Sunday, October 07, 2007

Coercive Control :4

What is taken from the women whose stories I hear almost daily—and what some victims use violence to restore—is the capacity for independent decision making in the areas by which we distinguish adults from children and free citizens from indentured servants. Coercive control entails a malevolent course of conduct that subordinates women to an alien will by violating their physical integrity (domestic violence), denying them respect and autonomy (intimidation), depriving them of social connectedness (isolation), and appropriating or denying them access to the resources required for personhood and citizenship (control). Nothing men experience in the normal course of their everyday lives resembles this conspicuous form of subjugation.

Some of the rights batterers deny to women are already protected in the public sphere, such as the rights to physical integrity and property. In these instances, law is challenged to extend protections to personal life. But most of the harms involved in coercive control are gender-specific infringements of adult autonomy that have no counterpart in public life and are currently invisible to the law. The combination of these big and little indignities best explains why women suffer and respond as they do in abusive relationships, including why so many women become entrapped, why some battered women kill their partners, why they themselves may be killed, or why they are prone to develop a range of psychosocial problems and exhibit behaviors or commit a range of acts that are contrary to their nature or to basic common sense or decency.

Coercive Control by Evan Stark [Word Document] HTML

Any Christian community which does not teach personal autonomy of wives is enabling coercive control, the infringement of basic human rights and the subordination of women. It is extremely difficult and humiliating for anyone to describe what it is like to be a victim of coercive control. However, it is evident in the readings of women on the internet that they are experiencing it. One women speaks of how difficult it is for her to kill her attitude of entitlement to make her own decisions about such things as cleaning the house and running errands.

What is amazing is that her story is posted for everyone to read as if it were a noble thing instead of an infringement of basic human dignity. Could a man imagine submitting every action of his day within his own home to someone else for approval?


Sam said...

I tried to comment on that post but I think it may have been rejected.

"I never anticipated how many times we would disagree on small things, mostly matters of preference, and how I was not at all entitled to have my own way on these things just because they were small, or just because they fell under the category of home management, or for any other reason. (Just to give you an idea, I’m talking about dumb little things like how long to store an opened jar of spaghetti sauce in the fridge before it gets thrown away.) My husband might make a decision at times based on my input, but he’s not obligated to do this."

I really don't understand how this view of a husband's "role" can be reconciled with the sacrificial, other-person-centered love set out in Ephesians 5.

Suzanne McCarthy said...

You can't comment on that post. Either the comment section is closed or it is moderated, sometimes one, sometimes the other. I have tried on another post and the blogpowner emailed and said that she regretted that she could not post comments that she did not have an answer for.

I find this kind of thing chilling. That woman has no rights. She has a baby and she is not allowed to organize her own day.