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TitleLoving to Survive: Sexual Terror, Men's Violence, and Women's Lives
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“The most important book on the psychology of
women in this century. Reading this book is both
a personal and intellectual journey. Loving to Sur­
vive is an illumination both of abused women and
every woman’s experience. ”

— June Peters*
Author of The Phoenix Program

“Loving to Survive may be the most controversial—
and most important—book written during the past
two decades. In asserting their theory, the authors
ask readers to re-consider virtually all that has been
deemed ‘true’ about relationships between men
and women. Such a dramatic paradigm shift will
challenge most readers. Whether the reader likes or
dislikes this book, one thing seems certain: it will
generate dialogue that will surely engage people
both intellectually and emotionally”

—Donna M. Stringer
President, Executive Diversity Services, Inc.

Page 170

When victimization cannot be denied, victims may reevaluate them­
selves in ways that are self-enhancing. Taylor, Wood, and Lichtman (1983)
identified five such mechanisms of selective evaluation: (1) “downward
comparisons, ” that is, comparing oneself with others who are less fortu­
nate (e. g., minimizing the extent to which fear of male violence affects
one’s life by saying one has never been sexually abused or battered); (*)
selective focusing on attributes that make one appear to be advantaged;
(3) creating worse-ease scenarios (“I may be a woman but at least I’m not
a [fill in the blank] woman”); (4) identifying benefits from the victimizing
experience (“Being a woman has made me more sensitive and empathic
to others”); and (5) creating nonexistent normative standards that make
one’s own adjustment appear extraordinary (“Compared to most women,
I have achieved a great deal”). At one time or another, probably all
women have used one or more of these strategies to cope with victim­

Denial of Anger

Societal Stockholm Syndrome theory asserts that, because we women
fear male violence, we not only deny the violence but also do not express
our anger at men, for to express anger might well make us the targets of
male aggression. The more women fear retaliation, the less we are likely
to express our anger. Rather, survival demands that women disguise our
anger, even from ourselves.

Studying schoolchildren in the first, second, fifth, and sixth grades,
Brody, Hay, and Venditor (1990) found that girls reported more intense
feelings of anger toward males than toward females. The intensity of these
feelings was greater than the intensity of boys’ feelings toward either
males or females. The more feminine the girls perceived themselves as
being, the more intense their anger at males. The more masculine the
girls perceived themselves as being, the more intense their anger at fe­
males. Further, girls with a strong sense of identity, as indicated by high
self-reports of either femininity or masculinity, reported more intense
feelings of anger than girls with less strong senses of identity. If girls
feel such anger but women in general say we are not angry at men, how
has the anger come to “disappear” ? As females grow older and develop

Page 171

intimate bonds with men, do we increasingly deny our anger toward

How can we determine whether women as a group deny our anger
toward men? In discussing Indicator i (evidence of ongoing trauma or
PTSD) earlier in this chapter, we found that women are indeed fearful of
men’s violence. Is there evidence that we are also angry at men? If so,
does that anger appear proportional to the injustice done to women? Is
there evidence that women refrain from expressing our anger toward men
out of fear of retaliation?

Unfortunately, there are several problems with the research literature
on anger, so it is necessary to read this literature with extra care. One
problem is that research studies focus predominantly on angry aggression
(i. e., aggression aimed at harming the target person). Indeed, anger is
sometimes treated synonymously with angry’ aggression. This may be
because researchers (like other members of our culture) consider anger a
male emotion and thus equate anger with angry aggression, or even with
physical assaultiveness. Another problem with experimental studies of sex
differences both in aggression and in responses to aggression is that
findings obtained in such studies often have little relevance outside of the
experimental laboratory setting. The experimental participants usually are
aware that they are safe from retaliatory violence, particularly sexual
violence, since an experimenter is present, since the ways in which aggres­
sion can be expressed are controlled, and since one can discontinue one’s
participation at any time. Also, the research literature does not include
investigations of the types of violence to which women are routinely
exposed, and to which we therefore might be expected to react, in the real
world (cf Eagly and Steffen 1986).

Women Inhibit Our Aggression Relative tv Men. Studies consistently show
that males are more aggressive than females (Eagly and Steffen 1986;
Frodi, Macaulay, and Thome 1977) 3 Eagly and Steffen (1986) found that
89 percent of behavioral studies showed more male than female aggres­
sion. (If there were no sex differences, one would expect only 50 percent
of the studies to show such a finding. ) This sex difference was stronger
for physical than for psychological aggression.

Frodi et al. (1977), looking for possible sex differences in the occurrence

Page 339

commit against females, 7 1-9 5 ; against
women’s sexual organs. See also Abused
child; Battered women; Chronic inter­
personal abuse; Elder abuse; Incest;
Murder; Poverty; Sexual violence;
Threat; Victim

Vogel, S. R., 14 5 ,154 ,19 8
von Baeyer, C. L., 161

VVaisbcrg, J., 198
Walcott, J., 36, 54
Walker, L., 72, 7 3 ,118 , 210, 274
Walker, R „ 248-249
Wailston, B. S., 168
Walsh, F., 175 -176
Walstedt, J. J., 165
Walster, E., 39 ,45,49 ,149 , 273
Ward, WT. D., 167, 277
Warner, M. G., 36, 54
Watson, R., 36, 54
Weak personality, 25,48-50
W'eiss, J. M., 274
Weissman, M. M„ 72, 132 -134
Weitz, S., 16 1,16 8
Weitzman, L. J., 8 1-8 3
Wesselius, C., 14, 25, 26
Westen, D., 133
Westoflf, C. F , 168
Weston, L. C , 137
Wheeler, L., 202
Wife abuse. See Battered women
Wife, need fix, 163
Wilback, K., 81

Williams, P. JM 69
Williams, S. R., 69
Williamson, N. E., 168
Wisniewski, N., 86
Witches/witchcraft, 69-70
Wittig, M., 226
Woll, S. B., 140
Woman-identified, 173
Womcn ̂6 1, 123; adoption of male per­

spective, 16 2 - 16 3 ,16 5 -17 8 ,18 1,
199, 209, 237-238; battered, 197; for
men's sexual pleasure, 218; need for
connection, 200-206; psychological
difficulty separating from men, 126,
178-180; as warriors, 225,227,231 -

Women’s groups, 225,227
Women’s movement, 168, 241, 251, 264
Wood, C H., 168
Wood, J. V., 149, 150
Woods, W , 69
Woolfolk, R. L., 153, 156
Wortman, C B., 45,46

Yec, M. S., 3 1
Yllo, K., 73, 74, 96-97, 1 1 1 , 147
Young, G. H , 59
Young, V. D., 159

Zanna, M P., 16 1-162 ,208 ,278
Zellman, G. L., 166-167
Zipp, J. F., 175
Zook, E. A., 167

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