Posts Tagged ‘Books I did not finish’

Rant Alert! Reading and Domestic Violence

Saturday, June 26th, 2010

Today, I threw away a book only half finished. Straight into the garbage can. It was by a NYTBS author I’d never read before. Things were going OK for a while. I liked the characters though I didn’t love them.

Then the hero, who is a cop, is called to the house of a woman whose daughter has called 911 because the woman’s husband is beating her (the mother, not the daughter). He has been to the house before on allegations of domestic violence. The hero’s own father beat the hero’s mother and eventually, when the hero was young, his father shot and killed the hero’s mother. The hero cop arrives at the house and thinks, basically, that in the past he has always blamed his father for beating his mother, but now that he’s seeing the woman, who confesses she has allowed her husband back in her life because he said he’d changed, that he ought to also blame his mother. (And, of course, he should, therefore, also blame the woman who has been beaten again by her husband.)

Full Stop. Are you kidding me?

I reread the paragraph to be sure I hadn’t misread. Let me represent to you that this book is in no way nuanced enough to be depicting a stage in the hero’s social awareness. It just isn’t. It’s a very minor subplot, since the book is not about domestic violence or a man struggling to come to terms with the violent death of his mother or reflecting on what it means to be a man in a culture where violence against women is endemic.

Are you kidding me?

How great that this author lives in such a happy world that she can believe that a woman can escape a violent husband or lover simply by just saying no. It’s not the reality. Nothing in the social life of homo sapiens is that simplistic. Feelings of love and worthiness are powerful emotions. They can’t just be turned off or resisted at will. And there are people in this world who are sickeningly adept at manipulating emotions in vulnerable people.

Abusive men, deliberately or otherwise in their relationships make the woman emotionally and financially dependent and socially isolated, and, by any and every means possible, convince the woman they’re abusing that she is at fault, that she is not worthy, that she will be found and punished if she leaves. These men behave in a bipolar fashion — there are indeed times when they are sweet and loving and everything is perfect, but eventually they go off again.

Violence against women is not the fault of the victim. It’s the fault of abuser.

Yes, some women are able to get out. Some women do come to realize that if they don’t find a way to get out, their lives are at stake, and then manage to do so. But from that circumstance we absolutely must not conclude that every woman could do so, if she really wanted to.

So, dear author, you are entitled to your opinion. You are also entitled to write whatever book you want. But I am entitled to my opinion, and my opinion is that you are sadly, sadly deluded about the reality of domestic violence. I am offended by your lack of insight and intellectual rigor about a complicated subject. I won’t buy another book by you ever.