November 24, 2010
Teen Mom’s Amber Portwood has dealt quite a few blows, physical and emotional, to her oafish fiance-ish, Gary Shipley. This we know — cameras were rolling! — and this we cannot excuse. But this example has, like many before it, provoked the question: is female-on-male violence on the rise?
Today at Salon.com, BG’s alter ego tackles the answer. And suggests, in the process, that it’s not the most helpful question to be asking in the first place. In short: females have always been violent, towards men and otherwise. Specific DOJ data points show that when it comes to certain types of intimate partner violence, rates of certain types of aggression can be equal or mutual between men and women. (And neither is to be justified.) But: men are far more likely to put their female partners in the hospital, and men are far more likely to commit the ongoing, deeply damaging form of abuse known as battery, or even domestic terrorism.
That is not to say MEN SUCK; WOMEN WIN THE VICTIM PRIZE. Not at all. It’s to say that false equivalence between male and female violence is unhelpful and un-illuminating, possibly even damaging to all victims. As Lynn writes: “But when it comes to pop culture and public discourse, [female violence] needs to be discussed on its own face and in its own context, with its own set of causes and implications, not as a game of one-upmanship.”
Read the rest here. And if you — female or male — feel at all unsafe in your relationship, please click here.
November 2, 2010
According to this analysis, Superman is a moderate Republican, Wonder Woman a socialist, and Hulk “just want to be left alone” (libertarian). Whatever your leaning, please get out and vote. In a way, it’s your civilian superpower: please wield it (ideally, for good). If you haven’t already, learn about candidates, find your polling place, and remember, voting is a Breakup Girl issue. These folks may have a direct say in:
• how you learn about sex
• how you protect yourself if you have it
• education and law enforcement behind healthy relationships
• what you do with and how you’re able to take care of your body
• how much money you have to spend on dates (or “spa days” with numero uno)
• and, of course, whom you can marry
Please vote for candidates who make choices as sound as you do!
Bonus: Breakup Girl in … Red vs. The Blues!
Tags: dating violence
, sex ed
, sexual health
, Wonder Woman
October 27, 2010
A new analysis of teen sexual behavior in New York City offers some troubling/fascinating/instructive insights — and not just of the “only in New York” variety.
Published in the latest Pediatrics, the study found (for one thing) that among sexually active adolescent boys and girls, nearly one in ten had had a same-sex experience. But how many called themselves “gay”? Well, of the teens who’d had at least one same-sex partner, 38.9 percent answered “heterosexual or straight.” Which is fine in a hey-who-needs-labels sense — and hooray for experimentation, when that’s what it is — but not fine in a hey-who-needs-condoms sense. That is, the study also found that teens reporting partners of both sexes also reported higher-than-average rates of risky sexual practices, such as not using a condom during intercourse.
Hmm. Especially among those in the “I’m not really gay” camp, could there be a related sense that “it’s not really sex”? And does “I’m not really gay” stem from “Gay’s not really OK?” (”Even in New York”?) “These are kids in New York City where there’s more awareness and perhaps acceptance of non-heterosexual behavior, and you’re still finding such high reports of risk behavior and violence,” Laura Lindberg, senior research associate at the Guttmacher Institute, told the AP.
Ah yes, also violence. Students reporting same-sex partners also reported higher rates of dating violence. What’s going on there? Back to the AP:
Thomas Krever, executive director of the Hetrick-Martin Institute, a youth advocacy organization that runs an alternative high school for gay teens in New York City, said the survey results did not surprise him.
Many teens with partners of both sexes lack supportive adults and peers in their lives and may experience depression because social stigma, Krever said.
“Young people who are exhibiting characteristics of depression and lower self-worth can indeed place themselves in more risky situations including risky sexual practices,” he said.
1. As advocates continue to stress, sex ed has to focus not on identity/orientation, but on behavior. No matter what you call what you do, it’s safer with a condom.
2. Let kids know we accept them as they are and that they are loved matter what.
, dating violence
, New York City
, Rabbi Andy Bachman
, safe sex
, sex ed
, teen sex
July 28, 2010
Serious stuff from BG’s alterego, capeless, on GritTV.
Further/background reading here.
Tags: dating violence
, domestic violence
, Elizabeth Miller
, reproductive coercion
, sex ed
, sexual health
, The Nation
June 16, 2010
Here’s an overdue and essential shoutout to Tiger Beatdown’s supersmartie Sady Doyle, who here in the Atlantic nails precisely what’s cluelessly, even callously, off the mark in Caitlin Flanagan’s recent anti-”hookup culture” screed. Unencumbered by sociohistorical accuracy, Flanagan suggests that today’s girls pine for boyfriends — nu? this is new? — as a welcome source of escape from the disappointing, depressing, even damaging wham-bam of casual sex. But can a shining-armor boyfriend really take them away from all that? Doyle: not necessarily. “Flanagan’s biggest error is in suggesting that the Boyfriend Story, or boyfriends in general, are of necessity healthier than hook-ups: safer, kinder, less risky. This isn’t an issue of opinion; it is actually, and demonstrably, untrue,” she writes Boyfriends — like marriage, BG might add — are not magical. They are not a panacea. Sometimes they hurt worse.
Doyle [with emphasis added by kowtowing BG]:
If the facts backed Flanagan up — if withholding sex for boyfriends could actually solve the problem of girls being hurt by sexual partners — I would join the crusade against the hook-up culture tomorrow. But boys aren’t treating girls badly because they have sex; they’re treating them badly because we live in a culture that encourages disrespect toward girls. A man who dislikes women as a group does not change simply because he becomes intimate with one particular woman, and telling girls that love is the key to ending a man’s hurtful behavior plays into many of the most pernicious myths about abuse. If we tell young women that having a boyfriend is the way to stay safe and be respected, what do they do if their boyfriends become unsafe? Most stay. Most believe in the Boyfriend Story long after it starts to hurt.
May 27, 2010
We all know the fable of the conniving woman — call her the femme fertile — who schemes to “trap” a man by “accidentally” getting pregnant. This story at TheNation.com from BG’s alter ego, on an issue we’ve long been tracking here, turns that tale, and our understanding of “unwanted” pregnancy, on its head. It’s an important read for anyone interested in, or touched by, domestic violence or sexual abuse, especially when they — all too often — overlap.
Leyla W. couldn’t figure out where her birth control pills kept going. One day a few tablets would be missing; the next, the whole container. Her then-boyfriend shrugged and said he hadn’t seen them. She believed him—until she found them in his drawer. When she confronted him, he hit her. “That was his way of shutting me up,” says Leyla, who is in her mid-20s and living in Northern California. (For her safety, Leyla wishes to withhold her last name and hometown.) He also raped her and, most days, left her locked in a bedroom with a bit of food and water while he went to work. (A roommate took pity and let her out until he came home.) Thanks to the missed pills, she got pregnant twice, the second time deciding against abortion. (more…)
February 1, 2010
February is Dating Violence Awareness Month.
Start with this, and probably this, too; we’ll be back with more.
January 26, 2010
We’ve seen, earlier today, the troubling numbers on teen pregnancy. Now we have to ask: how many of those pregnancies were coerced? Not just “unwanted” or “unplanned,” but actually forced? Forced — contrary to cliche — by the men, on the women?
In the first larger quantitative study of its kind, researchers at UC Davis have found (as they have in smaller studies, which BG covered here) that “young women and teenage girls often face efforts by male partners to sabotage their birth control or coerce or pressure them to become pregnant — including by damaging condoms and destroying contraceptives. These behaviors, defined as ‘reproductive coercion,’ are often associated with physical or sexual violence.” The study, published in the January issue of te journal Contraception, also finds that “among women who experienced both reproductive coercion and partner violence, the risk of unintended pregnancy doubled.” [Emphasis added.] Here, I’ll add it again: DOUBLED. This is possibly the clearest link yet established between domestic violence and really, really, really unwanted pregnancy.
The researchers surveyed over 1200 women aged 16-29 (so yeah, not just teens) who sought care at the five family planning clinics in Northern California. More than half the women surveyed reported physical or sexual partner violence. One-third of those who reported partner violence also reported pregnancy coercion or birth control sabotage.
As BG’s alter ego reported here several months ago, based on earlier data: “The problem is so widespread…that public-health advocates are working to cast teen pregnancy in a whole new light: not as a measure of ‘promiscuity,’ or a failure of cluefulness, but rather as a canary in the coal mine of partner violence.” In other words, these girls don’t just need to be reminded of how to put a condom on a banana. They need to be asked whose idea this pregnancy was, and whether they thought it was a good one. Oh, and if anyone at home is hitting them. Or at least lying about pulling out.
What’s going on? In all modern fables, isn’t the girl the one who wants to get the guy to get her pregnant? Well, first of all, no, not all women in relationships are against getting pregnant. But not all of those women are in healthy relationships. And here’s the guy side: “In one 2007 study, some boys acknowledged outright that they insisted on condomless sex as a way to establish power over female partners. (There is evidence of analogous male-on-male sexual violence, but it hasn’t been studied in depth.) Other research found that some men took a woman’s request for a condom as an accusation of cheating, or an admission that she had slept around or strayed. And for some, yes, the goal is fatherhood — but not so much of the ‘involved’ variety; rather, it’s a desire — as with Janey’s ex — to mark one woman as ‘mine’ forever. Or, [according to one anti-violence advocate] young men in gangs say, ‘I’m not gonna be around forever. I’ve gotta leave my legacy.’”
This is not NEWnews, as a phenomenon; those who work with teens have known about it for years. Only now, finally, is it drawing attention as a serious public health issue. Let’s hope, then, that the real legacy is this: “It doesn’t make sense to talk [at school] about substance abuse use this week and pregnancy next week and STDs the following week and then healthy relationships the week after that,” said UC Davis researcher Elizabeth Miller. “We need to be talking about how they’re all linked together.”
November 4, 2009
Rihanna speaks out for the first time since that whole business with what’s-his-name, in the latest issue of Glamour:
“Domestic violence is a big secret. No kid goes around and lets people know their parents fight. Teenage girls can’t tell their parents that their boyfriend beat them up. You don’t dare let your neighbor know that you fight. It’s one of the things we [women] will hide, because it’s embarrassing. My story was broadcast all over the world for people to see, and they have followed every step of my recovery. The positive thing that has come out of my situation is that people can learn from that. I want to give as much insight as I can to young women, because I feel like I represent a voice that really isn’t heard. Now I can help speak for those women.”
July 20, 2009
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Obviously an image-makeover move, but mostly, he says the right things.