Sticks and stones can break your bones but words will never hurt you.
The woman pictured above, Michelle Carter, is now on trial for manslaughter. It seems she encouraged a young man to take his own life. In fact it is worse that that, when the young man was in his pickup truck in the process of asphyxiating himself he had second thoughts about ending his own life. She promptly told him to get back in the truck and do this. Apparently just before his suicide she said via text that “You just have to do it like you said.” But it gets worse. She was telling her friends how worried she was over his mental state while simultaneously telling him he needed to end his life.
It will be interesting to see how the court will handle this. We all know that women for the same crime are arrested less than men, prosecuted less than men and then if convicted get about 20% less jail time then their male counterparts for the same crime. (barbed wire ceiling?) This is gynocentrism at work. Since nearly every male and female on the planet have a bad case of gynocentrism it will be likely she gets off or gets a slap on the wrist. Of course the gynocentric ACLU is in the act of defending this woman. We will see how things turn out.
In my mind this is a petri dish to observe the world’s reaction to relational violence. We have spent 50 years getting tougher on physical violence, and rightly so. But that same 50 years has passed by without much of a whimper about relational violence. It is clear in this case that relational violence was deadly. It killed. But will she pay a price in the same way that men spend years in prison for their violence? I would bet not.
From my perspective relational violence needs to be called out. I have spent years working with couples who are struggling. I have seen plenty of fights and many if not most are ignited by relational violence. Usually the woman, but not always. She knows just what will ignite him, just where his soft spot is, just where it hurts the most and that is just where she goes. Whether it is sexual failures, business failures, or some personal weakness or blemish she goes there and the fight is on. Men who have a great deal of patience can weather such attacks. Many men cannot. Some men, a minority actually, can’t take it and will lash out physically. Once he makes this mistake the ball game is over. She has won and she knows it. If the couple go for therapy the entire time will be spent on his violence and inconsiderate behavior towards her. If they go to the police it is worse. You know what happens there. In both scenarios he pays a serious price and she is held accountable for NOTHING. But wait a minute, she threw the match in that lit the fire. She is the arson but he is the felon.
Most therapists will fall for this in a heartbeat. They will focus on the evil man and his brutish behavior and do everything to protect poor ol innocent her.
Can you see what is wrong with this picture?
We are leaving out any accountability of the woman and holding the man totally responsible.
It’s time we started seeing the injurious nature of relational violence and holding women accountable.
Know what I mean?
Let’s see what happens with Michelle Carter.
Tom Golden is the author or three books, Swallowed by a Snake: The Gift of the Masculine Side of Healing, The Way Men Heal, and Helping Mothers be Closer to Their Sons: UnderStanding the Unique World of Boys. Tom was the creator of the youtube channel Men Are Good and served as the vice chairman of the Maryland Commission for Men’s Health. He has been a therapist in private practice for over 30 years.