Thursday, July 26, 2007

Much Wailing and Gnashing of Teeth

The background, me lovelies.....

I'm running around trying to get in doctor and dentist apppointments with the practitioners who actually know me and my convoluted ways. That's thing one in this story. The second thing is that we don't have a television, so dentists' waiting rooms are frequently where I catch up on television. I hear people talk about it, of course, but I rarely actually see the images for myself.

A few days ago was the dentist appointment, and surely that ought to be horrible enough. But apparently there is no justice. The television was on in the waiting room, and it was set to FOX News. I've heard. I thought I was prepared. Oh my God in heaven. I was so very not prepared.

The show was on domestic violence -a subject I happen to know something about. I'm predisposed to be irritated, I suppose, because it makes me mad when an important issue is treated as sound bites and truisms. So, I'll admit to having a little chip on my shoulder as the segment began. In spite of that, I have to admit that the story itself wasn't terrible. It was typical of a kind of family violence. It was told in a straightforward way.

There was only one huge ideological gaffe in the story itself. It didn't mention shelters and safe houses. Weirdly, I almost didn't notice; I'm just so comfortable with the existence of shelters that I assumed everyone knew about them. I came around to noticing the ommision during the banter between the show hosts.

This is where things got ugly. These guys clearly didn't know about shelters either -wondering whether or not women leaving abusive situations should just "run into the woods". Now seriously... how can you put together a show on domestic violence and not get far enough into the research to discover that there are shelters?

Hang on for more.... Because women in abusive situations have no options, they believe (and I concede that their options have been woefully and illegally curtailed), women need to be really careful whom they date. Well, thanks for the heads-up there, fellas. But how might we be that careful? Any diving into the research will tell you that in the dating phase, abusive men are often charming, polite, gentle, -not changing until after marriage or a more permanent commitment. And even if we could know, this is starting to sound just a little like blaming the victim. "She wasn't careful enough in her dating choices. How very sad."

OK, the hosts didn't go quite that far, but they skated closer with the next comment. I didn't get an exact quote, but it had something to do with the men being psychotic and therefore not fully responsible for their behavior. So, if a woman isn't careful enough and accidentally ends up with one of these psychotic guys who hurts her, we can't really expect him to take responsibility. So, who does? Yeah.... I got that message.

Mercifully (and who ever thought I would write this sentence???), I was called back for my appointment and the television show went on without me. I'm blissfully back to my "no TV" life and am oh so grateful to live in ignorance of its programming.

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