As part of her “One Billion Rising” movement – which brings much-needed global attention to the issue of domestic violence – feminist activist, author and film documentarian Eve Ensler wants everyone to think about Valentine’s Day more in terms of vicious behavior than love and romanticism. In fact, she apparently feels Valentine’s Day should focus exclusively on domestic violence, a serious and ongoing dilemma that affects countless numbers of people. Notice I said ‘people.’ Ensler says ‘women.’ Like most liberal extremists, Ensler perpetuates the myth that domestic violence impacts only those of the female persuasion and – more importantly – declares that, by mere virtue of our gender, males are inclined to inflict it upon those females; as if it’s some instinctive behavior that must be removed like tonsils. I’ve heard that claim for years, and it still pisses me off.
Ensler is perhaps best known for her play “The Vagina Monologues,” which she first presented in 1996 in an off-Broadway theatre. The plot is simple: women openly and unabashedly discuss their genitalia. Everything from childbirth to rape is mentioned, as the characters hope to remove the stigma surrounding the female physique. It was bold and innovative and it won her a slew of awards, including an Obie.
The success and popularity of “The Vagina Monologues” led Ensler to create “V Day,” a global activist movement to halt violence against women and girls that Ensler launched on Valentine’s Day 1998. It addresses such matters as honor killings, female circumcision and sex slavery; issues that some small-brained people wish would just go away.
I understand the severity and complexity of domestic violence. I know millions of women every year, around the world, suffer through it. Ensler tries to give a voice to them. But, domestic violence isn’t so clear-cut; it doesn’t follow conveniently prescribed lines – racial, cultural, religious and not even gender. As shocking – and politically incorrect – as it may be, men are victims of domestic violence. So, are infants and children. But, there are really no special laws to protect those of us who aren’t adult females. Now, Ensler is trying to hijack Valentine’s Day and morph it into a fashionable avenue towards violent relationships. Again, the focus is on women as victims.
As part of V Day 2013, Ensler – the daughter of a Jewish father and a Christian mother – has composed a “Man’s Prayer,” in which she invites men “whose confidence comes from the depth of my giving/who understands that vulnerability is my greatest strength/who creates space rather than dominates it/who appreciates listening more than knowing/who seeks kindness over control/who cries when the grief is too much/who refuses the slap, the gun, the choke, the insult, the punch.” It concludes, “May I cherish, respect, and love my mother. May the resonance of that love translate into loving all women and all living things.”
‘All living things’?
I guess that means infants, children and maybe even us men. For the record, I’m not a ‘thing.’ Yes, I have a penis, but I’m still not a ‘thing.’ Neither is anyone else.
I’ve known more than a few victims of domestic violence. I have a cousin on my mother’s side whose first husband broke both sides of her jaw with a heavy-duty flashlight, while she held their baby in her arms. On my father’s side, another cousin only survived her violent first husband when her father and brother beat the crap out of him and shoved a gun in his mouth. One of my father’s sisters-in-law used to beat her three kids with whatever instrument in the house was available – until her husband (my father’s oldest brother) stopped her. Ah! But, would this latter incident constitute domestic violence? Or, just child abuse? Who makes these definitions?
Just after one in the morning on a cold Monday in January 1999, I heard a man yelling at some females in a neighboring unit of my North Dallas apartment complex. I could tell a young girl was among them. Moments later, the entire group was in the parking lot just outside my bedroom window. Initially, I mistook a popping sound for gunshots. But, when I peered through the blinds, I realized the man had one of the women on the ground, smacking her hard. My call to 911 wouldn’t go through. Shirtless and barefoot, I tore out of my apartment in a pair of sweat pants and kicked the man in the face. I think my actions startled him more than they hurt him. I looked at the woman, as she lay contorted on the cold, wet asphalt; her face swollen and blood-smeared. I grabbed her and forced her to her feet. Another woman had stood just outside my door with the young girl who could have been no more than 10. I caught a glimpse of that girl’s face; the look of absolute terror burned into my mind. The other woman rushed forward and grabbed the first one; both stumbling back beneath the breezeway. The man looked as if he was about to kill me. But, just as the sound of sirens whirled in the distance, another young man arrived beside me, a pistol in his hand, pointed squarely at the thug. But, my thoughts were about that little girl and the horrified look on her face. Was that brute her father? What was going through her mind? I never saw her or the others again. But, I wanted to tell the girl that we’re not all like the guy who bloodied that woman’s face. Most of us men aren’t anywhere near like that. I wanted to tell her that so badly, but I never got the chance.
Domestic violence against adult males is another one of those dirty little family secrets. Yet, if the subject is broached, it’s met with scorn; almost mockery. People seem to think if men are victims of violence at the hands of their female partners, then they must have done something to deserve it – the way violence against women used to be viewed.
Ensler’s sense of what’s appropriate and inappropriate bears a hypocritical twist. An original version of “The Vagina Monologues” included a section entitled “The Little Coochie Snorcher that Could” where a 24-year-old woman imbues a 13-year-old girl with alcohol and then has sex with her. At the section’s conclusion, the girl – now an adult – reminisces, “If it was rape, it was good rape.” ‘Good rape’? You’d think Ensler was a Republican. Protests forced Ensler to remove that particular passage.
My concern is to stop violence altogether – against everyone, not just adult females. Whenever I’ve mentioned this, people give me that ‘what-the-fuck’ dazed and confused look; as if I’d just said, ‘I’m flying to Mars next week; want to come with me?’ In other words, it’s apparently not possible – or practical – to stop all violence. Therefore, if we must have violence, it should be against males. For example, Ensler rants about so-called female circumcision in remote parts of the uncivilized world, but of course, ignores the reality of male circumcision in the U.S. and other developed nations. It doesn’t seem to matter that every year in this country, between 100 and 200 infant and toddler boys die from the effects of circumcision, or from botched procedures. It also doesn’t seem to matter that, of the estimated 3 million – 4 million children physically abused in this country every year, approximately 65% are boys. No, such details are of no concern to Ensler; she only wants to end that violence which affects the females of the species. So, does much of the rest of the ‘enlightened’ world. Since I advocate stopping all forms of violence against humanity, I guess Ensler and her minions would consider me a Neanderthal. I’ve been called worst.
Here’s another cold fact: domestic violence will never be eradicated. Humans are imperfect and someone somewhere will feel the ungodly need to beat the person they supposedly love. We can, however, stop hiding it like a secret lover; we can prosecute perpetrators and make victims realize it’s not their fault. We can also stop making rash accusations against entire groups of people and – more importantly – stop categorizing violence by saying ‘x’ is worst than ‘y’ because ‘z’ is the end result.
Valentine’s Day is one thing, and domestic violence is another. They’re not interchangeable elements. People who inflict physical or emotional harm on others aren’t filled with romanticism or love. They’re filled with hate – and perhaps insecurity. Personally, I won’t be celebrating Valentine’s Day because I have no romantic interest. But, I know plenty of men who do – married and unmarried. And, they don’t need a self-righteous playwright to tell them violence is wrong. Contrary to feminist theology, we men just sort of know that – instinctively.