by Paul Goetz
LEARNING BY EXAMPLE 102
I’m a big movie fan, and am continually amazed at the cavalier disrespect for men, and also the violence by women against men, unpunished and without even a hint that there is anything wrong with it. Sort of like Scarlet slapping Rhett until the end of time. The list goes on and on, many of them movies geared for kids. The man is often portrayed as a “jerk” in some manner, which then seems to justify the violence against him by a woman. The audience usually laughs.
Remember “Little Big League”? The movie makers spend a lot of time building up an adult male as a horrendous jerk. Then a woman socks him and knocks him to the ground, after not one bit of violence or physical contact by him. There didn’t seem to be a bit of remorse in the theater for the guy. Or any indication by the film makers that the woman should have resorted to some other non-violent tactic. I could hear cheers.
It’s not even necessary for the man to be explicitly a jerk. “Mary Poppins” has an animated sequence in which a woman hitting her husband over the head with a frying pan provides the music percussion.
“True Lies,” in which Jamie Lee Curtis decks Arnold Schwarzenegger for not telling her that he is a spy. “Tom & Huck,” in which Becky pushes Tom off a bridge and punches him in the stomach knocking him to the floor.
Then, of course, there’s the contemporary classic, “Thelma & Louise.” All sorts of male jerks and scum bags.
One of my favorite non-jerk movies is “Prince of Tides.” Barbara Streisand blasts Nick Nolte with an ash tray. I guess the sight of Nick’s bloody head is sort of a turn on because they soon become sexually involved. I read a lot about the movie in the newspapers. But usually about the fact that a psychologist had become sexually involved with a patient, and never about her violence against him. Or about his accepting it, without retaliation. (A well trained American male.) And never about the fact that she is portrayed as a good and caring character, rather than evil.
Another one is the “Hudsucker Proxy.” The number of times the female reporter, quite physically attractive of course, and extremely fashionable, socks and/or kicks one of her male colleagues in the chins is rather amazing. That always got lots of laughs from the audience. And who can forget “Mrs. Doubtfire”? A man catching on fire is funny. When’s the last time you can remember anyone laughing when a woman caught on fire? And, “Beethoven.” It’s a riot when a dog chomps down on a man’s crotch. We are such wonderful teachers of our children. Anyone remember laughing at a dog latching onto a woman’s crotch. It seems to me that classic song from “South Pacific,” “You’ve Got To Be Taught,” is true on many a level.
I can’t remember any movie in which the film makers set up comedy (from the perspective of the audience) as directly related to a woman getting injured. Even in films which contain violence by men against women it is almost always done in a way that suggests it is not right. The man committing the violence is usually portrayed as evil, or sick, and usually gets his due in the end.
AND ON & ON, BUT WHO CARES ANYWAY?
About six months ago, while standing at the checkout line in the grocery store, there was a couple in front of me, who appeared to be in their 60’s, just finishing up their purchase. Out of the clear blue the man, who was about 5′-4,” said to me, “I’ve been married to her for 20 years, and she hasn’t hit me once.” Then he rolled his eyes while continuing, “but my first wife….” He then pointed to his right leg and said, “I still have a scar…” Then the clerk, a woman in her early 20’s chimed in. “Yeah, my mother used to go after her boyfriends with a frying pan.”
It was just an ordinary spontaneous conversation that could have been about the weather. The cavalier nature of conversation regarding acts of violence by women against men was astounding. One of the things I remember thinking was that there was probably no public record of any of the incidents mentioned.
In the past couple of years I’ve come across more and more literature about violence by women, against men, and also against other women and children. There seems to be two basic camps these day concerning the information. One wants to acknowledge it, and move forward to analyze it, while the other wants to either suppress it, condone it, or both.
The list of literature is quite extensive. Warren Farrell, Ph.D, in his 1993 book, “The Myth of Male Power,” talks about many forms and incidents of suppressed, ignored, and unreported violence by women.
Several journalists have dealt with the issue. Armin Brott has several articles about it. In the summer of 1994, Debra Hastings, an Associated Press writer, did an article about how violence by women against men is often unreported and/or ignored, even though national surveys dating back to the 1970’s show quite clearly that women are just as likely to commit acts of violence as men. She talked to such respected researchers and authors as Murray Straus, co-director of New Hampshire’s Family Research Laboratory, whose studies show that, according to female respondents, women are more likely to assault their partner than men.
Attorney, Alan Dershowitz, in his 1994 book, “The Abuse Excuse,” devotes a whole chapter to the same issues, and discusses how statistics from the U.S. Department of Justice show similar findings, but how the results are selectively worded and publicized.
And, Ellis Cose’s newest book, “A Man’s World,” discusses violence by women, the studies of Straus & Associates, etc. And he discusses George Gilliland Sr., founder of the Domestic Rights Coalition in St. Paul/Ramsey County, Minnesota. Gilliland has gained local and national attention over the past few years as an avid defender of men’s rights in domestic situations. Cose describes some of the specific experiences of Gilliland, and the people he has been trying to assist. Gilliland established what appears to be the only shelter in the United States for men in problematic domestic situations.
I’ve kept an eye on some of the books in a couple of my favorite book stores, and they don’t seem to be big sellers. Jack Kammer’s 1994 book, “Good Will Toward Men” (an excellent book), which is filled with reputable, professional women discussing the current lack of respect for men, and other interesting gender issues, is already on the bargain book shelf in at least one major national bookstore. But, since there was not even one review of the book in any major media publication many people don’t even know about it.
OR…WHAT VIOLENCE?? THERE’S NOTHING ON RECORD…
In 1989 I walked into the Ramsey County Office of Domestic Abuse and told them I wanted to file a domestic abuse complaint against my wife. By law the county offices are established, in part, to assist complainants in filing and drafting papers. However, an all female staff not only refused to assist me in filing a complaint, but also told me that I couldn’t file a complaint. About a month later I made a second attempt. A female staff person filled out some papers for me. She asked me questions, and then translated my verbal responses into written form. She then told me that she would have to get the approval of the Chief Judge of Family Court (another female) before my claims could be heard in court. The staff person and the judge then met in private, and the staff person then informed me that the judge had denied my request.
It’s my understanding that the right to be heard, the right of reasonable access to the courts, and the right to petition the government for the redress of grievances, along with freedom of speech, are fundamental rights, protected by various aspects of both state and federal Constitutions, and a lot of case law. At the time all of this was happening to me however, I had very little knowledge of any aspect of the law. Now, I’m rather amazed that an entire county (or state) can devise and continue to operate a system in which private citizens must get approval of a judge before their claims can be heard in court. That’s usually referred to as a prior restraint on First Amendment rights, and quite unconstitutional.
The staff person also initially refused to give me a copy of the papers that I was not allowed to file. She told me it was their policy to not give out copies of complaints that were denied. After some insistence by me she begrudgingly made copies. It was later that I realized that they had devised a system in which there are no public records of some citizens’ attempts to gain access to the courts or of what they had to say. And, that the people devising such a system are the very source of most of the information that does reach the public.
The same day of my first encounter with the Office of Domestic Abuse, I also walked into the Ramsey County Office of Child Protection. I told them my wife had committed acts of violence against me, and had taken off with our children, against my consent, and that she was under the care of a psychologist, with recommendations for medication. Ramsey County Child Protection refused to even write my name on a piece of paper, or open up a file.
I also called the St. Paul City Police and told them the same things. They refused to send anyone out to my home to even make written report.
So, there are no public records of what I had to say to the St. Paul City Police, or Ramsey County Child Protection, or of my two attempts to file domestic abuse complaints at the Ramsey County Office of Domestic Abuse.
AND WE BETTER TAKE CARE OF YOU KNOW WHO
On the day before that profound statement by my daughter’s friend, I also read that George Gilliland had been arrested. (Within months after publication of “A Man’s World.”) Gilliland seems like one of the only local people who thinks that men and women should be treated the same under the eyes of the law, and who is not only ardently doing anything constructive about it, but also bringing local and national attention to the disparate treatment by various government agencies.
Isanti County apparently conducted what seemed like a rather extensive investigation concerning some misdemeanor charges against Gilliland, mostly for allegedly practicing law without a license. Some Minnesota governmental agencies have a fetish for pursuing misdemeanor charges against men. The Criminal Division of the St. Paul City Attorney’s Office, according to their own sources, has 14 full time prosecutors handling misdemeanor charges.
REDEFINING & THE WONDERS OF MODERN LAW
The charges against Gilliland are quite interesting because, as perhaps many citizens are not aware, in Minnesota, one does not need to be an attorney, or have a license, to practice law. The State has passed its own convenient statute (518.5511 subd. 5), specifically to allow its own non-attorney government bureaucrats to prepare, sign, and file complaints, motions, proposed orders, etc., and even appear in courts and argue cases before judges. The State is quite clear, however, in stating that (all of the above, and more), “This activity shall not be considered to be the unauthorized practice of law.”
If preparing, signing, and filing complaints, motions, and proposed order, and arguing cases in courts before judges isn’t the practice of law, what is it? Isn’t that precisely what the practice of law is? I guess part of “Minnesota Nice” is the fact that you don’t need a law degree or a license to practice law. You just need to be part of the in crowd. It’s my understanding that almost 100% of all citizens against whom all of the non-attorney government bureaucrats are practicing law are men. An accurate statistical report is difficult to get, however, because of the secret keeping and selective filtering of information by the government.
I wonder why the bar associations sit by and let non-attorney government bureaucrats practice law? Do you suppose they are afraid of something? Special Legislation is expressly prohibited by the State Constitution, and, pursuant to the separation of powers provision of the State Constitution, it’s the judiciary branch of government that determines who can practice law, not the legislative branch. I guess the bar association members get their money defending the citizens against whom all the non-attorneys are practicing.
I recall reading a number of times about how the bar associations carefully control who can practice in the courts for the purpose of maintaining the high integrity and moral standards of the profession – in large part to uphold the public trust in the profession. I guess that has it’s limitations.
Minnesota has a “perfect record” in an interesting law related area. The media is filled with reports and opinions of fatherlessness, family/social problems, etc. And the politicians, mostly members of the bar associations, are all spouting opinions about the causes, and “get tough” solutions. When I was growing up (I’m 46) my teachers and parents always told me the best place to start anything was at the beginning. To the best of my knowledge no judge in the entire history of the State of Minnesota (including upper courts, Family Courts, etc.) has ever been required to pass one question in the area of Family Law on a bar exam in order to become a lawyer and then a judge. Just think of all the parents and children whose fundamental rights have been determined by such people, and the overall long term impact on society.
It’s interesting to ask a member of a bar association, especially one who claims authority in Family Law (just look how many there are in the yellow pages ), how many classes were required in Family Law at their school to get a degree, how many classes they took in Family Law, and how many questions on their bar exam in Family Law were they required to pass to get their license. Try it sometime.
I’ve seen some of the Minnesota literature, much of it legal advice, which is researched and published, at least partially, with public funds, and distributed solely to women, instructing them on numerous legal issues and how to gain advantages against men. If you could see it you might be amazed. The literature, however, is not readily available to the public, or to most men. It’s only circulated in secret circles. Apparently though, it’s not okay for one man to effectively do the same thing, and without any public funding, and Special Legislation.
I don’t recall hearing about many cases in which the government does extensive investigation and obtains search warrants, and seizes papers, based on misdemeanor allegations. One would think there are enough more serious things going on that remain unsolved or under investigated.
But, I guess if the government can stop one man in making public record of the wrongs committed against men, and helping men articulate their side of situations, and in being treated fairly and equally, we can all be assured of the preservation of the idyllic “Minnesota Nice” – where kids have learned by age 7 that it’s okay for girls to hit boys, but not for boys to hit girls, where, by 5th grade, the kids have learned that girls don’t get disciplined in school for doing the same things as boys, where women, but not men, get tons of free legal advice, via literature coyly kept secret and paid for by public funds, where public officials and law enforcement personnel go to great lengths to keep records of violence by women against men from becoming public record, and/or from holding women accountable for their actions, and where it’s okay for non-attorney government bureaucrats, with the aid of Special Legislation, in violation of the Constitution, to practice law without a license against men.
On the day I was putting some final touches to this I was in one of my favorite bookstores. I’ve become friendly with a few of the clerks, and one of them happened to be there, a woman in her mid 20’s.
When I told her I was just finishing a piece she asked what it was about. I said it was about a number of things, including violence by women against men. She looked puzzled, as if I were speaking a foreign language, and replied, “What do you mean?” She had never heard of such a thing, or at least let it register in her memory.
I wonder if she saw the tiny article way at the back of the Metro Section in today’s Minneapolis Star Tribune, at the very bottom of the page. A 26 year old man was stabbed to death, in the back, while visiting friends at a hotel in Richfield, MN, allegedly by his 21 year old girlfriend. There was no use of the words “domestic violence,” “domestic abuse,” “battering,” “boyfriend killing,” or any other popular colloquialisms. Maybe he died with a smile. At least he won’t get arrested, or have to hire a lawyer.
Copyright © 1995, 1996 by Paul F. Goetz