The Positive Side Of Divorce And Not So Nice Nice Guys

Sex, Really strikes again, and Candace Walsh talks about the positive side of divorce. Also, domestic violence in a failing economy.


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Links in this episode:

HIV ban may be rescinded

Domestic violence during a recession

Domestic violence during a recession 2

Domestic violence during a recession 3

Domestic violence during a recession 4

Sex Really

Rick Sanchez says what?


On this episode of Reality Cast, I’ll be interviewing
Candace Walsh about her new anthology exploring the positive side of
divorce.  Also, I’ll look at the
intersection of the recession and domestic violence, and ask some more
questions about the questionable new blog Sex, Really.


A small but important victory looks like it’s about to be


  • hiv
    ban *


The HIV travel and immigration ban has broken up families
and separated friends for two decades now, but the HHS has started the process
of lifting the ban.  It’s been a
long time coming.




Stories about the intersection of economic tough times and
the issues we cover at RH Reality Check keep coming up.  I’ve been interested to note that the
Public News Service has devoted a lot of its resources to tracking the problems
of domestic violence in economic tough times. 


  • dv 1*


There’s a number of important things about a recession that
exacerbate the problem of domestic violence.  The most obvious connection, of course, is the way that
stress in general shortens the tempers of abusers, making them more likely to
lash out more often.  I’d add that
many abusers actually cast around looking for excuses to abuse and intimidate,
excuses that will allow their victims to say that the abuser couldn’t help
himself.  In this case, being
stressed out by finances can create a situation where an abuser beats his
partner, and during the period afterwards, when he’s apologizing and making
excuses, he says that the financial circumstances were the cause.  This will give some victims a reason to
forgive the abuse, or at least be guilt-tripped into forgiving it.


Representative Loretta Sanchez spoke with Women’s eNews a
few months ago about this problem, and why it means that funding for domestic
violence programs needs to stay in place. 


  • dv 2*


As Public News Service has discovered, though, the problem
is way more complicated than just simply stating that stress makes the problem
of domestic violence worse. 
Economic hard times actually give abusers many tools they need to
accomplish the main mission of abuse, which is to control their victims, break
their will, and keep them from escaping. 


  • dv 3*


Listening to these reports, what I found interesting was how
much domestic violence can really be understood as something like a hostage
situation.  People think of it as
hitting, mostly, and while that’s a big part of it, to really understand
domestic violence, you have to realize that it’s part of a larger pattern of
intimidation and control.  It’s
sickening, but it’s clear from the interviews with advocates that Public News
Service did around the country that abusers can be extremely creative in
finding ways to use economic strategies to trap their victims in the


  • dv 4 *


Even in flush times, abusive strategies like forbidding your
partner from working and racking up debt that they’ll be stuck with if they try
to leave are awful, but now that we’re in dire economic straits, these strategies
are likely even more effective. 
The odds are never good for a woman with holes in her resume and a pile
of debt, if she’s trying to get a job and a measure of economic independence
that allows her to leave an abusive husband, but now there’s even fewer jobs
out there for these women to take. 
To make it worse, the economic stimulus package that was supposed to
create all these jobs hasn’t done near the job it was supposed to, and so I
don’t see how women in this situation can even come close to getting the help
they need.


One thing that I got out of this coverage was that financial
control is the sort of thing that people should look out for, if they want to
help women trapped in abusive relationships.  You may not be able to see him hit her or scream degrading
abuse at her, but you might be clued into a woman’s situation if she seems to
have financial problems that stem back to her husband’s unwillingness to allow
her a measure of financial independence. 
For people who are in a position to help women out in abusive
relationships, it’s definitely something to look for as a red flag.



insert interview




It may seem a little soon to come back to the new sex blog
run by prude and scold Laura Sessions Stepp called Sex, Really, but there are
just so many mysteries to uncover and so much silliness to mock.  Sex Really is funded by the National
Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, which opens up a whole host of questions.  First of all, since it’s the National
Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, then why do they have a blog that appears
to be aimed squarely at women in their early 20s?  I’m not saying women in their early 20s will pay attention,
because reading this website is like getting sex advice from someone who only
does it missionary style in the dark twice a year, but that’s the intended


But assuming that it’s good to prevent unintended pregnancy
in women in their 20s, which it is, I have to ask, why then does Sessions Stepp
worry more about who you’re sleeping with and when rather than whether or not
you’re protecting yourself?  You’re
just as likely to get pregnant if you sleep with a guy on the first date or the
15th if you’re not using condoms.  And on the 2nd episode, we get to hear that women
are sleeping with the wrong guys, because apparently Sessions Stepp thinks the
main operating principle is that whatever young women are doing, it’s wrong.


  • nice
    guys 1 *


Really?  They’re
going with the hoariest of stereotypes, that women are so stupid or masochistic
that we’ll pick a guy who beats us over someone who buys us flowers every
time?  Never mind that most abusers
are actually the nicest of nice guys up front, coming on heavy with the charm
and favors.  No, what’s stupidest
about this is the reference to "Forgetting Sarah Marshall".  I actually saw that movie, and it was
crystal clear that the main character was NOT a nice guy, and that Sarah was
smart to dump him, because he was neglectful and self-absorbed.  But because he’s kind of douchey,
suddenly he’s a nice guy?


The problem with the myth that women only like bad boys is
that there’s category confusion. 
It’s true that confident men who make their intentions clear to women do
better than guys who lurk around, afraid to speak up and only pretending to be
your friend.  But confidence
doesn’t automatically make someone bad and being shy doesn’t make you
nice.  In fact, it’s distinctly
un-nice to just pretend to be someone’s friend in order to get her to sleep
with you.  It’s passive aggressive
and mean.


But Sessions Stepp has scientific proof!


  • nice
    guys 2 *


Except that’s not what the article said at all. There was no
reason to think that such men are more attractive to women, or that women are
just so stupid and hateful. 
Tatiana at Jezebel pointed out that narcissistic young men in college
claimed to get laid more.  That’s
it.  They may exaggerate their
conquests, or they may sleep with more women because racking up points is
important to them.  But that
doesn’t mean they get the girl. 
And if so-called Nice Guys are angry that they have to settle for stable
relationships with actual girlfriends, then they aren’t so nice, are they?


But Sessions Stepp has a testimony from a young woman who
found that a guy she was attracted to initially turned out to be not such a
great guy!


  • nice
    guys 3 *


And then she dumped him because he was a bad boy who didn’t
have a job.  So much for the idea
that women will always stick by the bad boy. 


The problem here is selection bias. Sessions Stepp is
ignoring that shy men can be bad boyfriends that neglect, cheat, or even hit
their girlfriends.  Sessions Stepp
is also ignoring all the men out there with swagger who are respectful and
gracious to their girlfriends.  If
it doesn’t confirm the theory, it’s ignored. 


And what about the so-called nice guys who fall for girls
that are obviously bad news?  Nice
guys are defined by the fact that they moon after women who don’t want them,
who tease them, and who often have personally chaotic lives.  Why don’t we scold nice guys and tell
them to date nice girls who are quietly hiding in the shadows themselves?  I guess Sessions Stepp thinks men are
entitled to like who they want, but women are obligated to put aside what we
want and dole out our bodies as rewards to men who prove that they’re
supposedly nice by being passive aggressive and whiny.



And now for the Wisdom of Wingnuts, the oh not Sarah Palin
edition.  As in, I can’t believe
that Sarah Palin of all people was the target of this wingnuttery from Rick
Sanchez at Fox News. 


  • sanchez


As in, he actually suggested that Sarah Palin resigned
because she’s pregnant.  I wasn’t
aware that they cloistered their pregnant women in Alaska.  They are different up there!  Just kidding.  Just another example of how out of touch the male-dominated
conservative punditry really is, that they don’t realize that pregnant women
are perfectly capable of doing their jobs, because after all, you aren’t
incubating the fetus in your brain.


Follow Amanda Marcotte on twitter: @amandamarcotte

  • independentminded

    Brava! Thanks.