February… the month of Love, hearts, flowers, candy, dates, day dreams and respect. As we wrap up the month of love, it is a good time to think about what love is and is not.
Kim Grove Casali began what became the “Love Is . . .” phenomenon in 1967 when she met and drew funny little cartoons for Roberto Casali, her future husband. Her cartoons were a highlight of my childhood. This comic is still available at http://loveiscomix.com/
A few of my favorites from Love is…
‘still being able to do your own thing.’
‘someone who reigns with you not over you.’
‘someone who adores the skin you’re in.’
‘being accepted for who you are.’
February 2015 brought us the 50 Shades of Grey movie. There are those who think it is time for women to openly discuss their sexuality and embrace this movie for that purpose. In my opinion, women should feel free to discuss whatever their heart’s desire is. I do not find it necessary to romanticize domestic violence, to open this dialogue, or for any other reason. For those who are unfamiliar with sexual assault or domestic violence here are a few considerations.
Battering is one form of domestic or intimate partner violence. It is characterized by the pattern of actions that an individual uses to intentionally control or dominate his intimate partner. Power and control are words I use to describe an abusers behavior. A batterer systematically uses threats, intimidation, and coercion to instill fear in his partner. The method of power and control he uses over his partner can include physical and sexual violence, as well as emotional, psychological and financial.
Perhaps the Love is… cartoons were so meaningful to me because they told a story I wished were part of my childhood. You see, my childhood was far from Love is… My daily existence…
‘doing whatever ‘the man of the house’ tells you to do.’
‘keeping quite when he lost his temper.’
‘hearing your dad belittle your mom because she didn’t look like the models.’
‘having every action controlled by ‘the man of the house’.’
‘not being able to go anywhere or do anything without every step being tracked.’
‘fear of emotional and physical retaliation to keep us under his control.’
‘obeying the dictated thoughts, beliefs and actions considered acceptable.’
‘not expressing my own thoughts.’
‘being sexually assaulted and not having a voice.’
Although just a child, instinctively, I knew the message being enforced in my childhood home was NOT Love.
It is no wonder my life mission is to bring awareness and create societal change regarding harassment, sexual assault and domestic violence. Having experienced what Love is… by my adoring husband, has helped me see the fallacies of my childhood.
I am an advocate and volunteer with my local coalition against domestic violence. One of my favorite ways to share is on the education committee as we help others understand the difference between healthy and non healthy relationships.
Here are a few differences:
Respect: Listening to her non-judgmentally, being emotionally affirming, understanding and valuing her opinions.
The opposite of respect, Putting her down. Making her feel bad about herself. Calling her names. Making her think she’s crazy. Playing mind games. Humiliating her. Making her feel guilty. Coercion.
Shared Responsibility: Mutually agreeing on a fair distribution of work, making family decisions together.
Male Privilege: Treating her like a servant: making all the big decisions, acting like the “master of the castle,” being the one to define men’s and women’s roles, non-consensual sexual activity.
I could go on and on. For those who want more on the differences between healthy and non-healthy relationships visit the National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence at www.ncdsv.org
My goal today was to bring awareness to what Love is… vs. 50 Shades of Grey’s glamorized domestic violence being veiled as romantic. “Alaska is very cold and no place to run. I would find you. I can track your cell phone, remember?” Hot and romantic? NO! This is stalking and it is abuse! Let me clarify, there is nothing romantic or loving about being coerced, stalked or controlled.