Once upon a time I loved Elvis Presley. My parents played his music all the time. I knew every hit song by heart. My sisters and brother and I would swing dance in the living room to Elvis and lots of other oldies. His musical movies were a highlight to my not so light childhood.
Fast forward through troubled early teens and into an abusive marriage and through to finally getting divorced. On the upside of that fast forward, I was lucky enough to have been a full-time at home mother to my three amazing children.
So those first few years of their spending every other weekend away from me, were exceptionally difficult. Not just because they were the first times in their lives I’d ever been apart from them for more than a school day, but also because I knew they were spending the weekend with a man I had divorced because of his violent, manipulative, controlling and harmful behaviors.
I can’t even describe the first weekend. But I made a plan, of sorts, for the next few. And one of those included going to my childhood happy place and watching an Elvis marathon. I rented every Elvis movie at the Blockbuster down the road. Yes, back in 2002 Blockbuster was still open.
I made popcorn. I got Twizzlers. I was set to get through a weekend in a happy place that ignored the real world and existed in song, dance, and “the good ‘ol days”.
And then I started watching and what caught my eye, even back then when the self-loving person was just being formed. When I was barely learning how to see abuse for abuse, I stopped watching after the 4th movie. I had seen Elvis hit a girl in every one and couldn’t handle that reality.
Here I was finally learning it wasn’t ok to BE in a situation where daily concern for what would happen was normal. I was finally learning how to stand up for myself and not accept abusive behaviors. And I here in my happy place, I was seeing that it was in fact ok and accepted by one of my childhood idols.
In my last post a fellow blogger and Elvis lover mentioned that he does not hit a girl in every one of his movies. At first I was going to re-watch them and check for myself, to make sure, because I did make a blanket statement.
However, I feel that even if he doesn’t hit a girl in every single movie, which I will easily admit I may have exaggerated with saying every single one, the comments on the blog I feel prove my point better than describing the movies.
This is in NO way a personal note. This blogger’s comments represent the ideology I was addressing in the last post, the idea that we are all in on this brain washed, brain washing dance of abusive cycles.
It’s not her, but she helps illuminate how we’re caught up, how often we don’t recognize the beginnings, the first ways that we are taught how to be victims and that violence is acceptable.
So please, be understanding and know that I am not using the comments in a personal way, but in a so many people think this way she just happened to be the one that said it, it’s not about her it’s about what the comments represent generically.
“….he only hits ronnie to try to revive……The Trouble with Girls is to sober Sheree North up –
and he also disiplne spanks a girl in Blue Hawaii and threatens a spanking in Fun in Acapulco –
it’s the response to girls too young and otherwise, it’d the girl actying hysterical….”
Part of me is crying on the inside because I know that I used to believe that there were acceptable forms of violence as well. It has been one of the most difficult processes within myself to see how deeply I have been invested into abusive cycles. It is overwhelming to see how deep we are all invested in them.
I am also very lucky to have been in many more non-violent situations than violent ones, as an adult.
Because of that luck I can say with full knowledge that there is NO reason to revive, sober up, or discipline a girl with violence.
I have passed out from drinking too much and been revived without a single hit or smack to any part of my body. I was revived with gentle hands pushing hair out of my face, a glass of water to my lips and requests to drink. I was revived with a helping shoulder to get me to stand up.
I had a seizure in Mozambique when I got Typhoid Fever. I was not revived with any form of violence, not even a shout. I came to with people around me worriedly saying my name, holding my head, and basically protecting me.
I have had multiple panic attacks since my attack/ assault in Mozambique. None of which were met with a smack to calm me down. In fact, I think I would have completely lost my mind if someone had smacked me at that point. And not in the mental institution way. People spoke calmly to me, helped me get my breathing under control through their words and their own breathing. They sat beside or spoke with me on the phone. No one even hinted at thinking about smacking me, even when I seemed completely hysterical.
And, unless you are playing out an agreed upon sexual role play fantasy, there is absolutely NO time it’s ok to spank, (even if I was ok with spanking small children), a full grown girl because you think she’s misbehaving. It is violence meant to assert dominance and superiority.
I don’t need to watch any more Elvis movies to show that they did their work.
The idea that there are acceptable times and forms of violence against women continues to be imbedded into our generation. Spanking, hitting, smacking are all ways to hurt, intimidate, remind of “place”, and dominate. None of them are ok.
They are not even ok with children. We are not our children’s dominators – we are their teachers. We shouldn’t try to control their actions and commit them to submission to what we think is right for them. We need to teach them to discern what is right for themselves and how to think through situations to make their own conscious decisions for their behaviors. They are not our property, we are their mentors. We are how they learn to adult.
Hitting children teaches distrust and fear. It also teaches them to believe there are acceptable forms of violence.
The beginnings of the cycle are difficult to discern because it’s a circle, it’s the chicken and the egg. But the only way to stop it, is to see it. We, as a society, are so very deeply rooted in these cycles that it’s extraordinarily difficult to see the pattern.
SO I ask you to rethink the answer to the question:
Why did the chicken cross the road?
So she didn’t get eaten.
That chicken finally realized that no matter the amount of feed, hay, barnyard fun with the rooster, or whatever else made its life the norm it knew; that chicken finally realized at the end of the day it was going to get eaten, so it left.
Elvis, is not to blame for the violence in his movies. He didn’t write them, he only acted and sang in them. And, he is also a product of the ideology that violence against ‘people seen as less than you’ is acceptable.
We all have the moments when we feel that someone is less than we are. We are taught to. If we hadn’t been taught to for generations, there would be no reason to have to bring awareness to the rights of others.
We have to bring these awarenesses because, through White Privilege, we have been socially conditioned to believe that any one not a white, affluent, heterosexual, Christian male belongs in a hierarchy of ‘LESS THAN’s’.
We have to bring awareness to minority rights, women’s rights, LGBT rights, etc because we are ‘the less than’s’. Through standard Divide and Conquer practices, all the ‘less than’s’ are fighting separately and therefore remain less than.
And we all subscribe to it.
Minority women and non-minority women are fighting over whose women’s rights are more valid to fight for. Though the LGBT community stands together on some fights there are still the lesbian activists that are anti-man, gay or not. There are gay people who are racist and black women against immigration rights; the list goes on and on. One of my very good friends fights hard for LGBT rights, but still thinks the Confederate flag, a symbol for fighting against the US government in order to maintain slavery, should fly proudly – because that’s what he was raised with.
If the Confederate flag had represented fighting the US government to maintain enslaving anyone identifying as gay, he would think differently about that flag. But the divide and conquer approach works really well.
We remain glued to what we’ve been taught, right or wrong, even while trying to fight for our own power back. Our need for habit and creature comfort keep us in the cycle, keep us from seeing the cycle, keep us divided, and keep us abusing and victimizing each other.
Violence is one major part of the abuses that keep the ‘less than’s’ subdued, controllable, and less than.
We, all of us, have to see abuse as abuse and stop it. We have to see all forms of violence as abuse, and stop it.
There are no acceptable forms of violence.
No one is above consequence for violence.
No one deserves to live in fear.
No one deserves violence in their lives.
What do you think?