Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Verdict Understanding Lorena Bobbit

Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Verdict Understanding Lorena Bobbit

Article excerpt

Verdict Understanding Lorena Bobbit.

The not-guilty (by reason of temporary insanity) verdict in the Lorena Bobbitt case has evoked heated debate among laypersons and raised several questions that psychologists, sociologists, criminologists and other professionals will examine in depth.

In trying to make sense of the bizarre chain of events surrounding the Lorena Bobbitt trial, people will be forced to evaluate the analysis of those who will engage in rational discourse, and those who will discuss the key issues with a maximum of emotion and rancor. The cooler heads will ask and try to answer meaningful societal questions, while the demagogues will offer simplistic half-truths designed to incite and anger.

In his book, A Nation of Victims, Charles J. Sykes claims that there is a growing number of victims who claim, "It's not my fault." They are engaging in an "ever-escalating fight for attention, sympathy, money and legal or governmental protection," which is contributing to "the decay of the American character." Political pundits, talk-show hosts and certain demagogues who are highly critical of all aspects of the women's movement will identify Lorena Bobbitt as one of Sykes' angry, manipulative pseudo-victims -- a criminal who should have been sent to jail. Others will ask why there has been a significant rise in the number of documented cases of battered women in recent years, whether there has also been a rise in the number of violent acts by women against men during the same period and how our laws and societal values determine both of these trends.

Demagogues will downplay or scoff at the battered wife syndrome, and attribute the rise in violent acts by women to the results of the Anita Hill/Clarence Thomas sexual harassment scandal. They will say that both Lorena Bobbitt's act and her verdict are a direct result of the "in-your-face" intimidation that women exert in this post-Hill era, and that the jury bought Lorena's phony victimization claim.

Those who place the verdict within a historical perspective will remind women of how, when protesting discrimination, the women's movement moved from the bra burning and shrill verbal onslaught of the 1960s. They will predict that women will find a myriad of legal, exact and meaningful ways to end the physical and mental abuse of women. Many, however, will use the Bobbitt verdict as a platform from which to incite a male backlash and to make ominous predictions about eventual armed conflict between the sexes. …

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