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Domestic Violence -- From Teens' Perspectives
Two fans of Chris Brown, outside the L.A. courthouse

In the wake of the discussion about Rihanna's decision to continue her relationship with Chris Brown after he physically abused her (taking place in the Red Room several days ago on Heather Catherine Hogan's, Ellen Sheeley's, and my blogs), I felt compelled to post a link to this NYTimes article that examines the attitudes towards dating violence and domestic abuse held by today's generation of teenagers.  I'm sure I'm not the only one here who will be troubled (if not surprised) by the article's findings.  What can we do -- besides teaching the children in our own families not to accept, condone, or offer violence -- to change the social perception among younger people that domestic abuse and dating violence is normal, "no big deal"?

I think one answer lies in the statement made by the young woman, Danielle Shores, quoted toward the end of the article.  She said the matter was blown out of proportion because the parties involved are famous; when a similar thing happened to her best friend, she reports, there was no outrage.

Why not???  Can we bring the concern we have about this problem to the local level?  Make it tangible for the young women (and not-as-young women) who are confronting situations like Rihanna's?  If we think it is a "big deal," we have to act like it, and not only when it makes the cover of pop culture magazines.


8 Comment count
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I'm not sure where to start

I'm not sure where to start to fix this social issue--this personal and social issue--but the one thing that the Rhianna and Chris Brown thing has done is brought it up and out and all over the blogshpere, the news, the print media. That has to be a step forward, but the door to a solution still seems to be closed.

Thanks for posting this.



Jessica Barksdale Inclan

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Evie, thanks for the link..

I think the teacher's assignment of Othello to the students is a fantastic one. An excellent novel about the effects of teen domestic violence is Dreamland by Sarah Dessen, a must read for all ages.

Jennifer Gibbons, Red Room

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teachable moments

Jessica and Jennifer, thanks for writing. I agree that the exposure of the issue that has resulted is a great starting point. Oprah made it a "teachable moment" by devoting a show to the issue; and on a smaller (but not less important) scale, the high school English teacher educates by giving students the opportunity to rewrite an iconic story in a way that does not result in a woman sacrificing her life to her husband's jealousy. Both are encouraging examples and models for others to follow, using our own platforms (stages, classrooms, pulpits, etc.).

I'll have to check out the novel you recommended, Jennifer -- it sounds valuable.

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Evie, you are preaching to

Evie, you are preaching to the choir.

I'd read "The Boston Herald" account of this research last week (http://bostonherald.com/news/regional/view/2009_03_13_Survey_finds_many_...) and the comments that followed. Something has really shifted in a generation's time. It's worrisome.

Domestic violence has been around forever, but I can't imagine even one of my high school gal pals giving tacit approval to this kind of relationship.

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generational shift

Hi, Ellen! I don't mean to be preaching, to choirs or anyone else. : ) But I thought I'd post this article since it gives that NYTimes weight (such as it is, these days!) to the claims I was making earlier (which not everyone agreed with, I believe). It just points to the existence of a variety of societal pressures pushing in different (and unexpected) directions. The Boston Herald article does the same kind of work, as you point out. (Thanks for the link!)

As for the generational shift you point toward, I couldn't agree more. I think that anyone asserting that we are "post-feminism," that we no longer need feminist analysis of social phenomena or feminist interventions to work against the amazing gravitational pull downward of patriarchy and sexism, should read these articles. I wish more women (and men) would (re)claim the "F-word" and not rest on the fragile victories of previous decades!

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Evie, I think perhaps I came

Evie, I think perhaps I came off badly in my earlier comment.  By "preaching to the choir," I just meant that I'm totally with you on this.  No convincing needed.

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Hear, hear.

I've heard younger women than I say that feminism isn't necessary any more.  I wish they had some of my memories!  It will be generations before we reach "post-feminism"--if we ever do.



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not at all

Not at all, Ellen! I get that you and I (and others here) are on the same page. I'm glad, however, to have you confirm that I'm not sounding "preachy" in my post, which I didn't intend to do. I often write as a general challenge the things that I mean to challenge myself to do -- and I am currently thinking about ways to put my values into action. This issue of domestic violence and the teenagers' retro perspectives on it seemed to be a good place to touch down, since it is such an audible part of the social discourse at this moment ("thanks" to Chris Brown and Rihanna).

It's all good. I was and am glad to see your voice here! : )