"Women were behind everything I’ve ever accomplished in my life. I was married to some of them, some worked for me, and some just helped me for their own reasons, but without them my legal career would not have happened the way it did. It appears to me that we men can’t beat women in academia, in the professions, or in making families the places where our children can feel safe and excel. Seems some men think the only way they can beat women is to beat them.
Men are, indeed, bigger and stronger than women in most cases. There is social science research that tells us women are as likely as men to resort to what is technically domestic violence. That is, they will throw a slap or a dish because they are just as likely as we are to be unskilled at conflict resolution. Violent women notwithstanding, it is the women who arrive in the emergency rooms and the morgues. This is true in the dominant culture and unfortunately it’s also true in our cultures.
Domestic violence is not a sex-neutral problem. While some men bite dogs, dog bite is not a species-neutral problem. Domestic violence is our problem, we men, the ones with the size and often the military training.
While it is necessary to put wife beaters in jail, sometimes to keep the peace in the community, jail is not going to stop wife beating. What will stop it is when beating your wife means your fishing buddy doesn’t want to fish with you anymore. When beating your wife is an unadulterated mark of disgrace. When hurting the mother of your children brings you the shame you deserve. If a judge expresses outrage toward a wife beater, the judge has to be expressing the values of the community, and the community has to be a place where no man, woman, or child will listen to excuses.
She started it. She didn’t have dinner ready on time. She called me a bad name. I’m not here to tell you your wife is perfect, but if you made a bad pick when you got married we have divorce courts for that. I guess you should be proud that everybody would say you are a perfect husband except when you beat her, right?
I can accept that the fact that I have been gifted with a great professional career by a bunch of anonymous women will not apply to everybody. I suppose I can even understand the people who, when I was pushing a female candidate in my tribal election, railed against “petticoat government.” Habits die hard, although my understanding of Cherokee history matches Wilma Mankiller’s, as expressed in her autobiography: we used to have women leaders before the missionaries taught us that men are meant to run things."
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Steve Russell: Let us now praise (not) famous women
(Indian Country Today 10/14)