Challenging 40 years of domestic violence ideas
Erin Pizzey was born in 1939. In 1971 she founded the first nationally and internationally recognized women’s shelter (or “refuge”) in Chiswick, which is part of London in the UK. Her organization expanded to include many houses and a large growing organization, now known as Refuge in the UK.
It was soon after founding her organization that she began being subject to public protests and death threats.
A key figure in the women’s movement of the 1970s, she eventually fled her native England with her children after the protests, threats, and violence culminated in the killing of her family dog. However, she never stopped her work advocating for victims of domestic violence, and eventually returned to the UK.
Erin is a bestselling novelist and the author of mfnoany non-fiction books. Her first book, Scream Quietly or the Neighbours Will Hear is, along with her fearless public advocacy, widely credited with making Domestic Violence a national and international issue.
Her work continues to this day. She is widely loved.
She is also widely hated.
She is a supporter of the men’s movement, and it is hard not to consider her the first Honeybadger. It was my honor to speak to her in early December 2012. –Dean Esmay
Dean: Good morning Erin, how are you?
Erin: Good morning, It’s very cold.
Dean: It’s very cold is it? Well, it’s early December, I guess it is cold; you’re living in London these days, yes?
Erin: Yes I am.
Dean: So, you have recently, in the last year or so, published a book called “This Way to the Revolution – a Memoir” from Peter Owen Publishers. What can you tell me about that book, Erin?
Erin: I’ve always tried to tell the truth about the beginnings. I was one of the first people in England to get involved with the Women’s Movement and what I saw there, I knew perfectly well was going to be extremely destructive. And, when I began to stand up at these great big Collective meetings – and interestingly enough there were a lot of women from America who came over with initial instruction to show the British women how to be radical feminists. They’re a pretty frightening crowd and I got screamed at a lot partly because I said many women like myself, who are married, with or without children are perfectly happy to have the choice to be able to stay home. So, in the end last year actually… it took me ten years to get this book published, it was turned down by every major publisher in this country. And, finally, Peter Owen, who is a fine very small publishing company, agreed that they would publish. And they’ve done a wonderful job of it. And it is, it’s the whole truth about what went on behind the movement… the feminist movement.
I’m sorry, were you saying something?
Dean: So you say the feminist movement, the women’s movement… I confess I haven’t read the entire book yet, but I’ve at least read part of it and it’s certainly very interesting. Would you say that you considered yourself a feminist in the very early days?
Erin: I considered myself like many women across the world, I considered myself an equity feminist. I believed in equality for everyone. Now there were issues that needed discussing, but as soon as I saw, because you have to remember my background, my parents were caught by the Communists when I was nine and I didn’t see them for three years – they were under house arrest…
Dean: Your parents were caught by the Communists?
Erin: Yes in 1949, my father was in Tientsin in the Foreign Office…
Dean: In China?
Erin: Yes, China and they had marched up the driveway and they were arrested. They were very lucky, my parents, because they were just under house arrest. Most of the others were put into prisons. And I had one very close family member who came out completely insane from what happened to him. So, I had no love of Communism from the very beginning. From what I saw when I was in these great big collectives was really Marxism. We were all organized into groups in our own homes and told that we must have consciousness-raising sessions. And I remember the woman who came to our consciousness-raising and when she finished, I said this has nothing to do with women, this is actually Marxist. I said so we’re supposed to go to work full time and put our children into care provided by the state – like the Communist government – and why are we calling this liberation? And so very quickly I was booted out and went off to open a community center for mothers and children. And then I knew, once the donations came in, once the press picked it up–because the local paper–because my refuge by that point was full—I knew very well the sound of the feminist boots coming down to actually highjack the entire domestic violence industry and turn it into a billion dollar industry. Which they’ve done.
Dean: Well those are very powerful words and statements. I understand you were born in China, yes?
Dean: So you and your family were there when they turned communist.
Erin: No, I was born in China, but then my parents were re-posted to China when I was about eleven years old. They were reposted to Tientsin and that’s where they were incarcerated.
Dean: Oh I see. Yet, I can already hear some people objecting. I’ve met a lot of women who consider themselves feminists in some form or other and they look at you like you’re from Mars if you say this business about it being Marxist in origin or…
Erin: Yes, but most of them don’t even know anything about the beginning of this movement. And the thing I have to point out, very simpl:, the beginnings of the women’s movement happened way back when a lot of women were fighting for the rights of people, of Americans, to end the apartheid that was going on at that time. When they had finished marching for the civil rights movement—There’s a whole storied history that you can read it. They came back and decided that the leftist women wanted their own movement. So instead of it being Capitalism, which everyone was against in the left wing movements, they simply changed the goal posts and said it was Patriarchy. Everything was because of men, because of the power that men have over women. And then the second part of their argument was that all women are victims of men’s violence because it’s The Patriarchy. And that is such a lot of rubbish. Because, we know, and everybody in the business knows, that both men and women in interpersonal relationships can be violent. And that’s in every single study all across the Western world. All this time – 40 years – we’ve been living a big lie led by these Feminist women who essentially have created a huge billion dollar industry all across the world and they have shut the doors on men. No men can work in refuges; no men can sit on Boards; boys under the age of twelve often can’t go into the refuges. A mother has to make a difficult choice of what she should do.
Dean: Here in the U.S. I’ve at least come across a few shelters which employ men in some fashion…to act as guards at the doors or…
Erin: That’s not working in refuges; that’s standing outside.
Dean: Standing outside or picking women up and driving them places…yes.
Erin: Not as staff though; not working in the refuge. In my refuge, half the staff are always men because they’re so important for children who haven’t known good, kind men…and some of their mothers.
Dean: I understand. That makes good sense. I see from your memoir for example, that in the early 60’s you had to show proof that you intended to get married just to get contraception from your doctor.
Dean: Women couldn’t apply for mortgages… and so I presume it’s that sort of thing that made you interested in the Women’s movement in the first place.
Erin: Yes, absolutely. And I had such a vision, and partly the refuge because–I know all about violence. Both my parents were violent. My mother was particularly violent to me because I looked like my father. And the other two; my twin sister and my brother were much more like her. And my whole concern is, it is generational violence, and if we don’t save this generation of children we simply have more and more violent people. Because, until we understand we cannot blame men for everything. Women have to look at themselves and be honest about their own violence. And also, to understand what you do to a child’s brain when you actually fight each other, scream, yell and hit children, it causes brain damage. And we know that now from MRI scans. They can see what it does, particularly to the frontal lobe, the right frontal lobe, which is the seat of all our emotions.
Dean: There was a psychologist in Canada who recently published a piece asserting that the stereotype that we seem to all accept now of the helpless, innocent woman who is beaten on by a brutish, thuggish man and needs to run away represents perhaps only 4 or 5 percent of all domestic violence cases and that almost all other cases are more complicated than that. Would you agree that that sounds about reasonable?
Erin: Yes, of the first hundred women who came into my refuge, sixty percent were as violent as the men they left. Or, they were violent and the men weren’t.
Dean: They were violent and the men weren’t?
Erin: Yeah! And that’s why I tried to open a house for men almost immediately after I opened the refuge for women and my problem was – and this was a great shock to me – I was given a house at a Peppercorn Rent by the Council; and then I asked men who had actually given money for my refuge for women and children (they were millionaires) to give me some money for the men’s house, and none of them would give a penny!
Dean: I happen to know that in Canada there’s exactly one men’s shelter and it can’t get any funding. It’s almost impossible…it’s running on a shoestring budget. I’ll have to make sure to let people know about it after I finish talking to you. But I see from your memoir you actually said your first experience of wanting to open a shelter for women was that you encountered a woman who was beaten and bloodied and bruised. And you said you immediately flashed to your own experience of having been beaten by your mother?
Erin: Actually no, it was worse than that. It was a bit like Psycho. When my mother died of cancer, I was seventeen – my twin sister and I, and my brother was fourteen – my father refused to bury her body, and he had it in the house on the dining room table. And we had to go and look every night, it was hot there, it was about six days before he allowed her to be buried. This is the point though: everyone in the village knew what was going on. The woman across the road who was a family friend, I ran across and begged her to help me. She didn’t. The doctor was called by my father and he came out and examined my mother’s dead body and came out and said, “This shouldn’t be happening to a dog.” He did nothing. So I sat there at the age of seventeen thinking “I have asked for help, but nobody, nobody will help three terrified children.” So when Kathy said to me – used the words, “No one will help me…”, that’s when I knew I had to take her in and look after her.
Dean: So you feel you were abused by both of your parents.
Erin: Yeah, all three of us were.
Dean: Oh…I’m sorry that happened to you.
Erin: No, you have to remember that’s why I know what I know and that’s why I can do what I do.
Dean: So it would be your firm opinion then that work by researchers like Murray Strauss and whatnot that…
Erin: Yeah and Richard Gelles
Dean: …that most domestic violence is…
Dean: Concensual, mutual…
Erin: One way or another. There’s no pattern for this because each person is unique, and why and how they make relationships is unique. But they do need… if they, I think… I’ve said this often to very violent women: “Look you’re with a very violent man – that was your choice. But now you want to break that cycle, think of him as your heroin pusher. If you stay away from him, just like cold turkey, long enough, that need for him will die.” Freud said a long time ago that in time to come all emotions will be found in chemicals of the brain and he’s so right. And, that’s why I call it an addiction. Just the same way as an alcoholic is for his bottle, a drug addict the needle, and a violent relationship for some people. But, it can be broken.
Dean: What about women who are the predominant aggressors? You’ve run across those as well, I take it?
Erin: They were in my refuge. And we had long-term therapeutic care. We had the mother house, the big mother house, and then we had shared accommodations in houses. And we also had many houses across England. And the Palm Court hotel, that was the second stage. That had seventy four private suites. And we started that, and you could stay there as long as you liked until you were ready to move back into the community.
Dean: I find when I speak about domestic violence issues, and I have written and done some work in this area for more than ten years – you were a bit of an inspiration there by the way – in any case, people–and sometimes it’s people who call themselves feminists, but often it’s people who call themselves conservatives or maybe even Tories (like you’d call them) or just everyday, not very political people–either become enraged with me or look at me as if there’s something very silly about me when I say there is a serious problem with violent women and that perhaps a quarter of domestic violent relationships, it is the woman who is mostly the violent one and probably in half or more it’s both of them who are violent in one way or another. You’re nodding, I think you agree that that sounds about right?
Dean: But, people become either frightened or enraged or laugh when you suggest that there are violent women. Where do you think that comes from?
Erin: Most people who are violent don’t think they’re violent because it’s been their reality from a very early age. That’s why I don’t even go out to dinner now. I sit down at the table and I can look at people mostly and know what they’ve been up to. A lot of it’s defensive. A lot of it.
Dean: What do you mean, it’s defensive?
Erin: They know within themselves how they behave and they don’t want to hear about it.
Dean: You mentioned feminism is a sort of liberal leftist movement which I think it was originally; although you do have women who consider themselves…
Erin: Yeah, at some point, try and read Susan Brownmiller’s book, because she sent me her books on rape in the very beginning. I couldn’t read them, bless her heart, but she has since recanted. And that was an amazing thing. I was also at the American Embassy when Betty Friedan recanted what she’d said and she said, “I apologize. We, as women have gone to the male, for the throat over economics and that isn’t what we should have done. We should have built the relationship between men and women.”
Dean: Betty Friedan said that?
Erin: Yes, she did, in the American Embassy about 1980, ’81. And I just remember looking at her and thinking, “look at the damage you’ve done with what you’ve said over the years!” It’s all very well everybody recanting, but, the damage is done.
Dean: Well, and where is the knowledge that they’ve recanted? Susan Brownmiller published a simply horrible screed about rape and how…
Erin: No she has since then written a book…we’re friends, I know her…she’s since then wrote a book and just said, “I was wrong.”
Dean: That’s actually good for me to hear, because her original writings on rape about it being this… I don’t know… men have been raping women for millions of years and… very upsetting stuff! It’s good to hear that you’re friends and that she’s recanted her views on that. I’d probably like to talk to her some time. But, it seems to me as if people either want to see women as exclusively victims or as somehow angelic figures.
Erin: That’s mostly men. Women know. We know each other. And privately, they’ll say what they really believe. But an awful lot of men will not hear a word about violent women. They like women on pedestals. It makes them feel safe.
Dean: So then, it’s not just the feminists, although the feminists appear to be part of it. The feminists get angry and the men become derisive or protective. They don’t want to believe there can be violent women. Seems like.
Erin: No, but once you start saying that any group like radical feminists, “look, we have a problem that we need to resolve among women.” You’re talking about almost saying, possibly, there is a million dollar industry out there. You have to share it with men because men and women can equally be violent,” and you’re actually talking about money and they aren’t going to give up on that. They’ve built an empire over forty years, very, very powerful. And we have women in very powerful situations, Canada, Australia, and here, because at one point officials list that the Attorney General in this country was a woman–Harriet Harman is a woman who does huge amounts of damage. And she’s been the Women’s Minister. And I have awful problems with her and several others because they are now very powerful. They’re powerful in the judiciary, they’re powerful in Social Services… particularly in Canada, that’s one of the worst countries in the world.
Dean: Harriet Harman, she’s a Member of Parliament there in Britain, yes? From what I’ve read about her, she seems very hateful. She is a feminist, yes?
Erin: Well, I tried to reason with her once. We were both at the conference and I just said to her, “Look Harriet, you’ve simply got to accept the figures about violent women.” She just swung around on me and her face changed. She said, “The amount of men who are beaten up is miniscule.” And I just looked at her, and I thought, “There’s nothing I can do with you because your mind is closed.”
Dean: Well the government’s own figures don’t even show that to be true, do they?
Erin: Yes, the British Home crime figures show virtually equal between men and women, domestic violence.
Erin: It doesn’t matter how often you say this, or you point it out. You tell a lie long enough, Goebbels said, you can brainwash the entire community. And that’s what’s happened here.
Dean: Now there are those who be accusing you of being a conspiracy theorist or some sort of crazy person to suggest the domestic violence industry is a billion dollar industry.
Erin: That’s not too difficult. Just look at the figures, if you can get your hands on them.
Dean: Like what figures?
Erin: How much V.A.W.A., I think that’s what you call it, gets every year.
Dean: The Violence Against Women Act in America?
Dean: Yeah, there’s an incredible amount of money the government funds, and it goes to these shelters. And it’s not accounted for so far as I know.
Erin: Yeah. But I’ll bet a lot of it doesn’t get near the shelters. Most of it will go to all the administrative and all the legal battles that the feminists… it pays… look, it’s always funded the women’s movement. Everywhere.
Erin: Yes. That’s why I wrote the book. Because somebody’s got to say it. Loudly!
Dean: That there is a problem, particularly with the feminist movement at this point because of the money they get from governments and…
Dean: …private charitable donations?
Dean: Would you say they also rely on people’s perhaps instinctive need to protect women without thinking rationally about…?
Erin: Well, now just imagine, I mean, two people on my board–well three or four of them–were millionaires. Yeah, and they were very protective of women. And when you present them with the fact that men equally need protecting, they’d sew up their pockets. What I did then – I couldn’t keep the house open because none of us had any money. What I did… a very nice woman created charity shops and we called them Men’s Aid and that employed a man to go and see every single man who wanted to see us.
Dean: I see, but you haven’t been successful in continuing that sort of thing?
Erin: No, I managed to open the house and some men were ready to come in, but I couldn’t get a penny from anybody.
Dean: You couldn’t get a penny from anybody – for helping men? Still can’t really?
Erin: No you can’t.
Dean: It’s horrible. Something should be done…. All right, you recently were quoted–I saw this on a video somewhere, and you just said something earlier–the most frightening country in the entire world is Canada?
Dean: Now, that seems a bit hyperbolic, and it might out of context because…
Erin: No it’s not.
Dean: Well I think people from places like Saudi Arabia or North Korea might wish to take issue with you. But I take it you mean that in the area of domestic violence, feminism, laws against men, that sort of thing?
Erin: Yes. I do. I did a six week tour, with Senator Anne Cools, all across Canada. And there were some wonderful (there was one in Windsor was wonderful) uh, men’s groups, just struggling to keep going. And as we traveled and talked to men’s groups, we realized how terribly dangerous it is because it’s almost as though the entire government and the judiciary–the same people–had been infiltrated by very radical feminists out to get men. And I talked to people all the way across Canada. You know my mother was Canadian, and I’m half Canadian, and it hurt actually. See I was a child in Toronto, and my feeling as we went through is real fear. I remember I was working with Anne in the Senate and I walked in to the lift, and this man who was in the lift with me was cowering over in the corner. And I came out and I said to Anne, “What on earth was that about?” And she said, “Men are frightened. They just don’t know when they’re going to be told they’re sexually harassing somebody.”
Dean: I’m sure there are Canadian and other men who are scoffing at this because they’ve never gotten into that situation, but I’ve…
Erin: Those men scoff all over the world, because it’s not their situation. Where is the humanity in men for each other? We women have it naturally with each other, but men don’t seem to have the same ability to discuss emotional issues.
Dean: That’s an interesting thing, because I noticed on Facebook, you said something, I don’t have an exact quote, but you were despairing that men’s groups never seem to go anywhere or get any traction. Are you still finding that to be true?
Erin: Yes, I do find that to be true. I really do. And it’s a great sadness because the only way we’re going to heal what’s happened between the anti-male, misandry, and ordinary normal people in loving relationships, is for men to take their lead in what’s happening and make their opinions known and stand up as otherwise there’s this deepening divide in relationships between men and women.
Dean: Well, there is a growing men’s movement I think you’ll be happy to hear, I know I do a lot of work on A Voice for Men, and with others, and it does seem to be growing all of a sudden. It seems to be predominated by people who are in their 20s, 30s and 40s who grew up in the wake of all the family destruction that we’ve seen since the ’70s. So, I think there’s hope there. But I hope people listen to your words and are galvanized by them. Men do need to be less fearful of speaking up. And more compassionate. I mentioned this to you in private conversation, but I’ll mention it again: a year or so ago, here in the United States, there was a man named Thomas Ball who was accused of molesting his child [editorial correction: accused of slapping his child once] and went through 2 or 3 years family court hell [editorial correction: it was over 10 years of Family Court Hell], having been accused, and eventually doused himself with gasoline and set himself on fire in front of a courthouse and the press, to the extent they reported it at all, either behaved as if it was a bizarre mystery or, it was a terrorist incident. What does that say about our country when you have that reaction to a man in that much pain willing to do something so horrible?
Erin: All I can say is… for a start, relationships are probably, when they go wrong, the most devastating thing that can happen: the woman usually gets to keep the kids and the man is suddenly out of the family. And he’s kept outside. He’s kept outside by the law, by the usual people and I think the big tragedy of all this is that at the moment, nobody’s listening. But I do take your point about it getting better, because I think your analysis is correct. And I think that there will come a tipping point when we’ll get to where the truth of all this will come out and all we can all do, those of us who are working this work, is to keep going and to keep going. And I hope in my lifetime we will see refuge and comfort and care for everyone, particularly children, because it’s generational. And if we don’t save the children of this generation, we create another generation of violence and desperate people.
Dean: Well, I know that even here in the States it’s quite common for most refuges not only to refuse men, but they’ll refuse boys if they are over the age of 12 or 13.
Erin: Twelve here.
Dean: Twelve there. So what are you teaching those young boys when you do that to them, do you think?
Erin: Well there was a case the other day – I was talking to the mother. She was completely bloody after she’d been beaten up. She got to the police station with her children. Her boy was 16 and… when women’s aid came to collect her, they said, “You can’t take your 16 year old son.” She said, “What can I do then?” “Well you’ll have to make accommodations.” She said, “I left my son in the police station for the Social Services to collect him because I knew I couldn’t cope after finding my own accommodation and I wouldn’t be protected.” I said, “You’re quite right. How would that poor child… he’s only 16 and seeing his mother beaten up, how many times he couldn’t count – left.” That’s as far as I am concerned, cruel.
Dean: It seems to be and also may be teaching him a message to internalize his father’s anger and his father’s violence and think, “Well this is just what men are.” Right?
Dean: On the other hand, I have a good friend, obviously I won’t name him…he was in a relationship where his wife was very violent with him and very violent with his children and he stayed in that relationship even though it was going on for years because he feared to call the police for help. He was certain he would be arrested.
Erin: He’s right.
Dean: He was right wasn’t he? Almost any man would be.
Erin: Listen to this: Who trains the police? Women’s Aid.
Dean: Women’s Aid.
Erin: Yeah. All across for 40 years, they have been doing educational packages which they then sell to, whether it’s to the police or social services, and the message is always there: it’s all men, it’s all men, it’s all men.
Dean: And it’s a lie, isn’t it?
Erin: It’s a massive lie. Yes. And it’s a very, very, very – a lie worth telling because you get billions out of this. This is more about money than it is about caring for anybody.
Dean: Because it’s both about government funding and charitable funding. Somehow you say, women need help and purses open, checkbooks open. You say men need help and what happens?
Erin: Men don’t need help, we all know that men are violent brutes because they’ve got a Y chromosome and women don’t.
Dean: And that’s just so horribly a sexist thing to say, isn’t it?
Erin: Isn’t it? When they picketed, they used to have these pickets when they were picketing me saying, “All men are bastards!, “All men are rapists!” Well my sons aren’t, for a start.
Dean: …and your own mother was quite a violent person, so you said.
Erin: But then you see, both sides – I can trace violence back for three generations. For every women who came into the refuge–and we used to take about a thousand mothers and children at the height of when we were working–We did the first hundred, as an example: we did a three generational questionnaire. And it answered itself. Women who came in who were innocent victims of their partner’s violence didn’t come from violent relationships, but the women who were victims of their own violence, that’s where you saw the generational violence.
Dean: What do you mean “victims of their own violence?”
Erin: Well, look at it this way: Baby P was a big, big case here just recently, a child, a beautiful little boy… was hideously battered by a violent mother and her boyfriend. He was taken into hospital and he died. Everybody across the country was weeping over Baby P, because it made the newspapers. And I said then, “right, when this man grows up, this child, had he been able to grow up, he probably would have been a monster and then you would hate him.”
Dean: I think I see what you mean there. Plus would you say that women who get violent are in many ways victims of their own violence because…
Erin: Absolutely. Yes. What I’m looking for when I take care of people who are victims of their own violence is a way that they can transcend. I was saved by my mentor, Miss Williams; without her; that’s why my original memoir from my childhood was called “Infernal Child,” because I was a very, very violent, dangerous child.
Dean: Were you?
Dean: It’s almost as if we’re afraid to see women as human beings with the same flaws as men.
Erin: Isn’t it awful? Because it’s so condescending to tell all women they’re victims. I’m not a victim. I made my choices and I take the consequences. And I used to often say that to a woman. I’d say, “Look, you chose that man, you knew he was violent, you chose to have children by this man even though you were being beaten up. Now you take some responsibility for this.”
Dean: Well and one of the patterns I’ve seen and read about is that you’ll get these women in violent relationships and they’ll be the ones who actually start the hitting.
Erin: Yes, they do, because the majority of violent women bank on the fact that most men don’t hit women. And they don’t.
Dean: And most men don’t hit women.
Erin: Yeah then…
Dean: And so then a woman will hit, and hit and hit… and then finally he loses his mind turns and punches her, and now she gets to be a victim right?
Erin: Yeah. Sometimes she doesn’t even have to wait to provoke him to where he loses it. She bangs her head on a wall and calls the police.
Dean: Now that’s going to make some people angry. You just suggested women will intentionally injure themselves.
Erin: And some men. I mean, it’s not just women or just men; it’s what you learned in childhood. A lot of these women I deal with have severe personality disorders. As do the men. And whoever gets involved with them, even by accident mostly, is going to get… it’s a train crash. Because it takes time for the loving partner to realize what they’ve taken on. And an interesting thing about men, when they see what they think is a very, very – what would the word be? A very fragile woman. And this is a classic. A narcissistic exhibitionist–there’s the woman, the whole crowd at the party are looking at her. She’s usually very well turned out because she’s narcissistic. She looks good and she’s incredibly warm. It isn’t until he gets deeper into the relationship that he realizes that there’s nothing inside that woman. What he saw was… the harmed child in the woman and he wants to make it better. He wants to defend her and take care of her, and then suddenly he realizes that the mask of sanity… he sees through it and it’s too late.
Dean: Because everybody else sees her as…
Erin: Wonderful! Life of the party! And he’s drawn in by that! Men love to have the woman on their arm that everybody else would love to own.
Dean: Vivacious, pretty, etc…
Erin: Like my mother, narcissistic exhibitionist, and they’re very, very dangerous and there’s no treatment.
Dean: There was a famous case here in the States, Bobby Kennedy, Jr…
Dean: …got a divorce and his ex-wife, well, shows all the patterns of being either a narcissist or what they call a Borderline Personality. When she killed herself, everybody blamed him. And then it came out that she had Borderline Personality Disorder and Bobby Kennedy, Jr., you know, was at least somewhat vindicated. They ceased to accuse him of being abusive, but nobody really apologized or acknowledged the fact that she had been violent toward him and his children and nobody wanted to… it was like that part of it kind of got elided. “Oh well, she was mentally disturbed,” and…
Erin: She wasn’t, she had a personality disorder – that’s not mentally disturbed. She knew damn well what she was doing. And her final, final act of outrage to make sure he got even more damaged, was to kill herself.
Dean: So you’re saying a Borderline personality isn’t mentally disturbed?
Dean: Because, their personality…?
Erin: This is what I’m going to say now and I know its ahead of the game because MRI scans are only starting to be studied: most borderline personality disorders and also narcissistic exhibitionists are damaged, because they have witnessed or been part of violent parenting or dysfunctional parenting. And it’s actually damaged the way information goes to the brain. They can now tell you when children who’ve been exposed to toxic violence and sexual abuse…. they can now see in the right frontal lobe how the neurons, and the damage that’s down there… that’s all to come because it’s now happening and there are big studies going on looking at children’s brains who are already violent.
Dean: And yet people still seem afraid of it; they seem afraid of the feminist movement. Do you think the feminist movement can reform itself and become something better or is it time to just…
Erin: No, I think, again this new generation coming up who are in their 20s now have seen a lot of the damage even in their own parenting in feminist households. And I think they will grow up to be far more inclusive. And, I think in about 20 years perhaps – I don’t know if I’ll still be alive – that we will look at these last 40, 50 years as the dark ages for human relationships.
Dean: Because it should be Humanism that we’re talking about and…
Erin: Yes. Love.
Dean: …helping each other…
Erin: Love, compassion… all the things that that… we need, we need to love and be loved. It’s as simple as that. And this radical feminist movement really highjacked everything from the equity feminists. Essentially it is a hateful movement. It just hates a whole group of people and wishes them ill.
Dean: You use the phrase, “equity feminism”. Are you using that to describe women who think of themselves as feminists, but really only want fairness and equality?
Erin: Yes, absolutely.
Dean: Perhaps even the word “feminism” isn’t right at this point for them. They’re really more humanists and don’t realize it?
Erin: Yeah. I think that’s right. But then you see we’ve had nearly 50 years now of brainwashing, and this lie has been standing out there. But I do see more and more people realize… and there were two conferences in America; one in Sacramento… I went to the one in Sacramento, and it was the first inclusive conference and it was such a joy to be there. Maury Straus was there.
Erin: …and Charles Cory… he’s wonderful, and Edward. There’s a whole load of people who have been there from the very beginning. Then there was a second one in L.A. and one of the women from a University said, “I couldn’t let anybody know that I was here from my university or I’d lose my tenure.” And she’s right, she would.
Dean: Lose her tenure?
Dean: I thought that would be nearly impossible.
Dean: But, it’s almost like this radical feminism is underground, people don’t know that it’s there. And you try to tell them and [they say you think] it’s a conspiracy. But it’s not a conspiracy, is it? It’s just reality of what’s in the university and a lot of these government departments, right?
Erin: That’s where it came from. That’s where it all started. And it’s interesting though because many of those Women’s Studies are being shut down.
Dean: Well, it’s funny, and they seem to be getting more and more desperate. I mentioned this to you earlier, but not on camera. Warren Farrell, you know him, yes?
Erin: He’s a great friend.
Dean: Very sweet gentleman, and, there is a growing movement, A Voice for Men is a big part of it. But Warren Farrell was to give a talk at the University of Toronto and feminists, people calling themselves feminists, so I suppose anybody watching this that says, “Well, I’m a feminist and I’m not like that,” well listen up, there are women who are calling themselves, working in your name, and men, doing this. They were getting extremely violent, locking arms, trying to bar people from getting in to see Warren Farrell speak. Some of them wound up getting arrested [editorial correction: I thought there had been arrests. I was mistaken]. Calling people names, horribly abusing men who were trying to get in there. But it was all caught on camera and this time some people were arrested, and I see that as positive in two ways: A) it’s getting some coverage and B) the police actually were willing to make an arrest or two. [Editorial comment: I was wrong, there were no arrests that we know of.] Didn’t you say early on, 40 or 50 years ago, the police wouldn’t arrest violent women?
Erin: No… when I first started police weren’t allowed to do anything to protect women, or men, because it was called “a domestic.” That’s one of the first things we had to change. And now, the problem with that is, yes they can go in and arrest, but, in most cases they will only arrest the man.
Dean: I seem to recall you mentioning something about how perhaps 40, 50 years ago in the 70’s there were violent women protesting you and the police told you they were afraid of them?
Erin: That’s absolutely right. I was at a luncheon for Women of the Year at the Savoy, and there was all this shouting. I had to get through the pickets. And the funniest one was “Pizzey is the pits!” But they also had the ones, “all men are rapists” “all men are bastards” and I went down to the police and said, “Look, if this was men, you’d arrest them all.” And there’s a great big copper and I said, “Why aren’t you arresting them?” He said, “Well it’s women,” and there’s a terrified look on his face. And I had to have a police escort all around England.
Dean: And you had to have a police escort because why?
Erin: Death threats. Listen, police don’t give you an escort, because it costs a lot of money, unless they’re worried about it.
Dean: And why were they threatening you?
Erin: Well, for various reasons. I suppose the major one is that I was talking out at the time when the money was starting to come in, and I was telling the truth as loudly as I could. That’s probably why. And I must remind you that Senator Anne Cools and myself were to go to Vancouver to speak, and…
Dean: Senator Anne Cools is a Canadian Senator?
Erin: Yes. And she supports men. And… there was death threats and police said to her, “Do you want to go in and get on with this or should you just cancel it?” And we both said, “No, no, were going to go.” It was very nerve wracking.
Dean: And they hate you for saying that women can be violent or that domestic violence is often or usually mutual?
Erin: Yeah. And also that I say that it’s a fact that it’s a multi-million, billion dollar industry. That’s one that absolutely outrages them, because they don’t want anyone to know how much money they’re getting.
Dean: It’s funny, and I happen to know that even in the States there is no accounting for where that money goes. I guess it’s marked as going to women’s shelters and that’s it – it’s like a black box.
Erin: Well, it’s not even going to women’s shelters. It’s going to keeping the empire going. Great big offices, loads and loads of staff – that’s what happens.
Dean: Because the people in most of these houses are volunteers, or being paid hardly anything, right?
Dean: That’s been my experience as well. So, you think the rage comes… Well, I might disagree with you a little, only in the sense that I know there’s a lot of money involved, people don’t believe it but there is, but I also think there’s this… I’ve seen it in people who have no stake in it, they become enraged with me when I say women are half the problem in domestic violence. That just suggesting women are violent makes people extremely angry, and I don’t know where that comes from, but…
Erin: I think you’ll find it’s particularly those sort of women because they’re violent themselves, and they know it. And men.
Dean: And yet what you’ve just described, too, there’s also this also this protective instinct in men. In the men’s movement, we call it the “White Knight” impulse – the White Knight impulse.
Erin: Yeah. I call it the… to me it’s the… oh what’s the word? It escaped my mind now, but there is a gene in men I think, that is put in there to take care of their children, and to be gentle with their women. I think men have that.
Dean: I think men are, contrary to the stereotype, actually, generally fairly gentle creatures.
Erin: I think that’s true as well, and much much simpler than women. It’s much easier to talk to men, because men… men explode with rage, right? I can deal with that. Well some men. It’s women implode. And women will actually, ’tis true, they will sit quietly and they will plot for what they want. And that’s very female because you implode with rage. Different chemicals.
Dean: So, you think men and women are wired or are chemically somewhat different from each other then.
Erin: Well, it’s been the MRI scans shown men’s brains, women’s brains… women’s brains have scatter all across the brain, because women actually can do many things at once. Whereas a man’s brain, when they look at the MRI scan, it’s much more linear – straightforward.
Dean: So… interesting, interesting. So we’ve evolved to be different, and perhaps we’ve evolved to want to protect women.
Erin: Of course, that’s what you’ve done since the beginning of time. The woman has actually evolved to nurture the children and to nurture a family setup. That’s why she collects the food, on the ground food, but not plowing… men go out, from early days, and bring home the bacon, whether it’s a piece of bear or whatever. What isn’t healthy though, is, it takes… you know in an ideal world the mothering and the fathering under one roof with the children is the best way a child can grow up – being nurtured by each parent. Yes, other people can nurture a child but that biological bond between the mother and the father is the best that you can offer your child.
Dean: I think the nurturing impulse in men is underrated. I think men have a very strong nurturing impulse too.
Erin: They do. No but, interesting is that I lived for six years on a farm in Italy. And the men did all the working outside, they did all the actual backbreaking work on the farm and the women did all the cooking in the home and looking after the children, but the fathers were equally… they’re there, the fathers were there all day with their kids. And it was a very happy setup.
Dean: You know it’s funny, I’ve often thought that it’s been since the Industrial Revolution that the family has actually really started to struggle because that’s where you saw, you know, Father leaves and is gone all day, and comes back after twelve hours, and I’m not sure that’s how we evolved. I’m not sure that’s really the most natural arrangement. But perhaps I’m getting us off topic. Would you be will to talk to me again and do another interview?
Erin: Certainly. Yes.
Dean: I’m not sure what we should close with here. But do you see reason for hope in the future as to people getting more realistic about what domestic violence is, and women’s culpability, and that sort of thing?
Erin: I hope so. I pray every night that this is going to happen. That we’re going to recognize that the family is under serious threat and it’s everybody’s job to do something about it…to come together and make changes.
Dean: All right. Well, thank you so very much for talking to me Erin! Again everybody, this is Episode 2 of the Honey Badger files. My guest has been Erin Pizzey. Her book is, “This Way to the Revolution – a Memoir” from Peter Owen publishers. Thank you so much, Erin. I hope to talk to you again soon.
Erin: Thank you.
I would like to dedicate this interview to Kay Hymowitz and William Bennett, conservative traditionalists who’ve done so much to say “man up” to shame and demonize young men without saying much to or about women, to female triumphalist Hanna Rosen, to Jessica Valenti and the crew over at Feministing, to Amanda Marcotte, and most especially to Kate Harding and the rest of the crew over at Jezebel. All of their tireless work has provided endless inspiration for what I do as a Men’s Rights Advocate and over at A Voice for Men. I strongly encourage all readers to tweet, Facebook, email, and otherwise spread this interview around as much as possible. Links to a lot of supporting material will be supplied in later updates to this posting.
But I more seriously dedicate it to Erin, with love. Please buy and read her book.
Transcript services by Sharon Leslie-Clarke.
*Update*: Upon request of some readers/listeners, click here to see references to as many things as I could find that Erin talked about, at least in some fashion:
This Way to the Revolution:
Scream Quietly or the Neighbours Will Hear by Erin Pizzey:
Other books and articles by Pizzey:
UK Foreign Office (now the Foreign & Commonwealth Office):
Feminist Collectives have been around for decades, and are still active:
A paper by a Marxist feminist on the intersection and history of feminism as it relates to Marxism:
Pictures of Erin’s first refuge house and early work:
National Coalition for Men:
Info on ignored and abused Male Domestic Violence victims:
An old women’s coverture document:
Psychologist & Professor Don Dutton, “Let’s stop playing the gender blame game,” Vancouver Sun:
Family of Men Support Society:
MASH*4077 / One Brick Short campaign:
Professor Murray A. Straus: Multiple papers and other information on domestic violence
Richard James Gelles, PhD, Joanne & Raymand Welsh chare of Child Welfare and Family violence: reearch, links to scholarly papers
Linda Kelly: Disabusing the definition of domestic abuse: how women batter men and the role of the feminist state:
Money for women’s shelters not tracked
Sigmund Freud: “CONSCIOUSNESS is energy received and decoded by a STRUCTURE. In human beings, the receiving-decoding structures are neuro-chemical.”
PM News: Man’s Embarrassing Secret In Court: My Wife Beats Me Up
Susan Brownmiller: Rape is “nothing more or less than a conscious process of intimidation by which all men keep all women in a state of fear.”
Susan Brownmiller: I cannot at this time verify that Brownmiller ever said she was wrong. But her web site is here and if someone can verify the recanting I will reference it.
Domestic Abuse Hotline for Men and Women
Who Needs Feminism.org photos:
Betty Friedan: Cannot verify the recanting but Friedan was quoted in the 1970s as saying “Men weren’t really the enemy, they were fellow victims”
Catherine Kieu Becker, Woman cut off husband’s penis, put it in disposal
Joseph Goebbels: “The English follow the principle that when one lies, one should lie big, and stick to it.”
VAWA Funding: TEPA programs
Violence Against Women Act: History and Federal Funding:
“The most frightening country in the entire world is Canada” rhetoric
Senator Anne Cools
Riding the Donkey Backwards: Men as the Unacceptable Victims of Marital Violence:
Thomas Ball, found innocent, kills self over family court abuse:
British Prime Minister criticizes absent fathers, Pizzey says there are as many feckless women as men and that women frequently won’t let fathers see their children:
Suicide Rate Greater Among Divorced Men, Research Finds
More than 40% of domestic violence victims are male, report reveals
Shelters routinely refuse men, boys over the age of 13
Men and boys presumed guilty when accused of abuse:
Infernal Child: World Without Love by Erin Pizzey
The number of women who hit first or hit back is “much greater than has generally been assumed.” Deborah Capaldi, Ph.D.
Deborah Capaldi, PhD, Research Scientist, Oregon Social Learning Center
Women that provoke men to abuse them
RFK JR, Bobby Kennedy Junior, Mary Richardson Kennedy:
Visible effect on brains of children from abusive homes:
Leaving the Sisterhood: A recovering feminist speaks by Dr. Elly Tams
Charles E. Corry, Ph.D.
Historic Domestic Violence Counference Includes Male Victims (Erin references someone named “Edward,” at this time I cannot confirm if she means Edward Bartlett, Ph.D. from this conference:
Edward E. Bartlett PhD, President of Stop Abusive and Violent Environments:
Warren Farrell Protest at the University of Toronto, StudioBrulé
Warren Farrell’s home page:
Dr. Charles Corry, Police arrest men who report violence, men should not report:
MRI Scans: Girl Brain, Boy Brain? How much is “hard wired” and how much not?