Tag Archives: Domestic Violence

That R Kelly Thing

Last night I gave myself the gift of finally finishing TV’s The Handmaid’s Tale, which, despite its frustrating offness about race and its Girl with the Dragon Tattooism, entertained and evoked. Still, I was relieved to see the finale and move on to less passively torturey entertainments.

So when the R. Kelly story broke–or rather, when the latest in a multi-decades-long string of R. Kelly pedophile/abuser stories broke, I was already dwelling on assholes using religion to justify structural domination of women, people of color, and gender/sex minorities.

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More on Child Abuse

Hey friends, I don’t have time to write a true follow-up to yesterday’s contemplations about the motives behind child abuse.

So here are two additional articles that came out today on the topic.

A few salient points: when people think of pedophilia and sexual abuse of children, they are generally not thinking about the so-common-it-could-be-routine sexual abuse of children within families. AKA incest.

Instead, they are thinking of the sensationalized but actually rare creepy dudes who are sexually attracted to pre-pubescent kids and motivated to kidnap kids from malls and playgrounds and such. The Law and Order SVU stuff. That doesn’t happen NEARLY AS MUCH as abuse of children by family members.

Here are some statistics that should be familiar to us all, but aren’t, either because they’re too mind-boggling to be absorbed easily, or because they’re not publicized enough. One in three-to-four girls, and one in five-to-seven boys are sexually abused before they turn 18, an overwhelming incidence of which happens within the family. These statistics are well known among industry professionals, who are often quick to add, “and this is a notoriously underreported crime.”

Reporters don’t specify, but I’d bet that most adults who rape children in their family are not, in fact, looking at child pornography. They are not motivated by sexuality. They are motivated by other desires. Anger, rage, control, the dark stuff we all feel but we don’t go and beat on kids to deal with it.

One in three to four girls. One in five to seven boys.

And that stat does not include physical abuse of children, because we tend to treat sexual abuse differently for reasons that are, frankly, unclear to me, but that’s another post.

What to do about it all? I’m throwing my hands up here. I don’t know. But I’d sure love a load of research money to uncover some causes (straight up inequity, across the board, as I was wondering yesterday?) and freakin STOP THIS FROM HAPPENING.

Maybe money equivalent to the money we spend researching illnesses that affect as many people. What, like cancer?

What illnesses affect nearly a third of our population? More, if we count in physical abuse. And partner violence. Much more.

That’s a lot of people. Our people. We need to do better.

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A grab bag of detritus from this week, with more extended thoughts below.


Clinton’s testimony inspired some fabulous giffing.


Mike Doughty uses his KNOWLEDGE of SINGING to ‘splain how Beyoncé was not lip-syncing and could you please lay off her already because she’s “a samurai.”

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Many Dimensions to Our Culture of Violence

Many words, lately, on violence, guns, and women. It would take me all day to find all the links for you, so you can trust me on it. Aurora, Newton, Steubenville, this lovely meditation on the “slow violence” culture impels women to do unto their bodies daily.

This blog is forcing me to wrestle with the fact that what we can accept as obvious in academic humanities circles—that we live in a rape culture, for example, in which violence against women is the unquestioned norm pervading most of our daily life–actually takes a really long time to explain to people new to the concept. But sometimes examples of it can help.

I don’t intend to add to the litany about guns, violence, and gender. But it was all on my mind as I read this riveting NYT Magazine piece about a remarkable family who sought to use newfangled, hippy-dippy “restorative justice” to forgive the boy who killed their daughter and to give him a life-giving, rather than life-destroying, sentence.

Conor McBride

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Women and Children in Court

Did you guys know that the New Yorker runs True Crime stories? It’s true. Maybe once or twice a month the smartypantses will publish a beautifully written, carefully researched, and thoughtfully interpreted tale of grizzly murder.

A few years back, I was captivated by Janet Malcolm’s reporting on Mazoltuv Borukhova, the Queens woman convicted of hiring a hit man to kill her ex-husband after a judge awarded custody of their daughter to him. Malcolm turned the courtroom drama into a book, which I haven’t read but want to. If I can stomach it. Which I’m not sure I can.

This all came back to me because in the last few New York Review of Bookses, Malcolm updates us on Michelle. Who? Michelle. Michelle Malakova. The daughter.


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