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Natalie P.

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9 comments so far
  1. Amina April 6, 2009 10:43 am

    I’m a bit torn on your response. While I think this book is definitely written for the sole purpose of making money, I think NPR covered it for different reasons.

    This site is rather unique, because we know that abusive relationships can arise anywhere there is a narcissistic jerk and a door mat. This is not a commonly held belief.

    Most people register abuse only after it’s out in the open. This usually happens with less motivated women because social climbers would struggle far more to avoid the stigma of being identified in an abusive relationship and hindering their ambitions. I’m not saying either approach is right, but I think this results in most people only seeing lower-middle class and timid women as victims of abuse.

    I think the real moral that NPR (and maybe even the book itself) is trying to convey is that things can appear 100% okay on the surface and be rotten underneath, and that domestic abuse is more widespread than you know.

    Unfortunately, this book seems to fail at what HBI does so well, which is emphasis that you have a much better choice. HBI is all about action, and this book really isn’t at all.

    I think the most tragic thing about this book is that the message one would get from it, that domestic violence is more wide spread than most imagine, won’t be read by the apathetic individuals who most need it. Instead, the people reading this book will be the ones who are already acquainted with this truth, who probably need a more action oriented view, which they won’t be getting.

  2. Fabulana April 6, 2009 1:56 pm

    It’s full court press time for Leslie Morgan Steiner, who gave up her Wash Post column “On Balance” last June to promote her new book. “I hope you’ll understand,” she wrote readers.

    This February, she was back at column writing, this time using the Rihanna/Chris Brown story as a thinly veiled springboard to promote “Crazy Love” on CNN:

    http://www.cnn.com/2009/SHOWBIZ/02/18/steiner.violence/index.html

    Here are some excerpts:

    “Our culture encourages women to nurture men, making it predictable that many experience a seductive empathy for abusive men, as well as the misguided hope that love can obliterate an ugly past.”

    Really? It’s “predictable” that women find abuse “seductive”? Do we need any more proof that this memoir is at least one part self-justification? I am not convinced she’s done enough SELF-examination to go around examining the gender. This exemplifies the worst in women’s magazine writing, which is the world Leslie came from; her first job was writing about her anorexia for Seventeen magazine.

    “In my case, it took four years, myriad terrifying attacks, and the intervention of the police and family court before I understood how little I could help my ex get over his abusive childhood.”

    She just wanted to help…*sigh* But her problems must have begun way before HIS violence escalated. How does a person rationally believe that letting someone else HURT you doubles as psychotherapy for them? She obviously did not have healthy boundaries to say NO. Where does THAT come from? That’s what I want to read a book about. Not an excruciatingly detailed catalog of the abuse itself, billed as a memoir of “crazy love.” What I am, at root, uncomfortable about here: she is trying to make this about ALL WOMEN, instead of about her.

    “I always sensed that my husband didn’t want to be hurting me — he knew exactly how excruciating love and fear felt mixed together — but his childhood rage overpowered his adult sensibilities.”

    She “sensed” that he didn’t really mean it. That doesn’t explain how she thought she was “helping” him with her “crazy love.” She was FACILITATING him. Ok, I don’t want to blame the victim, really. But this is someone trying to market herself now as a self-help expert on the subject. Having the wrong kind of sympathy with the ABUSER? That seems to be HER issue. It’s one thing to want to understand the root causes of your partner’s domestic violence, it’s another to help the abuser SEEK TREATMENT. Not to mention, she’s totally letting this guy off the hook, again, saying it was just the “child” in him that “overpowered” his adult responsibility. That’s got to be bull hockey on some level.

    “A few months after I left my marriage, I happened across another couple in another car, late at night on an empty street. I slowed down as a well-dressed woman…”

    She can’t pass up a mention that she was “well-dressed,” can she? Her socioeconomic theories are shakey at best. That she thinks the rest of the world shares them is a hoot.

    “…about 25 years old was walking away from a white Honda, brushing off a tall, handsome young man wearing a sports coat and jeans.”

    Gasp–a handsome man, in a sports coat! With all the trappings of civilization! Why wasn’t he wearing a fur pelt so we could recognize him?

    “Suddenly she turned and tried to run. He grabbed her with his long arms and shoved her up against a dirty storefront. Even from my car I could see the fear on her pretty face.”

    She had to be “pretty.” I think about Alice Walker’s “The Color Purple” which came out when Leslie was a freshman in college; Celie, the heroine, calls herself “ugly” and “black” because that’s what her abusers call her. The point is, victims of abuse do not THINK of THEMSELVES as pretty. They have it beaten into them that they are not. So all of these external “facts” really have nothing to do with why people are abused. You have to look at them on the INSIDE.

    “Without thinking, I jerked my car over and got out. By this time the man had let the woman go and she’d slid behind the wheel of the car. He stepped back as I approached, his anger displaced by uncertainty and shame at being interrupted. I didn’t look at him. I leaned into the car as she sat clutching the wheel, crying and staring straight ahead.

    “I just left a husband who beat me for three years,” I said. “You do not have to put up with this. You do not deserve to be treated like this.”

    “I know,” she whispered as fresh tears poured down her face. She sniffed loudly and shook her head. She wouldn’t look at me. Her eyes were rimmed red, but I could see resolve in them.

    “You’re right,” she said. “It’s just taking me longer than I thought.”

    As I left, I gave the man a long stare. The spell had been broken and his face was open, sorrowful, filled with hope and fear — a look I had seen dozens of times on my husband’s face. How long would that look last before he got angry again? I could feel the woman’s determination as I got back into my car. I knew she would be all right, one day. The man, I was less certain about.”

    That’s a disturbing story, not least of all because she paints herself as a hero intervening in streetside domestic violence. Did this event even really happen? It was 20-some years ago. It’s kind of hard to believe she went from being victim to vigilante in a few short months, yet it took her this long to write the book. This story is also disturbing because she also identifies with the victim–and she justifies her delay in getting help. Leslie has no way of REALLY knowing this woman is all right, she might have been killed by her abuser, for all she knows. So that’s more self-serving bull hockey.

    She winds up this column with some fear-mongering–“there will be many more Chris Browns and ‘alleged victims'” if, you know, we don’t all buy her book and realize that pretty women are seduced by abusers who are really child-like victims themselves.

    Don’t you get the feeling that the majority of women aren’t the ones who need all these self-help books? That it’s men who have the problem, and who are surprisingly mum on the subject? Where are the male interviewers taking on Leslie and her book? Where are the male readers in her book club/support group?

    Why aren’t MEN being asked, primarily, to engage with this subject and a book like Leslie’s? I really don’t need it, and as a woman feel condescended to by people telling me, hey, it’s “predictable” that you would feel “seduced” by abuse. And a man who hits you is just a little boy inside. That may be so, but making excuses for your abuser and making a melodrama out of your desire to “help” someone who was hurting you, doesn’t really help anyone.

    -Fabulana

  3. Fabulana April 6, 2009 8:16 pm

    April 1, and she’s back at it again:

    Here’s Leslie Morgan Steiner writing an “open letter” to Rihanna–in Glamour, I guess she hasn’t heard of the post office–replete with live link to the “Crazy Love” author’s website:

    http://www.glamour.com/sex-love-life/2009/04/an-open-letter-to-rihanna

    No word really whether Leslie thinks Rihanna “looks” like an abused woman. The Barbadian singer is not blonde, nor white, and has not always been rich. Being “pretty,” though, clearly she is deserving of our sympathy. Right? It’s a good thing that the author of “Crazy Love” is available to tell her that her own life story is available now from Random House.She starts off castigating “journalists” for being so damn interested in Rihanna’s domestic abuse–nevermind that this is the second time (at least) that Steiner herself has written about it. Unlike them, she thinks SHE can understand why Rihanna went back to boyfriend Chris Brown, on trial now for beating her. It was CRAZY LOVE! No worries, Rihanna, unlike the rest of us, Steiner understands your footdragging about breaking up with a man who sent you to the ER. Again, Steiner refers to her ex not as her abuser, but as her “abusive lover.” This is crazy LOVE, don’t forget. New details about her own abuse: She admits that friends WARNED her about her ex, and that she KNEW he had “a temper and a rocky past” while they were still dating.

    Then, there are the little delights to Steiner’s tale, the freebies. Such as knowing that she ate McDonald’s on her honeymoon! Neat.

    Now, the story of HOW she finally got out of her abuse is still fuzzy to me. (Shouldn’t this be the crux, the dramatic turning point, the most helpful information, what should be the lead of her story? Hasn’t she heard of Tina Turner?) In another account, she says he exited the room, and then she “dialed 911.” In this version, “neighbors heard and intervened.” THEN, “police came.” So, which is it? I just wonder when I’m reading any 20-year-old story, by someone with a marketing degree: just how crafted and massaged is this tale? I have no clear idea HOW, or if, Leslie actually initiated action to end her bad situation. She still seems to be mucking about in it.

     

    “Some of us take our lessons in love straight up.”

    Really? Is this slang an awkward attempt to relate to young, black, Caribbean Rihanna? That aside, what lessons? And in what way has she taken them “straight up” when it took her 4-5 years to leave, and 22 years to write a book? And why, why, why is she still calling this “love”? Here’s her final pitch:

     

    “I hope to welcome you into a very exclusive girls’ club. One filled with wise, wise women whose experience with abusive love rests deep in the past.”

    “Abusive love” is a phrase she plans to hold on to until the end, obviously. So, this is Steiner’s dream, a girls’ club, exclusive no less, made up of “wise, wise women” who are fixed and normal now like her. I think this is just who she plans to sell the book to. In a twist of irony her bio on Wikipedia seems unaware of, Steiner, a former anorexic, made her international marketing career managing the product launch of Splenda. Wise or not, she never seems to leave her past too far behind. -Fabulana

     

  4. Fabulana April 6, 2009 8:47 pm

    Of course I was wrong–she has written about Rihanna numerously and singlemindedly since the story broke. The one I find most insidious is on Mommytracked

    While condescendingly noting that:

    “Rihanna probably doesn’t have the perspective right now to understand that she is a classic domestic violence victim.”

    She nonetheless finds:

    “But from my view, almost 20 years after leaving my abuser, I can see that Rihanna is doing our country a great service by putting a very public, realistic face to domestic violence and the reality that it occurs among people of all income levels, races, religions, and ages.

    She calls this “Rihanna’s gift.”

    By identifying herself so closely with Rihanna, does this mean that by analogy, Leslie thinks she is giving us a ‘gift’ too? This woman is a very, very savvy marketer who doesn’t shy away from hijacking any story–whether her own purported memories, or the personal life of a real public figure–to promote her book.

    What’s so insidious about this particular column, though, is the virulent romantic subtext. It leads with an “early Valentine’s gift” from her current husband, an iPod, on which she happens to be listening to one of Rihanna’s songs (yeah, right) right before she hears about the violence.

    Don’t worry, Rihanna, when you leave your “abusive lover” you can join the “exclusive girls’ club” and have a life as perfect as Leslie’s. Naturally, all of that rests on a man, now more than ever. Her new husband is SO awesome, she tells us:

    “…for the past 12 years… I’ve rarely gone grocery shopping, changed the cat litter or gassed up my car, and never worried — for one nanosecond — that he might harm me or our kids.”

    Cute that she said “nano,” just like the “shiny, red ipod” he got her. See? This can be your reward for leaving domestic abuse! Rely on another man to gas your car, do your grocery shopping and buy you ipods! There is a tomorrow!

    -Fabulana

  5. Fabulana April 6, 2009 11:58 pm

    Fudging the Facts

    Just to prove how polemical this is, I checked a few of the floating statistics Steiner quotes in these articles.In Mommytracked, she cites:“…the three million women the Department of Justice estimates are abused in the U.S. each year…” “…the three million women the Department of Justice estimates are abused in the U.S. each year…”Not quite. Following her own hyperlinked footnote, I find this on the Department of Justice website:

    “…the three million women the Department of Justice estimates are abused in the U.S. each year…””The United States Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics estimates that 3.4 million persons said they were victims of stalking during a 12-month period in 2005 and 2006.”

    That’s “persons” including males, and victims of “stalking,” NOT “abuse”. But what is stalking, if not crazy love par excellence, eh Leslie? At CNN, she quotes a different, rather vague figure that massages it even further:

    The U.S. Department of Justice estimates that between 1 million and 3 million women in America are physically abused by their husband or boyfriend each year.”

    Where does she get this? We have the 3.4 million stalking figure. And listed on the same webpage at Justice, there is an annual figure from the CDC quoted as follows:

    “In 2008, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published data collected in 2005 that finds that women experience two million injuries from intimate partner violence each year.

    Note what it says: “women experience 2 million injuries.” Not, 2 million WOMEN experience injuries. That’s not accounting for abuse victims injured multiple times annually (a highly likely scenario). There is also this figure:

    “In 2005, 1,181 women were murdered by an intimate partner.”

    That’s rather modest compared to the mysterious “millions,” and explains the 3 murders a day figure Steiner quotes. That appears to be supported. But where is she getting the 1 million-3 million, and why such a huge range there?

    My point is, people don’t remember most of these figures, but it’s not at all clear where they are coming from. They do seem to be inflated through power of suggestion. 3 million is a huge leap from 1 million (200%), and a totally unsubstantiated number if she’s going on the stalking statistics, which, remember, ALSO include men. And that’s IF we consider “stalking” as “abuse.” While these overlap they are not synonymous.

    Truth. Not fear-hype and maudlin poster-childism.

    -Fabulana

  6. Fabulana April 7, 2009 12:22 am

    No wonder I’m irritated. Steiner has written other noxious tripe in the past:

    http://www.theroot.com/views/how-michelle-obama-passed-white

    Or, how Michelle Obama “passed for white” (no, I’m not kidding), by, get this…wearing J.Crew sweaters!

    How whitey-white, blondey-blonde, preppy-bubbleheaded can Steiner get? She thinks ONLY (or even) “white” people enjoy “classic” styles? So, does she think black people only wear baggy jeans and spandex minidresses? Could this BE any more inherently racist, and revealing of her own, warped, stereotyping psychology? Does she know how derogatory it is to imply that a black person is “passing” for white, i.e. denouncing her blackness? By wearing A SWEATER? In a related, equally dumb piece, she recommends that Michelle Obama hold black-woman-only press conferences, and engage only African-American hair and fashion guides. You go girl! *snap!* She doesn’t seem to understand that we didn’t ELECT a first lady. It’s not a POSITION that needs a new “job title.” Yep, those are really Steiner’s ideas.

    Remember, Steiner thinks that she doesn’t “look” like a victim BECAUSE SHE IS BLONDE AND WHITE. And she thinks a “cleancut” man in a BUSINESS SUIT looks harmless (is that what white people wear?). And she thinks wearing preppy clothes belongs to white people. Funny, Michelle attended Steiner’s IVY LEAGUE alma mater; why wouldn’t she shop at the same stores?

    So how do black people dress? And does she mean the rich ones (read, exceptions), or only the poor ones? It boggles the mind.

    As if I couldn’t already tell from her photos, Steiner’s takes on fashion are totally empty and hamstrung.

    How has this “wise” woman proved to us that she has learned anything? Except that she passed all her marketing classes at Wharton?

    The deeper I see inside her psyche, the less I like being there. The more I pity her, too, but not for the reasons she thinks will sell her book.

    -Fabulana

  7. Mato April 11, 2009 9:49 pm

    God, this is fucking hilarious.

    “Everyone in my family is blonde (the people, at least).”

    “Ah, if only being well-educated and blonde and coming from a good family were enough to defang all life’s demons”

    The sense of entitlement is thick enough to pollute the air.

    I mean, crap, she gets out of such a horrible experience, and she has to write a book to show that she’s still full of it?

    This is like a cross-breeding between Mona Lisa Smile and Legally Blonde.

    Congrats on the deconstruction, some of you guys on HBI really ace this kind kind of things.

  8. Xeno September 5, 2009 5:40 am

    Really? Blame victims much? You’re completely playing into the stereotype she’s trying to get rid of. A lot of people see women in abusive relationships as trailerpark nitwits that don’t know any better… she’s showing people that intellegent and self posessed women (and people in general) can have their brains completely fool them into thinking that horrible things are OK (cults are a good analogy that don’t rely on gender… many intellegent people fall into cults. Don’t think you’re better than them, you’re not)

  9. Jane November 28, 2013 4:16 am

    Bitter, party of one.

    Good Lord, lady.

    An entire site devoted to bitching about a DV victim?

    Just a tad tragic, Fabulana.