Strange behaviour


This woman was 14 years old when her own daughter was born. She is 27 years old now.

Her daughter is 13 years old and has been sexually assaulted by her grandfather. (It is quite possible that the grandfather is also this woman’s father – you can’t tell from the limited information available).

It is a pretty safe bet that this woman has been through a lot recently.

In addition to the pain of learning that her child has survived sexual abuse, this woman has also likely supported her daughter through the harrowing experiences of confronting the grandfather, reporting the sexual abuse to the police, undergoing a medical examination, giving a statement to the police, clarifying her statement with the Crown prosecutor, giving evidence during a subsequent trial, and being cross-examined by the grandfather’s lawyer (with the cross-examination possibly occurring in front of the grandfather).

Fortunately the grandfather was convicted of the crime and is now in jail. But basically, this woman has watched her daughter re-live the sexual abuse over and over again.

Now, this morning that woman walks into a 7-Eleven service station and sees pornographic magazines on display at a child’s eye level and is deeply offended by the idea that her daughter is being exposed to them. I guess she figures her daughter has been through enough and doesn’t need reminders. (Pornography is often used as part of the sexual abuse of children by paedophiles so these magazines may well be an extremely strong emotional trigger for this woman’s daughter).

This woman gets very angry.

She argues with the attendant. The attendant refuses to move them. (Of course, because the right to display pornography in public space is well established).

It is alleged that this woman took her daughter home and then returned with a knife and threatened the attendant. (The attendant undoubtedly knows that petrol stations are targeted for armed robberies and was probably quite alarmed). Police were called.

It seems that the matter was not resolved particularly quickly or easily. But no-one was injured during the incident.

Knowing, as you do, that we live in a patriarchy what do you think might have happened next?

This is what happened. That woman was arrested and charged with “serious assault and going armed to cause fear”.  She has been bailed to attend the hospital for an involuntary treatment order. Her lawyer said the sexual abuse of this woman’s daughter “has triggered some over-protectiveness in my client.”

Funny how this woman is seen to be being over-protective of her daughter (in fact it is described in the article as her “ranting and raving”): not wanting your child to be triggered by the sight of pornography could be over-protective; not wanting your daughter to be subjected to any further involuntary experiences of adult sexuality could be over-protective; not wanting your daughter to see what she might perceive to be women being objectified and demeaned after such an early introduction to that experience herself could be over-protective.

And isn’t it a strange world where police can be called in to protect your right to display pornography? So unquestioning are we about it that the newspaper article actually describes what unfolded as a “bizarre incident”. It is the same strange world where it is estimated that up to one in four girls will be sexually abused during their childhood.

Now, pornography – its impact on us as users, its effect on those who work in its production – is a complex debate and I am not trying to claim any kind of ready conclusion to that here. But you have to admit, you’re not exactly feeling ‘the irrational’ here with this woman, are you?

(Cross-posted at blue milk).

Categories: gender & feminism, law & order, media, parenting, violence

Tags: , , ,

13 replies

  1. Alas, in a patriarchy, one’s right to “free speech”–that is, as long as it’s in favor of oppression–is way more important than any woman’s right to, say, not be attacked or dehumanized.

  2. Sickening. What newspaper said it was bizarre?

  3. I feel very admiring of this woman that, despite how tough it must be to raise a child when you are still a child yourself, had the strength and courage to make protecting her daughter a priority, by seeing a family member properly prosecuted. The whole process must have been horrific.

  4. It is quite possible that the grandfather is also this woman’s father

    Which, combined with the fact that the woman gave birth to her daughter at age 14, makes you wonder about other things 😦
    Yes, this is sickening, and horrific, and I am angry.

  5. This is a horrific story, and the reporting of it clearly repulsive.

    However, this woman did threaten someone with a knife, a person who was in all possibility did not feel that they had the ability to override their boss on stock placement. This person was also a victim. Violence is unacceptable, in all forms.

    This highlights the horror of the cyclical nature of violence.

  6. hrgh – this woman lost it and did the wrong thing, but she is feeling the full force of condemnation for that – the shit about being a woman and also trying to raise a daughter in a world where you are both the sex class, which is also very, very wrong, is not getting the same condemnation.
    Mindy – Queensland Times.
    Jo Tamar – yes, I wondered too.

  7. Violence is cyclical .
    Would the mother of the person threatened with the knife be justified in coming to court and holding the original mother with threats of a knife attack.
    People who enter anger management are told that anger is YOUR personal response to the world around you and not the fault of others or their actions. Only your own inability to cope with your own emotional responses.
    Thus the cycle of violence is only ever broken with personal responsibility and never with blame.
    What the daughter had to go through was awful, the mother had ever right to actively voice her opinion. Violence however was not the right way to go about it no matter how emotionally driven her argument was.
    We all have triggers and justification for being offended by the veritable myriad of things we will go through in life. Some are more extreme than others.
    Pornography is an issue of individual rights. So long as all people involved are consenting adults, then the main argument against it is based on the core beliefs of people who insist they have the right to tell people what to do with their bodies.
    Just like pro-lifers who think they have the right to tell a women what they can do with their body. Unfortunately their are some pro-choice people who think they should be able to tell porn stars what to do with theirs, which is at least marginally hypocritical.
    The trigger for the woman involved was the pornographic magazine. No child should be subject to viewing pornographic material. I wonder if the cover indeed had pornography or merely a scantly clad female.
    If it was explicit in nature then that in itself is a form of abuse.
    If it was merely a lady in a bikini, then would the mother be justified in welding a knife a the beach on a hot day?
    I’d certainly hope not.

  8. I’m struggling to get a handle on your thesis – my reading of the situation is not that the police were called to protect anyone’s right to display pornography, but to protect this minimum-wage employee from an assault with a deadly weapon.

  9. lauredhel and AJ – I am not saying she did the right thing, I am saying that I don’t find her behaviour all that ‘irrational’, I don’t find the idea bizarre or inexplicable that a woman could be afronted by this situation.
    I might walk away from that same situation and write a letter to the editor of the local newspaper instead – I don’t have a problem with rage and good for me, but Dinmore is a pretty poor area and maybe I have a higher level of education than she does and that has afforded me a greater sense of being taken seriously when I do protest verbally about something, and maybe I am not at my wit’s end because my income level has allowed me a greater ability to fortify my home against the intrusion of the sexualisation of girls.

  10. I think what I am particularly reacting to is the way that this story was reported, and in hindsight I accept that I wasn’t being sufficiently fair to the 7-Eleven employee in my description of that report.
    Obviously people can’t lose their shit and threaten others with knives – we live in a civilised society, but it is the same civilised society that forces us to also accept the high frequency of child sexual abuse and the debasement of women for mainstream sexual pleasure.
    I don’t know what I think about pornography, I really have trouble pinning myself down to a final view on it, but I do strongly believe that it should be entirely voluntary whether one chooses to come across it or not, and I also believe that we are so saturated in pornographic imagery that people aren’t able to exercise a proper choice on that.
    I feel for this woman, though her violent behaviour is terrible, because I wonder if her rage comes from a similar place to my own anger but without the same avenues I have for being heard and affecting change. Plus, were I to discover that my own daughter was being sexually abused by her grandfather I really can’t say what state I would be in.

  11. That’s a good point, and one that I have not seen raised before in the whole porn at the 7-Eleven debate, that porn is so often used to groom children for abuse. It doesn’t matter if it’s “just” a cover with a “scantily clad” woman, we all know the signposts of porn and it’s perfectly understandable that those seemingly benign covers might be triggering for people. Given the high rates of sexual assault and abuse perpetrated against women and children, it’s likely that many people are triggered every day by that sight, by that reminder of their place in the social hierarchy and the message that what happened to you was quite socially acceptable because hey that’s what you were put here for.
    It should be possible to both condemn this women’s use of violence as well as adopt a more humanitarian response to it besides tossing her into the criminal “justice” system where things will only deteriorate for her and her daughter.
    It’s likely that it is as you are wondering, BM, that this woman’s anger comes from the same place as your’s and mine and other feminists who are tired of misogynistic representations of women in a patriarchy. But the way these things pan out, there is the chance that she will not be able to meet her bail conditions and will end up in gaol, and her daughter in care.
    Discourses about a woman’s “individual right” to do porn work are rooted in white middle class bias, and mask the darker end of the porn spectrum, and the situations of women and girls who do not have that privilege to “choose”.

  12. “…the darker end of the porn spectrum, and the situations of women and girls who do not have that privilege to “choose”.”
    Yes, absolutely, and also of course it’s problematic whether women at any end of the spectrum are freely “choosing” to do all that they do on camera, as we can never tell what sort of coersion is going on off camera.

  13. It scares me that we might go down the route of censoring legal activities based on “what if” assumptions. Goodbye adult rights, goodbye freedom.
    Hello communist state!
    There are activities all over the workplace spectrum that are extreme and exacting on those involved, we have no idea who is coerced, schmoozed, bribed or just outright conned into varieties of the employment range.
    Freedom exists where there is vigilant scrutiny and intense objectivity, but never where there is speculatory assumptions and censorship of activity and information based on arbitrary ideas.
    We could ban boxing because some people are possibly forced into the industry.
    We could eliminate modeling because some models are expected to enduring ridiculous dieting regimens that are unfair.
    Or we can demand greater transparency and better education for consumers.

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