"Like the study of science and art, accounts of historical events can be intrinsically fascinating. But they have a wider significance. I believe that people are better able to chart their life course and make life decisions when they know how others have dealt with pressures and dilemmas---historically, contemporaneously, and in works of art. And only equipped with such understanding can we participate knowledgeably in contemporary discussions (and decisions) about the culpability of various individuals and countries in the Second World War. Only with such understanding can we ponder the responsibilty of human beings everywhere to counter current efforts at genocide in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia to bring the perpetrators to justice."
"...we humans are the kinds of animals who learn chiefly by observing others---what they value, what they spurn, how they conduct themselves from day to day, and especially, what they do when they believe that no one is looking."
----Howard Gardner, from The Disciplined Mind, published in 1999

Sunday, September 30, 2007

What Do Fleet, Massengill, and the Name of a Rush Album Have in Common?; or, My Apologies to Lee, Lifeson, and Peart

Something in me, dark and sticky
All the time it's getting strong
No way of dealing with this feeling
Can't go on like this too long

I'm digging in the dirt
Stay with me I need support
I'm digging in the dirt
To find the places I got hurt

To open up the places I got hurt
----excerpted lyrics from "Digging in the Dirt" by Peter Gabriel.

Tonight my county is beginning the observation of Domestic Violence Awareness Month a day early. The community event is called A Show of Hands.
For myself, the irony of naming the event after the easiest, and therefore, one of the most common weapons of choice in domestic violence situations is somewhat uncomfortable.I don't much care for the term domestic violence. It sanitizes it: pretties it up somehow.
For instance, in spoken language and in what is written on the package, an enema is just that: an enema; even the graphics on the box are generic, straightforward.
Yet a douche? It's feminine cleanser. The graphics on the box are most often limpid, flowery. Most importantly, those things aren't really of any use: a woman can actually do more harm to her body than good in using such a product.

Just tell it like it is: get rid of the crap; then leave well enough alone.

But I'm uncertain as to what to call it, this very specialized form of violence: a product of any silence that has ever met any violence against those perceived as weak---be it stranger-to-stranger; familiar-to-familiar. Putting words to things has never been my strongest suit.

But A Show of Hands?

Maybe my visual way of thinking is too informed by images of experience. I'll take good intentions wherever they may be found, dear reader; and really, we all help each other that way, don't we?

A Show of Hands
Hospital photo circa 1992
Nurses holding back hospital gown to show bruising---some of it taking the shape of the hand of the abuser.


Pelicano said...

I agree that the term domestic violence is quite sanitized...a show of hands... thought-provoking, acerbic use of the double entendre, Neroli. And rightfully so! My gosh.

neroli said...

Pel, if anyone can give a more appropriate appellation to this, it would be you: your use of language, your perception and your way of making connections are both deft and facile...so I'm glad to be in good company with not-quite-knowing what to call all this.
I'm glad to see you.