Just recently a 'battered woman,' for that is how she saw herself, came to me for help. Her lover, who lived apart from her and her children, had beaten her up badly and she was forced to go to the hospital. He then took her back to her own house and stayed with her in order to look after her while her wounds healed.
'You are not a battered woman,' I said with a sigh. I define a battered woman as a woman who is a genuine victim of her partner's violence. 'You are a violence-prone woman, a victim of your own need for violence.' I sighed because those two sentences uttered twenty-five years ago in my early work at Chiswick caused me to be hated and despised. I became the nation's conscience. I dared to say publicly that women can be as violent as men and that women were a great deal more psychologically violent than men. In this woman's case we have a great deal of work to do and he needs to find himself a good therapist.
In 1971, inspired by the promise of women journalists and other media-manipulators, I decided to join the newly founded Women's Movement. 'Sisterhood is powerful' they chanted. 'Sisters unite, no more competing, women helping women.' It all sounded too good to be true. My first meeting filled me with doubts. It was held in a very middle-class home in Chiswick and I gazed at the Mao posters on the wall of the drawing-room. When asked why I was there by the hostess, I replied that my husband was a television reporter and was very rarely home and I felt lonely and isolated with my two children. 'Your problem is not your isolation but your husband. He oppresses you and he is a capitalist.' I pointed out that she too had a mortgage so she therefore was a capitalist, and far from oppressing me my husband was baby-sitting so that I could attend this meeting. Her husband was out at a Union meeting organizing the Brentford Biscuit factory with the help of his degree in Political Science, to prepare for the forthcoming revolution.
What the woman didn't know, was that I was the daughter of a diplomat. I was born in China, and traveled the world with my father. I also-worked in the Foreign Office and was well aware of the atrocities both in Russia and in China. Then over cups of tea, we were assured that women were a minority group. I pointed out that women made up fifty-two per cent of the world's population. I was given Mao's little red book and SHREW magazine. I took it home and was horrified at the hatred it spewed against men.