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Film Clips, Chapter 14

Part I

Why Domestic Violence Victims Don’t Leave: Leslie Morgan Steiner (2012)

TED talks, 16:00

Domestic violence happens in intimate relationships (Sev’er, pp. 280–281) at all class levels and to men as well as women and children. Steiner places herself in the statistics as a typical victim: young and ignorant of the patterns and signs of domestic violence. She describes how and why she fell in “crazy love,” in which the control gradually shifted in the relationship. The concept of “intimate terrorism” (p. 279) is evident in the cycle of violence and the steps her husband took towards establishing power and control in the relationship: isolating her from family and friends; introducing the threat of violence; deeply apologizing for and rationalizing the abuse afterwards; and the escalation of violence.

Not understanding that she was a battered wife, Steiner kept silent for two years (pp. 282–283). She felt responsible for helping her husband overcome the violence. She also realized that it was actually very dangerous to leave her abuser, as do so many other abused women (pp. 281–282). For Steiner, we all have the “power to end domestic violence . . . by shining the spotlight on it.”

Critical Thinking Questions

  1. Which of the theories of interpersonal violence presented in the text by Sev’er (pp. 276–280) would best illuminate Steiner’s experience and why?
  2. Why do domestic violence victims stay with their abusers, according to Steiner? According to the text? How does the Rihanna / Chris Brown story in the text (pp. 277, 289) parallel Steiner’s story?
  3. Why did Steiner refrain from telling her family and friends about the abuse for two years? Given this information, how adequate are our statistics and community responses (e.g., emergency shelters) to domestic violence?

Part II

Violence against Women—It’s a Men’s Issue: Jackson Katz (2012)

TED talk, 17:41

Jackson Katz, author of The Macho Paradox, looks at violence against women (Sev’er, pp. 275–276, 280–282) through a cultural lens and with a feminist approach (pp. 279–280), focusing on how the distribution of power prevents real change. Despite our collective understanding that violence against women and children is still an issue, there has been little change in the statistics because the focus remains on the victims and what they do to “contribute” to their battering (pp. 275–277), instead of on the perpetrators and why they continue to batter. The dominant group (in this case, men) disappears in the process of victim blaming. Cultural pressures on men to stay silent when others abuse women and the status all men gain through the violence, sanctions violence. Katz relates the backlash against those who have spoken out over the years and advocates for his own “bystander approach” and leadership (rather than sensitivity) training as tools for challenging this cultural paradigm.

Critical Thinking Questions

  1. Do you agree with Katz that our tendency to focus on the victims in violence needs to change to a focus on the perpetrators? Why or why not? Would the individual pathology model (pp. 276–277) help in identifying the cultural process of violence against women and children? Are we focusing more on perpetrators here in Canada? How?
  2. What is the “bystander approach” and how can this help challenge issues of male violence in our culture? What makes this a feminist solution? Will it also work to address the issue of women’s violence against men (e.g., husband abuse)? Why or why not?
  3. Why is “leadership training” imperative in the fight against male violence in our culture? Why is this better than “sensitivity training”, according to Katz? Do you agree? Provide supportive points from the text or your observations. If you also watched Steiner’s TED talk, how is Katz’s solutions similar?

Part III

Sibling Rivalry: Near, Dear and Dangerous (2013)

CBC Doc Zone documentary, 45:13

Sibling rivalry and sibling abuse are not covered in chapter 14 but family violence researchers are considering its impacts from a social learning perspective (Sev’er, pp. 277–278). This documentary reviews ideas about the family dynamics, tensions, and competition inherent in sibling rivalry from psychotherapists and behavioural scientists. Along with an “ordinary” Canadian family, it documents the sibling rivalry in the celebrity families of the hockey Staal brothers, sisters Olivia de Havilland and Joan Fontaine, the McCain brothers, and Christopher and Peter Hitchins. Having to share attention and the affection of parents is rarely easy to accept and the stories described here to illustrate how this verges into sibling abuse. Rivalries can extend into all aspects of life and far into adulthood unless one or both siblings succumb to “resentment fatigue” and decide to make up. The documentary ends with advice to parents on how NOT to create sibling rivalry: help every child shine; avoid comparing kids and do NOT make competition the rule; never say who is your favourite out loud, even if you have one.

Critical Thinking Questions

  1. In what sense does the sibling rivalry described in this Doc Zone video approach the types of violence discussed on pages 275–276? Given the rationale for the social benefits of sibling rivalry, are we simply excusing this as a form of family violence? Or is it indeed a social necessity in family life?
  2. In the five stories of sibling rivalry told here, what societal and family conditions contributed to its persistence? To siblings overcoming their competition? How did social learning (pp. 277–278) play a part?
  3. Consider your own parenting or upbringing: do you, or did your parents, show favourites or did you, and they, already know the advice given at the end of Sibling Rivalry?

Part IV

“To This Day” . . . For the Bullied and Beautiful: Shane Koyczan (2013)

TED talk, 12:04

A poetic memory of what it felt to be bullied throughout childhood, and to survive.