Rachel Gluck

Something To Talk About

More About: Feminism

SHOW ME THE MONEY!

SHOW ME THE MONEY! Ah, yes. It’s a “Jerry Maguire” classic phrase most of us can steal and use from time to time in life, especially when scammed. We want our due, and we don’t care how the offending party tries to get out of paying us our due (whether in letters of apology, monetary compensation, or both). We just want to feel like we can let go and move on and that we have received what we deserve.

Unfortunately, when it comes to women this does not exist right now in a large segment of our judicial and psychological systems. Many professionals in both fields still believe, wrongly, in Freud’s “correctional” paper on women and rape, which states that if a woman was psychologically, physically, or sexually wounded by a man in her life, she wanted it. This allows for a lot of neglect and further abuse of women trying to turn their lives around. It also eats away at faith in our society’s claims of compassion, whether it comes from donkeys or elephants.

Reader, consider for a moment that people in positions of high power including President Bush use words such as “ownership” liberally, and possibly without being aware of the implications of real ownership of enslaving earth, and its inhabitants, for the benefit of those in power. Then contrast this with the Iroquois making their decisions with the next seven generations in mind. Which one feels like compassion and caring to you?

Now, ask yourself this: when you call upon a police officer to help you out, do you usually feel frightened, highly emotional, and/or distraught? You do? Now put yourself in the position of a woman who has just been punched in the face by her husband. Can you see yourself being calm when the police arrive to assess the situation? You can’t? That’s what I thought. Now ask yourself one last question: who is more believable: you or the man who hit you? If you think you are because you’re the person who acted responsibly and called the police, you’re thinking right, but you’re not thinking realistically.

Whether it’s a police officer responding to a call from a threatened woman in a home, a judge dealing with a female client in a courtroom, or a woman dealing with the emotional fallout with a counselor or therapist, the result is all too often the same. These women get the short end of the systemic stick.

“What does this mean for me?” you might ask. It means that unless you can be a really good actress, at least as smooth as butter, you aren’t likely to make it through the legal system successfully for a very, very long time. It will take years longer for you to get anything close to the justice you deserve than you can even begin to imagine. In the meantime, you might have to pay too high a price for your justice; even potentially losing your statutes of limitations to file motions against the person(s) that abused you.

If you’re scared as a result of thinking through the above questions, but you’re relatively safe and free from abuse, think about this: you have the power to do something to help change the system. You can write legislation, start petitions (thepetitionsite.com and PetitionOnline.com are two sites that will host petitions, and help you get them written, for free), and help your state’s coalition against domestic violence lobby for changes in the system. You can even start by just taking it seriously when a woman comes to you to talk about any kind of violence in her home or workplace.

No matter what, remember that the woman who is trying to do what’s right is *not* a troublemaker. Too many times, women are silenced simply because people aren’t willing to believe them. The troublemaker is much more likely to be the man who knows how to keep a straight face around the general public because our general beliefs in society have taught him that what he is doing is acceptable behavior. That’s the real scam, and judges, psychologists, and you can work together to give women their justice and help them help themselves.

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