Calling on abuse September 9, 2010 4:12 AM   Subscribe

This poster is physically and emotionally abusing her boyfriend!! Why aren't more people picking up on this?

His continued refusal to contribute, or to recognize my contributions, has made me do increasingly crazy things (I threw a hammer at him, have made several threats to leave town, have ended the relationship more times than I can count, threatened suicide once I figured out this would get his attention, etc.).

magine if the OP was a guy who wrote this question. I'm sure everyone would be like, you're jerk, and btw, you're abusing your girlfriend!!!!! It's all your fault, and that's why the relationship is breaking down.

I'm sure single parenthood is no fun, but that's no excuse for abuse!
posted by moiraine to MetaFilter-Related at 4:12 AM (359 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

My reading of this is somewhat different from yours. Having only one side of the story, it's hard to say for sure, but the one instance of physical attack did seem adequately provoked.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:26 AM on September 9, 2010


People are pointing out that "if you threw a hammer at him, that's a sign you're not a good match."

And...speaking as someone who once upon a time was that poster, the LAST thing she needs is people attacking her, so I'm not sure what you're hoping to see happen.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:27 AM on September 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Let's run screaming from the thread and come here to smugly JUDGE her!

Is it too hard to Answer. The. Question. or FIAMO.? There were several posters in that thread who were able to acknowledge the inappropriateness of the violent responses whilst ALSO answering her question. She didn't get a free pass, and it is irrelevant what a guy OP might have/hypothetically endured from us.

Do you really need a bitch session that badly?
posted by honey-barbara at 4:27 AM on September 9, 2010 [11 favorites]


One answer said:
You have physically threatened him and manipulated him with suicide threats, and now you claim his actions "made you" do that. Whatever he says or does or how frustrated you get, it is not ok to attack someone with a hammer or threaten suicide to get their attention. No matter what they do, you always have a split second where you can choose between many options for your own behavior.
Another:
Whether or not he's a competant father... you need professional help. If an unreasonable adult makes you threaten suicide and hurl a potentially lethal weapon at them, I can only hope your kid doesn't end up emotionally or physically crippled by your rage. Because children have it in them to be more tiring and trying than any adult without even meaning to.
And there's also your comment in the thread.

Why isn't it getting more attention? Two reasons. (1) There's only one reference to her using violence at the end of a long list. (2) She's a woman and he's a man.

I've seen many AskMe questions about a boyfriend/girlfriend or married couple where there isn't any reference to the man ever using violence or abuse, but he still gets called out as "potentially" violent or abusive and this becomes the main focus of the thread. If the question were about a man who threw a hammer at his girlfriend, everyone would focus on this detail and assume there was more violence we weren't hearing about -- especially if the question said he was doing "increasingly crazy things like" that.

People have a hard time imagining that a woman can be abusive and violent in any serious way. They assume that since women are generally physically weaker than men, there is no serious woman-against-man violence. Of course, this is obviously not true since (1) the physical disparity is just statistical, not universal; and (2) women are capable of using lethal weapons. Men are also in a weaker position as far as whether they'll be able to get anyone (including the police) to take the problem seriously. But I wouldn't expect the gender bias to go away anytime soon.
posted by John Cohen at 4:31 AM on September 9, 2010 [29 favorites]


Wow, it's as if the comments here set out to prove the gender bias. The first comment says her throwing a hammer was "adequately provoked." The second says criticism is "the last thing she needs." The third complains that you're "smugly JUDG[ING]" her!

Oh no, we're "judging" someone who uses domestic violence! Who are you to say whether attacking your significant other with a hammer is good or bad?

Unbelievable.

Remember, it wasn't "just" the one hammer incident. It was that and numerous increasingly bad things like that.
posted by John Cohen at 4:38 AM on September 9, 2010 [63 favorites]


[I]magine if the OP was a guy who wrote this question

Okay, I'm imagining it, though it's kind of weird that he's pregnant.
posted by fleacircus at 4:46 AM on September 9, 2010 [45 favorites]


I didn't point out that her behaviour is abusive for a few reasons:

1. These people need to SEPARATE. Removing him as a partner also removes him as a target for absue.
2. This woman HAS A THERAPIST. I am sort of assuming her violent outburst is being dealt with in therapy.
3. She recognizes that her behaviour is BAD and refers to it as "increasingly crazy."

Calling her abusive is pretty much just finger pointing. Sure it's accurate but it doesn't go anywhere. It doesn't change the outcome in any way: these people need to not be a couple, this woman needs to work with her therapist and build a better support system, and she needs to get control of the crazy behaviour.
posted by DarlingBri at 4:52 AM on September 9, 2010 [5 favorites]


There was judgment in the thread of this behaviour and and also question answering. The thread here is seems to me to exist so a bunch of people can drag up gender politics and grind an axe about men/women/violence/who gets it easier - stuff they knew would get deleted from the other thread. I don't know what you want John Cohen apart from us to all bitch about her. I agree with you FWIW, about the violence but I stand by "complaining" that we are being called upon to bitch here, not do anything truly constructive.
posted by honey-barbara at 4:54 AM on September 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


these people need to not be a couple, this woman needs to work with her therapist and build a better support system, and she needs to get control of the crazy behaviour.

Agreed completely, but it bothers me that so many comments jump on the 'he's a jerk' bandwagon when she's clearly played a big part in what's gone wrong. Also, the first step towards getting control of the crazy is taking responsibility for the crazy.
posted by jon1270 at 5:01 AM on September 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


One exclamation mark at a time is plenty.
posted by creasy boy at 5:02 AM on September 9, 2010 [7 favorites]


It's interesting to see the responses to this vs the thread where the guy spoke of similiar incidences with his fiancee (threatening with a knife, throwing things, etc.)
posted by biochemist at 5:05 AM on September 9, 2010 [4 favorites]


jon1270: Agreed completely, but it bothers me that so many comments jump on the 'he's a jerk' bandwagon when she's clearly played a big part in what's gone wrong. Also, the first step towards getting control of the crazy is taking responsibility for the crazy

I think the pattern in "should I DTMFA?" posts is pretty established. You get a spate of immediate replies that are all variations on "Yes, he's a MFA; make with the dumping." It takes a while for the more considered replies from posters prepared to invest in the question to arrive, not least of all because longer replies take longer to compose.

I read many of those later replies as very much not bandwagoning, and in fact pointing out that there was a whole other side to this story we're not hearing, that her behaviour to a large extent dictated his response, and that she's not leaving him a lot of room here.

Possibly I am just having a generous reading day. I tend to read replies in the same tone I myself aim for in writing them.
posted by DarlingBri at 5:13 AM on September 9, 2010


So let me get this straight, your ideal outcome for the AskMe thread is that people pile on the question-asker and tell her "it's all your fault and there is no excuse for your behaviour!!!" ?

Need I tell you that this is not what AskMe is for?

I hate pile ons and I'd hate it just as much if the gender roles are reversed. I agree with you that there is a gender disparity in the way questions are treated here, but IMO this thread is going the way it should be going. "OMG YOU ANIMAL" threads aren't.
posted by Omnomnom at 5:17 AM on September 9, 2010


I'm beginning to get the nagging feeling that RelationshipFilter to this extent is becoming harmful to the site overall. I could imbue all sorts of negative things on the asker, and I could rail against her SO, and all my judgments would be based on some text from an obviously biased perspective. We really have no idea about the relationship dynamic here, and any suppositions are reached across a deep gulf of conclusion. I generally stay out of these things, and will stay out of taking sides on this one in particular, because there are two wildly opposing readings in my head right now, either one of which might unfairly vilify a total stranger, and it's impossible to know which is "right," or if either of them are.

My thinking on this long-term is clamp down on questions like this which can only result in wildly speculative answers, and that will obviously only paint caricatures of people we don't know at all. I don't like this sort of business and I don't think it's good for the community, or useful to the asker, or useful to the database of AskMe answers in the long-term.
posted by Devils Rancher at 5:19 AM on September 9, 2010 [35 favorites]


It's interesting to see the responses to this vs the thread where the guy spoke of similar incidences with his fiancée (threatening with a knife, throwing things, etc.)

I was about to say the same thing.

The two questions are far from being parallel situations, and the guy in the scenario certainly sounds like an irresponsible dick but throwing hammer at someone and making false suicide threats* are indefensible.

* hi, ex-girlfriend!
posted by idiomatika at 5:21 AM on September 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


these people need to not be a couple, this woman needs to work with her therapist and build a better support system, and she needs to get control of the crazy behaviour.

Agreed completely, but it bothers me that so many comments jump on the 'he's a jerk' bandwagon when she's clearly played a big part in what's gone wrong. Also, the first step towards getting control of the crazy is taking responsibility for the crazy.


Yeah, I don't think it hurts to give extra emphasis to the fact that the crazy behavior needs to stop, and that he is not "making her" act that way. I know from being in a similar situation to the OP's (except without the good income, unfortunately), that once that baby is born if anything the ex is going to make her more angry. When she's doing all the work and he's doing the bare minimum....and she's got a 6 year old who doesn't see that....it's a really frustrating position to be in. If she can't learn to deal with the anger it can REALLY get out of hand. Even without throwing things, just the anger itself can really poison the whole situation.
posted by cottonswab at 5:24 AM on September 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


One exclamation mark at a time is plenty.

Why?????


As to the AskMe and this MeTa, I'm going to fold up my chair and save the popcorn for a good movie. I have
posted by nomadicink at 5:34 AM on September 9, 2010


Perhaps we can have a feature built into relationship questions where people can answer:

A: DTMFA
B: This situation may be a bit more complicated than that
posted by MuffinMan at 5:40 AM on September 9, 2010


Seems like these people are abusing each other. And now you're abusing us with an unnecessary callout.
posted by mullacc at 5:47 AM on September 9, 2010 [4 favorites]


Does this have to happen (almost) every time? It's clearly a crappy situation in which everyone needs professional and caring help. Shit, what they probably really need is entirely new lives in which they are surrounded by loving family and live in a country with a functioning safety net that can provide the help they need.

Short of that, they get AskMe, and as usual the answers are a mix of fabulous, ok, and a few kind of crappy ones. I honestly don't see any need for a callout on this, though certainly every aspect of it -- from the question to some of the answers -- could certainly be better.
posted by Forktine at 6:09 AM on September 9, 2010


That post was a freaking manifesto. By the time I was halfway through it, I expected to read that her boyfriend was, at this time, transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
posted by DWRoelands at 6:09 AM on September 9, 2010 [42 favorites]


There was a "ladies and gentlemen of the jury" aspect to it that kind of set my teeth on edge, but without a proper defense, who knows if the "charges" are true? Maybe they're both Awful People. I don't know. And I don't think it behooves us to argue about it.
posted by Devils Rancher at 6:17 AM on September 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


So let me get this straight, your ideal outcome for the AskMe thread is that people pile on the question-asker and tell her "it's all your fault and there is no excuse for your behaviour!!!" ?

My ideal answer, as I previously commented in the thread (which I am sure if you had read more carefully, you would have noticed!), is

Wow, this sounds like a nightmare situation, and I'm sure it's far more complex than what you are telling us, because we are only getting your point of view and not even an attempt at how he is feeling or thinking. As any intelligent and reasonable adult will know, the only way to properly judge a situation is to hear both sides of the story.

But physical and emotional abuse should be called out exactly like it is, especially when the poster isn't herself aware of the fact that it IS physical and emotional abuse, and appears to be blaming the guy for aggravating her. Male or female, pregnant or otherwise.
posted by moiraine at 6:33 AM on September 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


"He's an MFA"

I would like to point out that DTMFA stands for
Dump The Motherfucker Already
and no other variations upon that acronym are approved by the Leadership Council. Please do not attempt to substitute or distort this approved acronym.

Thank you for your time citizen. Please return to your scheduled Hackneyed Identity Politics Squabbling (HIPS).
posted by Potomac Avenue at 6:34 AM on September 9, 2010 [7 favorites]


So long as we're bitching, I want to complain about soothing "See a therapist" advice when what's called for is "Christ, you're an asshole." Oh, yes, it's not helpful and everyone needs a hug -- but the honesty would be refreshing. Also, I feel, useful to the asshole OPs. Certainly I have had times in my life when I needed to hear that sort of thing, and instead got "See a therapist" nambies and pambies. Oh, but I am! And one continues on with seeing a therapist, and continues on with being a shit.
posted by kmennie at 6:34 AM on September 9, 2010 [15 favorites]


one instance of physical attack did seem adequately provoked

Provoked? You mean her boyfriend can provoke her to throw a hammer at him and be justified? Do you mean he deserved to be physically attacked?
posted by moiraine at 6:37 AM on September 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


I wish I could do a science experiment and post a similar question where the OP is a male*, and count the number of responses point out that the OP is wealthy, over-entitled, domestic abuser and he should be jailed for life** for throwing a hammer at the partner. My guess would be something like 99.5%

*obviously, with changes to the pregnancy details
**hyperbole
posted by moiraine at 6:43 AM on September 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


My ideal answer, as I previously commented in the thread (which I am sure if you had read more carefully, you would have noticed!), is

My question, as (to quote you) I'm sure you would have noticed if you had read more carefully, is not what your answer would be but what your ideal outcome for this thread would be. It sounds in your call out like you wish other people were all saying the same thing you are. Which, given your heavily bolded and underlined points, would be quite a pile on.

It's ok for some people to say harsh stuff and for other people to focus on other stuff. The OP will either get it or won't.
posted by Omnomnom at 6:44 AM on September 9, 2010


Sometimes, when you're really angry about an AskMe or MeTa post, it's good to step away and get a donut.

TWO donuts even
posted by nomadicink at 6:49 AM on September 9, 2010 [6 favorites]


Why aren't more people picking up on this?

I got overwhelmed by the amount of data and missed it, personally. And everything else was presented pretty neutrally--and actually, even that was, and I just missed what the OP was genuinely saying which I think is that she's pretty on the edge and needs some help.

Throwing a hammer at someone could kill them--really you kill a person -- and suggests that there's a need not just for advice but for intensive professional support from a therapist and a doctor. To me, that is indeed serious business.

For what it's worth, which isn't much, I was a flat-out loon when I was pregnant. The number of times I came home gasping from hysteria over something I realize in retrospect was absolutely dumb is more than I can count. That doesn't mean anything in particular, but I might as well throw it out there that I'm an otherwise reasonably stable person and the person I was when I was pregnant is unrecognizable to me now.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 6:50 AM on September 9, 2010


I didn't post an answer in the thread, but I did read the question. My eyes apparently glazed over before item #21 in the list, so I totally missed the part where she mentions her own unacceptable behavior. I wouldn't be surprised if the same thing happened to a number of the people who did respond.
posted by tdismukes at 6:52 AM on September 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


smugly JUDGE her

Yes, because throwing a hammer + all other forms of domestic violence can be interpreted one way or the other. In some cases, most definitely excusable!!

On a more serious note, domestic violence is never excusable. There are no shades of gray, it's just midnight black all the way. And it should never be hidden or merely glossed away. Or how then do you draw the line between the current OP's actions and a man hitting his wife because she hadn't been performing her domestic duties while he was earning twice as much as her and paying all household bills?
posted by moiraine at 6:55 AM on September 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Only make believe stories have a good guy and a bad guy. Real life stories only have one imperfect guy and another imperfect guy. And sometimes some additional imperfect guys also are in it in supporting roles. And then sometimes I show up. And. Things. Get. Interesting.

Hammer Time!

Hammer Time is actually not okay ever.
posted by ND¢ at 6:57 AM on September 9, 2010 [4 favorites]


2. This woman HAS A THERAPIST. I am sort of assuming her violent outburst is being dealt with in therapy.

Maybe I'm more cynical but I'd be really surprised actually if she's ever mentioned the hammer throwing to her therapist, particularly in light of the huge long missive listing his all massive flaws with one mention of her own "increasingly crazy" actions that are, naturally, his fault as well.
posted by 6550 at 7:03 AM on September 9, 2010 [5 favorites]


Hammer Time is actually not okay ever.

How else am I going to build a BDSM room?!
posted by nomadicink at 7:07 AM on September 9, 2010


I need to get a donut
posted by moiraine at 7:12 AM on September 9, 2010


...... and then make a phone call to Social Services to report domestic violence, even though some may say I'm judgmental, it's not my problem, and that all she really needs is a hug and therapist, and that hey, he provoked her so he deserved to be abused.
posted by moiraine at 7:16 AM on September 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


For what it's worth, which isn't much, I was a flat-out loon when I was pregnant. The number of times I came home gasping from hysteria over something I realize in retrospect was absolutely dumb is more than I can count. That doesn't mean anything in particular, but I might as well throw it out there that I'm an otherwise reasonably stable person and the person I was when I was pregnant is unrecognizable to me now.
Yes, A Terrible Llama, yes!

I avoided that thread but as Sinead said

If I treated you mean
I really didn't mean to
But you know how it is
And how a pregnancy can change you

Pregnancy made me a much more tolerant person. When hormones fucked with me I remember thinking that perhaps due to a different hormonal/chemical makeup than mine other people's perceptions or reactions to the same stimuli may be different from my own.

It has been a very useful life lesson. the kids are bad either.
posted by readery at 7:24 AM on September 9, 2010


Aren't bad
posted by readery at 7:25 AM on September 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


Don't you think this woman knows exactly how out of control she's feeling at the moment? It seems unlikely to me that she's somehow unaware of how fucked up some of the things she's done, ie. hammer throwing and suicide threats, are, and that's why she mentioned that she did them in her question, which is all about what she considers to have been unacceptable behaviour during her pregnancy so far.

The fact that she did that has not been glossed over and I don't think she's saying that her having done that was justified. I think she's trying to find out why things are going the way they are and has described, purely from her point of view, her own reactions to things. She's asking us, in reaction to her story, if there's something to be held on to here.

If your response to that is, well, she shouldn't be considering attempting to build a family with someone that inspires potential death, I would consider that to be completely valid and worthy of putting in the askme in question.

But if your response is to call her out because you think she's somehow ignorant of how unacceptable her hammer throwing behaviour was and that everyone needs to ignore the rest of her question and focus only on that because that's all that she is, a hammer thrower, then I'd say your being really fucking cruel to someone who's obviously going through a really difficult time right now.
posted by h00py at 7:32 AM on September 9, 2010 [17 favorites]


These are not the hammer.
posted by norm at 7:35 AM on September 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


hoopy, I think you've really hit the nail on the head there. OH SHI...
posted by Devils Rancher at 7:36 AM on September 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


It was called out in the post, with emphasis . I don't think a MeTa post was necessary. If only we could flag things we were concerned about, and had mods who were great at cleanup, cause that would probably work pretty well.
posted by theora55 at 7:42 AM on September 9, 2010


Sure, it’s an ugly double standard on the green. Were the situation reversed, we’d hear little of this “no utility to point fingers” business. Denunciation of abuse would be, in part, its own objective. And I’d like to think most people making comments in such an instance wouldn’t be carrying around a mental rider of “wait, abuse of whom?”

But I’m also not sure what’s the desired outcome here, since the MeTa and AskMe populations are not identical. Education? Action?
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 7:43 AM on September 9, 2010


Also, now that I am somewhat calmer, I would like say that I wasn't hoping for a pile-on, or gender-bashing, or band-wagoning.

I was hoping that people would say, "Yes, that is freaking crazy. We need to call the police (if we knew her name and address)! Because this is domestic violence. And there are no excuses for domestic violence whatsoever, not even hormones, not even circumstances, not even finances, not even drugs, not even previous history, not even gender." If this happens once, I can only imagine it happening again, especially when the OP appears to be blaming the boyfriend for provoking her.

I'm quite disgusted with the litany of responses that don't consider this to be criminal, presumably because the OP is a female.
posted by moiraine at 7:45 AM on September 9, 2010 [6 favorites]


For me, these sorts of relationship threads are like listening to one end of a shouted cell phone conversation/argument.
posted by carter at 7:45 AM on September 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


... But with a bunch of people in the train also having an argument about it.
posted by carter at 7:48 AM on September 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


I'm sure the husband who beat up his wife in a moment of rage could feel intensely sorry about it afterwards. But that doesn't mean I shouldn't call the police.
posted by moiraine at 7:48 AM on September 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


I have a hard time believing that the baby was planned by both parties. I wouldn't want a baby with some guy whose male housemate I haven't met. My gut feeling was, that with all the histrionics and abusiveness coupled with feeling bad that she doesn't have the ideal partner in this situation (loving husband who dutifully takes his pregnant wife to the doc's, is excited for baby with the woman he loves), she seems to have done all this decisionmaking to reinforce to him that he's not good enough out of being hurt by not being loved the way she wants to and have stuff be the way she wants it to be. It's pretty sad and I think she isn't normal. She seems at one end pretty confident that she's in the right and tries to justify being
abusive, and also seems to have some weird idea that she's in a romantic relationship where a couple really wants a baby but is slowly becoming aware if the reality that makes her feel like an idiot. I dunno, it just seems like
she's not being totally honest with herself. That relationship probably ended awhile ago.
posted by anniecat at 7:49 AM on September 9, 2010 [13 favorites]


There's nothing wrong with domestic violence as such. The problem arises when domestic violence is used by a member of a privileged group against a member of an unprivileged group in the context of a historic structural power imbalance.

One could plausibly view Asker's hammer-throwing as a form of revolution.
posted by planet at 7:49 AM on September 9, 2010 [9 favorites]


Women of Metafilter, you better start fighting for equality again because this isn't it.
posted by CautionToTheWind at 7:51 AM on September 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


There's nothing wrong with domestic violence as such. The problem arises when domestic violence is used by a member of a privileged group against a member of an unprivileged group in the context of a historic structural power imbalance.

You might think you're being clever. But you're not.
posted by kmz at 7:52 AM on September 9, 2010 [48 favorites]


This poster is physically and emotionally abusing her boyfriend!! Why aren't more people picking up on this?

Maybe it's because many, if not most people purposefully try and steer clear of relationship questions on AskMe? Not everybody feels that there's something they can do to help, and not everybody feels the need to pile on the poster. We're not heartless or anything, it's just that there's really no point in absolutely everyone charging in to try and save the day.
posted by daniel_charms at 7:54 AM on September 9, 2010


You might think you're being clever. But you're not.
Not sure I understand what you mean.
posted by planet at 7:54 AM on September 9, 2010


Maybe the husband is going through a difficult time at work and is trouble making the next month, hey he even has debt and he doesn't need his wife to go on and on about making the payments for next month and why doesn't she clean the dishes properly every night doesn't she know how tired I am and her job isn't half the work of my job and her hours are much less and look the towels are not clean and oh god she isn't listening to me when I speak and the child is coming out next month and my depression is acting up and these drugs I am taking are screwing with my body ARGH I'LL BEAT HER UP THROWS HAMMER THROWS CHAIR OH NOW I AM GOING CRAZY IS MY FAULT BUT SHE IS TERRIBLE ANYWAY AND I WILL WRITE AN ENTIRE MANIFESTO ON ASKMEFOF 20 REASONSI ABOUT HOW SHE IS THE MOST TERRIBLE WIFE EVER.

Seriously! All these excuses on behalf of the OP!
posted by moiraine at 7:54 AM on September 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'll just come out and say it: behavior aside, a lot of my sympathy for her went out the window when I found out she was making $130k a year -- twice his salary -- and was upset he wasn't contributing. She complains he spends all his "disposable income" on himself, ignoring the fact that she could spend all the money he spends in a year and still have his whole salary left over. Granted, 65k isn't bad either. But I'd have a lot more sympathy about her $300 car repair if it was more than 0.2% of her salary. I think that if this was a woman struggling to make ends meet, who desperately needed the money this man was unwilling to share, it would be easier to feel sympathetic for her.
posted by Deathalicious at 7:56 AM on September 9, 2010 [12 favorites]


A black and white world is impossible. You can't condemn people for being fallible and to apply what is done in one situation to every possible situation is setting everyone in the world up for failure.
posted by h00py at 7:57 AM on September 9, 2010


People have a hard time imagining that a woman can be abusive and violent in any serious way. They assume that since women are generally physically weaker than men, there is no serious woman-against-man violence. Of course, this is obviously not true since (1) the physical disparity is just statistical, not universal; and (2) women are capable of using lethal weapons. Men are also in a weaker position as far as whether they'll be able to get anyone (including the police) to take the problem seriously. But I wouldn't expect the gender bias to go away anytime soon.

It's even worse than that.

The OP and several responders seem to believe that she'll be able to have the baby, dump the dude, and move on - just like any other breakup. Just fire the other parent and raise the kid on her own.

That's not realistic. That's not even rational. One parent cannot just be rid of the other parent. ESPECIALLY if the reason is that mom just doesn't like dad anymore. The punishment for being a terrible boyfriend is getting dumped, not losing your kids.

Maybe I'm a little oversensitive on this point, but, really, nothing brings out the grar in me like idiotic advice like that. It really bugs me to see people buy into that line of thinking.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 7:58 AM on September 9, 2010 [5 favorites]


It feels like almost every complicated AskMe gets called out these days. moiraine clearly expressed the abusiveness problem in the thread. I did too fwiw. I too am curious what moraine would want. There are many important pieces to that question, and if everyone focused on her abusive actions, then issues like the baby's arrival in three weeks and the necessity to find a way of co-parenting with the man might not get the air time they need.

But count me with those who would prefer fewer AskMe callouts and who do not feel we really need to be talking about this here.
posted by salvia at 8:04 AM on September 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


I was hoping that people would say, "Yes, that is freaking crazy. We need to call the police (if we knew her name and address)! Because this is domestic violence. And there are no excuses for domestic violence whatsoever, not even hormones, not even circumstances, not even finances, not even drugs, not even previous history, not even gender."

But that would not answer the OP's question, or help her solve her problem. So even if people did say that in the thread, it would be deleted. I'm sure there are actually quite a few people who thought those thoughts, but wisely didn't post them there because they break the AskMe guidelines.
posted by Gator at 8:05 AM on September 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


I too am curious what moraine would want

On an intellectual level, I am curious to why and how people can reason away domestic violence and not consider it criminal.

I know I should have made my original question more clear* but unfortunately there's no way I can edit my question.

*For example, I didn't realize that some people would construe this as gender-bashing! Or that this topic in any way relates to gender at all!
posted by moiraine at 8:09 AM on September 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Women of Metafilter, you better start fighting for equality again because this isn't it.

If you mean that women do not benefit from a double standard (that, for the sake of this discussion, "works in their favor") pertaining to violence/abuse of their significant (in this example, male) others - then I completely agree. I'm female, but I doubt there are many women out there who wouldn't agree.
posted by marimeko at 8:09 AM on September 9, 2010


This thread needs more exclamation points


!
!
!

there.
posted by edgeways at 8:17 AM on September 9, 2010


No, I'm sorry, I agree with moiraine. Even though the OP is pregnant, it doesn't excuse her behavior. I've been pregnant six times (four live births) and that's while dealing with bipolar, poverty, toddlers, and an absent husband (Navy). And even in a manic rage (while pregnant) I never abused anyone. I punched holes in the walls, tore things to shreds, and scared the hell out of my son once by putting a foot through the door, but I didn't hit anyone, or throw things *at* them.

A person needs to be responsible for their actions at all times. Even one instance of abuse is inexcusable.
posted by patheral at 8:22 AM on September 9, 2010 [5 favorites]


You want to call the police and say that someone threw a hammer at someone else a few weeks or months ago and no-one got hurt and no-one filed a complaint, but they should go to her house and investigate the incident anyways?
posted by creasy boy at 8:23 AM on September 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


I wish I could do a science experiment and post a similar question where the OP is a male*
...
*obviously, with changes to the pregnancy details


I think the reason, in this case, that being female is considered pertinent is because the poster is a pregnant person. So the way you are supposed to give up your seat to someone who's pregnant on the bus and all that, you're supposed to take care of a partner who is pregnant. Not because she's female, but because her body is undergoing a unique hardship for the sake of the baby. So, if the mom deals with being pregnant, the dad can deal with all the bullshit. In this case, the mom is dealing both with being pregnant and all the bullshit.

The problem is, some people think there is more bullshit that must be dealt with than others do - how much preparation is necessary, how many appointments and home improvements and other pre-birth things must be done, and are both parts of the couple in agreement about the lifestyle they want... In this case it seems like mom had one vision and dad had another.
posted by mdn at 8:27 AM on September 9, 2010


You know, I threw a plate at my husband once. It was seven years ago at the point of peak communication frustration in our early relationship, and no act of physical aggression has taken place before or since. I was washing dishes and threw what was in my hand at the time. Had I been building a china cabinet, it could well have been a hammer, though I would like to think if I had been chopping onions it would not have been a knife.

I absolutely understand that for many people the lines about what constitutes abuse are black and white, and in that instance they will believe he should have immediately left and I should have been arrested. That's a fine and perfectly valid response, though I'm glad you were not a guest in our home that evening.

To me, there is no pattern of physical abuse; my partner never fears for his safety; he doesn't lack power in our relationship; nobody shames, threatens or humiliates anyone here; and I have never hidden, blamed or excused the fact that I did that. It was an aberration and I live with it fairly comfortably as such. One day my husband will do something completely out of character - spend our retirement savings on God knows what, or take up with a coed, or decide he must climb K2 - and I will recognise it for what it is: a bizarre and unpredictable response to a specific configuration of stress events. I will also know that I myself failed at the same hurdle and behave with according compassion.

I am willing - and indeed, perhaps inclined - to build such a scenario for the OP. She seems to recognize it as "crazy" and so I would like to think it was also aberrant behaviour and not the way she relates her partner - normally, or in fact ever again. You are perfectly entitled to think she should be criminally prosecuted but nothing in her admittedly one sided narrative indicates that he was not fully capable of making that call himself, and he didn't.

I don't mean to belittle M/F domestic violence. This is not about gender for me; I would feel the same were the throwers genders reversed and have in the past taken a similar position on other posts where there is again, no pattern and the poster is questioning how concerned they should be about something that was notable precisely because it was so out of character. People flip. They reach breaking points. They become uniquely overwhelmed. They do not always manage that moment well, but it is possible to be brought up short by that and learn from it without it becoming a legal event.
posted by DarlingBri at 8:27 AM on September 9, 2010 [45 favorites]


You are perfectly entitled to think she should be criminally prosecuted but nothing in her admittedly one sided narrative indicates that he was not fully capable of making that call himself, and he didn't.

...This is not about gender for me; I would feel the same were the throwers genders reversed


As people like to point out, context matters. Were the genders reversed, there would be many, many resources to hand to assist her in dealing with the situation. So while I don't disagree with the overall thrust of your post, I don't think that a person in a societally unsympathetic situation not seeking help or protection is an indication of much, just as it isn't when those resources and sympathies are absent for women.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 8:33 AM on September 9, 2010


but the one instance of physical attack did seem adequately provoked

The conduct described is also known as "assault with a deadly weapon."

I'm worried if this woman is going to do this to her kids.

I grew up with a physically and emotionally abusive mother. She threatened suicide to my face approximately 1200 times between age 6 and 22. I'd rather be beaten within inches of my death than hear that again.

This poster needs help now. She is about to have a child.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:33 AM on September 9, 2010 [26 favorites]


But if your response is to call her out because you think she's somehow ignorant of how unacceptable her hammer throwing behaviour was and that everyone needs to ignore the rest of her question and focus only on that because that's all that she is, a hammer thrower, then I'd say your being really fucking cruel to someone who's obviously going through a really difficult time right now.

Ummm. I have lived around abuse before. If your first reaction to hammer-throwing is not immediately leaving the place where it happened for at least a week, you're endangering your life. Throwing a hammer at someone, inside a home, is an act of extreme physical aggression. So yeah, anyone who throws a hammer at me, regardless of any past experience I may have with that person, has just become a Hammer Thrower first and everything else a distant fourth. That kind of behavior is deadly in a literal sense. If my mother, father, or wife did that they wouldn't be seeing much of me for a long time.
posted by Phyltre at 8:34 AM on September 9, 2010 [4 favorites]


Yes, marimeko, that is exactly what I mean.
posted by CautionToTheWind at 8:39 AM on September 9, 2010


patheral: And even in a manic rage (while pregnant) I never abused anyone. I punched holes in the walls, tore things to shreds, and scared the hell out of my son once by putting a foot through the door, but I didn't hit anyone, or throw things *at* them.

Do you get that a number of people would say that behaviour is in and of itself abusive?
posted by DarlingBri at 8:41 AM on September 9, 2010 [10 favorites]


So let me get this straight, your ideal outcome for the AskMe thread is that people pile on the question-asker and tell her "it's all your fault and there is no excuse for your behaviour!!!" ?

She needs to acknowledge her own role in the situation to ever grow and get better. She buries the lede, and then says "he made" her do it. This lack of responsibility for her own actions does not bode well for the child. She manipulated us.

Although poorly worded, the point of the this thread is that we have to watch our own blind spots. Men and women got taken in--i didn't see it until going through the second time.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:43 AM on September 9, 2010 [4 favorites]


I have a long history of answering RelationshipFilter questions (and asking a few anonymously), but I've come to agree with Devils Rancher. RelationshipFilter is becoming increasingly toxic to the site. If recreational outrage FPPs are bad for the blue, then OMGDRAMA!! is bad for AskMe. These questions are ultimately unanswerable and just push people's buttons.
posted by desjardins at 8:44 AM on September 9, 2010 [19 favorites]


Immediately after I posted my one comment (essentially DTMFA) I was itching to go back and address the hammer and the suicide thing. ITCHING.

But I didn't because I figured it would come up. Also, I could see she was being "gaslighted." And that she kinda asked for all the trouble because it certainly didn't seem like the pregnancy was planned. But hey - I don't have a crystal ball! So who really knows?

Whatever the issues, BF seems to make everything worse. Baby imminent.

I thought it most responsible just to stick with DTMFA. And I did.
posted by jbenben at 8:50 AM on September 9, 2010


I agree firmly with desjardins et al. People posting this stuff are like as not looking for validation for their own misdeeds, because there is no crisp, simple answer. Fucked up relationships like this require tremendous effort to repair—even terminating these relationships can be a huge undertaking. I don't feel that AskMe, best intentions notwithstanding, is up to the task of providing concrete answers to anonymous and inevitably highly biased people.
posted by Mister_A at 8:55 AM on September 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


37 week pregnant women who don't feel secure in their partners support are going to have a hard time. My wife is 37 weeks along, and I did not full appreciate how emotionally and physically draining it would be because I had not direct reference until now, and I wouldn't be able to appreciate it without living with her and spending every non working waking moment together for the last 30 or so weeks.

Before we cast aspersions on someone who phrased a question, maybe there is a little bit of slack to be cut considering the situation she's in without judging how she ended up in the situation or how she's articulated it. I can only imagine how my wife would be if our relationship was along a different dynamic, and it makes me sad.
posted by iamabot at 8:59 AM on September 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


On an intellectual level, I am curious to why and how people can reason away domestic violence and not consider it criminal.

I don't have any references to throw at you at the moment, but apparently, people don't think about morality in absolute terms; instead, they tend to take things on a case-by-case basis. Their moral decisions also tend to depend on the way the problems are presented. What in one situation can be considered a criminal offence, might not be considered as such in another.
posted by daniel_charms at 8:59 AM on September 9, 2010


If she were a man who threw something at his pregnant wife, I would urge the wife to get the hell out of there and not look back.

I think we feel sorry for her because she seems so pitiful. To be totally honest, I don't think she should have been having this baby unless she admitted from the start that it was a bad idea to have it (since she mentioned in her post that the relationship had been unstable for the past year and she only got pregnant on 2/10 and had bought a house by 4/10). She doesn't seem concerned about the baby as much as she seems concerned about herself and the idea of the baby and obsessed with a relationship that is unstable and not working out. I'm surprised she's even defining it as a relationship.

But that's been done and the baby is due in three weeks. I think she's made a bunch of decisions that are poor and she needs help immediately -- and not just counseling, but the support of a good solid family or friends who would have encouraged her into acting like a normal person. But she doesn't have that.

I think she's headed to a pretty bad place if she keeps driving this. Hopefully not like that doctor who climbed into the flue of her on again off again boyfriend's chimney and got lodged in there and died.
posted by anniecat at 9:00 AM on September 9, 2010


For what it's worth I'd also be in favor of axing all relationship questions. The information provided is guaranteed to be unreliable.
posted by creasy boy at 9:01 AM on September 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


This is the second time this week that someone on the site has urged other people [or Team Mod] to call the police because someone was committing a crime.

If you can't participate in AskMe without wanting to call the cops on people who admit to doing things that may break the law, you should really not be participating. Throwing a hammer at someone is reprehensible, no matter what the gender of either person is. Calling the cops on someone because you read on the internet that they threw a hammer at someone will not have the result you are hoping for. I understand that many of these threads get people upset in part because there really isn't anything they can do besides give good advice and hope. And yes, I agree that fewer OMGDRAMA posts should be making it to the green but I'm not sure what the best way to do that is. We'll definitely be thinking on it.

There's nothing wrong with domestic violence as such.

You are acting like a troll. If you are doing it by accident I would like you to stop. If you are doing it on purpose I would also like you to stop. Thanks.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:04 AM on September 9, 2010 [26 favorites]


I am willing - and indeed, perhaps inclined - to build such a scenario for the OP.

I think it's a mistake for people on either side of this argument to think about their own past and imagine how people in this thread would react to it and then decide to either defend or condemn the OP.

maybe the hammer thing was a one off. her own words imply it wasn't, but they don't make it that explicit. she also mentions the suicidal acting out and a few other things.

peoples' past experiences aside, what she described is not a one off instance of problem behavior. It's a pattern of behavior which she peppered with specific examples, but which she acknowledged as problematic. Simultaneously, she also blamed her behavior on him.

Ultimately what we know is what she gave us: she has displayed a pattern of poor behavior, which could (but might not) be disastrous in the future. She is pregnant and terrified about her partner's willingness and ability to pull his weight. The rest of it, the one sided presentation and all, is too unknown to defend or condemn.

the right answer to that question is to offer her counseling services and places she can go for in depth treatment. the rest of it, not our business and not helpful to address.

my $.02
posted by shmegegge at 9:05 AM on September 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Before we cast aspersions on someone who phrased a question, maybe there is a little bit of slack to be cut considering the situation she's in without judging how she ended up in the situation or how she's articulated it. I can only imagine how my wife would be if our relationship was along a different dynamic, and it makes me sad.

Those who commit partner abuse are not entitled to "slack." Throwing a hammer at someone's head is an out-an-out crime.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:06 AM on September 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


The fact that she did that has not been glossed over and I don't think she's saying that her having done that was justified.

She said he 'made' her do it. This is a person who is not taking responsibility for their actions.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:08 AM on September 9, 2010 [7 favorites]


I don't mean to belittle M/F domestic violence. This is not about gender for me; I would feel the same were the throwers genders reversed and have in the past taken a similar position on other posts where there is again, no pattern and the poster is questioning how concerned they should be about something that was notable precisely because it was so out of character. People flip.

Ok, I was totally on the "this has nothing to with gender" bandwagon for a moment there, but huh?

Seriously, if a dude came on here and said he only threw a hammer at his girfriend once and he "flipped" and there was no pattern and he wouldn't do it again, we would not see this kind of reaction. People would eviscerate the dude. Totally.

Plain and simple it is wrong to throw things at people. And in instances of domestic abuse the poster should be told clearly, but gently, that they cannot continue to act that way.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:13 AM on September 9, 2010


If recreational outrage FPPs are bad for the blue, then OMGDRAMA!! is bad for AskMe.

I absolutely agree. Relationship questions tend to be long screeds that rarely give an accurate representation of the situation -- not just because they are inherenrly one-sided, but also because there is way too much info that would have to be in there in order for anyone involved to come to any kind of well-informed conclusion. Not to mention that every answer is subjective. They feel like they should fall under chatfilter.
posted by DrGirlfriend at 9:13 AM on September 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


I have a hard time believing that the baby was planned by both parties

In fairness to the OP, she doesn't say that. She says it was a "planned pregnancy."
posted by MuffinMan at 9:13 AM on September 9, 2010


For what it's worth I'd also be in favor of axing all relationship questions. The information provided is guaranteed to be unreliable.

I'd hate to see relationship questions be banned. My first visit to AskMe was through a link on another site to a relationship question on an issue I was struggling with at the time, and I was amazed at the intelligent and insightful answers that were posted on the thread. Yes, there was some drama and disagreement and unhelpfulness, but it wasn't that hard to ignore those posts in favor of the ones I found to be most relevant and helpful.

Contentious or not, AskMe is really one of the better places I've found to go to get common-sense advice from a multitude of viewpoints. It would be a shame to see that end.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 9:14 AM on September 9, 2010 [10 favorites]


a lot of my sympathy for her went out the window when I found out she was making $130k a year -- twice his salary -- and was upset he wasn't contributing.

Ah, yes, you can only have sympathy for women as long as they are destitute! But once they have actual earning power, there is no sympathy for women any more!!11111

Whether or not she makes $130k a year, if it's his kid, he has to support it. Seriously, even total assholes go out and buy a onesie with their favorite football team on it, or something. Of course we don't know that he did (or he didn't) but you can't say that she doesn't get any sympathy about him not contributing because she makes more money. My head wants to explode at this.

--

I didn't comment on the thread. I think the relationship is not good but I think it's probably not good on both sides. however that point had been AMPLY made.
posted by micawber at 9:15 AM on September 9, 2010 [4 favorites]


The woman is pregnant. In my experience, pregnant women sometimes do crazy things. The guy is a deadbeat.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:16 AM on September 9, 2010


Those who commit partner abuse are not entitled to "slack." Throwing a hammer at someone's head is an out-an-out crime.

I understand you want to argue about this by expanding and embellishing upon the limited information in the ask, but that is hardly going to lead anywhere near a reasonable discussion.

The context of living with a woman who is 37 weeks pregnant and emotionally and financially secure leads me to a greater understanding how hard it could be for someone who isn't in that situation. Your context of experience is clearly different or at least far more black and white.
posted by iamabot at 9:17 AM on September 9, 2010


she needs help immediately -- and not just counseling, but the support of a good solid family or friends who would have encouraged her into acting like a normal person. But she doesn't have that.

Actually, she says she has all that -- she said she's in therapy, she's obviously getting decent medical care from all the details she posted about that, and she does have a caring family and friends and neighbors and a therapist who are all urging her to get out of this relationship. Unfortunately her family is out of state. Also unfortunately, those details came at the end of her lengthy litany of crap-she's-been-dealing-with, and right after the unfortunate detail about the hammer, at which point I think a lot of people stopped reading and started the OMGing.
posted by Gator at 9:17 AM on September 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


For what it's worth I'd also be in favor of axing all relationship questions.

OH AND I AM SUPPOSED TO, WHAT, DO WORK ALL DAY?
posted by everichon at 9:20 AM on September 9, 2010 [8 favorites]


a lot of my sympathy for her went out the window when I found out she was making $130k a year -- twice his salary -- and was upset he wasn't contributing.

That has absolutely nothing to do with any part of this.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:21 AM on September 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Is the problem RelationshipFilter? To me the problem is "Look! Look! That Question Is Dramatic"-Filter here on MetaTalk, along with "I Disagree With Some People's Answers and Must Debate It"-Filter and "That Disagreement Represents A Moral Ill In Society That Must Be Cured"-Filter.

I don't know if we can have the first without having the others here on MetaTalk, but that is my hope. I understand that occasionally, we might really, really need to talk something out. But as I said in comments in the last two AskMe callouts here in MetaTalk (gotta hurry, sorry for no links), I think it's often neither necessary nor useful to bring a relationship filter question over to MetaTalk. Obviously, it's a judgment call and I'm not trying to appoint myself arbiter or anything. It usually feels like we're ganging up on the OP behind their back and it leads to more drama not less, so I wish there were fewer questions called out. There seems to have been a wave of this recently (but I'm not an infodump analyst so that might just be my impression).
posted by salvia at 9:22 AM on September 9, 2010 [5 favorites]


The context of living with a woman who is 37 weeks pregnant and emotionally and financially secure leads me to a greater understanding how hard it could be for someone who isn't in that situation.

What similar stressful context would allow a man to throw a hammer at a woman's head? Because I'm certain that male abusers often go long periods of time without abusing anyone but then wrongly resort to abusing their partners when work or other life stresses cause them to do wrong.

No, there is never, ever, ever any excuse for abuse, verbal, physical, or otherwise. Never. Or men would have an excuse too.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:25 AM on September 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


It usually feels like we're ganging up on the OP behind their back and it leads to more drama not less, so I wish there were fewer questions called out. There seems to have been a wave of this recently (but I'm not an infodump analyst so that might just be my impression).

I thought the point of this was that we have a blind spot and we are not noticing it. This isn't about the poster, its about us and how we need to make sure that we're not making a mistake because she buried the evidence of physical abuse at the bottom of a long paragraph and then blamed the victim of that abuse by saying that he "made" the OP do it.

This is a classic abuser and classic abuser terminology and blame-shifting. We didn't catch it because the poster buried it and because so much abuse is directed by men towards women that we didn't catch a woman abusing a man.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:28 AM on September 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


Calling the cops on someone because you read on the internet that they threw a hammer at someone will not have the result you are hoping for.

Perhaps I should have made it clear, but calling the police is hypothetical. Clearly, I do not know enough about this situation to report any details about it. This is why I said in on MetaTalk, and not in the question itself.

But if a similar situation like this happened to the flat next to mine, I would report to the police/ social services, for his protection, and for the unborn baby's, and it surprises me that many people here wouldn't do so or don't see any need to do so. Yes, sure, this might be a one-off incident, and it may be in response to a particular stress; however, most domestic abusers start off with a "one-off incident" in response to a particular stress, and when they see that it has no adverse consequences, they have more "one-off incidents," in response to other one-off incidents. A hammer is lethal enough to warrant a phone call.
posted by moiraine at 9:29 AM on September 9, 2010


While admitting all the problems with RelationshipFilter, I am often impressed by the caliber of responses (usually at least 25% of answers make me quite impressed). I do think there are right answers to many situations, and that since one cannot google "what do I do about my mom?" (or I dunno, maybe you can? links to LMGTFY ahoy) having people explain "it is called 'setting boundaries' and here is how you might set boundaries in this instance" is valuable. I have learned a lot from the wisdom of other posters and turn to the RelationshipFilter archives when new situations arise in my life that I hadn't encountered before.
posted by salvia at 9:30 AM on September 9, 2010 [4 favorites]


I understand you want to argue about this by expanding and embellishing upon the limited information in the ask, but that is hardly going to lead anywhere near a reasonable discussion.
Just to be clear, I'm not embellishing on anything. The woman self-reported throwing a hammer at her boyfriend's head and then said he "made" her do it. Those were her words. That's a crime. No embellishment needed. There is no context that needs to be added to remove the criminal element. I'm not even talking domestic abuse. That's assault with a deadly weapon.

I haven't added anything to her self-reporting.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:31 AM on September 9, 2010


Actually, she says she has all that -- she said she's in therapy, she's obviously getting decent medical care from all the details she posted about that, and she does have a caring family and friends and neighbors and a therapist who are all urging her to get out of this relationship.

She says she does, but it's not working because she's still sounding like a crazy person who is divorced from the reality of the situation. There is no boyfriend. There's a reluctant guy who seems to have been put in a situation he's not happy about.

Frankly, if I was pregnant and about to have a baby, I'm pretty sure my mother would be on the next plane. Especially if I was unmarried and alone.

I have a hard time believing that the baby was planned by both parties

In fairness to the OP, she doesn't say that. She says it was a "planned pregnancy."

I hate to think this milquetoast guy is so lazy and indifferent to how his life goes that he couldn't bother putting on a condom. It's interesting how he wants to be the kind of man who "is there for" the mother of his child, but he's too depressed and unhappy about the situation to do it right.

I feel sorry for that poor baby.
posted by anniecat at 9:33 AM on September 9, 2010


There seems to have been a wave of this recently

Part of the problem is that by coincidence, there have been some really, really heavy questions lately, like this one and this one, so we're a little bit weary of relationship filter. People read these and think NOOO! They're not going to listen to my advice, and therefore are going to have to live through the horrible experience that I went through, and now I'm going to have to relive the horror all over again by reading these threads!

I know I'm exhausted from them. But in no way should they be banned for this reason.
posted by Melismata at 9:34 AM on September 9, 2010


She never said she threw it at his head.
posted by creasy boy at 9:34 AM on September 9, 2010 [5 favorites]


The woman is pregnant. In my experience, pregnant women sometimes do crazy things. The guy is a deadbeat.

Hi, I'm crazy but under maintenance and observation; I have the receipts and pharmacy history to prove it. I too, sometimes, do crazy things, albeit my specific form, along with general disposition, fortunately has never encompassed violence. However, I sincerely doubt I'd be receiving much sympathy (outside of "dude is a menace, needs to be under closer maintenance in a facility") were I to have a break and chuck a hammer at my girlfriend's head, whether she were a good person or not, whether she were provoking me or not, whether it was out of my hands because my medication crapped out or not.
posted by griphus at 9:35 AM on September 9, 2010 [6 favorites]


Ah, yes, you can only have sympathy for women as long as they are destitute! But once they have actual earning power, there is no sympathy for women any more!!11111

Wow, talk about blame-shifting.

The lack of financial insecurity provides context to financial complaints, especially as an excuse for blaming the victim of abuse. But don't let the facts of a given situation detract from your single factor(gender)-based reasoning of wrong and right.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 9:36 AM on September 9, 2010


Yeah, sorry, this is all kinda deeply fucked with no good answers on any level except "Hey everyone, start acting like adults!" And for a lot of members here, AskMe's more of a mirror than a window, y'know? Of course some folks are going to think it's not the hugest deal, because in their lives it wouldn't be. Others are going to think that of course it's domestic violence, because it sets off triggers for them.

If anyone wants to fly me out to interview Pennywhistle and her maybe-no-good-maybe-long-suffering boyfriend, I'm happy to do it.
posted by klangklangston at 9:36 AM on September 9, 2010


The woman self-reported throwing a hammer at her boyfriend's head... I haven't added anything to her self-reporting.

This is the second time you have said that. She said she threw a hammer "at him". You added the "at the head" second part. Again, I think in either case that's not okay, but all we have to go on is what she typed and people still read things into it that aren't there.

it surprises me that many people here wouldn't do so or don't see any need to do so.

People react to internet hypotheticals in a lot of different ways, especially when pushed into it. I've definitely called the police on people fighting in a domestic situation before, but if I was a neighbor and heard the single clunk of a hammer hitting a wall and a couple fighting I honestly can't tell you how I'd react. Personally I'd go so far as to say that other people, while they might make educated guesses, don't know either.

Domestic violence is a serious problem, but reducing it to getting shocked or angry at people because they don't have the same strong reaction to a single sentence about it seems misplaced to me.

And back to internet-land, if people start to threaten calling the police on people here on MetaFilter [not speaking to you specifically moraine, but to the generalized level of GRAR that we've been feeling about this over the past week or two] for relating problems they're trying to get help with, that's a serious level of not-okay. Or, if you think we need to be not-approving or deleting these sorts of questions, please let's talk about it. Possibly expanding the "no suicide" questions to "no violence" or something, but again I'm not totally seeing how that would work.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:40 AM on September 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


My comment here is not specifically about this question in this Meta, but as a response to the other comments here about how relationship filter is getting wonky....

I too am in favor of more stringent guidelines for some of these relationship questions. The guiding question for mods is probably, "Is there really an answer to this question?" Taking this a step further, I personally would prefer less individual situation kind of relationship AskMes and more general ones. Relationship filter isn't all that bad, but some questions are so very specific, it is doubtful anyone else could gain anything from it in the future.

Good: How do you manage money with your SO?
Bad: Why is my SO being so stingy with his money?

Good: How do you deal with a controlling parent?
Bad: Why won't my parents just let me be me?

In these examples, questioning the motives of an unknown third party is a poor way to frame things (Why did X do Y? The only one who knows is X). Asking the question with a more general slant, makes it more answerable and members can provide more useful answers to people in the future. Maybe the mods could kick these questions back to the askers with a note "Hey, this is really specific, can you frame this in a more general way?"

I also sometimes get the feeling with some AskMes the member just wants someone to talk to, to vent their stuff and have someone validate their feelings. They're really not asking a question so much as looking for a place to get some support and comfort.

But I ask, is AskMe really for this?
I'm not trying to be a cold-hearted bitch here, but we are not a counseling site and it's not like we have credentials in our profiles to back up our opinions and suggestions. And honestly, I'd probably be hard pressed to find any serious relationship question where one of the first few replies isn't "seek counseling".

I think maybe some things are just too big and too personal for AskMe.
posted by NoraCharles at 9:43 AM on September 9, 2010 [23 favorites]


What similar stressful context would allow a man to throw a hammer at a woman's head? Because I'm certain that male abusers often go long periods of time without abusing anyone but then wrongly resort to abusing their partners when work or other life stresses cause them to do wrong.


You are embellishing, go back and read what the poster said. I just don't see where the intent is expressed to hit someone in the head, and there is quite a big difference. As both are wrong, this seems like one of the more abysmally stupid things to be arguing about on the internet but you seem really interested in changing this womans words to fit the narrative you have going emotionally.
posted by iamabot at 9:44 AM on September 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


Man, that woman is a control freak. The fact that so many people want to take that guy's child from him just because he made the mistake of being a relationship with her is literally turning my stomach.

There's nothing wrong with domestic violence as such.
---
You are acting like a troll.


Jessamyn (or anyone that wants to reply), do you agree the thread would look much different if the genders were reversed? That askme would, as Ironmouth put it, "eviscerate the dude"? If so, isn't our ongoing cultural history gender oppression a big part of why it's sort of OK? That thought is only thing that's kept me sane reading RelationshipFilter over the years. If pointing that out, albeit sarcastically, is mod-callout-level trolling I guess I better rethink things. What does make it OK then? (If you don't agree there's a double-standard I guess that's cool; we can agree to disagree.)

Ah, yes, you can only have sympathy for women as long as they are destitute! But once they have actual earning power, there is no sympathy for women any more!!11111

Hey, speaking of trolling...
posted by and hosted from Uranus at 9:44 AM on September 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


Or, if you think we need to be not-approving or deleting these sorts of questions, please let's talk about it.

Yes, let's. I don't think "validate my violent actions" questions should be allowed. I'm not sure what questions you have about how that would work — sometimes people would post them, and they would get deleted.
posted by enn at 9:45 AM on September 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


It doesn't even matter whether you think the woman is a crazy abuser or or a victim pushed to the breaking point. It seems really clear that nothing good can possibly come from these questions.
posted by enn at 9:46 AM on September 9, 2010


In the case of physical abuse, even if it's a one-off incident, the only correct response for us to give is "get out and don't look back," regardless of whether it's the optimal long-term answer for that particular person. We have to err on the safe side. There was a lot of discussion about this in the Russian Girls incident - at the time, we didn't know for certain that they were in danger of being sex-trafficked, but it was far better to help them and be wrong. If someone complains they are throwing up blood, it'd be irresponsible to say anything other than "go see a doctor," even though there might be some medical case where it's not a big deal. (Obviously I am not a doctor.)

Like DarlingBri, I can foresee a situation in which an abusive act is a horrible aberration, not a dealbreaker. (I do not apply this to the OP in question; it sounds like a toxic situation all around.) Yet we will never have a way of knowing if a specific situation is going to escalate, just based on text on a screen. Had DarlingBri's husband posted a question about the plate-throwing incident, we may well have told him to divorce her. My husband has never thrown anything at me or hit me, but we've each had one horrible breach of character, so I guess we should get divorced too, hm?

It's my understanding that anonymous medical questions are not approved if the blatantly obvious answer is "Go to ER now." If abuse is so black and white, doesn't it follow that there is only one blatantly obvious answer? If so, put a line in the FAQ that says "If your partner has ever hit, choked, stabbed, physically threatened, or otherwise harmed you, DTMFA" and ban all such questions.
posted by desjardins at 9:47 AM on September 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


We should remove gender-specific pronouns and identification altogether. That would solve some problems.

That way, less of stereotyping, and more of actual thinking.
posted by moiraine at 9:48 AM on September 9, 2010


Wow, talk about blame-shifting.

The lack of financial insecurity provides context to financial complaints, especially as an excuse for blaming the victim of abuse. But don't let the facts of a given situation detract from your single factor(gender)-based reasoning of wrong and right.


I did NOT say she was right. I did NOT say the abuse was justified. way to go to bring something I didn't say into the discussion.

I did say that saying you had no sympathy for her because she actually makes a decent wage was bullshit. Call that trolling if you will.
posted by micawber at 9:52 AM on September 9, 2010


We should remove gender-specific pronouns and identification altogether. That would solve some problems.

Indeed. So back to the subject of his/her pregnancy...
posted by griphus at 9:54 AM on September 9, 2010 [13 favorites]


We should remove gender-specific pronouns and identification altogether. That would solve some problems.

The problem of our answers having relevance to the real, gendered people posting questions.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:55 AM on September 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


We should remove gender-specific pronouns and identification altogether. That would solve some problems.

This isn't a site that anyone is required to participate in. If you don't like the question, don't answer it. If you don't like the answers, give a better answer. If you think an answer is horrific, flag it. If you think it's really horrific, contact the mods. Mandating a system in which pronouns are stripped out of relationship filter questions is impractical, extreme, and so far into unnecessary land that I can't even begin to express. Obviously it's not my site and if mathowie wants to institute that tomorrow it's his privilege, and my choice then would be 1) participate 2) not participate.

I am also insulted to an extreme degree that any answer I have given in relationship filter questions is judged by you to have been the result of not thinking.
posted by micawber at 9:56 AM on September 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


micawber -- you responded to a comment about a particular poster losing sympathy for this woman given the circumstances of this situation with a weak attempt to address it as when one can have "sympathy for women". This is pretty much the cheapest form of lowering the debate to single-issue demographic side-taking and not at all helpful.

You might also note that, no, the poster who made that remark is not me.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 9:59 AM on September 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


I did say that saying you had no sympathy for her because she actually makes a decent wage was bullshit.

Is that what you said? It sounded to me like you were that stating that you believe women should be kept impoverished to make them easier to control. Or, more likely, insinuating that Deathalicious believes that. AKA trolling.
posted by and hosted from Uranus at 10:00 AM on September 9, 2010


The woman self-reported throwing a hammer at her boyfriend's head and then said he "made" her do it.

I really think this is an unnecessarily uncharitable exaggeration of what she said. She said that the boyfriend's behavior has "made" her do a bunch of crazy things, including throwing the hammer (no mention of throwing it at his head, that's your extrapolation). I would read it more as, "The stress of his indifference and lack of support is making me crazy," and not the more sinister, "I abuse you because YOU MAKE ME ABUSE YOU." I don't much see the utility of all these "but what if the genders were reversed" questions, because the pregnancy adds a level of imbalance to the whole thing that wouldn't be there if the genders were reversed.

Eh, I dunno. I think it's a mess of a question that, yes, is just the latest in a long line of "blah blah blah drama blah blah blah more drama blah blah blah, any and all advice welcome" trainwreck questions that inevitably invites speculation, finger-pointing, exaggeration of details, and general bad feeling all around. I don't yet have a suggestion for how to improve this.
posted by Gator at 10:00 AM on September 9, 2010


now see, here is a great example of taking what is said and adding assumptions to it along-side gender weirdness = you have to be pretty damn clairvoyant to know precisely what is going on.

Take the hammer trowing that everyone is picking up on.

First of all, as has been mentioned, despite what a number of people have said in this tread, there is no indication the hammer was thrown at his head. That is an embellishment and makes a poor situation sound even worse. Secondly, there is not much indication how much force was used in trowing the hammer. Did she whip it at him in full anger and furry intending or hoping to cause harm? Or did she barely toss it, out of frustration and hopelessness? You may argue there isn't much difference. I'd argue there is allot of difference.

I am not offering excuses, I am saying that we have an incomplete picture at best and it doesn't help that people are filling in details that weren't even included. It's a bad situation, I don't have an answer. It certainly is not our responsibility to call the cops in such a marginal situation, where one possible incident may rise to assault and may have occurred sometime in the last few weeks/months. Even if we did, I would be frankly shocked if there was any follow up by the police.
posted by edgeways at 10:01 AM on September 9, 2010 [4 favorites]


Jessamyn (or anyone that wants to reply), do you agree the thread would look much different if the genders were reversed?

The big difference is dudes can't get pregnant, there is always going to be some lack of understanding about the hormonal and physical crush going on. Pregnancy is not an excuse for doing things that are patently wrong but ignoring that aspect of it and swapping the genders really misses out on a big part of the emotional and physical landscape in the situation.

I fully admit that my emotional involvement in this ask and surrounding meta is colored by my wifes pregnancy, and strictly for me it has changed how I look at the question. I didn't have the context or connection to what happens in a pregnancy before this. I have deep sympathy for the woman outside of her physical reaction to what she seems to feel is an absent partner. I understand far better how emotionally and physically draining the experience can be for women and when I put my wife, who I know better than anyone on this planet, in to the womans situation I understand how she could find herself throwing objects and making extreme threats to elicit a caring and emotional response.

I'm not saying what she has done is right and she is absolved from all guilt, I'm still saying that maybe instead of this being a black or white issue with condemning her for her actions or putting herself in the situation there is some subtlety to the situation that can be really hard to grasp until you've lived through it or shared part of that experience with someone. So maybe, there is a tiny bit of slack to be given before the internet police decide they are on the case.
posted by iamabot at 10:01 AM on September 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


I would read it more as, "The stress of his indifference and lack of support is making me crazy," and not the more sinister, "I abuse you because YOU MAKE ME ABUSE YOU."

That's a hell of a fine line you're drawing there.
posted by enn at 10:04 AM on September 9, 2010


The hammer-at-head error isn't helping, but neither are the objections. As a previous poster pointed out, even violence directed at inanimate objects in the vicinity of family members has long been identified as abusive. How hard was it thrown? Was it thrown at his head? You've got to be kidding me.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 10:04 AM on September 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


do you agree the thread would look much different if the genders were reversed?

You mean if a 9-months-pregnant guy threw a hammer at his jackass girlfriend one time and posted about it to Metafilter? I'm not excusing the asker's behaviour - it's wrong - but there really is a limit to how much switching around some shes and hes can accomplish in a situation like this. Sex and gender and, well, facts are real forces in people's lives.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 10:10 AM on September 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


She never said she threw it at his head

I stand corrected, I just reviewed her comments and the head part isn't in there. So we don't know what part of his body she was targeting when she threw the hammer at him.

It is still abuse and still a crime. And she isn't taking responsibility for it, which is what makes me fear for the child. Because a child isn't going to respond to threats to leave home, to kill herself or threats to leave the relationship. So what happens when the child makes her upset?
posted by Ironmouth at 10:11 AM on September 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


The big difference is dudes can't get pregnant,

That's a big difference in this particular case. I'm speaking more to a general atmosphere where men are repeatedly called pieces of shit without consideration of how "emotionally and physically draining" their life situation may be.
posted by and hosted from Uranus at 10:13 AM on September 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


You've got to be kidding me.

Well... no, not really. A one-off half hearted toss of the hammer in the general direction of someone, while a subject of concern and should absolutely be addressed either in counseling or inter-relationshiply is a pretty different animal from intentionally aiming for the head and letting fly with full force, which calls for a full intervention.

If you are going 26 in a 25 zone that is speeding, if you are going 70 in a 25 zone that is speeding too, but the consequences are vastly different despite the same label.
posted by edgeways at 10:14 AM on September 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


Ah, yes, you can only have sympathy for women as long as they are destitute! But once they have actual earning power, there is no sympathy for women any more!!11111

Wow, talk about blame-shifting.

The lack of financial insecurity provides context to financial complaints, especially as an excuse for blaming the victim of abuse. But don't let the facts of a given situation detract from your single factor(gender)-based reasoning of wrong and right.


I would take micawber's point just as another reason that we can't really know what's actually going on here, not as victim-blaming. Possible that his resentment of her earning twice what he does is a factor here? Maybe she is made to feel guilty about it because he is insecure about the woman making more money? Point is we don't know.
posted by Pax at 10:14 AM on September 9, 2010


I'm still saying that maybe instead of this being a black or white issue with condemning her for her actions or putting herself in the situation there is some subtlety to the situation that can be really hard to grasp until you've lived through it or shared part of that experience with someone. So maybe, there is a tiny bit of slack to be given before the internet police decide they are on the case.

Opening that door opens it for male abusers too. "She cheated on me!" "I'm under stress at work." "She never helps at home." I'm sure you'd agree that none of those are excuses for throwing a hammer at a girlfriend or wife.

Abuse has to be a black and white line. It must, otherwise you are opening the door for everyone. This is just special pleading.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:17 AM on September 9, 2010 [6 favorites]


This is a disappointing mess and a lot of people are not coming out of this looking very good. These kinds of AskMe questions are probably not worth the trouble for the mods.
posted by proj at 10:19 AM on September 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


The OP is an insane ball of drama, prepped and ready to be a sucky parent until DYFS has to step in. It sounded to me that the boyfriend was trying to walk backwards, quietly out the door (which of course isn't right because he needs to contribute and care for his child). bad scenario all around. She doesn't need a pat on the back and someone to tell her she's a super single parent, she needs someone to tell her she's fuckin nuts and shouldn't dream about having another child until she's got her head on straight.
posted by WeekendJen at 10:19 AM on September 9, 2010 [6 favorites]


A one-off half hearted toss of the hammer in the general direction of someone, while a subject of concern and should absolutely be addressed either in counseling or inter-relationshiply is a pretty different animal from intentionally aiming for the head and letting fly with full force, which calls for a full intervention.

I got the head thing wrong, yes. But don't add any other info either. all we know is this:

has made me do increasingly crazy things (I threw a hammer at him, have made several threats to leave town, have ended the relationship more times than I can count, threatened suicide once I figured out this would get his attention, etc.).

This is not a person who is one-offing anything or taking any responsibility. She makes mutliple threats, including threats to end her life and the life of the baby, ends the relationship without meaning it, etc. And she blames him.

The point being that we have to pay attention to her self-reporting and avoid our natural bias which is that the man is the abuser. That's the point of the callout above.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:22 AM on September 9, 2010 [4 favorites]


You know, I threw a plate at my husband once. It was seven years ago at the point of peak communication frustration in our early relationship, and no act of physical aggression has taken place before or since. I was washing dishes and threw what was in my hand at the time. Had I been building a china cabinet, it could well have been a hammer, though I would like to think if I had been chopping onions it would not have been a knife.

I'm a little surprised this has gotten so many favorites. First, I think there is a real difference between a plate and a hammer. If you could stop yourself from throwing the knife, why couldn't you stop yourself from throwing the hammer? Depending on various factors, it could easily be just as dangerous.

Second, I'm glad you guys knew immediately it was no big deal, but for a lot of couples even just one yelling at the other is enough to cause a Serious Talk. It really depends on the nature of each partner and the way they react to different levels of violence. I don't mind being yelled at but would be freaked out by having someone hit me or having something thrown at me. My partner is a bit freaked out at the level of voice-raising. That doesn't mean the relationship's over if things get uncomfortable, but it means once a line is crossed, it needs to be recognized and dealt with.

The way the poster referred to the incident was very casual, and she even blamed him for having caused it (he "made her" throw the hammer). I'm sure there are relationships where everyone knows things are okay, but considering the break down of communication in this partnership, it certainly seems bizarre to assume that's the case here. Plus she listed other ways she'd threatened him. Yes, people make mistakes and no one is perfect, but if this is how she admits to treating him, it is perfectly plausible that his side of the story is reasonable, isn't it?
posted by mdn at 10:23 AM on September 9, 2010 [9 favorites]


Abuse has to be a black and white line. It must, otherwise you are opening the door for everyone. This is just special pleading.

Sadly, I fear we must resign ourselves to a state of respectful disagreement about this and the context of the particular situation.
posted by iamabot at 10:23 AM on September 9, 2010


Ironmouth, you've made pretty much the same point a literal dozen times here. I know it touches a personal painful issue for you, but I think you've made your feelings clear.
posted by Gator at 10:25 AM on September 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


If the genders were reversed and we were having shades-of-grey conversations about how hard he threw the hammer and did he aim it at her head it would be a repeat of The Great Boyzone Riots of 2008. Ridiculous.
posted by 0xFCAF at 10:27 AM on September 9, 2010 [10 favorites]


Ironmouth, you've made pretty much the same point a literal dozen times here. I know it touches a personal painful issue for you, but I think you've made your feelings clear.

You're right on that.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:29 AM on September 9, 2010


Lots of people in that thread are saying "it's not ok to throw a hammer at someone, that is a sign you've crossed the line, talk to your therapist or doctor and get control of this before the baby comes".
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:29 AM on September 9, 2010


has made me do increasingly crazy things (I threw a hammer at him, have made several threats to leave town, have ended the relationship more times than I can count, threatened suicide once I figured out this would get his attention, etc.).

it's the casual "etc." which raises the red flag for me.
posted by Rumple at 10:31 AM on September 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


Hammer throwing and suicide threats would certainly be enough to get CPS involved, so it's perfectly relevant to call her out on it in the thread.

Staggering double standards here.
posted by unSane at 10:32 AM on September 9, 2010 [8 favorites]


A one-off half hearted toss of the hammer in the general direction of someone, while a subject of concern and should absolutely be addressed either in counseling or inter-relationshiply is a pretty different animal from intentionally aiming for the head and letting fly with full force, which calls for a full intervention.

Can anyone imagine someone posting that if the thrower was a man? Seriously?
posted by unSane at 10:34 AM on September 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


That poor baby. I hope she considers adoption. Whatever "planning" went into that pregnancy was insufficient.
posted by Eideteker at 10:37 AM on September 9, 2010 [12 favorites]


Also, I come down firmly on the side of AskMe questions having if not firm/definite answers, at least discrete ones. It's not effective as talk therapy for many issues (and where do you draw the line?) and the questions are essentially no better than chatfilter.
posted by Eideteker at 10:39 AM on September 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Speaking of Sinead O'Connor, ,I had a crazy Irish girlfriend many long years ago who threw things in rage. In a year or so together she went through three watches, two phones, and a very nice musical instrument, all smashed against the wall near my head.

Loved that girl, still remember her fondly. People are such wimps these days.
posted by fourcheesemac at 10:39 AM on September 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


...avoid our natural bias which is that the man is the abuser.

I think the point I am trying to make has little to do with gender. You have advocated for the "this is criminal behavior" POV. I understand that, but I am saying that IRT the trowing of the hammer, which in my mind is the main thing that could be construed to be criminal there is assumptions being made, about force and intent. Not all abuse raises to the same level. Yelling at your spouse once after a highly stressful day is not the same as beating your spouse weekly. I would caution avoiding "this IS criminal, intent to cause bodily harm...." until/unless we know more about force, direction, contact, intent... I can agree that it is a degree of abuse, but what degree remains unknown.

Threatening suicide and to a lesser extent the other emotional manipulation is a medical issue. Indeed, fundamentally I think it is a medical issue. The OP is reacting very badly to stress, and is acting out of that position. She is responsible for her actions, yes, but they are not occurring in a vacuum.
posted by edgeways at 10:40 AM on September 9, 2010


Honestly, given the suicide threats and hammer throwing, I wouldn't believe a word of what she said about her boyfriend, including the fact that the pregnancy was planned or that they are actually in a relationship. The whole thing sounds deranged to me.
posted by empath at 10:41 AM on September 9, 2010 [18 favorites]


And back to internet-land, if people start to threaten calling the police on people here on MetaFilter [not speaking to you specifically moraine, but to the generalized level of GRAR that we've been feeling about this over the past week or two] for relating problems they're trying to get help with, that's a serious level of not-okay.

If someone posted a question which indicated that someone else was in serious physical danger as a result of their behaviour, wouldn't either threatening to or actually calling the police be obligatory? In this case the poster, who is about to give birth, has admitted to hammer throwing and suicide threats. To me it doesn't quite rise to the level of mandatory reporting from Joe Internet, but if I heard a woman screaming at her boyfriend, threatening suicide and lobbing heavy objects in the neighboring duplex you bet I'd call the police (as I have several times in the past in real-life cases of domestic abuse).
posted by unSane at 10:41 AM on September 9, 2010


Can anyone imagine someone posting that if the thrower was a man? Seriously?

Yes... I would make the same argument. You are looking for gender bias to something I posted after considering it myself.
posted by edgeways at 10:42 AM on September 9, 2010


While she never acted out like what the OP has described, my own mother was legitimately suicidal before I was born (and obviously, extremely depressed). I wasn't at all planned. Of course, she was in a stable relationship at the time and I was seen as an "Oh hey! This is unexpectedly awesome!" surprise. Very different from having an uninvolved "partner."

She has since told me that having me changed her life and that without a doubt, she would have eventually succeeded in killing herself had I not been born. I can only hope that this woman is able to have a similar experience with her child that brings her some kind of peace of mind and sanity because man, she really needs it. My optimism is hoping that this child is a blessing because if not... that's a horribly shitty situation for everybody.
posted by sonika at 10:45 AM on September 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Or, if you think we need to be not-approving or deleting these sorts of questions, please let's talk about it.

I honestly don't see that as practical. It would probably create more MeTas as people question why X question was deleted when Y question wasn't.

You could make al questions in the "human relations category subject to mod approval, but I doubt you guys want to go that route.

So what's left? People acting like adults, particularly in these difficult relationship based questions.

One of the most important ways to do this is to CHILL THE FUCK OUT. Seriously, if a question makes you angry or you find you're getting really emotional about it, walk away from it. You can always return to it later if you like, but seriously, walk the hell away from it.

moiraine I wish you had done that before posting this MeTa. The post is inflammatory and full outrage and GRAR and that rarely leads to doing productive. I honestly don't know what your point is in posting it, it just looks you want to vent. Ok fine, that's part of the MetaTalk, it's where you come to vent if you feel you absolutely have to it. But damn does it often look ugly.

I just wish we'd act more like adults, community wise, as opposed to creating shit storms because we can't get a grip on our emotions.
posted by nomadicink at 10:50 AM on September 9, 2010 [9 favorites]


But I ask, is AskMe really for this?
I'm not trying to be a cold-hearted bitch here, but we are not a counseling site and it's not like we have credentials in our profiles to back up our opinions and suggestions. And honestly, I'd probably be hard pressed to find any serious relationship question where one of the first few replies isn't "seek counseling".

I think maybe some things are just too big and too personal for AskMe.
posted by NoraCharles at 9:43 AM


Or, if you think we need to be not-approving or deleting these sorts of questions, please let's talk about it.


(not commenting on NoraCharles specifically, just to the matter in general)

One thing I have never understood is why people want to call out and ban/not approve certain types of questions. Relationship filter questions are often pretty easy to identify in the stating of the question in the post. If they aren't your thing, or if you feel you cannot or do not want to answer, why do people even bother reading them? Just move on. If you read a question you aren't expecting to contribute a thoughtful answer to, why bother?

Even flagging and moving on is a bit of a mystery to me. 1) At best it makes more work for the mods (assuming the question isn't against the rules in the first place, of course) just to investigate how your opinion relates to the question, and 2) It enters the dangerous territory of each of us being the site police. My guess is that the Answerers are a pretty self-selecting group. If you don't like realtionshipfilter questions, just don't read them. Wanting to ban things that don't happen to have meaning for you only improves the site in your opinion. Many find utility in questions others think are ridiculous. And the quality of the answer to these kinds of questions is ultimately best judged by the Asker.

Sure, a community needs some self-regulation. That is the mods job (and I think they do a difficult job excellently). When each of us feels we have the urgent need and authority to be the cop, that's when trouble starts.

That's when this place stops feeling like a Community and starts feeling more like a Club. And that's not good.
posted by nickjadlowe at 10:50 AM on September 9, 2010 [5 favorites]


Honestly, given the suicide threats and hammer throwing, I wouldn't believe a word of what she said about her boyfriend, including the fact that the pregnancy was planned or that they are actually in a relationship. The whole thing sounds deranged to me.

Comments like this, as well as all the comments about how somebody should report her to the cops, are pretty likely to make her wish she hadn't asked for help in the first place. You may disagree that she was asking for help, and may feel instead that she's just trying to get sympathy or validation, but either way, how is this helping her? I'm glad people aren't saying this stuff in the actual AskMe, but if she finds her way over here (no one has linked the MeTa over there yet, but somebody probably will any time now), what's this going to do to her already-whacked out emotional state?

I agree with people like salvia above, these AskMe callouts are making me more and more uncomfortable too. We want to encourage people to seek help when they need it, but if they're too terrified of the inevitable pile-ons that occur in complicated personal questions, doesn't that reduce the usefulness of the site?

On preview, what nomadicink said.
posted by Gator at 10:53 AM on September 9, 2010 [5 favorites]


Imagine if the OP was a guy who wrote this question.

As Liz Lemon said, double standards don't apply to women.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:55 AM on September 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


Medicalizing her behaviour sounds like a repeat of suggestions of "brain dysfunction" for the cat-dumpster woman, which is basically shorthand for "X acts violently -- she needs help"; "Y acts violently -- watch out -- he's a violent psychopath". People twist themselves round and round to etch out their preconceived victims and abusers regardless of the apparent facts of a given situation, and medicalization is another method of casting the factually apparent abuser as hapless victim (of her circumstances, at least).

Wanting to kill yourself is potentially a medical problem. Threatening suicide "once [you] figured out this would get his attention" is fucked up, no question, but it's also typical controlling behaviour and nowhere near the same thing.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 10:57 AM on September 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


"The big difference is dudes can't get pregnant,"

DONT TELL ME WHAT I CANT DO!!!!
posted by klangklangston at 10:58 AM on September 9, 2010 [8 favorites]


You may disagree that she was asking for help, and may feel instead that she's just trying to get sympathy or validation, but either way, how is this helping her?

If I had something to say to help her, I'd have posted in the askme thread. I'm just here for the train wreck. She wasn't even asking for help. Given the facts she stated, it's transparently obvious that she should leave the guy and probably not even keep the kid.
posted by empath at 11:00 AM on September 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'd really, really love to hear the guy's side of the story on that one, because I bet it's a doozy.
posted by empath at 11:01 AM on September 9, 2010 [9 favorites]


Can anyone imagine someone posting that if the thrower was a man? Seriously?

Yes... I would make the same argument.


Earth's entire annual production of popcorn would not suffice for that thread.
posted by unSane at 11:02 AM on September 9, 2010



I did say that saying you had no sympathy for her because she actually makes a decent wage was bullshit.

Is that what you said? It sounded to me like you were that stating that you believe women should be kept impoverished to make them easier to control. Or, more likely, insinuating that Deathalicious believes that. AKA trolling
.

No, I was insinuating exactly what I said, which was the statement that a woman becomes unsympathetic because she earns a decent wage is bullshit. Again. Let me say it for you again, and how about you parse what I say, instead of what you think I said. Because you are so far off as to be somewhere in Outer Mongolia right now.
posted by micawber at 11:02 AM on September 9, 2010


I read the question, and thought about her very specific question ("is anyone able to give me any reason whatsoever to stick with this person").

I decided that no, I was not able to give her a reason to "stick with" that person, so I did not answer and I moved on.

All this flail about domestic violence and hypothetical police-calling and hypothetical double standards just seems a giant crappy derail.

Posters in AskMe ask questions. We answer the questions, or we shut the hell up. GRAR about how people didn't derail in the answers seems stupid.
posted by Squeak Attack at 11:05 AM on September 9, 2010 [5 favorites]


Given the facts she stated, it's transparently obvious that she should leave the guy and probably not even keep the kid.

Yes! Let me decide here, without any actual information besides words typed on a screen, that a woman should abort her child!!!

I know you're just here for the trainwreck, but right now you're wearing black, carrying a scythe, and laughing about it.
posted by micawber at 11:05 AM on September 9, 2010


I didn't say anything about abortion.
posted by empath at 11:06 AM on September 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


. . . is anyone able to give me any reason whatsoever to stick with this person?

This AskMe probably shouldn't have stood anyway. There's the actually question posed by the OP. That's really chatty, and not really answerable in a way that I understand the guidelines. Perhaps it is time for the Great Entightening of AskMe guidelines. This whole MeTa and all the GRAR has much to do with the fact that there is nothing you can really do with that question but argue about interpretation.
posted by barrett caulk at 11:07 AM on September 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


"No, I was insinuating exactly what I said, which was the statement that a woman becomes unsympathetic because she earns a decent wage is bullshit."

She makes well more than a "decent" wage, and saying that she loses sympathy points for bitching about relatively minor expenses is pretty fair. The $300 car repair bill simply is not as big a deal at $300000 as it is at $30000.
posted by klangklangston at 11:08 AM on September 9, 2010


patheral: And even in a manic rage (while pregnant) I never abused anyone. I punched holes in the walls, tore things to shreds, and scared the hell out of my son once by putting a foot through the door, but I didn't hit anyone, or throw things *at* them.

Do you get that a number of people would say that behaviour is in and of itself abusive?


Yeah, if the behaviors where aimed *at* anyone, but alone, in my room? How did they hurt anyone? Sorry I wasn't clear.
posted by patheral at 11:08 AM on September 9, 2010


$130k is not a "decent" wage, and if you cannot fathom how it would affect sympathy over a $300 complaint, then you're either being wilfully obtuse or intentionally inflammatory.

At what point did you think Deathalicious wasn't commenting on the validity of her financial complaints and was suggesting instead that he has no sympathy for her as a woman or as a human being? Because that is what you said.

But once they have actual earning power, there is no sympathy for women any more!!11111
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 11:09 AM on September 9, 2010


Why on earth would someone decide to get pregnant with someone who drives a truck?
posted by mazola at 11:09 AM on September 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


Yeah, if the behaviors where aimed *at* anyone, but alone, in my room? How did they hurt anyone? Sorry I wasn't clear.

Just from the perspective of a son who watched his mother do things like that a lot, I can tell you that someone was probably hurt.
posted by empath at 11:11 AM on September 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


and probably not even keep the kid.

That does not necessarily = abort her child!!!

(abortion wouldn't be an option at the point she is in her preganacy)
posted by marimeko at 11:11 AM on September 9, 2010


"Why on earth would someone decide to get pregnant with someone who drives a truck?"

She needed help moving?
posted by klangklangston at 11:12 AM on September 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's Arizona - everyone drives a truck.
posted by Squeak Attack at 11:13 AM on September 9, 2010


We want to encourage people to seek help when they need it, but if they're too terrified of the inevitable pile-ons that occur in complicated personal questions, doesn't that reduce the usefulness of the site?


AskMetafilter partners with the Association of Therapists/Counselors, offers discount to new clients with referrel code ASKME.

Honestly, if they're too terrified of the pile-ons, then they won't post or they'll leave out/gloss over certain details. Which is fine. The site is plenty useful to users already. We don't need to reach out to everyone who needs help, pat them on the back, and encourage them to see a counselor.

Given the facts she stated, it's transparently obvious that she should leave the guy and probably not even keep the kid.


I agree. That said, I don't know why, but I feel really guilty thinking she should give up the baby because it means I'm judging her-- whether she's fit to be a parent. And there are a host of things we aren't allowed to judge people on, so I feel weird about my gut feeling that she's not the ideal mother. Of course, no one can live up to being perfect or being a perfect parent or mother, and loads more people survive less than ideal situations with fucked up parents than those who have great relationships with great parents, but I feel like saying she shouldn't raise the baby -- well, it feels like I'm being mean.
posted by anniecat at 11:13 AM on September 9, 2010


Why on earth would someone decide to get pregnant with someone who drives a truck?

Because some of them are sexy in jeans and tee shirts, and $65K isn't bad. And man that heat in the desert can drive you crazy, based on what I see on the tee vee and those ads with the cowboys looking all sultry and handsome.
posted by anniecat at 11:15 AM on September 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


but if she finds her way over here (no one has linked the MeTa over there yet, but somebody probably will any time now), what's this going to do to her already-whacked out emotional state?

I think it should be a requirement of callouts that the person doing the calling-out put a link to their MeTa in the thread. If you feel whatever you need to say can only be said behind the person's back, maybe you shouldn't be making the callout in the first place.
posted by oneirodynia at 11:17 AM on September 9, 2010 [7 favorites]


Hey I drive a minivan and a bike, that's sexy too, right?
posted by Mister_A at 11:17 AM on September 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


and medicalization is another method of casting the factually apparent abuser as hapless victim

One certainly can be a victim and not be "hapless". I did specifically say I thought she was responsible for her behavior, of whatever severity that is, but that doesn't discount the possibility of a stress disorder. I am not making a diagnosis, the AskMe reads as if she is having pretty hard time reacting appropriately in a highly stressful situation. Medical diagnosis is not absolution of responsibility except in the most absolute extreme examples, but may be a window to understanding. It certainly seems a better tact to take then automatic criminalization.

And yeah, you know that applies to humans with penises as well.
posted by edgeways at 11:18 AM on September 9, 2010


Yes, let's. I don't think "validate my violent actions" questions should be allowed.

I absolutely think they should be allowed, so long as answers of the "your actions are violent, abusive, and possibly criminal" are also allowed. The solution isn't to censor questions, it is to allow answers. Note that I am not saying such answers would not be allowed in the current thread, I'm speaking in general.

Also: I have managed to avoid posting in that thread! Yay me! I am trying to be a good little metafilterian and not cause jessamyn problems to make her a sad panda.
posted by Justinian at 11:19 AM on September 9, 2010


I'm just here for the train wreck.

Yes, I see that, and I think it's a problem for our community. Not you specifically, but the seemingly growing trend of this happening. AskMe is supposed to be a resource for helping people, even people we may not feel "deserving" of it, and while MetaTalk has historically been a place for pile-ons and trainwrecks, we can't pretend that it exists in a vacuum. People whose heavily-moderated AskMe questions get called out here in the practically-non-moderated MetaTalk will see this stuff, and I think that reduces the utility and helpfulness of AskMe, even though it's not actually occurring on AskMe. If I'm alone in thinking this is the case, oh well.
posted by Gator at 11:20 AM on September 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


Why on earth would someone decide to get pregnant with someone who drives a truck?

Not bourgeoisie enough for you? There are MeFites that have less skilled jobs and work for lower pay.
posted by oneirodynia at 11:22 AM on September 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


but if she finds her way over here (no one has linked the MeTa over there yet, but somebody probably will any time now), what's this going to do to her already-whacked out emotional state?

That's not our problem. If you post on AskMe then there's a fair chance you are going to get clubbed. I think I posted once about discerning labor statistics and got a rude, snarky response.
posted by anniecat at 11:22 AM on September 9, 2010


No, I was insinuating exactly what I said, which was the statement that a woman becomes unsympathetic because she earns a decent wage is bullshit.

$133k a year is not a standard salary. To get there you usually have to have some kinds of smarts, so if she's that smart and/driven to reach that high point, I don't understand why she would put up with being so unhappy with someone.

Also, I don't see how the BF was great before, enough to plan having a child with, yet is now a complete and utter asshole she throws a hammer at. It makes me wonder if the site is being trolled.
posted by nomadicink at 11:23 AM on September 9, 2010


Why on earth would someone decide to get pregnant with someone who drives a truck?

The fools laughed at me when I proposed injecting spermicide into the steering wheels of all trucks, any merchandise which mentions lacking fear/a child urinating on something/the phrase "Git r done", and various mustache creams and waxes, but my "insane" scheme would have prevented this disaster! Who is laughing now Nobel committee?! Hahahahahahaha!

Yours in science,

ND¢
posted by ND¢ at 11:24 AM on September 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Given the facts she stated, it's transparently obvious that she should leave the guy and probably not even keep the kid.

Eh. All we know is that their behaviour to each other in this relationship is profoundly fucked up and they are likely better off separated. I suspect a number of people have had the experience of getting together with a really nice, mostly together person and discovering that put together, you are a spectacularly toxic combination. You push each others buttons, you take everything the worst possible way, you fail only in the ways that are most critical to each other... you're a mess.

Individually and with other partners to whom you are better suited, though, you're fine.

I have at least one ex with whom this was the case. He's a really great guy, romantic, thoughtful... and we fought ALL THE TIME. I don't even *do* drama in relationships, and we still fought all the time. We never found a communication groove that even nominally worked, to the extent it was like we were just shouting at each other in foreign languages. Disaster.

There's a non-zero chance this woman will pull it together when she comes to terms with the fact she needs to stand on her own two feet and is relieved of the crazy this relationship engenders. Personally, I hope she succeeds.
posted by DarlingBri at 11:24 AM on September 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


$130k is not a "decent" wage,

as someone who makes less than half that (and whose take home after taxes is less than a third), I'm inclined to say it certainly is. It's not a whole hell of a lot for raising a family on by itself, but people who make that earn within the top 15% of the country's population if I recall correctly. let's not start making wild generalizations in either direction regarding what is or is not decent, here.
posted by shmegegge at 11:25 AM on September 9, 2010 [5 favorites]


This bears repeating, if we're going to actually talk about why this is or isn't good for Ask Metafilter, which I think is worthy of some at-length pondering:

Good: How do you manage money with your SO?
Bad: Why is my SO being so stingy with his money?

Good: How do you deal with a controlling parent?
Bad: Why won't my parents just let me be me?


(...)

I also sometimes get the feeling with some AskMes the member just wants someone to talk to, to vent their stuff and have someone validate their feelings. They're really not asking a question so much as looking for a place to get some support and comfort.

Threads do get deleted as chatfilter, and this seems worse than just idle chat... we're getting into full-on Argument Filter, which is really detrimental to the community in the long-run. An awful lot of these have ended lately in the disabling of accounts in disgust or frustration by long-time contributors, and it saddens me when that happens.

It's not black and white -- i.e. all relationship questions have to go, or all have to stay, but perhaps the framing could be taken more into consideration, along the lines NoraCharles mentions -- there's a wide continuum between

Great Question! ••••••••••••••••••• Delete with Extreme Prejudice!

and maybe the delete slider could be adjusted just one notch to the left without fundamentally breaking the site.

That, and nomadicink's suggestion that we all behave like adults, and walk away when tempers flare, but that's not gonna always happen when there's 40,000 potential bad tempers out there.
posted by Devils Rancher at 11:25 AM on September 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


That, and nomadicink's suggestion that we all behave like adults, and walk away when tempers flare, but that's not gonna always happen when there's 40,000 potential bad tempers out there

There's no reason why you (the general you) have to stop acting like an adult just because others act like fools.
posted by nomadicink at 11:29 AM on September 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Actually, I have no problem with RelationshipFilter, OMGDramaRelationshipFilter, or even UhOhScaryRelationshipFilter.

This particular case (deadbeat dad-to-be, OP skating on thinnest of emotional ice and reaching for Hammer of Thor) is something of an outlier; it makes sense that people's responses would be rather polarized.

And that's okay.

Far better that the OP get some feedback on her situation, and from folks not immersed in it, than that she let her thoughts go hamster-wheeling in her head until she does something truly irrecoverable.

The important thing is that, over the course of this, she got, or at least was offered, the two most useful messages:

1) This relationship isn't working out-- and actually seems already dead. Yes, your boyfriend seems like a jerk, but more to the point, you have to start making some pragmatic decisions instead of being enraged about his imperfections.

2) You seem to be seeing through a lens of fear and rage, to be acting in ways that are dangerous to others and yourself, and then to be deflecting responsibility for your behavior. Stop focusing on the BF and focus on building a stronger post-pregnancy support network.
posted by darth_tedious at 11:30 AM on September 9, 2010 [5 favorites]


Is there a script out there that's just blocks relationship questions? scrolling past them, though easy, is often what puts me off scrolling at all. I'm just never likely to find one I remotely ought to answer, much like questions about ipods.
posted by shinybaum at 11:34 AM on September 9, 2010


Hence the quotation marks, shmeggege. It's certainly reasonable to "lose sympathy" for financial complaints tiny in proportion to your income. The resulting "no sympathy for women1111" was, charitably, a deliberate misread.

I see what you're saying edgeways; I just think that medicalization is a way that many people seek to resolve issues of responsibility for acts which run counter to their expectations (and prejudices).
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 11:37 AM on September 9, 2010


We want to encourage people to seek help when they need it

Please speak for yourself. I have no interest in encouraging people to seek this kind of help from AskMe. There is a time and a place for just bitching about your partner in search of validation, but this is something people need to do in private, with their friends — when they seek this kind of validation publicly from strangers on the Internet, they're not going to get what they're looking for and everyone else is going to end up pissed off and shouting.
posted by enn at 11:45 AM on September 9, 2010 [5 favorites]


I always thought it was Dump The Master of Fine Arts.
posted by roll truck roll at 11:47 AM on September 9, 2010 [5 favorites]


This makes me wonder, based on something jessamyn said above, whether a new section to metafilter should be added that are specifically for drama type questions. Sort of a sub-askmefi section where people can go to be outraged- maybe call it CraZyfI.
posted by TheBones at 11:52 AM on September 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Nathan Fillion tells us what the hammer is.
posted by jph at 11:54 AM on September 9, 2010


I don't see how the BF was great before, enough to plan having a child with, yet is now a complete and utter asshole she throws a hammer at.

There are plenty of things that would cause people to behave this way.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 11:55 AM on September 9, 2010


This makes me wonder, based on something jessamyn said above, whether a new section to metafilter should be added that are specifically for drama type questions.

Does anyone have direct experience (and success) with the Stanislavski method?
My acting coach is a big proponent, but I find the whole thing so frustrating I want to throw stuff.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 11:58 AM on September 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm sorry, it was sort of a joke, I didn't make it clear in my post that I wasn't really serious about this. I think that if people need a place to be drama-filled, maybe metafilter's not the best place, other than maybe on MeTa.

Unless, however, we could have some way to post like the dramatic reading of a breakup letter in which case, I would say we need more of it.

I HATE YOU I HATE YOU I HATE YOOOOOOOU bastert.
posted by TheBones at 12:10 PM on September 9, 2010


Wow, Threeway Handshake you are now diagnosing the OP with BPD- that's not dramatic at all.
posted by TheBones at 12:13 PM on September 9, 2010


This makes me wonder, based on something jessamyn said above, whether a new section to metafilter should be added that are specifically for drama type questions. Sort of a sub-askmefi section where people can go to be outraged- maybe call it CraZyfI.

This has been sugested a few times before, I wonder if that would work. I wonder, though, how such can even be mentioned here, in this thread, as the very people against such drama must be bothering to at least read this fairly dramatic call-out (me included and I like the idea - just finding it a bit ironic).
posted by marimeko at 12:14 PM on September 9, 2010


Seriously, why does AskMe need to be anyone's counselor? We've been told many times that mefi does not need to be all things to all people, and this rationale has been used to deny feature requests (e.g., expanded memail functionality) and new subsites (e.g., dating). What's the rationale for keeping the dramatic relationship questions, especially if they create more work for the mods?
posted by desjardins at 12:14 PM on September 9, 2010


Or, if you think we need to be not-approving or deleting these sorts of questions, please let's talk about it.

For me romantic and gender relationship questions are, in some question and answers, like car wrecks. As much as I don't want to and though I know I will wish I hadn't afterward I am compelled to rubberneck. I doubt I am alone here. My will is weaker than my wisdom as I scroll down the page so I avoid AskMe almost entirely which means I miss out on some great stuff. Of course this site doesn't exist for my sole benefit but I have been thinking about this for some time and now that the matter is up for consideration I have a suggestion: Identify relationship questions as such and code so that the member has the option that they not be displayed. The model used for favorites seems to have been quite successful. I don't know if this is more trouble to implement or even if it is worthwhile and it wouldn't be a completely satisfactory solution - I doubt one exists – but damned if it wouldn't at least make me happier. :-) see, I'm happier just thinking about it.
posted by vapidave at 12:15 PM on September 9, 2010


Does anyone have direct experience (and success) with the Stanislavsky method?

All I remember about the Stanislavsky method from acting class many years ago was the song we wrote about him. The lyrics, in full, are as follows, and are as sung as high-pitched and loud as the performer can stand:

STANISLAVSKY
IS A MOTHERFUCKER
TURN IT OUT
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 12:15 PM on September 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


Wow, Threeway Handshake you are now diagnosing the OP with BPD- that's not dramatic at all.

Can you tell me where I did that? I was responding to somebody saying that nobody would ever go from "gee this guy is great, i'll have a baby with them" to "throwing hammers" for any reason.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 12:18 PM on September 9, 2010


If the genders were reversed and we were having shades-of-grey conversations about how hard he threw the hammer and did he aim it at her head it would be a repeat of The Great Boyzone Riots of 2008. Ridiculous.

Pretty much.
posted by rodgerd at 12:18 PM on September 9, 2010


What's the rationale for keeping the dramatic relationship questions, especially if they create more work for the mods?

There's a huge difference between not adding a new feature and removing site functionality because some people don't like it.

There's no easy way to excise relationship questions without really changing the way AskMe works for a large segment of the site's population. And if the rationale is "they're train wrecks" I think there's a corresponding set of people who have asked and/or answered relationship-oriented questions that have gone well and really helped people. So we're left with a somewhat arbitrary "fewer train wrecks please" guideline. It's easy enough to do this in the AnonyMe queue [and we do approce fewer hot button questions lately, sorry] but since we don't pre-approve AskMe questions, it's much tougher to do there without, again, dramatically changing the way the site works.

There are very few "if you ask about this we will delete it" guidelines and the ones we do have are already topics for nearly constant debate. I don't think it's a necessary conclusion that not allowing these questions somehow would make our jobs easier, at least in the short term.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:20 PM on September 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Most of the trainwreck questions share common features, though.

1. They are usually very long with far more details, to the point of obsession, than are necessary for the ostensive question.

2. These details usually involve somebody else's bad behaviour, or failure to reciprocate the OP's feelings satisfactorily.

3. It is usually completely obvious what the answer to the question is (DTMFA), and the OP has usually received said advice from various quarters, and failed to take it.

4. You often have to read the post three times to even work out what the question is.

5. The question is usually AMIRITE?

I don't think all relationshipfilter questions should be deleted (although it wouldn't bother me if they were) but I do think it would be helpful if they could be framed in a way that had at least some relevance to other people. When a question is so specific that we have to learn twenty different details about how the babyfather is an asshole and EVEN THROWING HAMMERS AT HIM DIDN'T WORK then it's not remotely clear to me how this is beneficial to the community or, to be honest, the OP.

Many of these questions don't seem like relationshipfilter so much as dramafilter. I think dramafilter should be deleted or bounced back to the OP to be reworked. I wouldn' t quite include Fermt's recent AskMe in this category, but it's bloody close.
posted by unSane at 12:31 PM on September 9, 2010 [9 favorites]


I've been reading and skimming these comments with some interest. One thing I will say is that I remember another question from a man in a relationship with a woman who was emotionally and physically abusive, and that there were commenters who were wondering if the woman had a thyroid problem and asking him to not leave just yet - the implication being that women who abuse their partners do it for external reasons, like glandular disorders, and that they cannot be held as morally accountable as a man would for the same behavior, or some horseshit like that.

Then the OP came in afterwards and said that he finally broke up with her and that she, in response, had smashed his laptop.

I'm not in a position where I can locate this question tout de suite, but I remember sighing heavily at it.

...

As for this question, it would appear that, since the abusive partner is the one asking the question, it's worth our while to communicate with her in an appropriately nonthreatening manner, while still not pretending that unacceptable behavior is acceptable.
posted by Sticherbeast at 12:39 PM on September 9, 2010 [9 favorites]


More than gender bias, which is probably in play here, I think the bigger reason people gave the OP so much leeway is because that's a natural feature of AskMe--we tend to come down on the side of the OP in most cases, because it's their side of the story we're hearing and we're trying to help them. The OPs we respond badly to aren't always the ones who are doing the worst things, but rather ones who take dick tones in their questions, or who are arrogant in some way, or who are flaunting the egregiousness of their assumptions or behavior, or who just plain rub us wrong. If a person sounds like he or she legitimately needs help or is in a terrible situation, we meet them more than halfway, and I think that's what happened here.
posted by Powerful Religious Baby at 12:40 PM on September 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


Also: "how hard was the hammer being thrown?" What the hell? Where do you live, Super Mario Bros. 3? Don't throw hammers at people.
posted by Sticherbeast at 12:41 PM on September 9, 2010 [96 favorites]


Every year at work we give peer feedback as part of the performance review process. I am drafting this already: "Working with Bob was challenging - he was not open to new design ideas and often responded dismissively to suggestions. I tried to resolve this with him on an individual basis, offering advice about how he might integrate others' ideas in to his work, but even throwing hammers at him didn't work."
posted by 0xFCAF at 12:54 PM on September 9, 2010 [17 favorites]


I think the bigger reason people gave the OP so much leeway is because that's a natural feature of AskMe--we tend to come down on the side of the OP in most cases, because it's their side of the story we're hearing and we're trying to help them.

You might be surprised at how often AskMe respondants insinuate wrongdoing or dangerousness to male OPs in ambiguously (and sometimes not so ambiguously) described situations. If that weren't the case, the flailing attempts to excuse behaviour in cases like this one wouldn't seem like quite the glaring result of prejudice that it does. It's a pretty well-known bias of the green. I certainly wouldn't go there for advice on anything relationship-related.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 1:20 PM on September 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


"What's the rationale for keeping the dramatic relationship questions, especially if they create more work for the mods?"

Ad impressions?
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 1:46 PM on September 9, 2010


Honestly, given the suicide threats and hammer throwing, I wouldn't believe a word of what she said about her boyfriend, including the fact that the pregnancy was planned or that they are actually in a relationship. The whole thing sounds deranged to me.

posted by empath at 5:41 AM on September 10


It never fails to crack me up when you write things like that.
posted by UbuRoivas at 1:57 PM on September 9, 2010 [4 favorites]


oh, and Sticherbeast: I've got a keyboard literally covered with muesli & banana now. I'm going to be carrying around "where do you live? Super Mario Bros 3?" around in my head all day & randomly bursting into laughter in meetings...
posted by UbuRoivas at 1:59 PM on September 9, 2010


It never fails to crack me up when you write things like that.

I like how people keep trying to find new ways to say 'eponsysterical' about my posts.
posted by empath at 2:00 PM on September 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Do you also feel the eponystericality? Do you?
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:02 PM on September 9, 2010


Ad impressions?

Seriously? We'd allow suicide questions too if that were the case. And chatfilter. And torches. And pitchforks. And the IMG tag. And we'd never ban anyone. And we'd try even harder to cultivate people's anxiety and feelings of low self-esteem that cause them to make bad relationship choices thus leading to more controversial relationship questions. And outreach, we'd do a lot of outreach, maybe even flat out user-stealing from other sites with high maintenance flame-fanning posters. We could learn a lot from Gawker and Daily Kos. And HuffPo. And we'll try to get people to post more about rape, and Israel, and parenting. Heck we'll start a whole "ur doin it rong" parenting forum where people call out other people's bad parenting decisions. And another one for people's bad pet raising decisions. And another subsite called "you shithead, you didn't need to go to the doctor" right next to "I can't believe you didn't fucking go to the doctor, you ass." And one just called "you deserve what you got" and one called "how dare you tell people they deserve what they got?" And we'll raise the restriction against linking to Stormfront. And we'll hire mods for their looks instead of their abilities. And we'll court investors. And we'll complain about people using greasemonkey and ad-block because they cost us money. We'll forbid people from reading the site via RSS.

And we'll rake it in. And then we'll finally be happy. Because that's why we do what we do.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:15 PM on September 9, 2010 [100 favorites]


I bags the position of high maintenenance flame-fanning poster! First dibs!
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:19 PM on September 9, 2010


Huh, and here I thought that was so clearly a joke that there was no possible way it would be read any other way.
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 2:21 PM on September 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


And we'll hire mods for their looks instead of their abilities.

There are better-looking potential mods out there? Not possible.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:22 PM on September 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Is it hug time yet?
posted by Devils Rancher at 2:23 PM on September 9, 2010


UbuRoivas, you can't bags things here, it's a US site. Dibs only.
posted by LobsterMitten at 2:24 PM on September 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


covering both bases.
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:29 PM on September 9, 2010


I want to make a cricket joke but I don't know enough about cricket to do it.
posted by LobsterMitten at 2:31 PM on September 9, 2010


Heck we'll start a whole "ur doin it rong" parenting forum where people call out other people's bad parenting decisions.

While I have a bit of a professional policy of never, ever questioning someone else's parenting decisions... I wish I could say that this site did not exist in my dream world. Popular topics include"AAAHHHH PUT A HAT ON THAT BABY!" and "You let him eat WHAT?!"
posted by sonika at 2:34 PM on September 9, 2010


I am pretty sure if the "hammer" wasn't number 21 on this list, there would be far more callouts on the OP's behavior.

I don't think this is a "we're easier on women" gender issue. I think this is "almost nobody reads a list this freaking long" issue.
posted by The ____ of Justice at 2:37 PM on September 9, 2010 [7 favorites]


I wanted to say this in the other abuse thread (the guy posting about his fiancée throwing a knife, etc.) but I feel that it needs to be said here: aside from the need to stop armchair diagnosing people, people need to realize that not everything is a "disease" or medical condition. I think we've, as a society, learned to medicalize everything and turn everything into a disease (drug abuse, alcoholism, "ADD"*, "OCD"*, etc.) so that we don't have to take responsibility for our actions. Threatening suicide or throwing dangerous weapons doesn't necessarily make someone "mentally ill"--often, it just means that the person doing such an activity is just manipulative/selfish/narcissistic/plain evil. People need to learn to take responsibility for their actions, and in this case, I don't think the OP is "mentally ill", just desperate and manipulative (and, of course, frustrated).

I also agree that there does seem to be a gender bias going on here, because I'm sure half of the people saying the OP's behaviour is okay are the same people who would be crying "abuse" if it was a man posting his question (and seriously, how does her being pregnant change her role or responsibility in this? "Oh, you know those pregnant women and their hormones!" isn't gonna fly with me).

*In this context, I mean ADD/OCD to be people self-diagnosing, or doctors improperly diagnosing because it's easier to prescribe a medication, not necessarily saying that the diseases don't exist.
posted by 1000monkeys at 2:37 PM on September 9, 2010 [6 favorites]


I want to make a cricket joke but I don't know enough about cricket to do it.

That one went through to the keeper, did it?
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:38 PM on September 9, 2010


Must. Not. Make. Stunt. AskMe. Post. About. Throwing. Hammers. At. Mrs. unSane.
posted by unSane at 2:41 PM on September 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


Bill Bryson on cricket (bottom of page). Yup.
posted by Melismata at 2:44 PM on September 9, 2010


unSane, you're thinking about this in the wrong way. Gift her an account and see what happens.
posted by desjardins at 2:50 PM on September 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


Mrs U likes your thinking.
posted by unSane at 2:56 PM on September 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


We could learn a lot from Gawker and Kos. and HuffPo

Small beer, Jessamyn. In the few weeks I've been reading the BoardGameGeek forums I've seen pedantry and assholism the kind of which would result in a quick Meta thread and summary banning... ALL OVER THE PLACE.

or, you know, it's confirmation bias...
posted by jtron at 2:58 PM on September 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Heh, yes, for all out internet no-hold-barred wrasslin' you can't beat hobbyist boards. The most vicious flame war I ever witnessed (and partook in) was between the hippy and preppy factions on the Cowabunga! surf music mailing list. Some of the threads on the RC airplane boards, especially the ones involving speed records and modifications, come pretty close though.
posted by unSane at 3:02 PM on September 9, 2010


You wouldn't think quilters would be a nest of vipers, would you? You'd be so, so wrong.

Knitters and weavers, too, but quilters take the cake.
posted by catlet at 3:10 PM on September 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


A girlfriend of mine once pushed me clean through an upstairs window. And no, it wasn't open at the time. I have to say it did cause my opinion of her to become somewhat tarnished.
posted by Decani at 3:12 PM on September 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think the bigger reason people gave the OP so much leeway is because that's a natural feature of AskMe--we tend to come down on the side of the OP in most cases, because it's their side of the story we're hearing and we're trying to help them.

You might be surprised at how often AskMe respondants insinuate wrongdoing or dangerousness to male OPs in ambiguously (and sometimes not so ambiguously) described situations. If that weren't the case, the flailing attempts to excuse behaviour in cases like this one wouldn't seem like quite the glaring result of prejudice that it does. It's a pretty well-known bias of the green. I certainly wouldn't go there for advice on anything relationship-related.


This. The most recent one I can think of being the guy who looked up (don't know how he did it, but he did) his female colleague's skirt. It was a crap thing to do, and he should be told off for it, but I felt that most people were incredibly hostile, basically comparing him to a rapist, etc. This is a far more serious case of the OP behaving badly, and people are way less harsh on her. Pregnancy and hormones are contributing factors, but people go through far, far worse shit every day, and they cope with it without throwing hammers or issuing suicide threats.

but if I was a neighbor and heard the single clunk of a hammer hitting a wall and a couple fighting I honestly can't tell you how I'd react

Yes. If I heard a single clunk of a hammer and a couple fighting too, I wouldn't know how I would react. Because I wouldn't know what happened. Not the point of my internet hypothetical. Because we knew what happened with the OP. Let's compare apples and apples instead: if I walked past their open door and saw the wife throwing the hammer at the husband I would dial police/ social services so fast my fingers blister.
posted by moiraine at 3:12 PM on September 9, 2010 [7 favorites]


moiraine, I don't know why you think other people wouldn't call the police in your hypothetical.

Many many people in the original thread said the OP's hammer-throwing is not ok and she needs to find a way to get it under control (docs, therapy, etc). Some people didn't mention the hammer-throwing, and many of them have later said it's because they didn't even read that part of the question.

If you're wondering why nobody is, in that thread, saying "you are an abuser! I accuse you!", maybe it's because that's not an approach likely to get her to seek treatment/seek to change her behavior. The point is to say something that will get through to her (in her current state of distress) and get her to change that behavior, which is not best achieved by being confrontational or demanding satisfaction from her somehow.

Throwing a hammer at your partner and threatening suicide is bad and not okay. People have said that to her.


As to the peek-up-skirt guy, I think much of the different response arose because of the difference in the way the posts were written:

Peek-up-skirt guy says, Oh I am a terrible guy, I intentionally peeked up her skirt, she caught me and looked angry, and asks "women of metafilter, would you lose respect for a coworker who did this?" So, he asks people to judge his actions and say whether they would lose respect for him. He beings with "I'm a perv", and there's the interpretive mystery of exactly what happened (was her skirt such that he could just casually glance and see up it, or was he going to lengths to arrange a glance?). So people, invited to judge and invited to assume that he was going to lengths to arrange a glance, go to town.

Hammer throw lady says, I'm having a baby in three weeks, and [huge giant long post that causes you to stop reading] by the way I threw a hammer at him along with other crazy things, and asks "can you think of reasons I should stay with my boyfriend?" She does not ask people to judge her actions; the tone of her post is extreme distress; moreover she has the pressing problem of "baby is coming whether or not anyone thinks I'm a fit mom", so that changes what kinds of responses make sense (try to plan for what kind of help you'll have when baby comes, talk to therapist/doc about anger management, rather than "you shouldn't be having kids!"). She hasn't asked anyone to judge whether they respect her, or whether she will be a fit parent etc.
posted by LobsterMitten at 3:40 PM on September 9, 2010 [4 favorites]


The most recent one I can think of being the guy who looked up (don't know how he did it, but he did) his female colleague's skirt...This is a far more serious case of the OP behaving badly, and people are way less harsh on her.

He asked about the looking up the skirt! That was the question! He opened the door and waved the entire community in on the topic!

What is with these false equivalencies, moiraine? The OP who set off this current turd-fest did not ask about her hammer-throwing.

She asked, "is anyone able to give me any reason whatsoever to stick with this person?" That was her question. And anyone who did not directly give her a reason to stick with the guy should probably have their answer deleted, including people there just to call her out on hammer throwing.
posted by Squeak Attack at 3:44 PM on September 9, 2010 [5 favorites]


Apologies in advance for the wall of text:

h00py wrote: "Don't you think this woman knows exactly how out of control she's feeling at the moment? It seems unlikely to me that she's somehow unaware of how fucked up some of the things she's done, ie. hammer throwing and suicide threats, are, and that's why she mentioned that she did them in her question, which is all about what she considers to have been unacceptable behaviour during her pregnancy so far."

I don't think that at all, given the way that she framed the hammer throwing incident as being his fault.

micawber wrote: "Whether or not she makes $130k a year, if it's his kid, he has to support it. Seriously, even total assholes go out and buy a onesie with their favorite football team on it, or something."

It sounded like he has had exactly one chance to do so. A big "bill" all at once with no discussion.

The whole thing sounds like yet another example of people not understanding that life is not like the movies and therefore their schmoopy is not clairvoyant. I've never had a child. I've never been around people who are having a child enough to know what specific things I as the man should be taking care of for the woman. As the youngest child in my family, I never have seen that experience. I would have exactly zero idea what a pregnant partner would need from me, sans their asking, especially if I didn't even live with said partner. Expecting someone to just up and do shit for you without any indication on your part that you need help is almost always expecting too much.

edgeways wrote: "Or did she barely toss it, out of frustration and hopelessness?"

That would be "throwing a hammer," not "throwing a hammer at someone."
posted by wierdo at 3:45 PM on September 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


moraine, the answer to the problem you're talking about is not to send more questions by women down rabbit holes of half-informed call-the-police panic, but to send fewer questions by anyone down there. Because we don't know what happened with the OP, really. Reading an anecdote on a website isn't the same as walking past an open door at all.
posted by Powerful Religious Baby at 3:50 PM on September 9, 2010


The idea of AskMe is to answer in the best interests of the poster -- to make an effort to serve the person who's asking. If you don't want to answer, you don't have to, but the poster, not her boyfriend, is the one asking for help and advice. If the boyfriend wants to post a question about how his pregnant girlfriend threw a hammer at him and seems crazy, I hope people would try to respond with his interests at heart as well and try to manage a measured response but he's not the person queued up on that question.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 3:58 PM on September 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


moraine, what's your end goal here? What conclusions, goals, wisdom, whatever would you like to see happen at the end of this thread?
posted by nomadicink at 4:05 PM on September 9, 2010


When it comes to calling the police, there might be a cultural disconnect going on. moraine, I noticed you said "flat" but your userinfo says you're in the US.

(This is a huge generalization so bear with me).

Here in the US, strangers usually don't call the police about domestic violence unless they suspect that someone is in immediate physical danger. Meaning, if you hear a potentially violent fight going on right that minute, you would consider calling the police. Even then, some people will err on the side of "well, I don't know that it's violent, they could just be fighting" instead of calling the police.

The assumption is that the people involved are adults and that if they want to get help they will, and that getting the police involved is unwarranted and intrusive, and possibly even detrimental to the victim if it's against his or her will.

I don't think very many people at all would consider calling social services (as in, calling a county or state agency) on behalf of an adult stranger who might be in a physically abusive relationship--I think that the vast majority of services have to be requested by the victim of abuse.
posted by the young rope-rider at 4:11 PM on September 9, 2010


There's a huge difference between not adding a new feature and removing site functionality

I truly do respect how hard this is for you guys, but in no way are questions like the one in question, and the subsequent Metatalk posts good for the site's functionality, or its community. Maybe once that would have been the case - I haven't been a member for very long in the scheme of things - but not now.

There are a well known topics that Mefi doesn't do well, I think that's A-Okay, and it's important to acknowledge that mefi can't be all things to all people, and nor should it be. Questions like this have really marginal utility - even to the asker, I would argue.

Obviously you don't want to ban all relationship filter questions, but even something as simple as a new flagging option in askme, and a request that people use it in situations of, whatever you want to call it - Dramafilter, Grarfilter, etc.

I don't think this stuff should be encouraged, either tacitly or explicitly. If someone was in real psychological distress and was asking the person behind the counter at McDonalds, for example, for advice, no one would view that as a good thing, or a thing to encourage. It might work okay a couple of times, sure, but on the whole it would not a be a good thing.

I'm not equating mefi's population - or mefi - with McDonalds, but there are appropriate channels for stuff, for good reason, and I don't think askme is the appropriate channel in this case. There are plenty of resources - both online and in real life - for people with this kind of trouble.
posted by smoke at 4:22 PM on September 9, 2010


If I just heard yelling, I wouldn't call the police. If I heard things being broken or other signs of violence, I would.

I figure it's not my responsibility to protect people from emotional abuse. It is my responsibility to intervene if I feel like there's a chance my neighbor may be beaten or murdered.
posted by wierdo at 4:24 PM on September 9, 2010


Moraine, here's my perspective from a very personal point of view.

A couple of months ago, my boyfriend of 18 months suddenly showed a violent side (that he had assured me he didn't have, as he knew from our first date that domestic violence is a dealbreaker for me).

We were going through a rocky time, I was tired of him making promises that weren't carried out (and obviously were never intended to be carried out), we had a civilised discussion about it... then a few days later, he manoevred his way back into my home, acting as though nothing had happened. I refused to kiss him hello because I was still frustrated and confused.

He started pushing and shoving and shoulder-charging, backing me into corners so he could scream abuse at me 2 inches from my face, despite me begging him to keep his voice down so my kids weren't woken up.

I finally told him that was it, it's all over. He physically forced me into my kids bedrooms to collect DVD's that he had loaned them, shouting that he wasn't leaving until he got all his possessions back. (He refused to take the 'commitment' ring back though.)

I finally got him out of the house by gathering his possessions and going out the back door to put his stuff on the table on the veranda, while he was screaming that he knew I was going to throw them all over the backyard because that's what lying whores like me do.

The back door is at the end of the very narrow laundry. As I was coming back into the house, having left his pile of stuff on table out the back, he deliberately pushed me into the ironing board, which then hit the washing machine hard enough to dent it.

Think about that. He shoved me hard enough that the ironing board dented the washing machine and moved it a couple of inches. (I struggle to move the washing machine by myself when I need to rescue a dropped sock from behind it.)

As I hit the ironing board, my hand fell on the iron. Literally dropped onto the handle.

I was beyond furious. This guy had destroyed my dreams of a happy relationship. He had woken up my then-11 year old daughter who was absolutely terrified. He had proven that, once again, I couldn't trust the man I loved.

I picked up the iron and went oh-so-close to throwing it at his head. The only reason I didn't is because some tiny not-batshitinsane-with-grief-and-anger part of me thought clearly and coldly, "what if it doesn't knock him out? What if it just makes him angrier, and my kids then witness him beating their mother to death?"

Tl;dr: I understand her hammer-throwing perfectly.
posted by malibustacey9999 at 4:37 PM on September 9, 2010 [4 favorites]


Here in the US, strangers usually don't call the police about domestic violence unless they suspect that someone is in immediate physical danger. Meaning, if you hear a potentially violent fight going on right that minute, you would consider calling the police. Even then, some people will err on the side of "well, I don't know that it's violent, they could just be fighting" instead of calling the police.

I think that's an overly broad brush to paint the entire US with. Here in the city where I live, would I call the police if I heard a domestic fight that sounded violent? Possibly, possibly not. In the small town where I grew up would I call the police if I heard the same thing? In a heartbeat.

The difference being in one situation the police are themselves an unknown quantity and may or may not be useful. In the latter, I know the police officer by name, and depending on the officer's age, either I went to school with one of their kids or my mom was present at their child's birth. Also, in the former situation I may or may not know the neighbors beyond names/faces. In the latter... again, I probably know more about their lives than I actually want to.

I don't think the issue with calling the police is a US v. everywhere else thing, I think it's a city v. small town thing.
posted by sonika at 4:42 PM on September 9, 2010


Relationship questions tend to be long screeds that rarely give an accurate representation of the situation -- not just because they are inherenrly one-sided, but also because there is way too much info that would have to be in there in order for anyone involved to come to any kind of well-informed conclusion. Not to mention that every answer is subjective.

To me, the standard for a good relationship question should be that the OP leaves with more insight, not whether we could find a clear solution or identify who is at fault. When there are conditions where that can't happen -- an overly vague question, a question with probable serious medical, psychiatric, criminal, legal, etc. issues -- then I'm OK with those being deleted. On the comments side, many comments end up being well-intentioned but vague supportive noises and I don't know what to do about that, its hard to ask people to not express sympathy when someone is in pain. Sometimes it devolves into voting on which option you like the most, which definitely seems pointless and I would love to see that discouraged.

I also want to say that the fact that relationship questions elide the objective truth is a positive feature. I always read the question with an eye toward what the OP is very careful to avoid saying, which is often the truth of the situation. It's not like they asked how to upgrade their computer but forgot to say if it's a PC or Mac and we can't help them. Some information is actively suppressed to prevent the truth from coming out, not because the OP is insincere or lying, but because they are unconsciously invested in continuing whatever dysfunctional cycle they are in. If anything, the stated question should almost always be read as "Help me continue suffering from my symptom!" which means solving it for them is not helping them. They can't break their cycle because they are unaware of the hold the symptom has on them, the unconscious satisfaction it brings. Once they can identify it, they can give it up.

On the domestic violence thing: I agree on the double standard. I didn't say anything because I thought it would be construed as mansplaining to a pregnant woman and undermine my main point. The ladies of MeFi took up the issue though, and the fact is that it's not an ongoing domestic violence situation. I feel like we've done what we can do here.
posted by AlsoMike at 4:45 PM on September 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


malibustacey9999 while I understand and empathize with your particular situation, I think you are really stretching it to apply it to the OP's situation (where, unless I glossed over it--which is very possible with that long essay--she never mentioned any abuse from her boyfriend). I think you're projecting more than a bit here. The OP points out her own manipulative behaviour to try and get attention from her boyfriend (i.e. threatening suicide because she knew it worked), which is a far cry from being assaulted and attempting to protect herself or get him to leave her alone (in fact, it appears that her behaviour was to get him to stay and give her more attention, not to leave her alone). Big difference IMO.
posted by 1000monkeys at 4:49 PM on September 9, 2010 [4 favorites]


the fact is that it's not an ongoing domestic violence situation

How could you possibly know that?
posted by enn at 4:51 PM on September 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't think that at all, given the way that she framed the hammer throwing incident as being his fault.

My more charitable reading is: This guy makes me so crazy that I lose control (and I hate that.)

My more (extremely) charitable reading on the hammer throwing is: I was on the floor putting together my furniture and he came in, spouted some non-supportive, non-helpful crap, and turned and walked out. I threw a hammer at him as he was retreating through the door aiming at his feet, not his head and I hit the door frame. Still bad, but not with lethal intent.

And there my charity ends because I can't wrap my head around the idea of claiming you will commit suicide in order to "preserve" a relationship. That is sick and twisted.

I want to say a big "Thank You" to creasy boy, because a couple of times as I was reading through the thread, I was frustrated at not being able to respond immediately-- and at least twice he said exactly what I wanted to say. Favorites were bestowed.

Finally, I favorited the truck comment because it made me laugh out loud, but I see that at least one person took it seriously. Really?
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 4:58 PM on September 9, 2010


the fact is that it's not an ongoing domestic violence situation

I presume the thought is, she's going to dump him and they won't live together.
posted by LobsterMitten at 5:06 PM on September 9, 2010


Well, they don't live together now. Based on the question, they never did, yet her getting pregnant was planned. Certainly an odd fact.
posted by nomadicink at 5:09 PM on September 9, 2010


I don't think the issue with calling the police is a US v. everywhere else thing, I think it's a city v. small town thing.

My point is that moirane seems to think it makes sense to call the police in a non-urgent situation, meaning if s/he thinks that domestic violence has occurred, but it's not necessarily happening RIGHT THIS INSTANT.

That is not a normal attitude in the US at all, where people generally think it's appropriate to leave the decision about involving the police to the victim/people involved, unless they're in immediate danger of physical harm.

This might not be the disconnect between moirane and everyone else but I think it's worth considering, instead of piling on.

I'm not knocking the US at all or saying that we never call the police. I live in a huge US city. I've called the police for arguments twice. Both times, multiple people in my neighborhood called (I could see people in the window holding their phones and looking to see what was going on, and a few people went out to stand on their stoops and tell the police exactly where to go).
posted by the young rope-rider at 5:15 PM on September 9, 2010


Fair call, 1000monkeys, I see your point. I was just trying to explain why some of us - who are so non-violent that witnessing a fist-fight makes them physically ill - can be pushed to extremes.

(Maybe I should stay out of domestic violence threads. Seriously. There may be some projecting going on, indeed.)
posted by malibustacey9999 at 5:31 PM on September 9, 2010


I have lived in apartments in Boston and suburban DC where I got to be an aural witness to screaming fights. Two times I didn't call the cops, in part because it was unclear that anything physical was happening, and in part because I had to keep living there, and because the layouts if the buildings, it would be obvious that I was the one who called.

The third time, I called CPS. A single mom and her daughter (maybe 10?) lived downstairs, and I heard stuff I really didn't like. The person at CPS told me that unless I had witnessed something with my eyes, they couldn't investigate.

One American's anecdata.
posted by rtha at 6:21 PM on September 9, 2010


Just as an anecdata-point: At our old place, I came pretty close to calling the cops on the neighbors a couple of times. They were having screaming fights and shit was getting broken, and I went through the cycle of "Is that what I think it is? Jeez, that sounds bad… Should I call? Where's my phone?" only to have the noises stop, then resume as loud fucking. The one time I did try to call for the folks across the street (they were throwing heavy shit at each other), I got a busy signal from 911 and let it go when it was clear that he had been chased out of the house.
posted by klangklangston at 6:32 PM on September 9, 2010


I've called the cops a number of times. Once when I was a kid, on my own family. (No violence was involved but I was terrified). Once when a woman in the neighbouring apartment leapt onto our balcony to escape her boyfriend, who had a knife. And several more times on the same guy after that (he was eventually taken down hard by the cops in the street and taken off to the Big House).

I definitely have a temper and I can lose it with the best of them but I have an absolute zero tolerance for violence, even something as mild as pushing someone in the chest to get them out of your face. If an adult within my family, including a partner, does that to me, they are getting the cops called on them, and I would expect them to do the same.

I once, when working as a journo, went out for a drink with a man who had killed his only child by pushing her during an argument. She fell, hit her head on the corner of a table, and that was that. Unintended consequences are also consequences. Once you start throwing hammers -- however gently -- you are lost.
posted by unSane at 6:36 PM on September 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


I understand her hammer-throwing perfectly.

...I doubt you even read the original post. There was nothing in there about the boyfriend being physically or emotionally abusive, only unhelpful. How can you even begin to draw connections between your story and hers?
posted by ripley_ at 6:49 PM on September 9, 2010


Oops, missed your second post malibustacey9999. My bad.
posted by ripley_ at 6:51 PM on September 9, 2010


Not going to touch the hammer incident, etc, but I would like to stick up for RelationshipFilter. I asked a loooong anonymous relationship question a few years ago that was pretty much the height of crazypants, and you guys responded unanimously with not just DTMFA but also "and also you are being a moron for letting things go on like this." I'm not going to claim that it immediately changed anything, but I DTMFAed within the next month or so, and I think that AskMe was a big kick in the pants that put me on that track.
Random strangers on the internet are sometimes going to be more honest with you than your friends. Friends don't want to criticize you, and they maybe don't want to criticize your SO, because each time you break up with him/her and your friend says, "yeah, good job, that guy was an asshole," it just gets more awkward when you get back together yet again and then you all three have to hang out together. Or whatever. I think AskMe is an invaluable resource that can wake people up to what they are doing wrong, even if the question is framed in "please validate my ridiculously dysfunctional relationship and my horrible behavior!" language (which mine certainly was).
posted by naoko at 7:06 PM on September 9, 2010 [4 favorites]


I found that AskMe about the guy whose girlfriend was hitting him.

It's great that the majority of the posters were (correctly) applying the DTMFA formula, but it's very unpleasant to see some answers in there trying to excuse or dismiss her behavior ("maybe it's hormonal! maybe she switched her birth control!").
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:46 PM on September 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


The second says criticism is "the last thing she needs."

I was the person who said that criticism is the last thing she needs -- because, as I originally said, I WAS that poster once, and criticism was the last thing I needed at the time.

When I was younger, I was in a really, really shitty relationship, one that pushed my anger buttons at a time when I hadn't really learned how to cope with having my anger buttons pushed. And....I hit the guy. More than a few times. And it was only my waking up one day and realizing, "whoa, if I'm getting abusive this is a bad scene" that lead to my finally breaking up with him.

But the fact that I'd even gotten to that point FREAKED ME RIGHT THE TOTAL FUCK OUT. I was scared that I had this capacity for violence that I didn't even realize was there, and I was scared at how much of a lack of control I had. And I was so scared, in fact, that I told very, very few people.

And at the time, if anyone had criticized me for it -- if anyone had "called me on my abuse" -- it would have just made things SO, so much worse. I was already thinking I was this Evil Uncontrollable Rage Beast, and having someone heap yet more "you're an ABUSER! How dare you!" on top of that would have really made me snap.

But this isn't to say that I needed coddling either -- because that's what I got and it didn't help me either. The people I told fell all over themselves to reassure me that he really must have gotten me angry and he drove me to it, but I kept thinking, "no, DAMMIT, that's not an excuse, there IS no excuse for what I did and I want to know how to stop it in the future."

What I needed then -- and what I was saying the OP needs now -- is a very specific kind of help. She needs to hear, "yes, this is a danger sign and there is something wrong with the situation you are in here. But -- this does not make YOU inherantly evil, and there is help you can get for yourself for learning how to better cope with anger."

If someone had told me that, and given me that help, it would have been a hell of a lot better than my trying to get through that mindfuck on my own. If someone had attacked me for what I'd done, it would have been even harder.

That's all I'm saying.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:10 PM on September 9, 2010 [5 favorites]


micawber wrote: "Whether or not she makes $130k a year, if it's his kid, he has to support it. Seriously, even total assholes go out and buy a onesie with their favorite football team on it, or something."

It sounded like he has had exactly one chance to do so. A big "bill" all at once with no discussion.

The whole thing sounds like yet another example of people not understanding that life is not like the movies and therefore their schmoopy is not clairvoyant. I've never had a child. I've never been around people who are having a child enough to know what specific things I as the man should be taking care of for the woman. As the youngest child in my family, I never have seen that experience. I would have exactly zero idea what a pregnant partner would need from me, sans their asking, especially if I didn't even live with said partner. Expecting someone to just up and do shit for you without any indication on your part that you need help is almost always expecting too much.


This is really interesting to me, because having her ask him to do something like being excited and buying a one-sy would ruin the fantasy of him loving her, him wanting her and wanting what she wants because she wants him to want her and think of it himself --- the romance and happiness of all the "we're having a baby!" and her insistence that it was a planned pregnancy (though who knows if he would agree -- maybe it never occurred to her that his not using a condom didn't mean he wanted her to have a baby should she get pregnant and he was too much of a wuss to say he didn't want it).

What she really wants is something he doesn't want to give her. He doesn't love her. It seems like he actually hates her.
posted by anniecat at 8:18 PM on September 9, 2010


It seems like he actually hates her.

Even after she threw a hammer at him!
posted by unSane at 8:28 PM on September 9, 2010 [4 favorites]


I might as well make my voice heard, too: that massive, numbered list did a fantastic job of demonstrating the mental instability of one person, to me. And that person was the person who wrote the list. The only thing that the man clearly did that was stupid/poor judgment/hard to understand was to impregnate someone for whom he apparently feels no real connection and with whom he clearly has no real connection, who also happens to be a bit of a total loon.
posted by paisley henosis at 8:30 PM on September 9, 2010 [4 favorites]


Even after she threw a hammer at him!

Lord I hate what this question has made me think. It's made me have to work at suppressing my gut which wants to say, "This guy ought to get the hell out and not look back because this woman is nuts" and "That baby ought to get adopted by people who know how to act normal." And I'm actually sorry that it's too late for her to get an abortion.
posted by anniecat at 8:35 PM on September 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


but it's very unpleasant to see some answers in there trying to excuse or dismiss her behavior

Given the answer you quote start with "it's wrong that she slapped you". that's a rather uncharitable reading. it's clear from the full answer that the commenter is trying to explain behaviour that she perceives" is not her normal behavior. something has changed". She then goes on to say if you are otherwise happy make sure she gets help with this, if not leave and tell her she needs to deal this. You might not like this answer but it is what is, not what you want it to be an example of.

The problem with insisting the only answer can be "This is abuse, its a Crime! DTMFA!", as I see it, it that it confuses what is necessary with what it sufficient. I write as a man who has been on the receiving end of some serious domestic violence (an ex-partner once beat me about the head with a bag of tools) and I would be the last to trivialize it but my own experience has also taught me, that from the inside at least, things can seem fraught with ambiguities and contradiction. Perhaps what needs to happen is that somebody has to be shown that things aren't ambiguous at all. But we can't hope to help somebody find a way out if we don't recognize that those things might be there. If we seriously want to tackle domestic violence and female on male violence in particular we have to take a nuanced view and recognize context, and in the case of female on male violence that means recognizing gender imbalances (and how they run both ways) as well as double standards.

I didn't DTMFA, and my reaction was messed up in all sorts of other ways it took a long time to untangle, but it didn't happen again and leaving at that moment would have left me homeless and with very little money -- an altogether fucked up situation. Of such contradictions is domestic violence made of. I will leave it to those who feel able to judge to do so.

Because of my experiences I can have a very visceral reaction to view points that I perceive as eliding the ambiguities that people can genuinely feel if they find themselves in these sorts of situations so I need to tread carefully and remind myself that I can only speak for myself. There are plenty of people here who do respond form direct experience who might violently disagree with me and I do not wish to be seen as pointing fingers. But part of the problem I have is that there can be a tendency to outrage on behalf of others that demands that things be black and white. Speaking only for myself, but as a survivor of this and other forms of abuse, I don't find that at all helpful.

On preview: make of it what you will but I can, for one, can certainly empathize with the viewpoint EmpressCallipygos articulates and I will readily my admit my behaviour was hardly spotless, if never violent.
posted by tallus at 9:15 PM on September 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


EmpressCallipygos wrote: "What I needed then -- and what I was saying the OP needs now -- is a very specific kind of help. She needs to hear, "yes, this is a danger sign and there is something wrong with the situation you are in here. But -- this does not make YOU inherantly evil, and there is help you can get for yourself for learning how to better cope with anger.""

It sounds like you already knew you were in the wrong. One would hope that people would see clearly that there would be no need for a pile on in that case. (although a few "get thee to an anger management counselor stat!" responses would be appropriate) The Asker in the question at discussion did not appear to have realized that throwing a hammer at someone is abuse.

anniecat: Romance is what happens in movies and in books. In the real world, we have to communicate expectations or they will not be met. Even then, sometimes expectations are not met, in which case it's time to consider whether or not your partner is a lout.
posted by wierdo at 9:36 PM on September 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


The woman is pregnant. In my experience, pregnant women sometimes do crazy things.

What the hell?

Is this the 1930s or some shit? Who talks like this anymore...
posted by hal_c_on at 9:59 PM on September 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


It's a good way up the thread, but Jess wondered what the community thinks. It seems to be a matter of what AskMe is allowed to be rather than one of how it is.

One person thinks, "Crack the whip."

It seems not so much a problem with the questions as with some of the answer(er)s. I think it would be unfortunate if stroppy people being stroppy leads to significant changes.

My vote: A brief note appears when people answer a question and a link to a longer post, both of which relate what won't be tolerated and what happens if people violate the policy. First time, warning; second time, suspension; third time, banned.

More specifically, for all the information provided, the question was simply: is anyone able to give me any reason whatsoever to stick with this person?

Some people take it upon themselves to go a lot further than answer that question (and others)... because they can.
posted by ambient2 at 10:50 PM on September 9, 2010


"For what it's worth, which isn't much, I was a flat-out loon when I was pregnant." - A Terrible Llama

"Yes, A Terrible Llama, yes!" - readery
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:55 PM on September 9, 2010


Also, the normal thing is 'if you don't want people to comment on it, excise it from your question.' She could have asked "I'm in an unfulfillable, empty shell of a relationship with someone who cannot meet any of my needs. I am also nearly due to deliver his baby. Am I crazy to leave?" and gotten the answers she wanted. Instead she said "I'm fucking mental, let me list the ways:"
posted by paisley henosis at 11:03 PM on September 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


Tl;dr: I understand her hammer-throwing perfectly.

So do I, having struggled to not attack the person who nearly killed my wife.

What you and I did is different than what the poster did.

I understand what she did. I do not condone it. In between the two is an appropriate response to the poster.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:36 PM on September 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Seems like these people are abusing each other. And now you're abusing us with an unnecessary callout.

Agreed. There are people—myself included—who should avoid AskMe, because there are questions that are so aggravating that one ends up MeTa-ing them.

And at that point, there is no salvation.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:40 PM on September 9, 2010


I'mma let you finish, but pardon me for getting my rant on.

Being on the shit end of an abusive relationship sucks, regardless of the gender breakdown, and while I keenly appreciate how complex the abuser's and abused's feelings about themselves and each other can be, that doesn't mean that the moral status of abuse is complex. It's wrong, and many societies, including the US, do not take take it seriously, because women have low status, because people believe no "real" man would be abused, because people believe abuse doesn't or can't happen in relationships between women, or because people believe that men in relationships with men probably wanted it and, if not, are sick and low status anyway, because, because, because.

Excusing or minimizing clear instances of abuse (done shockingly often in this thread) is extremely problematic because doing so reinforces notions about abuse that make it hard to get out and hard to get help. That doesn't mean calling the cops because someone on the Internet described abusing a partner -- there may be circumstances where that might have good results, but I think jessamyn's take is generally right -- but it does mean not writing shit that is going to make it harder for another abused person to have their predicament taken seriously, even if only by themselves.

Which brings me to why I am calling out this callout. This callout is not about taking abuse seriously; it's about scoring points in some ongoing fuss over the decision to take women's concerns seriously. The original complaint is pure speculation about how poorly a hypothetical male OP would have been treated had he, in an alternate universe, made the post, there's a complaint about the "Great Boyzone Riots," there's a complaint about how the women of Metafilter need to fight for equality, and so on.* Even where there is (as there is here) gender bias against recognizing that men can be victims of abuse, turning abuse into a football for an ongoing game of "Men v. Feminism" makes it even harder for male victims of abuse to be taken seriously rather than be dismissed as MRA cranks. And I think this callout has done a lot more to reinforce that image than it has done to remind people not to minimize or excuse abuse. So to anyone thinking of making a "Where's your concern for equality now, bitches?" style post on behalf of male abuse victims in the future, you're not fucking helping.

*Of course, there have been significant detours from that later in the thread, for which I'm grateful.
posted by Marty Marx at 11:59 PM on September 9, 2010 [23 favorites]


if you think we need to be not-approving or deleting these sorts of questions, please let's talk about it. Possibly expanding the "no suicide" questions to "no violence" or something, but again I'm not totally seeing how that would work.
See, the questions aren't the problem - it's the answers that cause all the angst. Taking away the ability to seek help on AskMe could well take away the only place a (small) number of people have to turn to for help. I avoid answering such questions myself, mainly because I can so often see the reasoning (however flawed) behind people acting irrationally and inappropriately at times of stress, because I so often act poorly in bad personal situations.

I understand what she did. I do not condone it. In between the two is an appropriate response to the poster.
This. Exactly.
posted by dg at 12:45 AM on September 10, 2010


The couple do not belong together and the baby will be better off without the crazy. The OP is in a seriously stressful situation at present, but even so, hammer throwing is not excusable. Like others, I question the whole planned part of the baby making as it sounds like he is seriously not committed to the process.

I think AskMe Relationship questions form a useful service and it would be wrong to stop accepting them if OPs are finding the answers useful despite the tendency for GRAR.
posted by arcticseal at 1:49 AM on September 10, 2010


I grew up with three brothers. There was name-calliing, squabbling, yelling, but in no way violence was acceptable. Period. When you hit someone else, you take away your right to be treated like an adult.

As for the people who suggested I should leave it and walk away, well, I would have (I posted an answer which said that we needed to hear more of his side of the story, and the situation is more complex than what she had written), except for the fact that it contained someone hitting someone else. That in of itself, even though it was number 21 (?) on the list, even though it was hidden away in a wall of text, deserves a callout.

I know some posters here have said that they resorted to violence in the past in the heat of the moment, who say that Oh, hey, look, they turned out fine and became more emotionally complex people in the end and learnt from their mistake!!!!111 And several people debating how hard the hammer was thrown. I fail to see how all this is adequate reasoning. Just because *you*resorted to violence does not mean it's okay, even though you and the other person came out fine. I also think these attitudes contribute to domestic violence. Ninety times out of a hundred, a one-off incident remains a one-off-incident, and a plate-throwing* is just a plate throwing, but there will be nine incidents of plate throwing incident which causes minor injury, and one incident where a death or major injury happens (See accident pyramid, different purpose, similar concept). The least I can do is to call it out when it happens. I don't advocate for a stone-throwing session, I advocate for a statement (among any other advice that you wish to make): Hammer-throwing is not acceptable. He cannot make you throw a hammer at him. You cannot do this. Even if you just threw it at his body (and not his head), or even if you just threw it listlessly(?) at him, even if it didn't cause an injury.
posted by moiraine at 2:07 AM on September 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


I have no idea how "If the genders were reversed and we were having shades-of-grey conversations about how hard he threw the hammer and did he aim it at her head it would be a repeat of The Great Boyzone Riots of 2008. Ridiculous." turned in to "there's a complaint about the 'Great Boyzone Riots'". If you think I was complaining about the MetaFilter community standing up against the mistreatment of a sex, you have it completely backwards.

I don't understand how this is construed as attempting to score points against feminism - I operate under the impression that treating man->woman interactions the same as woman->man interactions is a core tenet of feminism. What am I missing?
posted by 0xFCAF at 2:18 AM on September 10, 2010


Also, this is possibly a culture issue re:police/ social services -- I have been living in UK for several years now, and the social services play a bigger role in society (and thus take up a larger share of taxes). Anytime a child abuse or domestic violence case appears, the police and social services have to attend press conferences defending why this wasn't uncovered earlier. I am not part of the police/ social services, but I feel it's my duty as a responsible member of society to call out on stuff like this, just on the probability that this might lead to a more severe issue.
posted by moiraine at 2:38 AM on September 10, 2010


I know this is Metatalk and pretty much anything goes here, but I have to call out the repeated references to the Asker's mental status by people who are not at all trying to help or show empathy. People are saying that she is "a bit of a total loon" or that she is "[bleeping] mental". This is supposed to be a community and the Asker is a part of this community. This is just insulting and not how we should talk about one another, especially since what she is doing is seeking help. I am really dismayed by these recent Askme callouts where people pile on a person who is already in a bad situation and seeking help. In addition, there are those of us in the community who are "mental" and that shouldn't be thrown around so cavalierly and unfeelingly.

And on a separate note, I have seen repeated assertions that if the shoe were on the other foot (i.e. a man asks a question and he has been physically violent), then the answers would have been different. What I have not seen are any examples of this. It's just assumed that the Askme answerers are hypocrites. I have experienced Askme as a place where people offer compassionate and often comprehensive advice as best they can even when the situation is sticky. If there is a problem of hypocrisy in Askme answers then I think it should definitely be addressed, but where is the evidence? Some of the people who answered that question are people I have seen answer many other questions with compassion and a sense of nuance. I do not assume that they are applying a double standard without some real reason to think so.
posted by Danila at 3:09 AM on September 10, 2010 [7 favorites]


I am really dismayed by these recent Askme callouts where people pile on a person who is already in a bad situation and seeking help.

She's pregnant and (by her own account anyway) threatening suicide, while also displaying potentially criminal violent behavior. These issues, which she brings up herself, are massively more important than her 'DTMFA?' question since they involve the life of the unborn child, the wellbeing of her partner, her custody of the child and potentially her own liberty.
posted by unSane at 3:58 AM on September 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


And of course, that's the only thing that's going on in her life right now. She's just tossing hammers and threatening suicide all over the place. The rest of her question is completely irrelevant.

The fact that she's planned out a future for herself and her baby is being glossed over entirely in favour of this hyperbole about the goddamn hammer.

She's angry with the father for not having, in her opinion, stepped up enough. This is not an uncommon thing. People get angry all the time. She went too far. This too is not uncommon. Does this happen to her all the time? Is there a pattern to this? We can't possibly know the nuance of this occurance based on what was said in an askme question.

It's more than possible that the OP has indulged in a good deal of mind reading and not enough communication with the father of her child. Her list was one of grudges unspoken, to my mind. And of course it was written without taking the father's viewpoint into consideration because it was her question! She was asking, based on her take on things, if there was something to hold on to.

It just seems to me that extrapolating all this stuff about her based on an extreme thing that she admitted to doing in the context of relating all the shit things, in her estimation, that have happened during the pregnancy is way out of line. Honestly, haul back a bit. She doesn't deserve to become the poster child for female on male violence because of a short sentence in an askme question.
posted by h00py at 5:25 AM on September 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


that massive, numbered list did a fantastic job of demonstrating the mental instability of one person, to me.

I can see how that would strike someone as over the top. I see it as the product of 1) a person who makes 120,000 a year, someone who is driven, organized; and 2) a person who has spent a lot of time stressing over the situation. It's a good sign for a pregnant woman to be making big plans for the future-- trying to cover all the angles and figure out how to handle the possible pitfalls. She has probably been brooding about this for months going through stages: excitement (over the pregnancy), disappointment (over the father-to-be's reactions), and now fear (what the future brings.)

The woman is pregnant. In my experience, pregnant women sometimes do crazy things.

What the hell?

Is this the 1930s or some shit? Who talks like this anymore.


I think you are down-playing the role of hormone-upheaval. It is real and it is frightening. I've been through 2 pregnancies and (just recently) menopause. As a very dispassionate, rather placid person I sometimes found myself intellectually divorced from my own emotions. I would stop and think, "Why are you suddenly so enraged? Where is this coming from? You need to stop and get that shit under control."

I think we are all comfortable talking about athletes on steroids getting 'roid rage, why is it out-of-date to mention pregnancy craziness?
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 6:01 AM on September 10, 2010 [4 favorites]


It just seems to me that extrapolating all this stuff about her based on an extreme thing that she admitted to doing in the context of relating all the shit things, in her estimation, that have happened during the pregnancy is way out of line

She didn't just admit to doing an extreme thing, but rather blamed his behavior for her acting extremely. It's completely understandable if some people view her list of complaints in a different light.

Anyway, she's responded and seems to be on her merry way.
posted by nomadicink at 6:04 AM on September 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


This is supposed to be a community and the Asker is a part of this community.

'Community' is neither positive or negative. It can be both.
posted by gjc at 6:18 AM on September 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


The original complaint is pure speculation about how poorly a hypothetical male OP would have been treated had he, in an alternate universe, made the post

No, if you had read the post more carefully, the original call out is to call out the fact that at the time of writing, no one seemed to be worried by how wrong the hammer-throwing, etc is, however much he may have 'provoked' the OP. I agree that I didn't write as clearly as I could have written, but it was incredibly disturbing to see how many posters excusing/ glossing away domestic violence and the potential for more domestic violence because of the sympathy factor.

Yes, I understand, many posters have been through a similar sort of situation and have in fact thrown stuff at SOs when they are distressed, and hence they understand what she is going through, but wrong is wrong is wrong. Make one excuse for domestic violence and it's downhill from there.

Whereas, if it were a male OP writing (in which we will assume that he was undergoing a similar hormonal/ emotional crisis), people would immediately jump on the fact that he was committing domestic violence. And rightly so.
posted by moiraine at 6:19 AM on September 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


This callout is not about taking abuse seriously; it's about scoring points in some ongoing fuss over the decision to take women's concerns seriously.

I am now officially living in upside-down world, where explaining away abuse is a proper way to handle "women's concerns" but acting on abuse is all about "scoring points".
posted by shii at 6:30 AM on September 10, 2010 [11 favorites]


So putting it all together, if I'm really stressed at work and my lazy good for nothing pregnant wife who doesn't appreciate me starts acting crazy because of her hormones and forces me to toss a hammer at her to get her attention, y'all are gonna be supportive, right?
posted by unSane at 6:48 AM on September 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


Anytime a child abuse or domestic violence case appears, the police and social services have to attend press conferences defending why this wasn't uncovered earlier.

Sounds like the culture around child protection in the UK is the same as it is in the US but other domestic violence, completely different.

I thought this might be the issue--and I hope you understand it doesn't mean we don't take domestic violence seriously.

Here is a thread about child protective services (CPS). As you can see, people are very into calling the equivalent of social services in cases of potential child abuse.

We absolutely do not have the same culture when it comes to protecting adults in domestic violence situations. Unless the victim is in immediate physical danger, calling the police might be perceived as intrusive, taking choices away from the victim, and/or more likely to do harm than good if the abuser retaliates.

As far as social services, you'd have to ask a social worker, but my probably flawed understanding of it is that the vast majority of services require the victim to approach them or otherwise ask for help. However, if there is a child in the home, then CPS can get involved and mandate various services.

The government often doesn't prosecute clear-cut cases of abuse unless the victim wants to testify and/or "press charges" (meaning, take the case to court). That means that if the victim, for whatever reason, doesn't want their abuser to be prosecuted, the abuser often gets off scot-free. There has been a lot of effort dedicated to changing this sort of "it's not our business" culture, which has led to things like mandatory arrest laws.

Obviously, the US is not monolithic so take everything as a generalization.
posted by the young rope-rider at 6:58 AM on September 10, 2010


Is trying to not put the worst possible spin on things being supportive? Your hypothetical question is on a different level to what we're all gasping about here.
posted by h00py at 7:10 AM on September 10, 2010


Your hypothetical question is on a different level to what we're all gasping about here.

In what way? I phrased it quite carefully. The OP has a partner she regards as indolent and unsupportive. She is highly stressed and may according to several respondents be acting out of character because of her hormones. She says the bf's refusal to help her or recognize her contributions has 'made her' act crazy, including threatening suicide and throwing a hammer at him. Why should we be supportive in one case and not the other?
posted by unSane at 7:19 AM on September 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


unSane: So putting it all together, if I'm really stressed at work and my lazy good for nothing pregnant wife who doesn't appreciate me starts acting crazy because of her hormones and forces me to toss a hammer at her to get her attention, y'all are gonna be supportive, right

Assuming you and your wife are not living together, you categorize your hammer throwing as "crazy" and you are seeing a therapist, then when you come and ask if you and your wife should stay together, yes.

There's nothing else I can do besides ignore your question. I can't tell you to move out of a toxic situation - you have. I can't tell you to see the therapist you clearly need to be seeing - you are. All I can do is try to help you deal with the immediate question you've asked.
posted by DarlingBri at 7:31 AM on September 10, 2010


you categorize your hammer throwing as "crazy"

She said that he "made her" do those crazy things, which is depressingly common abuserspeak for "I am going to hurt you and it's your fault. Why, maybe if you act better, I'll stop hurting you." I've only heard it a hundred billion times.

Also, dismissing your own behavior as "crazy" is a great way to sever yourself from your own responsibility as a moral agent - after all, you didn't do anything wrong, you just went "crazy". We all go a little mad sometimes. But moi, do something wrong? No, I'm the victim! And you make me this way!

I don't know what more could be done for her (or the boyfriend or the kid) in the context of AskMe, but I don't get the sense that the OP really "gets" how her actions affect others, irrespective of whether or not she's seeing a therapist.
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:41 AM on September 10, 2010 [5 favorites]


I have a feeling that had he stayed to help out with organizing all the baby items that there would be another 25 point list of how he did it wrong.
posted by asockpuppet at 8:07 AM on September 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


Yeah, stitcherbeast, the most notable examples of her not getting it are:

--She has thrown a tool at him but still thinks it's reasonable to expect that he help her fix up a house, build cabinets, and assemble baby furniture (presumably using...tools)

--She thinks he is not putting enough effort into the pregnancy, delivery, or future welfare of their child, when she has threatened multiple times to kill herself (which would put the life of their unborn child in great danger, or permanently deprive it of a mother).
posted by the young rope-rider at 8:11 AM on September 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


And for what it's worth, the way the list was written (including the numbering) didn't strike me as crazy as much as it struck me as the work of an attorney. That's how they write when they file civil lawsuits, if I'm not mistaken.
posted by the young rope-rider at 8:12 AM on September 10, 2010


Is there a pattern to this? We can't possibly know the nuance of this occurance based on what was said in an askme question.

Wouldn't it be handy if she mentioned, in the question, whether or not these actions were part of an ongoing pattern? What do you know — she did:
My job performance is waning, my health is suffering, and my sanity went out the window several months ago. His continued refusal to contribute, or to recognize my contributions, has made me do increasingly crazy things (I threw a hammer at him, have made several threats to leave town, have ended the relationship more times than I can count, threatened suicide once I figured out this would get his attention, etc.).
Her health is suffering and the things she is doing are growing "increasingly crazy." (The list of these things is already apparently too lengthy to include completely even in an AskMe question that contains a twenty-five-item numbered list, hence the "etc.") Your insistence on construing this as an isolated incident is counter to the facts as related by the asker.
posted by enn at 8:14 AM on September 10, 2010


At the risk of picking another nit in what seems to be a completely pointless thread with nothing good being accomplished or decided even after 300 comments, she didn't say she threatened suicide "multiple times."
posted by Gator at 8:15 AM on September 10, 2010


anniecat: Romance is what happens in movies and in books. In the real world, we have to communicate expectations or they will not be met. Even then, sometimes expectations are not met, in which case it's time to consider whether or not your partner is a lout.

Well duh. I was agreeing with you, and emphasizing that the truth of the matter is that it's hard to give up what the schmoopy wants you to want, so she's just forcing what can never be.
posted by anniecat at 8:24 AM on September 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


She said she threatened to commit suicide after she realized that it would get his attention. I read that as "I did it once, realized that it would get his attention, and then did it again", similarly to the way that she threatened to leave multiple times, leave town multiple times, etc.

Of course, she could have intuited another way that threatening to orphan their child and/or cause its death would "get his attention", so mea culpa.
posted by the young rope-rider at 8:26 AM on September 10, 2010


This AskMe and the subsequent MeTa are perfect examples of why I've believed from the very beginning that AskMe shouldn't be structured like MeFi. Instead, each MeFite would be allowed one - and only one - post to answer the question, and posts quoting, addressing, or rebutting other posts would be deleted immediately. You want to have long, drawn out discussions about the classification of (possible) (hot button) (social issue) (here)? Fine. Take it to email, or create a worthwhile FPP. This back and forth and back and forth is ridiculous, in the end it will change exactly NOTHING, and, worst of all, it does absolutely nothing to assist the original poster, whose question was, should I sever my relationship with the father of the child I'm planning on birthing in, oh, the next couple of weeks, give or take? I know the Green just LOVES to be the domestic violence police, but that wasn't her question - and it's particularly egregious in this case because we're going on the barest hint of information here. Disallowing this kind of rambling derail by requiring posters to (1) put up and then shut up and (2) restrict their reponses to the ACTUAL QUESTION, would go a long way towards addressing this type of situation.
posted by OneMonkeysUncle at 8:27 AM on September 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


anniecat wrote: "Well duh. I was agreeing with you, and emphasizing that the truth of the matter is that it's hard to give up what the schmoopy wants you to want, so she's just forcing what can never be."

Sorry about that. I misread your post. :(

OneMonkeysUncle: The Asker was the one who brought up domestic violence. She easily could have left that part out if she didn't want to be called out on it. Heck, if it was "I punched a door" or something not directed at her baby daddy, I might consider this all a bit overwrought, but that's not what happened. She threw a hammer at him, and says he made her do it.

I once threw a screwdriver across a room and accidentally hit someone in the head with it. I didn't go blaming the guy I hit with it for happening to get in the way. He didn't make me throw the screwdriver. I was the dumbass who threw it, and we were both incredibly lucky it hit him in the forehead and not the eye. Throwing things like that is unacceptable. Throwing things like that in anger is completely inexcusable.
posted by wierdo at 8:43 AM on September 10, 2010


Instead, each MeFite would be allowed one - and only one - post to answer the question...

Interesting suggestion. Such a black and white rule seems odd on the site though.
posted by nomadicink at 8:47 AM on September 10, 2010


I stayed out of this thread because I couldn't articulate why it irritated me so, but now I think I have a handle on what I feel is maddening about it.

It seems that people who support gender equity are being called on the carpet because there was not a flood of condemnatory comments immediately from everyone who has ever talked about gender issues, because obviously if one member of a subgroup does something wrong, everyone else in that subgroup is supposed to launch into heated denuciations or they obviously support the wrongdoing.

I don't know why the people who are defending her are defending her. But for myself, I read that thread and it was a wall of text trainwreck and everyone was unsympathetic. So I closed the window and went about my day.

But I have been reading this thread and I'd just like to state as someone who supports gender equity the following:

- throwing hammers at people is unacceptable in all circumstances
- I do not condone any sort of violence
- I feel just as strongly that the poster of the AskMe is wrong as I would if she were a man
- I don't feel that it is my responsibility to break the guidelines of AskMe and condemn a poster in a thread I normally would not post in just to enforce my personal ethical consistency

Just because there wasn't a flood of outrage that, again, violates AskMe guidelines to answer the question doesn't mean that all the people who oppose sexism are cheering on the hammer lady.
posted by winna at 8:47 AM on September 10, 2010 [11 favorites]


worst of all, it does absolutely nothing to assist the original poster, whose question was, should I sever my relationship with the father of the child I'm planning on birthing in, oh, the next couple of weeks, give or take?

The actual quote is this (bold is author, underline mine):

"Without questioning why I thought it was a good idea to get pregnant in the first place (a valid question, but I’m 32, educated, employed, and apart from this relationship am generally a stable and responsible adult) or suggesting that we all need counseling (I know that already), is anyone able to give me any reason whatsoever to stick with this person? My therapist, family, friends, neighbors, and everyone else familiar with the situation have all advised me to get out now, before the baby is here. Am I missing anything? I need to make a decision (a real, final decision and not merely a threat) in the next few days in order to preserve my health and sanity for labor and delivery."
posted by vapidave at 8:59 AM on September 10, 2010


You're right, vapidave, she does open the door a crack - but in my reading of the underlined question, it was linked to the bolded question. I didn't think she was issuing an open inivitation to latch onto something she mentioned in passing near the end of her (long) post and ignore her primary question... But you're right, it is there.
posted by OneMonkeysUncle at 9:05 AM on September 10, 2010


When I open up a relationshipfilter question and see a list of 25 items creating the situation I just assume the poster has already made a decision and is looking for validation so I close that up real quick not wanting to waste my time and I move on. I have been following this thread with mild interest and would normally not comment here either but I feel it necessary to say that from the outside looking in, y'all are talking at each other not with each other. I am quite confident that this is like playing tic tac toe with the WHOPR. There are no winners when you don't look for common ground but rather look to pick each other apart. This is coming from a guy who usually says in his head, "Fuck 'em all".
posted by JohnnyGunn at 9:09 AM on September 10, 2010 [2 favorites]



So putting it all together, if I'm really stressed at work and my lazy good for nothing pregnant wife who doesn't appreciate me starts acting crazy because of her hormones and forces me to toss a hammer at her to get her attention, y'all are gonna be supportive, right?

I think you are taking a bit of a piss here, but assuming your question is meant in good faith: From me? Certainly. I would not defend your actions but recognize the circumstances that led to you making bad decisions and try and help you find resources to change that behavior.
posted by edgeways at 9:31 AM on September 10, 2010


y'all are gonna be supportive, right?

I would be, yes.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:50 AM on September 10, 2010


Is this the 1930s or some shit? Who talks like this anymore...

Oh, it's the 1930's all right. She was taken to task for buying "fripperies" by someone in the original post, which referred to the provisions she bought for the baby. That's not even the definition of the word.

But, hey, she makes $130k, so let's criticize what she buys.
posted by micawber at 10:09 AM on September 10, 2010


Just because there wasn't a flood of outrage that, again, violates AskMe guidelines to answer the question doesn't mean that all the people who oppose sexism are cheering on the hammer lady.

THIS!

I didn't have anything to offer in the post. I also skimmed the list, realized I had nothing to say about being pregnant by someone who didn't seem to want to be in the relationship, and left the question. I didn't even SEE the hammer mention until people called it out here. That was a long, long text block.

Had I seen it, I still probably wouldn't have answered, but I might have flagged it for the mods as a "hey did you see the hammer part, because I think this is gonna be a trainwreck".

My absence of commentary on the post was not due to my belief that she is right. My presence here to call out people I feel are using this occasion to dump on women excessively is not because I think she is right to throw a hammer. It's to point out the people dancing around the burning funeral pyre.
posted by micawber at 10:13 AM on September 10, 2010


edgeways: I think you are taking a bit of a piss here...

It's taking the piss. Taking a piss is actual pissing. Permit me to illustrate the difference with two sample sentences:

A piss - Hey, we've been drinking beer all night. I need to take a piss. Let's decamp to the powder room.

The piss - I thought Marty Marx and winna were taking the piss when they decided a thread about a woman chucking a potentially lethal object at a man was the best possible place to complain about how shitty men are. But it turns out some people are just so blinkered by ideology that they're more worried about women's feelings being hurt than a man being physically attacked. Funny old world.

Now I've shown you how it's done, please don't misuse this piece of non-American slang again. Otherwise, I'll come round to your house and ram an icepick through your solar plexus. You will have provoked me!
posted by Very Nice Person at 10:16 AM on September 10, 2010 [5 favorites]


Oh, damn. I said two sample sentences, but there's more than one sentence in each sample. I'll just ring Mother and have her come round and disembowel me with a pruning hook. She's a woman, you know, so it's fine and dandy. She can't control her hormones, the poor dear. I remember when she was menopausal, so she ran over the vicar with a lawnmower. We had some laughs!
posted by Very Nice Person at 10:19 AM on September 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


VNP: what




I think we definitely need a new "WTF" or "dramabait" flag reason.
posted by subbes at 10:38 AM on September 10, 2010


I don't know why the people who are defending her are defending her. But for myself, I read that thread and it was a wall of text trainwreck and everyone was unsympathetic.

I stayed out of the AskMe thread because I could not get into a mindset where I was sympathetic to her. She admitted to abusive behavior, without any apparent contrition. Her bullet list very much reminded me of a door covered in neatly typed papers I once saw in the house of a profoundly unwell, highly abusive person. I also have some experience, personally and professionally, with men and families those abused by women, but who were too embarrassed to report it, or who were not believed by others, because hey, women just get nutty sometimes and surely no mother would treat her children like that and why doesn't your father stand up for himself, surely if things were so bad he'd stand up for himself.

I do not think she is Evil(tm), but she comes off as a deeply troubled and, yes, unsympathetic person. I have no idea how sympathetic or unsympathetic her boyfriend is or is not, but I have a reasonable suspicion that her itemized list as as complete as she could make it.

I am being one hundred percent sincere when I give kudos to all who were able to politely try to level with her. Whether she chooses to heed their advice is entirely up to her. That said, within this MeTa, I have no problem calling flaming-volleys-of-horseshit on anyone who tries to explain away her behavior as the abuse that it is. I remain convinced that a mishmosh of gender stereotypes are the driving force behind the select few pretending that the responsibilities of adulthood do not apply to her.
posted by Sticherbeast at 10:49 AM on September 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


anyone who tries to explain away her behavior as the abuse that it is

Erm, "anyone who tries to explain away her behavior as anything other than the abuse that it is." Me no type good when grinding axe.
posted by Sticherbeast at 10:51 AM on September 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think we definitely need a new "WTF" or "dramabait" flag reason.

This thread is PACKED with crazy bullshit. This woman assaulted her boyfriend with a potentially lethal weapon. And people are excusing her - saying she was provoked, she can't control herself cause she's pregnant, that people just want to judge her. She's practically being praised as a saint, but some people think that she's still not being treated leniently enough. That people just object to her incredibly fucking dangerous behavior because they want to denigrate 'women's concerns'. Fuck that noise.

No one asked everyone who is 'pro gender-equity' to comment. They asked the people who did comment not to defend, or ignore, this woman's abuse of her partner. As moiraine said, there is no excuse for abuse.

I'm certainly not looking for drama. This is my last comment in this thread, because I know for damn sure that the sort of moral retards and ethical cretins who are more concerned with 'women getting dumped on' on an internet forum than men getting physically abused in real life are not worth arguing with. People like winna and micawber have already decided who's valuable and who's not. It's too hard for them to try to sympathize with a victim who doesn't fit their ideological preconceptions.
posted by Very Nice Person at 10:52 AM on September 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


This is my last comment in this thread, because I know for damn sure that the sort of moral retards and ethical cretins who are more concerned with 'women getting dumped on' on an internet forum than men getting physically abused in real life are not worth arguing with.

You have been a member of this site for one day. It seems that you don't totally know how it works. No big deal really, but sometimes you can stay happier here if you don't show up hollering at people. Works for me anyhow.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:56 AM on September 10, 2010 [6 favorites]


micawber - you remain insistent in believing that any and all comments about the OP's salary are inherently sexist and misogynistic, which doesn't seem at all obvious to me.

When one half of a romantic couple earns significantly more than the other, particularly when the higher-earning partner is making a salary far greater than the average citizen in general, I don't think it's unusual for some people, REGARDLESS OF THE GENDER OF THE HIGHER EARNING MEMBER OF THE COUPLE, to believe that in such a case expenses would not be split evenly down the middle and that the higher earning partner would take on a greater portion of the finances simply because he or she is better positioned to due so, while an even split (which seems to be what the OP expects from her partner) would be a far greater financial burden on the lower earning partner.

While I'm not sure I necessarily agree with that concept, I don't think it indicates sexism in either direction and I think you are fighting a sexism battle that doesn't exist, at least in this case.
posted by The Gooch at 10:56 AM on September 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm certainly not looking for drama. This is my last comment in this thread, because I know for damn sure that the sort of moral retards [...]

The word choice at the end of this quoted statement kind of negates the sentiment expressed in the beginning. I know what you're trying to say, but this isn't how to win friends, influence people, or come across like a rational person in a debate.
posted by sonika at 10:57 AM on September 10, 2010


VNP: I don't think you're giving winna and micawber nearly enough credit at all.

There are at least two discrete issues here: how to deal with problematic posters in AskMe questions, and taking domestic violence seriously.

I remain convinced that calling out the poster in too direct and aggressive a fashion would be against the AskMe guidelines, as well as unhelpful and counterproductive. It's a delicate balance, and sometimes you have to resign yourself to understanding that there isn't always a magic chain of words you can string together to get people to behave "correctly".

Also, I think winna and micawber did the right thing by staying out of an AskMe thread in which they didn't feel they'd be helpful. It's especially hard to be helpful in an AskMe thread when the poster has such densely packed cloud of issues, some from her own doing, others some from circumstances around her, especially when the poster isn't very sympathetic.

...

That said, trying to explain away the hammer-chucking is just laughably wrong, but winna and micawber were explicitly not doing that.
posted by Sticherbeast at 11:01 AM on September 10, 2010


If you're "not looking for drama," then why in the world would you call other members of this site with whom you do not agree "moral retards and ethical cretins"?

There are better ways to get your point across. Pity you elected to take the one that pretty much guarantees people aren't going to take you seriously.
posted by shiu mai baby at 11:03 AM on September 10, 2010


Otherwise, I'll come round to your house and ram an icepick through your solar plexus. You will have provoked me!
-Very Nice Person


You're not really a very nice person, are you?
posted by Devils Rancher at 11:11 AM on September 10, 2010


"If you think I was complaining about the MetaFilter community standing up against the mistreatment of a sex, you have it completely backwards."

That is exactly what I think. "Great Boyzone Riots" sounds like a dismissive reference to the decision to make a conscious effort to make Metafilter more inclusive of and responsive to women's concerns and is unrelated to this issue but related to the "Where's your equality now?!" complaint.

I operate under the impression that treating man->woman interactions the same as woman->man interactions is a core tenet of feminism. What am I missing?

Fair question. While not all (few?) feminists think that gender discrimination and oppression can be addressed by gender-neutral analysis like "Well what if everything were the same but she was a man?" those issues don't come into play here because minimizing and excusing abuse would be wrong regardless of the genders of the parties. As I said twice in my previous comment, the excuses and minimization of abuse going on in this very thread are wrong.

My complaint is that the callout had very little to do with abuse as such and very much to do with perceived inequality of treatment on ask (see, for example, the exchange that culminated with a complaint about the "general atmosphere" of men being called pieces of shit without adequate concern for difficulties in their lives), pointedly directed at users who take women's concerns seriously. Other commenters in this thread have noticed and remarked upon this as well.

I'm particularly upset about it because woman-on-man abuse is a constant refrain among men's rights activists, who, among other things, lobby for reduced funding for women's shelters on the pretext that it is unfair there are not an equal number of men's shelters (ignoring the de facto exclusion of women and children from many homeless shelters and the far greater incidence of victimization of women). Using abuse to score those kinds of points makes it harder to get people to take the problems of male abuse victims seriously because they get lumped in with the MRA folks.

No, if you had read the post more carefully, the original call out is to call out the fact that at the time of writing, no one seemed to be worried by how wrong the hammer-throwing, etc is, however much he may have 'provoked' the OP.
I carefully read the post you admit could have been better written. I stand by my first analysis that it was pure speculation about how a hypothetical male OP would have been treated, largely on account of the second line of the callout:

magine if the OP was a guy who wrote this question. I'm sure everyone would be like, you're jerk, and btw, you're abusing your girlfriend!!!!! It's all your fault, and that's why the relationship is breaking down.

but also because of this subsequent comment:

I wish I could do a science experiment and post a similar question where the OP is a male*, and count the number of responses point out that the OP is wealthy, over-entitled, domestic abuser and he should be jailed for life** for throwing a hammer at the partner. My guess would be something like 99.5%

Lastly,

I am now officially living in upside-down world, where explaining away abuse is a proper way to handle "women's concerns" but acting on abuse is all about "scoring points".
If you're trying to quote me, you're misquoting me, as I said nothing of the sort. To the contrary, I said specifically bemoaned that the excusing and minimizing of abuse "done shockingly often in this thread" was "extremely problematic." I went on to say that gender bias played a role in preventing people from dealing with this instance of abuse, but that this callout made that worse, not better.
posted by Marty Marx at 11:11 AM on September 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


That people just object to her incredibly fucking dangerous behavior because they want to denigrate 'women's concerns'.

I want to draw attention to the way that the phrase "the decision to take women's concerns seriously," which refers to the concerted effort to make MeFi less of a Boyzone, has been quoted derisively and out of context twice now. It's almost like people were upset about it independent of the issue of abuse.
posted by Marty Marx at 11:19 AM on September 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm certainly not looking for drama. This is my last comment in this thread, because I know for damn sure that the sort of moral retards and ethical cretins who are more concerned with 'women getting dumped on' on an internet forum than men getting physically abused in real life are not worth arguing with. People like winna and micawber have already decided who's valuable and who's not. It's too hard for them to try to sympathize with a victim who doesn't fit their ideological preconceptions.

You are a moron with no reading comprehension skills if you think that's what I was saying. If I were the sort of person to take the sniping of a simpleton who can't read seriously, I would be sobbing in my lace hankie that someone on the internet doesn't understand me.
posted by winna at 11:32 AM on September 10, 2010


"She's practically being praised as a saint, but some people think that she's still not being treated leniently enough."

You are on the crazy drugs.
posted by klangklangston at 11:39 AM on September 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


I'm particularly upset about it because woman-on-man abuse is a constant refrain among men's rights activists, who, among other things, lobby for reduced funding for women's shelters on the pretext that it is unfair there are not an equal number of men's shelters (ignoring the de facto exclusion of women and children from many homeless shelters and the far greater incidence of victimization of women). Using abuse to score those kinds of points makes it harder to get people to take the problems of male abuse victims seriously because they get lumped in with the MRA folks.

As we both know, female-on-male DV is a valid issue irrespective of whether or not politically objectionable groups run with it for their own ends. A more effective approach to separating this point from the MRA folks would be to appreciate that particular point and to reframe it into your own larger picture, in contrast to theirs.

Saying "you're only bringing this up for these bad reasons" is a great way to get people to not listen to you. After all, identifying and belittling those who would bring it up as people with disingenuous and unappealing ulterior motives has never been an effective rhetorical tactic, and if you turn people off from your "side", there's a solid chance you're pushing them to the "other" side.

Why not instead bring those people into a conversation with you? Try relating to their concerns and show how there actually isn't a conflict between what motivated the alleged "Great Boyzone Riots" and what's upsetting the poster here.

this callout made that worse, not better.

This is exactly as speculative as saying "this would be different if the genders were reversed."
posted by Sticherbeast at 11:40 AM on September 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


I'm certainly not looking for drama. This is my last comment in this thread, because I know for damn sure that the sort of moral retards and ethical cretins who are more concerned with 'women getting dumped on' on an internet forum than men getting physically abused in real life are not worth arguing with. People like winna and micawber have already decided who's valuable and who's not. It's too hard for them to try to sympathize with a victim who doesn't fit their ideological preconceptions.

Trollish poster is trolling.
posted by iamabot at 11:45 AM on September 10, 2010


> Sounds like the culture around child protection in the UK is the same as it is in the US but other domestic violence, completely different. ... We absolutely do not have the same culture when it comes to protecting adults in domestic violence situations. Unless the victim is in immediate physical danger, calling the police might be perceived as intrusive, taking choices away from the victim, and/or more likely to do harm than good if the abuser retaliates.

This is the same in the UK. Here a professional or a member of the public can make a referral to children's social services if a child could be at risk because of domestic violence. This includes unborn babies. I don't think a one-off throwing a hammer incident, if the hammer did not hit the partner, would meet the thresholds for assessment or intervention (whatever the genders involved were). Most local authorities would log it, if they were informed about it, and if they later heard of further violent incidents they might then carry out an assessment. My understanding is that adults' social services would not normally accept referrals about adults at risk of DV, unless there were other factors which meant one of the adults involved was a vulnerable person (mental health issues, learning disability etc - in which case they would be likely to be known to services already). DV between adults would be dealt with by the police if they were informed, and the adults involved would be signposted to charities (eg).
posted by stichomancer at 12:06 PM on September 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Saying "you're only bringing this up for these bad reasons"

I'm not saying they're bringing it up for bad reasons, but that they're bringing it up and talking about something else entirely: whether the principles of equality are being invoked selectively, to the general detriment of men. That's a very different matter than whether and why male abuse victims face particular difficulties by virtue of their gender. I guess what I'm getting at is that there's a difference between saying "Abuse is never okay, and this needs to be taken seriously" and "Women don't get blamed and excoriated the way men do!" "Why don't we take men's mitigating factors into account in abuse?" The latter aren't about abuse as much as about the belief that some group is getting away with something at the expense of the other. Abuse is just a useful pawn in the dispute because, presumably, we all agree that it is bad.

But to be clear, -- and I apologize for not being more clear earlier -- I'm not saying anyone in this thread, specifically not morraine or Uranus, are men's right's activists or support closing women's shelters, but that complaints about how a female OP is better off because she's female (or a hypothetical male poster worse off) or that men are generally treated worse in askme serve the same function as MRA's complaints about, well, how women abuse victims are better off and how men are generally treated worse. That's a problem because it ties the issue of male abuse to disputes over whether women are getting away with something at the expense of men, which in turn makes it harder to have legitimate concerns about abuse taken seriously. There is a problem in this thread with people repeatedly excusing and minimizing abuse, but it gets snarled up with what I'm calling the "Where's your equality now?" complaints that look more like attacks on attempts at gender equity at Metafilter than anything else.

Why not instead bring those people into a conversation with you? Try relating to their concerns and show how there actually isn't a conflict between what motivated the alleged "Great Boyzone Riots" and what's upsetting the poster here.

Yeah, you're right. This is a better tack to take and as satisfying as it was to get all head-spinning angry, I regret I didn't take a less confrontational approach.
posted by Marty Marx at 12:46 PM on September 10, 2010


Why are we not allowed to discuss whether men are treated inequitably in AskMe when they appear to be victims of DV?
posted by unSane at 12:50 PM on September 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


stichomancer is kinda right - most local authorities in the UK have a response policy for DV, but people in violent relationships aren't regarded as 'vulnerable adults' for safeguarding purposes (as people with disabilities, older people, people receiving services for mental health issues etc are). All local authorities have a procedure for reporting abuse against vulnerable adults, by law.

I didn't answer the question in thread because my reaction was 'you shouldn't be with this guy, but you shouldn't be a single parent either, because you shouldn't be left alone with a child until you deal with your anger management issues. Adoption seems to be the best option here' and I didn't think that was particularly helpful.
posted by welovelife at 12:51 PM on September 10, 2010


Sorry, what I was trying to say was that the LA might accept a referral if the person in the DV situation was also an vulnerable adult - not that DV = vulnerable adult.
posted by stichomancer at 12:57 PM on September 10, 2010


So long as we're bitching, I want to complain about soothing "See a therapist" advice when what's called for is "Christ, you're an asshole."

I'm half convinced that "See a therapist" is a obligatory response to every AskMe. I expect to see that even in threads about, say.... replacing videos cards or "How's the local club scene in Baltimore?"
posted by From the Fortress at 12:59 PM on September 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


My feeling is that people defending the asker are doing so out of a sort of over-mis-identification with her. Like the posters above who mentioned becoming uncharacteristically violent in certain specific circumstances, even though *actually* those incidents sound totally different, there's enough similarity to provoke the identification - which then provokes the defense because it's a kind of defense of self.

This is what I think is happening in threads/conversations where some men defend other men against charges of sexual harassment or assault, because they were once in a situation that seemed like it could potentially have been ambiguous consent-wise, and they had only good intentions, and so they want those good intentions ascribed to other men even when the actual situations of those men and the actual circumstances are very different.

That kind of over-mis-identification can be infuriating to people who are standing on the other side of it, for whom it's so obvious that the situations are different and the other one shouldn't be defended, and the one who's defending doesn't need defending.

Also

I managed to totally miss the whole hammer/suicide thing in my reading of the question (didn't answer it though)

I was also really disturbed by the reference to the 'boyzone riots'.

The charge that things would have gone down so differently if the poster were a man are speculative, and I'm not persuaded either that that would have been the case.
posted by Salamandrous at 1:38 PM on September 10, 2010 [5 favorites]


I was also really disturbed by the reference to the 'boyzone riots'.

Not me, thought it is a bit of hyperbole. A riot of Mefites is a bunch of talking, sometimes yelling and thinking about things deeply and intensely, sharing their experiences. Those threads fit that description.
posted by nomadicink at 2:45 PM on September 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


I disagree. A riot has a distinctively negative connotation, one that's associated with mindless, violet mobs. It was a pretty lousy choice of words, IMO.
posted by shiu mai baby at 3:14 PM on September 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


I get the original description is negative, but my attitude is more along the lines of "Fuck yeah, we rioted, that's how social change has to happen at times. It may be ugly , but sometimes that's the way it goes down."
posted by nomadicink at 3:19 PM on September 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Salamandrous, it's a fair point, but one you could also apply to those who are convinced beyond all doubt that the OP is a hyper-controlling psychotic monster who should have her baby taken away from her. A lot of people, both here and in other threads, have shared their own horrific experiences with abuse, and I'm grateful for those perspectives. But I can't help but think that having that as part of your history makes it significant more difficult to allow for even the possibility of nuance in a story like the OP's, because of a over-mis-identification with the boyfriend.

To be absolutely clear: throwing anything more than a snowball at someone is absolutely not ok in any circumstances, including the one described in the AskMe. The OP needs serious, professional help, and I hope the therapy she says she's already seeking is sufficient to deal with her issues. But the judgment of whether or not she's going to be a fit mother is something that only her therapist and/or social services can decide, because they, unlike a bunch of strangers on the internet, are the only ones who have the details necessary to make such a call.

On preview: nomadicink, I think we'll just have to disagree about our interpretations of the phrase, then, because to me it definitely came across with a whole lot of derision, not as some glad-we-made-it-through-this-togetherism.
posted by shiu mai baby at 3:32 PM on September 10, 2010


because to me it definitely came across with a whole lot of derision, not as some glad-we-made-it-through-this-togetherism

I agree with your interpretation of what others were saying about the threads. I was just putting a positive spin on what occurred there, that's all.
posted by nomadicink at 3:35 PM on September 10, 2010


Oh, hah, ok. Thanks for that.
posted by shiu mai baby at 3:38 PM on September 10, 2010


but one you could also apply to those who are convinced beyond all doubt that the OP is a hyper-controlling psychotic monster who should have her baby taken away from her.

Yes, that sounds right.
posted by Salamandrous at 3:49 PM on September 10, 2010


OneMonkeysUncle: Instead, each MeFite would be allowed one - and only one - post to answer the question, and posts quoting, addressing, or rebutting other posts would be deleted immediately.

While this might work for relationship askmes, it would remove some usefulness in other askme contexts. Sometimes an Asker doesn't know what details to provide that would be really useful, so a responder might want to ask a question (e.g., Is there a symbol or logo on the back of the china you are trying to identify? or Could you post a picture of it? or Is the poem you are trying to remember something more like a sonnet or like a haiku? or even "Are you planning it for this winter or next summer?") before they can provide a targeted useful answer. Some of the less flashpointy questions have been resolved through eliciting more information in this manner.
posted by julen at 5:18 PM on September 10, 2010


Just throwing this out there. Some of the problem here may be that some people have this attitude, quoted from above:

There's nothing wrong with domestic violence as such. The problem arises when domestic violence is used by a member of a privileged group against a member of an unprivileged group in the context of a historic structural power imbalance.

I don't know if this person was being sarcastic or sincere. But if anyone actually believes this kind of tripe, and is arguing from that position here, nothing can be solved.
posted by gjc at 5:45 PM on September 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


So putting it all together, if I'm really stressed at work and my lazy good for nothing pregnant wife who doesn't appreciate me starts acting crazy because of her hormones and forces me to toss a hammer at her to get her attention, y'all are gonna be supportive, right?
Absolutely. I would not condone the act, but, if I was able, I would support you in dealing with the issue. Supporting someone does not mean the same thing as condoning their actions.
posted by dg at 6:08 PM on September 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


You know, I threw a plate at my husband once.

A plate of beans?

Anytime a child abuse or domestic violence case appears, the police and social services have to attend press conferences defending why this wasn't uncovered earlier.

This isn't actually true (though I can see how you might think it is). A tiny handful of child abuse cases that result in death might end up with the kind of press conference you're talking about -- invariably in response to the media outcry. But for every Baby P, there are thousands of other cases of child abuse every year that go quietly unremarked upon.

The same is true of domestic violence. It only tends to be an issue for Social Services when there are children or vulnerable adults involved. There might be a press conference if there's been repeated complaints about domestic violence and a death has occurred, but they're so far from routine that I don't recall ever seeing one on the news or in the press.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 4:17 AM on September 11, 2010


Re: US UK culture differences wrt to child abuse cases. I form my opinions from the papers I read: I read the NYTimes and Washington Post online, and the number of times I accidentally come across domestic child abuse cases reported in the newspaper is, well, never. Nothing really strikes me. And it seems that almost every other time I visit Guardian, Telegraph and BBC News websites, there's another case of child abuse. Considering the population of UK = 1/5th population of US, this is quite significant. There may be a sampling bias, or maybe I haven't thoroughly investigated all the various news sections, etc, but on a broad general attention level, child abuse cases get far more attention in UK newspapers, and it's probably reflective of the public's concern/ interest. Lastly, I'm not saying all child abuses cases get reported in newspapers / press, I'm just saying it gets far more attention in the UK than in the US
posted by moiraine at 4:52 AM on September 11, 2010


There may be a sampling bias,

This. The WaPo and NYT are, essentially, national newspapers, and while they will cover stories about child abuse, it's usually only the seriously egregious ones that result in lawsuits, overhauls of CPS, etc. If you were to read enough "local" papers from Austin, Miami, Charlotte, Detroit, Ames, Portland (either one), Holyoke (MA), Albuquerque, Topeka, Indianapolis, Buffalo, Phoenix, etc. you'd find plenty of coverage of child abuse.

We have a much larger population, are way bigger geographically, and have a much broader swath of news sources, both online and print, for you to be able to make the claim that child abuse gets more coverage in the UK than it does in the US. A child abuse story that happens in Knoxville that doesn't result in death isn't going to get picked up by the WaPo or the wires and reported in Bend unless it's a really, really slow news day.
posted by rtha at 8:11 AM on September 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


rtha: the Guardian and Telegraph are also national newspapers, in fact, much more so than the NY Times and Washington Post are - they really don't have a "local" section the way those papers do. There has indeed been a rash of extremely high profile child abuse stories over the last decade in the national UK press (e.g., "Baby P") which I don't recall seeing comparable, nationally-reported cases in the national US press.
posted by Rumple at 10:03 AM on September 11, 2010


The NY Times just doesn't do crime very often.

But, I still remember all of the press around the murder of Nixzmary Brown (a child and victim of ongoing abuse). So much so that I can spell her name from memory.

There were a couple of very notable Philadelphia abuse deaths in the last few years as well but I think they mostly got Philadelphia press.
posted by the young rope-rider at 10:21 AM on September 11, 2010


rtha: the Guardian and Telegraph are also national newspapers, in fact,

No, I get that, and I'm not trying to be fighty. But they cover a territory that is much, much smaller than that of the U.S., both geographically and in terms of population. There are child abuse cases that have gotten coverage in the NYT, WaPo, and USA Today, but they are in The Most Awful Cases Ever category. This includes the Fundamentalist LDS stuff, another about a cult/church group in....Arkansas, maybe, that was sexually molesting the kids in its group; I think the story of the woman here in San Francisco who threw her kids into the Bay got (some) national coverage, etc.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that it's apples and oranges. The U.S. has nine time zones and nearly 4 million square miles; our "national" newspapers only cover "local" issues (local to wherever it's not NY or DC) when those issues are HOLY CRAP CAN YOU BELIEVE THIS. Those issues not in that category get covered by the more-local press.

Do the Guardian or the Telegraph cover every abuse story that happens in Tiny Village, ------shire, that does not result in death/lawsuits or spring from incompetence or corruption on the part of the authorities?

The implication that Americans somehow don't care about child abuse as much as the English do because there are fewer stories in the NYT or the WaPo is just wrongheaded.
posted by rtha at 10:52 AM on September 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


There may be a sampling bias, or maybe I haven't thoroughly investigated all the various news sections, etc,

Yeah, I think this. The NYTimes and Washington Post are huge newspapers with international readerships, and the front pages of their websites tend to focus on stories that appeal to these broad audiences. Do you actively read the "local" sections when you visit the sites? Here in NYC, the Times has run at least four stories on the recent tragedy of Marchella Pierce.

The NY Times just doesn't do crime very often.

Also, I would agree that local crime is just not a huge focus for the Times. For that, you'd want to start reading the NY Post or NY Daily News. For example, the Daily news recently put this story on its cover (currently the 5th slide).
posted by lalex at 11:02 AM on September 11, 2010


I think the question could have been printed verbatim as an unfinished David Foster Wallace story and I would have been completely convinced that it came from his hand.
posted by jayder at 10:23 AM on September 13, 2010


In the few weeks I've been reading the BoardGameGeek forums I've seen pedantry and assholism the kind of which would result in a quick Meta thread and summary banning... ALL OVER THE PLACE.

Oooh, now I NEED OT KNOW.

Anytime a child abuse or domestic violence case appears, the police and social services have to attend press conferences defending why this wasn't uncovered earlier.

This isn't actually true - there have been a couple of enquiries into child abuse cases in the past few years as they showed that the current system was not working. Victoria Climbie and the Baby P cases are the only two I can recall during a period when I watched a LOT of news. I don't ever recall one for domestic violence unless it ended in an unusual case of murder or significant police incompetence. I think since the Yorkshire Ripper case, when a serial killer wasn't seriously pursued until he stopped killing prostitutes and started killing 'respectable women', and then the institutional racism issues thrown up by the death of Stephen Lawrence and the ensuing investigation, people keep more of an eye on police investigation, but it's not as high profile as you think. If they had to have one for every case, they'd have to invent a new news network just to cover them. Both happen more than we think, and most of us would never notice if it happened next door.

I don't know what the authorities do on DV away from the glare of the cameras, but I do know that social services are very quick to act on suspicion of abuse of any kind.

Anyway, the thing that worried me here was the threats of suicide - what happens next if she gets post-natal depression, or worse? If she's knowingly threatening just to get his attention (her description) it's going to be a hard road ahead. And I'm not even mentioning that $130k is about three times what we had as a family of three...because it's not entirely relevant.
posted by mippy at 3:46 PM on September 15, 2010


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