Updated: May 17
The established narrative when it comes to domestic violence is that it is ‘a gendered crime’ that is, that patriarchal men make the majority of perpetrators and women and their children the majority of victims. We’re already debunked such view in other posts, for example here (where we outlined the history of the women’s shelters movement and so the history behind such view), here (where we exposed the fallacies pertaining to its reliance on crime figures), or, again, here (where we demonstrated that such gendered view doesn’t even help women victims -on the contrary: it harms them!).
In this post, we’re going to focus upon yet another feature attached to such firmly, albeit false, established view: the spiral of silence that has wrapped itself around it, and preventing anyone to even dare criticising it unless under the penalty of being gaslighted and vilified for doing so. It’s a spiral of silence, here, that we must absolutely expose, because pointing at it will, also, expose the sheer hypocrisy and dishonesty of a campaigning sector, very loud into claiming that it supports women victims while it is, in fact and on the contrary, having absolutely no qualm throwing onto the rubbish pile whole swath of them not fitting such gendered paradigm. And indeed, women victims of abuse being re-abused by women organisations purporting to help them is so common, it has recently gained the full support of the establishment. How so?
'women victims of abuse being re-abused by women organisations purporting to help them is so common, it has recently gained the full support of the establishment'
For those on Twitter and following the topic, there’s been a battle of tweets recently between Shera Research Group on the one hand, a feminist outlet denying the existence of parental alienation, and many victims of parental alienation on the other (fathers, but most especially mothers); a battle which clearly demonstrated how a culture of gaslighting and bullying, mainly taking the forms of inflammatory language and slurs carelessly thrown at critics, has become normalised among the feminist research -at the expense of victims.
I will not bother, here, to argue against people believing that parental alienation is a con. Picking up a dictionary and a Thesaurus will be amply enough:
Parental: adj. Relating to parents or to being a parent.
To alienate: v. to cause a person or people to stop supporting someone or to stop feeling welcome.
Alienation: estrangement, breach, disaffection, rupture, diverting, setting against.
Let it be, then, very clear: if a parent has their child(ren) being made to be felt unwelcome, disliked, estranged, set against them by another parent, then it is parental alienation. The rest is just ignorance and/ or a very poor command of the English language, or, worse, deliberate attempts at manipulating the language solely as to serve an ideological purpose (a key feature of any demagoguery and populist ideologies, which, by itself, should alert us as to the danger lurking behind such denial…).
What I will denounce here is how such bullying culture, normalised among feminist academics, has been especially targeting of women victims. What happened?
'The rest is just ignorance or, worse, deliberate attempts at manipulating the language (a key feature of any demagoguery and populist ideologies)'
Parental alienation, like domestic abuse, is not a gendered issue. Ideologues spreading misinformation to the effect that only abusive fathers can be affected, and so are using the term to further abuse their ex-partners, are, quite simply, downright lying. It’s not only that it can affect safe fathers being unfairly cut off from the lives of their children by abusive, coercive and controlling exes (we posted about one telling of his experience -here); it is, also and most importantly here, that mothers too can be impacted.
And indeed, it’s precisely because mothers too can be impacted that many such mums (most from the support group Recover our Kids and/or campaigning for Match Mothers, Parental Alienation UK, and others) have reached out, on Twitter, to Shera and to bring up their experiences, so as to challenge Shera’s stance on the issue. Were they listened to?
The response of Shera would be shocking, but, sadly, everything but unexpected to anyone being fully aware of the bullying and nastiness having been freely going on behind the ‘do goodies’ PR facades, put on by many such women organisations and for decades now.
First, it blocked them.
Then, to add insult to injuries, it indulged in that well-oiled, fearmongering, misrepresenting tactic which has become oh far too common when the gendered narrative is to be ever questioned (and in order to discredit anyone even daring to raise dissent): it accused them of being… (*drum rolls*)… ‘MRA’!
Their sneering contempt was quite explicit:
'Doubling down attacks on SHERA researchers who have 100,000+ reads on their selected papers alone is really a waste of your energy. If you are truly a men's rights activists & you feel so passionately about MR, we suggest you start a movement and conduct research like Dr Emma Katz [one of their most prominent researchers]'
Now, of course, to have a campaigning and academic institution dismissing the questioning of its research, and the ideology underpinning it, as being ‘attacks’ and ‘a waste of energy’ is concerning enough. What about intellectual honesty demanding debate, and certainly not contemptuous airbrushing through gratuitous accusations? More to the point, to see abused women especially being thus vilified, discarded, and scorned by an organisation otherwise claiming to act on their behalf should strike us as being shockingly hypocritical, if not downright revolting. Or… should it?
'The response would be shocking, but everything but unexpected to anyone being fully aware of the bullying and nastiness having been freely going on behind the ‘do goodies’ PR facades'
Donald G. Dutton, when assessing the impact of the feminist perspective upon our understanding of domestic violence, had already outlined how theirs is not so much about inclusively supporting victims than about what he called ‘dogma preservation’. And indeed, for decades now and as far as the domestic violence sector is concerned, only victims that fit the patriarchal dogma (and/ or made to fit it) have been advertised and supported; those that don’t (a vast majority of men, children, and, like here, women) have been, on the contrary and quite bluntly, told to get lost.
Adrienne Barnett herself, for example, probably one of the most prominent, leading feminist researchers in Britain, and who contributed some works for Shera, made it very clear that she wants nothing to do with alienated mothers, having called the raising of parental alienation’s concerns in family courts nothing but ‘social engineering on the basis of pseudoscience’. Natalie Page, yet another member of Shera, went further, upping the ante by linking believing in, researching, and campaigning against, parental alienation to ‘nazi theory’:
‘So called ‘parental alienation’ theory has been described as ‘nazi theory’ for a reason. Mothers from culture with strong family focus lose their kids when cultural norms are used against them. So-called PA “experts” say they are “pathologically emmeshed”.’
What we ought to ask ourselves, here, is: what does that tell us about such people?
'theirs is not so much about inclusively supporting victims than about what he called ‘dogma preservation’
This last types of comments and attitude are far more than incendiary comparisons, which, in the case of Natalie Page especially, deserves a Godwin point besides pointing to a shocking ignorance of history. Nazi ideology, for one thing, certainly wasn’t about removing children from women; it was, on the contrary, about driving in a ‘cultural norm’ whereas women were reduced to nothing but motherhood, their societal role being solely to procreate and raise them (‘Kinder. Küche. Kirche’). As it is too, it does more, by its sole focus on mothers, than to also hint at an underlying misandry, an underlying misandry which, coming from someone like her is of course everything but completely expected. Here’s a woman, after all, who once claimed, not hiding her sheer contempt for fathers and their importance in a child’s life, that:
‘There are only two types of people in this world: mothers and their children.’
What it does, above all, is to reflect an ignorant, rude, contemptuous and unchecked, deliberately provocative attitude relying on inflammatory language (e.g. the term ‘MRA’ carelessly being used as a code-synonym for ‘misogynist’; ‘social engineering’; ‘nazi theory’…) which have become far too common among such deniers -academics included. More to the point, these being, here, online comments and tweets, then we also ought to seriously ask ourselves: beyond gaslighting victims, can such ignorant, rude, contemptuous and unchecked, deliberately provocative attitude relying on inflammatory language (coming, again, from feminist academics and researchers those positions -or so we would expect- demand better standard and knowledge) be described as ‘trolling’?
Dictionaries (yes, again -language matters, and it matters a great deal) define the term ‘trolling’ thus:
Trolling: noun. The act of leaving an insulting message on the internet in order to annoy someone.
And indeed, many such women felt just that: annoyed, even, re-traumatised by such horrible rhetoric leaving no room for understanding, let alone empathy. You’ll make your own opinion on how such PA denying actually helps them; and, of course, on whether ‘trolling’ is too harsh or not of a description. The thing, though, is that such nastiness has an impact.
'it reflects, above all, an ignorant, rude, contemptuous and unchecked, deliberately provocative attitude relying on inflammatory language... coming from feminist academics and researchers those positions -or so we would expect- demand better standard and knowledge'
In the end, those women (and, beyond, the men and children also concerned) might have a first-hand experience of the issue, and so are not ideologues with a dogma to preserve, but they are the ones who keep being told to get lost. Their anger and dismay, then, are perfectly warranted, especially given that if the organisations spearheading such denial (Women’s Aid, we’re looking at you…) benefit from massive public funding, popular donations, mediatic and celebrity support, and otherwise big celebratory hoo-ha allowing them to uncritically get the ears of politicians and public servants, the abused people being crassly told that theirs is ‘social engineering’, ‘pseudoscience’, and akin to ‘nazi theory’ remain bereft of validation.
In a campaigning sector where the bogus gendered narrative peddled by so-called ‘feminists’ has monopolised the debate (Women's Aid, we're still looking at you...), what this means, also, is that they will remain the open targets to such accepted and condoned ‘MRA’ vilifications and ‘Nazi’ slurs. But…
But: does it matter what Shera thinks, and/ or how some of its most prominent members behave themselves?
Given such appalling behaviours and inflammatory language, you could be excused to think, here, that theirs is just a marginal radfem outlet, and whose reach barely goes beyond Twitter where, as we all know, there already are plenty of ‘trolls’ going unchecked. If you think so, though, you’ll be dead wrong.
Shera Research Group offers training packages and short courses including to frontline staff working in the domestic abuse sector (which isn’t as firmly regulated as one might expect), besides having the full trust and support of most of our Victim Commissioners, whose job it is to promote the interest of crimes victims (which, clearly, doesn’t include alienated parents and their children). Natalie Page might be holding fathers in contempt and see nothing wrong in using nazi slurs to drive a point (let alone be part of an organisation whose attitude towards critics has been appalling and abusive so far) yet it doesn’t prevent her to direct The Survivor Family Network and to have founded Paramily, that she described as being ‘a family legal service’ (emphasis on ‘family’ in both cases…) nor to support calls for further inquiries into the use of ‘unregulated experts’ in the family courts (talk about the pot calling the kettle black…). The founder of the blog #thecourtsay, she also featured prominently, and uncritically, in our mass medias, including the BBC, Channel 4, The Daily Express, The Observer, or, again, The Guardian, besides having acted as advisors for NHS Safeguarding. As for Adrienne Barnett, washing her hands of alienated parents and children by calling their ordeal ‘social engineering’ and ‘pseudoscience’, she remains one of the most referenced feminist researcher in Britain; was commissioned to produce reports for the Ministry of Justice; and is, most importantly, an acting expert for Women’s Aid, a lobby so powerful that it not only influences government policies in matters of domestic violence, but has also recently been entrusted, through the implementation of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG), in contributing to, I quote:
‘hold new ministers to account on the implementation of the Domestic Abuse Act 2021, ensuring they are working to secure change and improvements for survivors of domestic abuse.'
What this means, of course, is that all the victims of domestic violence not fitting within Women's Aid gendered paradigm (and that of Shera -compliment of the revolving doors between the two organisations) and including, as we have seen here, the many alienated mothers, fathers, and their children plaguing our country, will remain, not only marginalised as they always have been so far (let alone open targets to contempt and slurs) but, also, now and effectively, stripped of any hope to have any sort of political influence for matters to change. The tobacco industry has, in effect, grabbed control of health policies for tackling cancers.
Sadly, the collusion doesn't stop here.
'The tobacco industry has, in effect, grabbed control of health policies for tackling cancers'
Indeed, if you think, here, that the medias can be even remotely trusted when it comes to investigate such unethical and bullying malpractice by dogmatic academics, let alone expose their hijacking of the political arena and the whole groupthink that has come CLANG! CLANG! in its trail, then you can think again. When Channel 4’s Dispatches decided to run a program about parental alienation, for example, their reporter, Louise Tickle, had absolutely no concern whatsoever for mothers being victims of it (fathers, of course, even less) but decided instead to act as the soapbox of... (*drumrolls*) … Shera’s ideologues! Acting as a flying monkey to Adrienne Barnett’s Trojan horse, she actually nailed in the point that parental alienation doesn’t exist but is, as she presented it, a tool used by paedophile men to abuse their ex-wives and children. The gaslighting, then, just went on.
But where does that leave us?
When the bullies have taken over the school and this with the full support of the staff, it’s easy to despair. Likewise, when parental alienation deniers have been so monopolising of the campaigning field to the political and legislative arena that they are now feeling cocky enough to gaslight and insult even women victims (while being gung-ho about supposedly talking ‘violence against women and girls’), one can truly feel hopelessness. That such populists, like every other populist before them, are not only playing musical chairs around clear-cut definitions (e.g. ‘parental’, ‘alienation’) for ideological gains but, above all, can also take in the medias in their linguistic bamboozling (whose job it is, or so you would think, to be alert when it comes to how language can be used and misused) surely won’t help to become optimistic. And yet…
And yet, alienated parents, their children, and the extended families being impacted might be happily thrown onto a rubbish pile by such demagoguery, but: THEY. WON’T. BE. SILENCED. And if you are one of these countless victims that the system and its establishment have been wholly letting down, ignored, gaslighted, and vilified just to cater to a dogma, then I urge you to don’t despair. In the UK, there are plenty of organisations that can help and support you, including, among many others, Families Need Fathers (who, contrary to what their names could imply, is non-gendered) and/ or Parental Alienation UK.
Meanwhile, thanks for reading! And, if you’re interested in topics related to domestic violence and parental alienation from a non-gendered perspective, then please subscribe here. SAPERE AUDE!