t, all of this information is available for free across all of the Internets and the libraries everywhere. Hell, she probably could have just asked a colleague and they would have gently corrected her. Instead of doing the tiniest bit of research though, she simply took her amazingly toxic views to the public forum.
Her view that women simply need to be more assertive if they want domestic violence to end is extremely dangerous and part of the problem. What she is essentially saying is, the women who are in abusive relationships deserve the abuse and it’s their fault they’re in them. This truly toxic belief is why so many people incorrectly assume they will never be in an abusive relationship. This belief is why so many people think abuse victims are simply weak and didn’t try hard enough to get it to stop. This is the kind of (for lack of a better term) bullshit Dr McLaren is spreading to her patients. That terrifies me. This woman actually sees patients. People, women, are going to her for help and they are being met with “you should be more assertive.” How much damage has this woman done?