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Permalink to original version of “Women’s human rights activism by default” Women’s human rights activism by default

A few years ago I had occasion to consult a local psychologist. During our first meeting, she flagged her main therapeutic strategy for, what it seems, all problems of a psychological nature and for every patient. Her mainstay one cure for all ills was, and still is (to my knowledge), meditation.


During our increasingly frank exchange of views about meditation, she happened to mention that it has helped her to assist another female client to “stop beating her husband”, to paraphrase the conversation.


I went away from this first session and thought for some time about this and the simple connection that this professional had adopted and the underlying assumed belief system.


I then went back to Paul Elam’s presentation called “A Psychology Of Hate” and printed out a a copy to take with me for our next session.


At the beginning of this encounter, I notified her that I required her to either read this, or allow me to read it to her then and there and to hear her response. I explained that I needed to have some impression of her response to it in order to engage with her with the necessary confidence for a theraupetic relationship to develop. Or, alternatively, to choose to not continue with therapy, as the case my be.


She asked me to read it out.


She started to smile during my words and when I finished, she said simply; “this would not survive scientific scrutiny”, or words to that effect. I was a bit stunned and did not expect such a blunt rebuttal. I simply asked her if she would be receptive to some information that I could forward to her by email and to my surprise she said yes.


So I went home and did a quick bit of research for some information that would unequivocally qualify as “scientific” in the mind of any ideologue.


The first document I dug out of my files was the now famous, (or I hope that it is famous!), report by Murray Straus titled Thirty Years of Denying the Evidence on Gender Symmetry in Partner Violence: Implications for Prevention and Treatment.


I most likely read this first on the AVFM website. I sent a copy of this off to the psychologist. She replied courteously that she would take it with her on her summer break and read it then. She thanked my kindly for bothering to forward it to her.


Several weeks went by and I began to assume that I would not hear anymore from her, when I received a response. To my lasting astonishment, her email reply was most positive; to the extent that she admitted she had tears in her eyes while reading it and that she had already adjusted her treatment policy towards at least one female client. She thanked me profusely and I have no reason to doubt her complete sincerity in this regard. I was quite stunned to be honest.


After a bit of thought and acceptance that what started as a diametrically opposite set of trenchantly held viewpoints had resolved into the beginning of a mutually shared position. Or to put it another way, the first step in such a resolution had happened.


This in turn had quite a positive effect on me and I felt a certain sense of pride that I was able to articulate my position regarding gender and the current zeitgeist, and present some compelling scientific evidence to support it. This in itself had a therapeutic effect on me; just being truly heard. One of my early life problems with my oppressive mother, was not being heard. Or more to the point; never being heard.


Throughout my exchange with this psychologist we both conducted ourselves well; something we both can be proud of. I did choose not to continue consulting this fellow in a professional capacity, but I do bump into her socially on odd occasions. We remain on good terms which is gratifying.


I have a long history of being reactive in similar situations. Not always the diplomat. So it was a constructive exercise all round.


Activism by default?