Loving to Survive: All Women in a Patriarchy are Battered & Oppressed
"During the years of our marriage, fear of my husband, his religious leaders and religious authorities was branded in my mind. The quiet still voice inside of me reminded me that something was very wrong. I felt alarmed, but the was nowhere to go and no one to tell. Several years of severe mental and physical abuse left my senses blunted; everything became blurred. The instincts of self-preservation, of self-defense, of pride, deserted me.
"Angelina Jolie’s movie, In the Land of Blood and Honey, featured women who were sex
slaves during the war or occupation and how they strived to please men - just for their
safety. I resonated and related to the message in this film because that was all my marriage was based on - pleasing my husband - for my safety and well-being.
"I had learned as a child that if I didn't do as I was told, my personal safety would be endangered. My experiences in my marriage and the Christian cults reinforced these beliefs–isolation, physical and sexual abuse and/or emotional and mental pain would follow any questioning of others' motives, power and control of me. And I loved and cherished my children.
"After seeking safety from decades of abuse: People ask me what I have learned from the local religious and judicial systems these past 20 years. I candidly share with them that I have learned that in America’s patriarchal dominator society my body is not mine, but belongs to the community that upholds male dominance and female possession and ownership. By being possessed (occupied) the female becomes weak, depleted, and usurped, in all her physical and mental energies and capacities by the one who has physically taken her, by the one who occupies her. Her body is used up, and the will is raped." - Coral Anika Theill, BONSHEA Making Light of the Dark
In our society, “masculinity is still measured by how well a man controls his wife in the house and his horse in the field.'" - Andrea Dworkin
Loving to Survive: Sexual Terror, Men's Violence, and Women's Lives considers men's violence against women as crucial to understanding women's current psychology. Men's violence creates ever present, and therefore often unrecognized, terror in women. This terror is often experienced as a fear - for any woman - of rape by any man or as a fear of making a man - any man - angry. They propose that women's current psychology is actually a psychology of women under conditions of captivity - that is, under conditions of terror caused by male violence against women. Therefore, women's responses to men, and to male violence, resemble hostages' responses to captors.
Loving to Survive proposes that, like hostages who work to placate their captors lest they kill them, women work to please men, and from this springs women's femininity. Femininity describes a set of behaviors that please men because they communicate a woman's acceptance of her subordinate status. Thus, feminine behaviors are, in essence, survival strategies. Like hostages who bond to their captors, women bond to men in an effort to survive.
Psychological studies have determined that many individuals have Stockholm Syndrome to varying degrees. It has happened to concentration camp prisoners, cult members, pimp-procured prostitutes, incest victims, physically and/or emotionally abused children, battered women, hostages and prisoners of war. Due to severe indoctrination, victims become prisoners of the twisted logic presented by their abusers.
“Victims have to concentrate on survival, requiring avoidance of direct, honest reaction
to destructive treatment. Become highly attuned to pleasure and displeasure reactions
of victimizers. As a result, victims know much about captors, less about themselves.
"Victims are encouraged to develop psychological characteristics pleasing to captors:
dependency, lack of initiative, inability to act, decide, think, etc. Both actively develop strategies for staying alive, including denial, attentiveness to victimizer’s wants, fondness for victimizer accompanied by fear, fear of interference by authorities and adoption of victimizer’s perspective. Hostages are overwhelmingly grateful to terrorists for giving them life. They focus on captor’s kindnesses, not his acts of brutality. Battered women assume that the abuser is a good man whose actions stem from problems that she can help him solve. Both feel fear, as well as love, compassion and empathy toward a captor who has shown them any kindness. Any acts of kindness by the captors will help ease the emotional distress they have created and will set the stage for emotional dependency of Counterproductive Victim Responses." - The Stockholm Syndrome: Not Just for Hostages, by Dee L.R. Graham, Edna Rawlings, and Nelly Rimini
To the extent that femininity is a psychology of the oppressed, or an indication of Societal Stockholm Syndrome, we are forced to ask whether women should support our culture's glorification of "feminine qualities."
It is one thing to be feminine in order to survive when you know why you are doing what you are doing; it's another thing to celebrate femininity as proof of one's womanhood.
However, we do recommend that women understand femininity's function and the role that it plays in our survival in a patriarchy. Contempt is publicly expressed for battered women who stay with their partners and each day use every ounce of ingenuity they possess to keep their abusers from becoming (emotionally and physically) violent. Perhaps we would see the similarities between battered women and women in general if we understood the function that femininity plays in subordinates.
This is a book that will forever change the way we look at male-female relationships and women's lives.
"Could it be that all women in a patriarchy are battered women and that our femininity is both our strategy for surviving and the proof of our oppression (if proof other than men's violence against us were needed)?" --Dee Graham, Loving to Survive, page 196-197
Have you wondered: Why women are more sympathetic than men toward O. J. Simpson? Why women were no more supportive of the Equal Rights Amendment than men? Why women are no more likely than men to support a female political candidate? Why women are no more likely than men to embrace feminism--a movement by, about, and for women? Why some women stay with men who abuse them?
Loving to Survive addresses just these issues and poses a surprising answer.
Likening women's situation to that of hostages, Dee L. R. Graham and her co- authors argue that women bond with men and adopt men's perspective in an effort to escape the threat of men's violence against them.
"A woman who is exposed to the ideas, opinions, attitudes, feelings, and needs of men (and children), to the exclusion of exposure to the same in other women of like situation, is a woman who is ideologically isolated. Ideological isolation occurs whenever women do not have access to others who espouse women's perspectives as opposed to men's. Ideological isolation is likely to occur when women get together but one or more men are present. This is because most women try to take care of men and to ward off men's anger. Men therefore tend to become leaders of such groups and to be more influential than women members of the group. Most men get upset if women focus their attention on one another, and most women are afraid to upset men."
--Dee Graham, Loving to Survive, pages 115-116
Dee Graham's announcement, in 1991, of her research on male-female bonding was immediately followed by a national firestorm of media interest. Her startling and provocative conclusion was covered in dozens of national newspapers and heatedly debated. In Loving to Survive, Graham provides us with a complete account of her remarkable insights into relationships between men and women.
In 1973, three women and one man were held hostage in one of the largest banks in Stockholm by two ex-convicts. These two men threatened their lives, but also showed them kindness. Over the course of the long ordeal, the hostages came to identify with their captors, developing an emotional bond with them. They began to perceive the police, their prospective liberators, as their enemies, and their captors as their friends, as a source of security. This seemingly bizarre reaction to captivity, in which the hostages and captors mutually bond to one another, has been documented in other cases as well, and has become widely known as Stockholm Syndrome.
The authors of this book take this syndrome as their starting point to develop a new way of looking at male-female relationships. Loving to Survive considers men's violence against women as crucial to understanding women's current psychology. Men's violence creates ever-present, and therefore often unrecognized, terror in women. This terror is often experienced as a fear for any woman of rape by any man or as a fear of making any man angry. They propose that women's current psychology is actually a psychology of women under conditions of captivity that is, under conditions of terror caused by male violence against women. Therefore, women's responses to men, and to male violence, resemble hostages' responses to captors.
Loving to Survive explores women's bonding to men as it relates to men's violence against women. It proposes that, like hostages who work to placate their captors lest they kill them, women work to please men, and from this springs women's femininity. Femininity describes a set of behaviors that please men because they communicate a woman's acceptance of her subordinate status. Thus, feminine behaviors are, in essence, survival strategies. Like hostages who bond to their captors, women bond to men in an effort to survive.
Family Court Corruption Resources by Kimberly Burke Bowers
"Many women grow up in homes in which they were conditioned and groomed to be victims. They marry sociopathic abusers, have children with them, and lose custody and contact of their children when they become stronger and choose safety. Battered women may lose their babies and children, their homes, their friends and their livelihood. Survivors of childhood abuse will often even lose their families. Rarely does society recognize the dimensions and long lasting effects of this reality for the victim. After over a decade of personally seeking assistance from advocacy groups on a local, state and national level, the advocacy system, as is, has offered me nothing.
"The price for my own safety and freedom in 1996 was an imposed, unnatural and unwanted separation from my eight children, including my nursing infant. The injustice committed against me is not just the physical separation from my children, but the willful desecration of the mother-child relationship and bond, a sacred spiritual and emotional entity.
"Forcibly taking a mother's children, and then controlling her emotionally by withholding contact must be publicly recognized as one of the greatest forms of 'mis-use' of the American justice system and one of the greatest hidden vehicles for wide-spread socially approved physical and emotional abuse and control."- Coral Anika Theill, Bonshea Making Light of the Dark
Judith Herman, M.D. maintains that the function of domestic violence is to preserve male supremacy. “Perpetrators understand intuitively that the purpose of their behavior is to put women in their place and that their behavior will be condoned by other men [women] as long as the victim is a legitimate target. Thus, women live with a fear of men which pervades all of life and which convinces women that their weakness is innate and unchangeable. The legal system is designed to protect men from the superior power of the state but not to protect women or children from the superior power of men. It therefore provides strong guarantees for the rights of the accused but essentially no guarantees for the rights of the victim. If one set out by design to devise a system for provoking intrusive post-traumatic symptoms, one could not do better than a court of law."