When You Love Someone Who Chokes You

Since we started with the whole "I want to break your back" thing, I figure we should just go full bore. Here's Linda Hirshman discussing victims of domestic violence, and the victims responsibility. Here's she's talking about Morgan Steiner's memoir, Crazy Love:

In this latest episode of bad choices, her future husband gave her clear warning. Once when they were having sex, long before they got engaged, he choked her until she almost passed out and informed her that he "owned" her before he came. Still, she made herself available for the hurting. Since the relationship ends when he walks out of their apartment after three years of marriage, we never know if she would have left on her own.
In the press kit for Crazy Love, Steiner says it's easy to see why she married someone who choked her on a regular basis. She was, she says, "kind, insecure and desperate for intimacy. ... It is not difficult to understand why anyone ... could become trapped in an intimate manipulative relationship." She also relentlessly reminds the reader that she is a WASP of impeccable ancestry and therefore an improbable abuse victim. "All my family is blond," Steiner writes. "I do not look the part." Her abuser was blond, too. It was the first thing she noticed about him. She also acknowledges that she should have picked up on the warnings he littered behind him.

Steiner is wrong: It is difficult to understand why she stayed in this awful relationship, given that she was not risking starvation and had no children with her abuser. Which is why, no matter how many times Steiner and Marcotte and the others tell them not to, people keep asking the question. And it's terribly important to do exactly that. Asking why women participate in destructive relationships is a mark of respect. The amazing thing is that, four decades after the birth of feminism, we are still arguing about it.

I have no idea why anyone would think that blonde hair is a force-field against crazy. Perhaps thinking that there's a physical profile for battered women is part of the problem. But I digress, folks should read the whole piece. Again, I'm a lapsed nationalist--and there is weird gender nationalism going on in this piece that I actually respect and agree with. One good thing about nationalism, is that it knows how to hold individuals responsible without letting its persecutors off the hook. I don't think Hirshman is arguing that Rihanna rammed her face into Chris Brown's fist. But on some level, people have to be responsible for their lives. Saying that doesn't make Chris Brown any less of a dirt-bag.