|Written by Erin Pizzey||Saturday, May 5, 2007 11:04 AM|
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The first few days of April 1977 I found myself staying with Lenore Walker in Denver. At that time she was working as a martial therapist with her husband Mort Walker. Lenore was one of the organizers of the first conference devoted to the subject on ‘wife battering’ in that part of America.
Mort was a gentle, withdrawn shy man vastly overshadowed by his wife. A few years later Mort committed suicide. I spent many hours with Lenore explaining my theories about domestic violence. I explained to her that after six years of taking in women and children and seeing many of their partners, I knew that domestic violence was not a gender issue. By then I had sufficient personal experience to explain to Lenore that in most cases of domestic violence both partners were complicit. The violence was cyclical and the power and control passed from one perpetrator who then became the victim to the victim who then became the perpetrator. Of course when an innocent partner becomes involved with a violent partner this argument does not exist. The violent partner batters and abuses and the non violent partner does not retaliate.
At that point there were no refuges in Denver and she was avid to hear of my experiences. It was only later on that I discovered that she took much of what I had to say and recreated her own version of violence towards women which did not allow for the fact that both men and women can be violent. She slotted my work into her feminist ideology and the next year she published her much acclaimed book ‘The Battered Woman.’ I have always felt betrayed by Lenore. She knew and even then agreed with me that women could be violent. She knew that the cycle I explained to her was used by both men and women but she preferred to create her career based on false information. She also claimed that she visited my refuge in Chiswick – Lenore never visited Chiswick.
The conference took place in a local hotel. It was well attended and I was shocked to see a young woman give an Oscar winning performance as she told her story of abuse with appropriate dramatic actions. I knew from the women in the refuge that those that were ‘genuine victims of their partner’s violence’ would never stand up in front of an audience – they were far too ashamed and if they did out of a sense of loyalty the story would come out amidst tears. After the performance I located the young woman at the back of the room and talked to her. ‘I told them what they wanted to hear,’ was what she said. She had already survived several violent relationships and agreed that she could not be seen as a victim. We talked for some time very seriously about her need to get some help but looking around me at the room full of councilors and psychologists, I doubted if any of those women would allow this woman to admit her violence.
I had very much the same conversation with Elaine Hilberman when I was in Chapel Hill. It was she who described the dilemma of women professors who struggled to get tenure in Universities. Whilst I sympathized with their plight I still do not believe creating a false and alternative movement called ‘feminism’ was the answer. At the meetings in Chapel Hill and in Denver I was talking to women only audiences. Of course, this was happening in England but the feminist movement was still in its early days in England. What I discovered in America was that the feminists were very highly organized and those who were expert in raising money were already putting in huge bids for grants from the government and from the huge charitable bodies.
When I was living in America, I was to have fitful meetings with Lenore and her crowd of sycophantic women. Richard Gelles invited me to a conference in Rhode Island many years later and she made it her business to humiliate me and to walk past me as often as she could resolutely ignoring me. I always felt and still feel she suffered from a guilty conscience and I fully expect as the tide turns and everyone understands that they have been thoroughly deceived by these women they will all, like worms in a thunderstorm, come to the surface recanting. Unfortunately it will be too late for millions of men and fathers internationally who have been falsely accused of domestic violence and in many cases have lost their children.
I was at the American Embassy in London in the late eighties when Betty Freidan addressed a packed audience and told us that she regretted that the feminist movement went for the ‘jugular’ in their attempts to achieve equality and what they should have done was the look at relationships between men and women first and then try and work out a dialogue. She was reviled by the radical end of the feminist movement for suggesting co-operation with men.
Susan Brownmiller who wrote the seminal books on rape finally earned the wrath of the sisterhood when she tried to argue that Hedda Nussbaum, a children’s book editor living with her partner Joel Steinbert, a lawyer was also responsible for the death of Lisa a little girl they called their adopted daughter. The feminist movement turned on her and to her credit she wrote a book called ‘In Our Time – Memoir Of A Revolution.’ In it she tried to disentangle the convoluted snake like convulsions of a movement that has become so disastrous as to threaten the fabric of Western society.
The last time I saw Lenore was at a conference in Rome. To my surprise, still surrounded by a gaggle of sycophants, she rushed up to me and hugged me. For a moment I did not recognize her. My first sight of Lenore in 1977 at her home was when she was in her ‘hippie’ phase. My second, at conferences, it was all power suits now she was in the guise of the ‘wise Guru’, and as she clasped me a barrage of her women took photographs of us supposedly delighted to see each other. ‘Everyone gets trashed at some time…’ she hissed in my ear I assume by way of an apology but I cannot forgive her for the damage she has done to many innocent people.
She was one of the first feminists to declare that women who murder their partners could use a defense that would allow them to be absolved killing them. Radical feminists believe that all women who kill their partners are ‘political prisoners,’ and therefore not guilty of the crime of murder. The same argument, according to feminists does not hold for men because men are the natural enemy of women and all men have a predisposition to rape, maim and murder women.
I have had dealings with men and women who have killed their partners. At times the deaths have been genuinely accidental but often the killing is cold blooded and premeditated. This is no place to describe how and why some people are driven to kill. All I wish to say is that the whole concept that absolves women from murder is dangerous. What none of these women ever contemplated in their rush for money, fame and celebrity was that by failing to truly understand the complexities that cause some people to lead such cruel and brutal lives, they betrayed generations of women, men and their children.
Copyright © 2007 Erin Pizzey, All Rights Reserved
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