Thursday, May 28, 2009

Mr. J.S. Mill, in the year of our FSM 1869:
It is a political law of nature that those who are under any power of ancient origin, never begin by complaining of the power itself, but only of its oppressive exercise. There is never any want of women who complain of ill usage by their husbands. There would be infinitely more, if complaint were not the greatest of all provocatives to a repetition and increase of the ill usage. It is this which frustrates all attempts to maintain the power but protect the woman against its abuses. In no other case (except that of a child) is the person who has been proved judicially to have suffered an injury, replaced under the physical power of the culprit who inflicted it. Accordingly wives, even in the most extreme and protracted cases of bodily ill usage, hardly ever dare avail themselves of the laws made for their protection: and if, in a moment of irrepressible indignation, or by the interference of neighbors, they are induced to do so, their whole effort afterwards is to disclose as little as they can, and to beg off their tyrant from his merited chastisement.
If Mill, 140 years ago, understood why abused women don't leave their abusers immediately, why is it so hard for us to understand this today? No, women who have attempted to make claims of abuse are not forced to move back in with their abusers today; but they are without question "replaced under the physical power of the culprit" since restraining orders are useless even if the police would enforce them strictly. And shelters for abused women -- the only way many women have to avoid remaining "under the physical power of the culprit" -- are constantly struggling to stay open.

I don't really have a point, other than "how can things have changed so little in 140 years?" So here's a doggy. Don't I always reward you for sticking with me?

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