THE HOME FRONT: Notes from the Family War Zone by Louise Armstrong

THE HOME FRONT: Notes from the Family War Zone

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The author of Kiss Daddy Goodnight pleads for the criminalization of domestic violence. Whether the problem is wife-battering or child-abuse, Armstrong argues, the woman is victimized by collusion between the legal and psychiatric/medical establishments on behalf of the violent male. Thus a woman in either situation is likely to be accused of having somehow brought the violence on herself through passivity, or of having ""complied"" on some level with her husband's sexual abuse of the children. Armstrong goes so far as to assert that a woman reporting her husband for incest may lose custody of the children. She traces the tendency to see victim-as-perpetrator back to Freud, and implication of the victim's unconscious wishes in the pathology (rather than the bizarre behavior of, say, a socially-sanctioned brutal father). She decries the preservation of the family unit at all costs, part of seeing crimes against family members as somehow more acceptable than the same crimes against strangers. She is barely able to control her rage as she relates two tales, in particular, of the unresponsive court system (complete with partial transcripts of Supreme Court arguments re dumping unwanted children in mental institutions, the mindless extremes of psychiatric jargon, and the horrifying results). Singleminded, and painful to read--but also a stirrer-up.

Pub Date: March 7th, 1983
Publisher: McGraw-Hill