I want to comment on the whole half-time show/Super Bowl discussion, as I feel it is important to articulate and put it in perspective.
First, I heard the argument that our female bodies have been controlled by the patriarchy for centuries and we, as women, should be able to do what ever we want with our bodies. Well, yes we CAN do whatever we want with our bodies, but that doesn’t mean we SHOULD. There is dignity. We can get our point across in other ways.
Stooping to the level of pole dancing and basic pornography in front of millions of people is not making our case. We need to understand the primal functions of men and women. You cannot expect a man not to get aroused when he sees a woman behaving in that way. That is not fair. Shoving that provocative behavior in a man’s face to prove a point is so wrong. And it is not in integrity. And it is playing right into the patriarchy. If you don’t think the patriarchy wants us up there pole dancing for all of them to see, you are living in denial and ignorance.
The Super Bowl is known for being the largest site for sex trafficking each year and it is also the day of the year with the highest level of domestic violence. We as women – the nurturers, the caregivers- have to really think about what we are doing, when we are doing it – and who will be affected. WE have control over our own behavior. We need to act wisely.
Let’s consider who is directly affected by all of this narcissistic, pole dancing, grandstanding. All of those poor girls who will be trafficked as a result of the men who are now hyper aroused by the pornographic behavior they just watched that is INTENDED to arouse – needing to find a release. Men who are not able to control themselves because of biological reasons. You can say that they SHOULD be able to control themselves but that doesn’t mean they WILL. Biology is biology. And not everyone is playing with a full deck of mental health.
Now I am not saying that a woman is responsible for being raped or assaulted because of what she wears or where she goes or what she does; however we need to be smart as women. We have to be aware at all times because that is the world we live in. We cannot dress or act in provocative ways and expect a man not to be aroused. That is complete ignorance. No, a woman is not responsible for a rape because of what she is wearing or doing. Absolutely not. However, shoving porn in a man’s face to purposely arouse him is also not ok. That is called teasing. Neither is appropriate behavior.
Second – JLo can do whatever she wants. However, she does not represent me or my views as a woman. She is not a torch bearer for female equality. What woman pole dances in a pornographic way who does not want millions of men ogling after her? Let’s look at what she gains. She gets all of this attention and energy. And she gets people to follow her on social media, etc. She gains more popularity. And I might add, she seems to be working through her own insecurities about aging. She is not dumb. She is using that female power platform for her own gain – NOT to empower us all as women. Nor do I think she is a voice for every woman that has been sexually assaulted and wished she had not ever been noticed.
Yes, JLo has a voice, but it is not my voice she represents. I would NEVER flaunt myself in public in that way. I do not have to. Real power comes from within, not from flaunting your body on national TV. It is appalling what we have stooped to as a nation. If we as women want things to be better, we have to BE better too. You cannot have the “me too” movement and then this flaunting of our bodies provoking the male population. There is no dignity or respect in that – and it confuses the issue.
If you want to pole dance, knock yourself out. Yes – it can be something sensual and appropriate with someone that you love. But do it in the privacy of your home, not on national TV to wow everyone with what great shape your are in – or to have a good majority of the male population fantasizing about you. How completely narcissistic.
It is in our humbleness that we speak volumes. We have spent so much time as women working to be taken seriously. This kind of behavior sets us back. It does not move us forward.
Domestic Violence is such a huge, complicated and insidious topic. One blog post cannot possibly encompass all of its facets; however, it can give some important insights. To begin, abuse is based on entitled behaviors. The abuser lives in a world where they believe they are above the rules. Interestingly, they may obey the rules in public – at work or in front of friends and relatives – but behind closed doors, it is a different story. Here is one snapshot version of abuse:
She never thought it could happen to her. She lived an affluent life – and worked very hard to get there. She was the catalyst behind her husband’s climb in the medical field – although he would never admit it or give her credit for the way she supported and empowered him to succeed.
The abuse started when her first child was born – very common in abuse patterns. As a couple, they had decided that she would stay home with their children and forgo an outside career path. She was elated and totally satisfied being a stay-at-home parent. They were the best years of her life and the best work she felt she had ever done. She felt it was her calling to raise these fabulous beings – what an incredible experience.
But her greatest loves also became her greatest weakness. The love she had for her children was quickly turned against her and used to control and abuse her. She loved her children more than anything and would do whatever it took to protect them and keep them safe. Her husband knew this – thus it became her prison. He knew her children meant the world to her – they were her beautiful angels. He thought that fact – and their affluent lifestyle would keep her imprisoned in their facade of a marriage – that she would never leave. He knew she wanted the best for their children – to have the things she never had growing up – the advantages of privilege and unconditional parental love.
He thought he could behave and do whatever he wanted to her because she would never disrupt this “perfect” world by divorcing him. And yes, she thought long and hard about it – it was not a decision she took lightly. Yet, day by day – with each child that was born, his abuse became more terrorizing. She lived in constant fear. Her deliberating over the decision to divorce was not about what would happen to her – she knew she could withstand whatever she needed to. She was more concerned about what it would do to her children – she wanted to make sure they would be safe.
She consulted an attorney months before she made the decision and was assured that she would be taken care of financially – she and her children would be able to carry on with a similar lifestyle. However, nothing was further from the truth. Instead, she was badgered and bullied in the court system. Her rights and the rights of her children violated at every point.
The abuse they had all suffered during the marriage left no marks – it was verbal and psychological – no traces of evidence – the perfect plan. He knew that. He threatened to hit her once – was going to punch her in the face. She saw him stop and reconsider – probably because it would leave a mark – evidence. He was too concerned with his public image to leave a mark others could see.
Once they separated, he was able to shut down her access to their bank accounts – she was at the mercy of his and his attorney’s dirty tricks. She quickly started going into debt to cover living expenses. There were so many lies and dirty tricks pulled on her – things she never expected. She was told she would need to start working again and was given some fictitious salary she supposedly was going to be able to earn because of her education level and skills, even though she had been out of the work force for years – in order to support herself and her children. This amount was used in the financial negotiations.
He fought her for custody even though she had been the stay-at-home parent – another common pattern. It is well-know that it is best for children of divorce to have a similar living arrangement after divorce if it is financially possible. However, the court did not make sure her children were taken care of in this way. The court allowed his reign of terror to continue and actually aided him in carrying it out.
He wanted to take her children away from her because he knew what they meant to her. He knew that when they suffered – she suffered. That was the only thing he had to use against her and punish her. He knew she wasn’t upset about leaving him – she had fallen out of love with him years ago from all of the abuse. But she would be torn apart to not be with her children or to see them harmed. They were her greatest loves – she would do anything for them – anything.
She spent years in the court system with his constant attacks. She was given minimal spousal maintenance. He was so intent on financially ruining her that he sold his practice and tried to reduce child support – while at the same time fighting her for custody. It took years and all of the retirement money she received from the settlement to fight him – finally gaining full custody of her children so they could be safe. She fought against judges, attorneys, parenting consultants, parenting coaches, and therapists.
In the end, she did win. However, it was at a huge cost to her and to her children. She lost everything including her home. Her children endured years of hardship, while one of their parents was living a life of ease and wealth. They were punished for holding him accountable for his bad behavior, while the family court system sat by and did almost nothing.
Abuse strikes all economic levels. It is a myth that it only affects men and women in lower educational or income levels. In fact, the more intelligent the abuser, the more severe and calculated the abuse. My work as a therapist is to help educate women and men who are caught in the prison of abuse to understand the dynamics so they can find a path of peace and freedom.
Love never dies – other things die, but love endures forever – it is a powerful force that stands strong in the face of whatever comes its way and it cannot be taken down. Lifetime after lifetime after lifetime – it only grows stronger.
Only ignorant fools believe they can tamper with love – how silly of them- playing their foolish games of lies and deceit. Love is too smart for that – too vast and all encompassing to be affected by small, petty people with petty lives who are filled with jealousy and envy at not ever having experienced the gift of true love. They can only scratch at its door.
It is all an illusion. True love is forever. It can never be broken – the bonds too deep and secure – eternal in the cosmic vastness of existence.
Love gets past the guards of deception – nothing can block its way – for it is always there. It was there at the beginning before time began – the great experiment. And it has not been affected – it has not. It is still true and unyielding. Patiently waiting – its knowing beyond the conception of small minds. Power beyond measure.
A common myth in abusive relationships is that they are codependent – codependency is a label that refers to people who are chemically dependent on substances such as alcohol and narcotics – so that when they try to quit they suffer traumatic physical symptoms.
Applying that label to human relationships is very misleading. If you feel “addicted” to your partner, you are probably feeling the confusing effects of his inconsistent on again/off again behavior. This is called intermittent reinforcement and is intended to keep you off balance. Gaslighting is another way to keep you off balance – making you doubt yourself and question your sanity.
This irrational behavior is confusing and can keep you stuck in a mental loop. That is where the problem lies – in the abuser’s behavior. The fact is, many women stay in spite of this behavior, not because of it. They suffer a loss of confidence that makes them worry about whether they can survive without their abusive partner
It is important to understand what codependency really is and that it has nothing to do with staying in an abusive relationship. This line of thinking blames the victim and makes her question herself – making it even more difficult to move through the mental fog and leave.
Being clear on the terms codependency and gaslighting can be extremely helpful in identifying what is really going on. Then the responsibility rests on the abuser and not the victim.