i prefer to wear my hair in bangs so i can see if wooly mammoths are about to charge me

Newsweek has a surisingly good article about the Rihanna/Chris Brown fracas that enumarates the 5 most common mistakes the media is making in talking about it. I say “surprisingly” because, quite frankly, most of the time I consider Newsweek‘s journalistic standards to be only slightly higher than those of the slambook my classmates and I passed around in 6th grade. (That was a pre-internet thing. Google it, Millenials.)

I haven’t paid a lot of attention to the whole thing, to be honest. Especially after she got back together with him. It’s a weakness in my feminism that I have a very, very hard time mustering up sympathy for women who go back to abusive spouses/boyfriends. Especially when they don’t need him financially; or have difficult ties to break, like children. It’s just the way I was raised. My mother used to tell a story about her first husband, who was an alcoholic who sounds like he had some serious psychological disorders as well. (Or I don’t know, maybe it was just a case of being a huge, entitled asshole in a society that allowed men to get away with it all of the time.) She said the one time he drew his hand back to hit her, she stood her ground, looked straight into his eyes, and said “You’re bigger and stronger than me, and I know you could beat me up. But know this: You have to fall asleep sometime.” The hand went back down.

And that’s what I was taught: Don’t stand for any crap (or indeed, a less than equal footing); and if abuse occurs, GTFO.

But anyway, back to Newsweek. I was very glad to see they included a takedown of evo-pysch (or as feminists like to call it, Science for Douchebags) at #2.

Myth No. 2: Evolution makes us do it
Steven Stosny, a counselor and founder of an organization that treats anger-management issues believes that the tragic tendency of women to return to the men who hurt them (battered-woman syndrome) is a product of evolution. Stosny was quoted on CNN.com as saying “To leave an attachment relationship—a relationship where there’s an emotional bond—meant certain death by starvation or saber-tooth tiger.”

Apologies to Mr. Stosny, but that is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard. This is the kind of argument that really boils my blood because it seems to naturalize the torture of women. Very little is known about the emotional attachments of early humans. And trust me, after 50,000 years, our fear of saber-tooth tigers has abated. In most domestic-abuse cases, we’re talking about a situation where one person is wielding power over an individual through pain, fear and domination. It’s not about being scared to leave because of the dangers that await you in the world, it’s about being too scared of what’s at home to leave.

Evo psych has 3 big flaws that I can see. The first — and the most inexcusable, considering that these people call themselves scientists — is their constant confusion of causation and correlation.

The second, as pointed out by Amanda Marcotte and others, is that all these studies prove is that women are socially and financially at a disadvantage to men in every society on earth.

And the third, which is demonstrated by Mr. Stosny above, is that they assume evolution has stopped and that we’re all hopelessly locked into patterns of behavior set by our prehistoric ancestors. But evolution is an ongoing process that never ends. We no more make decisions based on the fear of being eaten by saber-toothed tigers than we flee from eclipses under the mistaken notion that the sun is being devoured by angry sky gods.


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