Since I know you readers are deeply interested in fighting the good fight for social justice in the bedrooms and parlors of this nation, I'm sure you've seen the horrible video..posted by Hillary Adams, whose father is Judge William Adams, who is a judge for Aransas County, which is in the Gulf region of Texas. Adams admits that it's him in the video, and in the style of abusers everywhere, is leaning on the "just a scratch" excuse, as well as skepticism-inducing claims that his behavior here is somehow out of character. (Compare to Cain's statements this past week for another example of how this works.) No one is buying it, of course, since we all see with our eyes how hard he whipped his daughter with the belt. Additionally, since Hillary set the camera up in her room specifically to capture this, we have to assume a) that this had happened enough before to compel that choice and b) that she was getting really good at predicting when he would go off like this. Research into domestic violence shows that it's not uncommon for victims to become well-attuned to when their abusers have a desire to whip the shit out of someone, and they do in fact get good at predicting it. This also belies the abusers' claim that it's a matter of "losing your temper", but that they are in control of their emotions.
When something like this happens, it's important to put it into context so people realize that behavior like this is not isolated or unusual, sadly. Jill has addressed how common it is for people with disabilities, who are often especially dependent on caregivers, to suffer abuse like this. Hillary has stated that Adams abused all his family members, but it seems he had a special hankering for whipping his only daughter, who happens to suffer from cerebal palsy, so we can see how it fits into this pattern. I want to add to this, and discuss abuse in the context of fundamentalist Christianity.
Now, I couldn't find any religious information about Judge Adams, but he is a Republican, raising the chances to "high" that he's an evangelical Christian. More importantly, if you watch the video---which I only recommend you do if you have the stomach for this sort of thing---one thing will really jump out at you if you follow the workings of the Christian right. Adams keeps using somewhat strange terms like "disobedient" and "submission". For secular people, even those who have witnessed abuse, it's really rare to see someone spell out their goals of inducing submission and obedience. (Or maybe not. I'm sure commenters have some thoughts.) Other language is employed, in no small part because abusers also have to enact a mindfuck on their victims, and convince them that the abuse isn't somehow apart from the values of their time, which for secular people and moderate religious people include equality and individuality. But the words "obedience" and "submission" are flung around Christian right circles without any hesitation. When speaking to outsiders, they often try to play that awful-sounding language off as something not as bad as it sounds. Their schtick is to pretend that they're just using archaic words for the funsies, but when they say something like "submission", they don't really mean submission. (Michele Bachmann tried this tactic when asked about her pride in being submissive to her husband.) But they do mean it. It's impossible to believe otherwise, when you're reading, say, James Dobson extolling the virtues of whipping your kids into submission, or Christian housewives on blogs discussing how much of a struggle it is to frame their legitimate concerns into a submissive framework where even asking questions can sometimes be seen as an affront to a man's godly right to have the final say over household manners. They do in fact believe in a strict hierarchy of power in the household, and in fact, I would argue that fighting against feminist progress on the home front is their main organizing principle.
keyboard shortcuts: V vote up article J next comment K previous comment