Is my girlfriend battered?

I know she is not, but reading a law review article about battered women brought up a recent memory.

Stereotypes and myths exist, such as “Blacks just like to fight”, “Latinas are hot blooded,” and “Asian women are trained for this sort of thing.” These sterotypes and cultural myths serve to place battered women of color in opposition to the image of the white battered woman who is the norm. Morrisson, Adele. 2006, March. Deconstructing the image repertoire of women of color. U.C. Davis Law Review, 39, 1081. 1083.

It is interesting that I should come across after what happened last week. A friend of my girlfriend and I, I will call him Jonah, came back into town and we went out to meet him and my best friend (who introduced us to him). By the time we arrived both of the guys were drunk. Jonah had spent a lot of time with my girlfriend the previous summer when I was out of town for an extended business trip. I knew Jonah had feelings for her, and while we had never talked about it, I knew that she also knew how he felt.

He was drunk and very touchy feely. He had moved away about 7 months ago and it seemed he still liked her. She was uncomfortable but I did not know how uncomfortable, so I did not intervene. Now, she is not known for being tactful when she feels disabused, so I did not think too much about the hanging-on going on. She was being polite and if I saw she wanted me to intervene then I would.

I would also be hesitant to intervene without solicitation because I would worry that I was being the jealous boyfriend. I have always worried that that hesitation would come back to haunt me. At one point the three of them found their way to the bar, as I was talking to an older acquaintance. I guess Jonah started kissing her neck and she was obviously uncomfortable. My best friend intervened; hearing her describe it makes me really proud to be his friend. The situation seemed resolved.

I was finally tired of chasing the drunk boys around, and she needed to wake up early for work the next day, so I decided it was time to leave. Jonah said some things to her that were beyond appropriate, so much so that she did not tell me until we returned home, because while the threshold may be too high I would have acted. But that is irrelevant to the passage above.

My concern is that because my girlfriend is feistier than most, do people that know her not step up to defend her when they should because of her reputation? Discussing it later that night she did say that she feels constrained by her reputation. She worries about even speaking up sometime because she fears being dismissed as being argumentative. I told her to never hesitate when she feels uncomfortable, maybe other times she should be less argumentative, but not in these instances.

As an analogy I worry that I am the criminal justice system by not being responsive enough to her concerns out of concern for the myth of “being hot blooded”. I also have the other hesitation, the concern of being too involved and jealous, but this only compounds my worries. I am thankful that my best friend acted. It sounds like the situation was so over the top that even I would have acted, but I am not so sure. I like to think I would have acted.

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