How Do We Support Men With Violent Histories? [Reader Forum]

Chris Brown's temper has struck again. asks you: How do we support men with violent histories who aren't getting help?

By Channing Kennedy Mar 27, 2011

Two parallel topics on this week: the uncertain paths that led two black men to feminism, and the uncertain future of Chris Brown, a record-industry cash cow with a track record of domestic abuse.

Thoai Lu rounded up two recent pieces by black male writers, the Root’s Byron Hurt and PostBourgie’s G.D., discussing how they came to call themselves feminists. In the comments, pedestr1an pops out a quote from G.D.’s piece:

"But if growing up black and poor and male provided an unlikely bridge to anti-sexist thinking, so has feminism complicated the way I think about blackness and class."

These articles are really great, but I just want to say that I don’t think that being black and poor is an unlikely bridge to understanding sexism at ALL. I’ve interacted with many educated white male "feminists" who are good at regurgitating theory, but fundamentally don’t get it. They approach feminism like monarchs who have decided in their graciousness that it is now wrong to say these things or act in these ways–even to the point of lecturing women on it. I think that you have to be marginalized to understand what marginalization means.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the blogosphere, Chris Brown got angry when asked about his anger issues and broke some windows at Good Morning America. Akiba Solomon said what needs to be said: committers of abuse are broken and can’t fix themselves, and Brown and his management play a dangerous game by pretending otherwise.

Reader Gladstone:

This commentary is spot on! Mr. Brown could learn a thing or two from Mr. Mike Tyson, whose personal history is very well known to the public. Mr. Brown must learn to face his adult life in the context of his childhood, it is not something that you ever "get past", because wherever you go, there you are. Like anyone who comes from a family with an inherited disorder, be it a physical ailment, or an emotional one, self-awareness and impulse control are the two things necessary to adjust to life in a civil society.

Anna H:

I’m reading your article and realizing that I don’t know much about treatment for abusive men. Most of the things you hear about are framed within pathologizing women, even DV shelters can almost be punishing women for utilizing them (by not allowing them to have contact with family, etc.). There isn’t a lot out there about what is needed to make men confront their issues with patriarchy and how that has influenced their views on women. After reading the quote you posted, about how little girls will love his music and he was doing "girl business," it’s really alarming how he seems to be trying to run from his actions instead of holding himself accountable. I think what Chris Brown’s story shows is that violence against women isn’t going to end by pathologizing women, but by pathologizing patriarchy and sexism, because it doesn’t seem like he has changed at all.

And on Jorge Rivas’ first report of the GMA outburst, Facebook fan Gari Buttarsays where the line is drawn:

This is a major reason why I stopped being a fan of Chris Brown’s music. Might be a very talented musician, but I want no part of suporting a person prone to this much anger and violence. 🙁 🙁

Also on Facebook, Nicki Angela says dumping the Chris Browns of the world isn’t enough:

I don’t like this dude, but he’s too young to just throw away. He’s not seeking the help he needs, and obviously the people around him are not helping him. He needs to also spend some time at not only an abused women’s shelter but also abused children. As of yet he still is not growing as a person.

Which begs the question: How do we support me with histories of violence? And where’s the line between supporting and enabling? Tell us what you think.

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