When an abusive man is required by a Judge to attend a weekly local group "for batterers" for six months or a year, his partner and everyone who knows the situation is likely to breath a "Whew!" of relief, and think that now he is "getting the help he needs." It is a sad reality that, (self-serving claims and anecdotal stories to the contrary), there is no solid empirical evidence that any such groups have in fact ever significantly reduced or even altered the incidence of violence.
All oppressions have common roots. Born out of misinformation and directed toward the "other," the goal of any oppression is the unjust, destructive, and unequal distribution of power to the advantage of one group over another. And although there is no specific hierarchy of oppressions, the context in which they manifest themselves - history, economics, or politics - makes some types of oppressions more closely related than others.
Sunday in New York City: a beautiful, sunny day for the annual Gay Pride March. Thousands of men and women are assembling in mid-Manhattan for the march through the center of the city. I'll be marching with a group from NOMAS: Michael Kimmel, Jim Harrison, Karl White and Ron Smith (who led the first M&M), Sidney Miller, my wife Joanne, and several other straight and gay friends. The mood is festive; banners, balloons, and colorful costumes blaze everywhere. There's a proud old man who took part in the legendary Stonewall Rebellion, which gave birth to the Gay Liberation movement. There's a tall woman on roller skates, wearing an evening gown; someone is costumed as a spider, with six-foot legs waving everywhere. But underneath the gaiety, there is a seriousness about this march. This is a city that has refused to pass a Gay Rights Protection Bill. One that still has no laws to protect the civil rights and personal safety of its GLBT citizens. Men and women have died on these very streets, for no crime but their sexual preference. Like every other city in America, New York needs to see this march.
For a heterosexual man, marching in any Gay Rights demonstration is likely to be a emotional and “consciousness-raising” experience. I'd done it before, but the feelings always come back with a jolt. When you plan it in advance, the idea is simply to march, as a straight person who cares about justice, and wants to support that struggle. But when you step out into the march, and you look at the faces of the people on the sidewalk watching you go by, it suddenly hits you: All Those People Think That I'm Gay. You look at their curious faces, you feel their eyes on you. A man stares directly at me, and whispers something to the woman he's with. She smirks. (I can almost hear them..."Jeeze, look at that one! What a faggot!")
You can almost feel their disdain coming out at you, sometimes even hatred. It's an eerie feeling, all this crazy, impersonal hostility coming down on you, and it's scary. And the weirdest part of it is that you can't help wanting to say: "But wait!, I'm not gay! I'm just here to show support...” But reality is now irrelevant to what's happening here. To all these people, I clearly am Gay. Me, and all my friends here with me. And “reality” is getting a little fuzzy anyway, because I'm now feeling a strong bond with all the marchers, and an eerie estrangement and separation from that hostile straight world, gawking on the sidewalks. That’s my world. Or is it? Like the story of the prince and the pauper, I've stepped over some invisible line, and found myself in a different world. The "invisible minority." Except that it's visible today, and I'm now part of it.
I duck out of the march to buy a soda, and wait in line at the deli with a few other customers.
Human Trafficking is 21st century slavery. There are more slaves today – 27 million – than ever in all 400 years of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade combined. Every year over 2 million women and children are sold into slavery around the world in what is considered a form of modern day slavery.