The secret to a perfect marriage: just submit to your abusive husband

A star from the feminist reality TV show Real Housewives of New Jersey”, Melissa Gorga, has written a book about the secrets she’s learned to make her marriage work.

Tracie Egan Morrissey at Jezebel says it better than I ever could (especially since I haven’t read the book), but here’s my take on it. Her article’s title says that the New Book Advocates Marital Rape. I was expecting a run-of-the-mill account of rape culture through a single anecdote about how to please your man in bed. Instead we get an insiders view of an abusive relationship. As Morrissey put it:

The amount of sexism, gender essentialism, and caveman logic within its pages is so appalling that it’s difficult to believe that her book is anything but a cry for help.

It’s so bad in fact that her husband interjects his opinions throughout the book, including his rape advocacy/rationalization [emphasis mine]:

Men, I know you think your woman isn’t the type who wants to be taken. But trust me, she is. Every girl wants to get her hair pulled once in a while. If your wife says “no,” turn her around, and rip her clothes off. She wants to be dominated.

Women don’t realize how easy men are. Just give us what we want.

We are regaled with stories of how she uses sex to stave off his wrath and prevent him from cheating. How he as taught her and corrected her from the earliest days of her marriage exactly how he envisions her behaving. How he gets angry (justified as “he doesn’t feel respected”) if she’s not home and dinner’s not on the table when he arrives home from work. How they raise their boys with their own separate entrances to the house, but their daughter is going to be coddled and controlled until she’s safely married*. How he controls her dress and her weight. How she doesn’t even defecate if he’s in the house, lest he be reminded that women are human beings with bodily functions, too (one can only imagine the lengths she has to go to when she’s menstruating).

And of course there’s the sinister knife metaphor:

Joe always says, “You got to teach someone to walk straight on the knife. If you slip, you’re going to get cut.”

Top it all off with a healthy dose of domestic violence**:

If he gets one ounce of flack from me, he flips a switch and goes off.

…and you’ve got yourself the perfect marriage.

What has the world come to that books like this are sold as relationship advice?

* Married to her second boyfriend. Of course. Who else could it be? Not boyfriend number 3. You know what they say– 2’s company, 3’s a slut. And certainly not a woman, either. Can someone call social services for Antonia?

** It seems that in the book, her husband’s (physical) violence is limited to breaking things like highchairs, but that a friend has said in an interview that he has “smacked her on the face”.

 

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Landmark report on drug-resistant infections in the US

The CDC just released a report, Antibiotic resistance threats in the United States, 2013, that “gives a first-ever snapshot of the burden and threats posed by the antibiotic-resistant germs having the most impact on human health.”

The press release links to the nice infographics included in the report of national summary data. There’s also a video briefing by Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the CDC, and a digital press kit where you can download individual infographics.

img43Here are some simple infographics about three bacteria the CDC describes as “Threat-level Urgent”:

C. diff InfographicCRE InfographicDRNG Infographic

There’s also a couple of infographics explaining how antibiotic resistance develops and how it spreads.

img1

I like this one because it is so simple while clearly illustrating 3 important principles:

  1. Antibiotics generally don’t cause resistance per se; rather, they select for organisms that already have resistance.
  2. Killing the “good bacteria” in our bodies allows resistant pathogenic ones to take over.
  3. Bacteria can transfer their resistance to other bacteria.

National Summary Data, Antibiotic Resistance

I like that this one illustrates the role of livestock in the development of resistance. I wish they’d made this one gender-neutral, but at least they have a mixture of men and women and of different race/ethnicities.

 

Rape in Asia

IRIN describes a UN report today with the results of a survey in Asia on rape and GBV.* The study was also published in The Lancet. The survey interviewed 10,168 men in 6 countries from Jan. 2011-Dec. 2012: Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and Papua New Guinea. The study found the country with the highest prevalence of men who have raped women was Papua New Guinea:

“with 62 percent of the men interviewed there indicating they had raped a woman.” (IRIN)

The study probably found higher rates of rape than previous surveys in part because it never used the word “rape” in the questionnaire, asking instead (about non-partner rape) about having “forced a woman who was not your wife or girlfriend at the time to have sex” or having “had sex with a woman who was too drunk or drugged to indicate whether she wanted it”. Novel concept, that (that rapists might not think of the rapes they committed as rapes or that they’d show social desirability bias if the word “rape” were used).

It also found that:

“The most common motivation perpetrators gave for rape was a sense of sexual entitlement – the belief that men have a right to sex with women regardless of consent (73 percent of respondents). More than half said it was for entertainment (53 percent), while alcohol, often assumed to be a common trigger for violence, was the least common response.” (IRIN)

It’s interesting, though not surprising, that entitlement is the top motivation. Entitlement and entertainment. I just watched the first half of “Half the Sky” today and the focus seemed more on shaming rape victims and extending that shame to family members, who then turn on the victim. It’s just depressing how far there is to go, how difficult it is, and how easy it is to regress in encouraging cultural change that empowers women and teaches men to treat women as equals and not as objects they are entitled to use for their sexual gratification.

I wonder what the reasons could be for alcohol being the least common response. Would that be evidence in favor of or against the oft-cited adage that “alcohol doesn’t make you do anything you wouldn’t want to do when you were sober–it just gives you the ‘courage’ to actually do it (i.e. it disinhibits you)”? While I was in India this summer, I got into a bit of an argument with some friends about the statewide ban on alcohol instituted under Chief Minister of Gujarat, Narendra Modi. They seemed convinced that such a policy had all-but-eliminated domestic violence in the state. Needless to say, I am not convinced. I’m not even convinced that, individual liberties aside, the policy is actually a net benefit for the people of Gujarat. Alcohol deserves its bad reputation as possibly the first or second most harmful drug on earth, but I wonder if anti-alcohol-abuse campaigns that focus on DV aren’t obstacles to DV prevention in the long term.

*The IRIN site crashed and was giving 503 errors at the time of writing this article. The website for Partners For Prevention (who conducted the study) was down, too, according to NPR. Paranoid me wonders if it wasn’t sexist hackers angry about the study. Let’s hope I’m wrong.