Lift Your Game DTJ

I have been a supporter of Destroy the Joint since the night it was conceived. In fact my first Destroy the Joint T shirt is wearing out!

I think you have all done some excellent work. Thank you. However lately I have been visiting the site less and less and have been becoming more and more disenchanted by some of the campaigns. Rather than becoming disinterested and faintly wishing you good will as I wave you goodbye, I thought I was honour bound to actually put in writing some of my concerns, for I still have great admiration for the overall conception.

I admit that I am a dyed in the wool feminist of many years standing. I confess I have never actually burnt a bra, but as an older woman I remember our protests, our struggles for educational and vocational opportunities and for many of the forbidden things that young women today take for granted, and faintly resent this going unrecognised in recent criticism of “old bra burning feminists”. But this does not particularly worry me. I am still capable of using both the ancient (and some more modern) techniques of expressing my views!

What do worry me are some of your recent campaigns. It was simple when you started, with all our support, recognising the injustice of the misogyny that abounded at the time, particularly in relation to our Prime Minister. I think this has made a great difference. More people now identify misogyny are now prepared to call it out.

DTJ has been a great forum for people to enunciate and discuss their views on what women should and or can expect in life. It has been well supported by some intelligent and some enlightening comments from many men and women.

But I ask the question are you now trying to cover too many areas? Some of them, perhaps because they are complex issues, cannot be simple enough to be reduced to black and white questions followed by a few comments, some informed some less informed. These issues need more than just public awareness they need knowledge and expertise.

I refer, particularly, to your current campaign against what you are naming “domestic violence” but which seems to me to be more of just a reduction to a numeration and description of what I would call “intimate partner violence” of men against their female partner. I agree that both are related issues and ones about which we should all be concerned and against which we should all speak out. They are already aired, but can always do with more airing. Much more government funding is needed. But it is not the simplistic, binary, counting, “us against them” issue which you have been describing. If it were as simple as you are presenting it would be much easier.

Personally I am a non violent person and am against any violence as a way to solve problems in any circumstances.

But, like all old feminists, I am quite outspoken and do not find it easy to understand why some people find it difficult to speak out against violence when they experience it. But I have both worked and studied in this area and know from that experience that we are dealing with very complex situations and emotions. I was a lawyer in a past life and worked for some years as a psychologist in a legal setting. It is important to change mind sets in both perpetrators and victims, particularly while problems still remain “potential” rather than actual. Some years ago I worked with a male counsellor who provided some groups for men who had been violent to their partners and I developed some surprising understanding of how they had got to where they were. (Some had been mandated to attend and others were volunteers but there was little difference between those two types.)

I have spent time with victims of violence and saw their needs and sometimes their compassion which had them remaining in situations where I would never have stayed.

I have worked with police specialising in this area and admired some of their very praiseworthy efforts to intervene in violent situations and have been witness to some of their frustrations at not always been able to follow through as they would like to, due to decisions made that they had to respect, often made by women.

I have met domestic violence workers, whom I greatly admire. But some of them, in their desire to protect former victims, have subjected those very victims to control that the victims found more abusive than that of the former partners.

During my study for a Law Masters I wrote a research project arguing quite strongly that Apprehended Violence Orders, with all the good intentions involved, sometimes play a role quite disempowering of victims in the mere exercise of this usage of “the power of law and language”.

And, as an aside, although it is unarguable that, when men and women are in physical conflict, it is usually the woman who is hurt, it cannot be denied that there are a number of women who are also prone to violent outbursts. After all we are humans too! And the term “domestic violence” also includes violence to and by children. This does not exclude women and girls.

The classic domestic violence, which so often includes on-going restriction of a partner by isolation, reducing her income, physically restraining, intimidating and ultimately injuring her is a deeply distressing situation and needs intervention in a way that will not further damage the victim. It is to be hoped we can find acceptable ways so intervention can happen early on and will provide her with physical help and information and will give her strategies and knowledge to enable her to avoid such friends or partners in the future.

It might also help women in general, as well as the ex partner himself, for him to have help, as that will also prevent violence towards anyone else. On this issue I have to cross swords with DTJ for the attitude expressed when it was suggested that disaffected men should not receive counselling and education, as all support should go to the victims. On going counselling for disaffected men is probably an essential way to protect women in general and to prevent young sons from potentially growing up to a life of violence.

It is the age old argument, drain the swamp or kill the alligators?

Please destroy the whole joint. Concentrate on the big picture, community attitudes, not on the minutiae of the more complex issues where almost all people agree on the desired outcome, both men and women. Individuals are often just struggling hard to find solutions and will sometimes get it wrong.

I’d rather do some swamp draining. I thought that was what DTJ was originally doing. Concentrate on changing the world!

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About Anne Powles

I am retired from paid employment. During my working life I have been variously and sometimes contemporaneously, wife, mother of four, lawyer, teacher and psychologist. I have also been a serial education junkie. As are we all, I have been an observer of the world around me. Here I have recorded some of my memories, observations and theorisings.
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