Editor’s note: Much content originally hosted on this site was lost during a host migration which occured some years back. In the coming months, we will be re-publishing many of the original works. To this aim, here is another ground breaking piece by Erin.
By Erin Pizzey
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.
I decided that this organization needed looking at. With both children in school and time on my hands I went to work for The Women’s Liberation Workshop in Shaftsbury Avenue. I witnessed the women working there tearing open letters and pocketing the three pounds ten shillings that desperate women were sending in to join the movement. I tried to answer as many of the letters as I could. Some of that money went into buying explosives.
Terrorists in the Women’s Movement blew up the BBC van outside the Miss World Contest and the top off the Post office tower. I called in the police. All this rubbish and rhetoric was to culminate in the up-rising of the ‘working classes’ and the death of Capitalism and the destruction of all men. Needless to say there were virtually no working class women in this movement. Most of the revolution was fought around middle class dinner tables in grisly Islington.
By now I was very firmly ‘the enemy.’ Men, at this point, took the whole movement as a joke but it was no joke, as many homeless men deprived of their children will tell you. Savaged by feminist lawyers and therapists, men have routinely been deprived of their homes, their children and their incomes.
I knew that I wanted to fulfill my original dream. Women working with women in co-operation with men. The idea that we should work with men was anathema to these women. The Women’s Movement was dominated by the Radical Separatist Movement. They not only hated men but heterosexual women as well. I saw through their very hidden agenda. I stood on platforms saying that if I had to pay three pounds ten shillings, meet in cells and call my friends comrade, then they were asking me to join the Communist Party, which was fine, but don’t lie. Don’t collect money under false pretenses. I had plenty of good Communist friends, I wanted a movement that truly represented women. Not tired hacked-to-death male politics.
The early collective meetings and conferences involved hundreds of women, mostly middle-class women bored with their life-styles and they were terrifying. Anyone brought up in a girls’ boarding school as I was, knows how violent and manipulative women can be. The bullying in the collectives was unabated. No lipstick, no high heels, no deodorant, I broke all the rules. ‘Why do you wear men’s suits and ties,’ I asked. ‘if you so hate men?’ Silly question I suppose. ‘We are wearing the symbol of our oppression,’ was the humorless reply.
By now I realized through reading the Women’s Movement literature that those thousands of women working in all caring fields, the journalists, the television makers, were determined to destroy family life in England. [See Communist Manifesto ?WHS] ‘Make the personal political,’ was one of their many banners. So thousands of violent and very disturbed women attacked normal happily married women and our traditional way of life. Secret meetings were held (everything was done in secret) and I received a letter ‘…..and the collective decided that until the whole matter is sorted out, and you have given a statement of this position to a woman-lawyer, or someone in the N.C.C.L., you should no longer work in the office or attend meetings of any of the collectives.’
Profoundly depressed by my experiences in the movement, I went off to do what I always believed would liberate women. A place to gather and to work together in co-operation with men.
Soon beaten and battered women with their children were coming to me for help. There was no literature on battered women, so I wrote ‘Scream Quietly Or The Neighbors Will Hear.’ I was immediately in trouble because the book was not ‘politically correct,’ it discussed family violence and I refused to let the Managing Director politicize my book. By now I was giving the figure of 62 women out of the first hundred women who came to the refuge were as violent or more violent than the men they left. Also many were prostitutes taking refuge from their violent pimps. This infuriated the Women’s Movement. I knew that as soon as I attracted publicity and funding, the Women’s Movement which by now attracted neither, would be beating on my door. When I called a small conference to help other groups get started, several hundred women with feminists and radical separatist feminists invaded my conference. They started their usual bogus rubbish trying to appeal to my mothers, making much use of the phrase ‘working classes.’ My mothers were not impressed. One of my closest friends at Chiswick said ‘there isn’t a working class woman amongst you.’ Another slightly bolder yelled ‘go home and get your dildoes.’ We left them to battle it out by themselves. They then formed The National Women’s Aid Federation.
This delighted my many enemies at The Home Office and The Department Of Social Security. My chief enemy at my first meeting was a member of the sisterhood. ‘How will you pay for your refuge?’ she sniffed. ‘I shall pray,’ I said. I did all the time and it was our prayers that sustained Chiswick for all those years. The Federation used all their contacts in the media (many of them were journalists) to rubbish me and my work. By now I was writing at home at night. They came to interview me about my books but the books were never discussed, only how fat I was or how belligerent I was.
I recently asked The Home Office for their latest report and I was not surprised to see that my name and ‘Scream Quietly,’ the first book in the world on wife battering was missing. I knew from other writers that editors in the publishing world of London were themselves radical feminists and it was their habit to dictate their themes to desperate writers, who were then coerced into writing the editor’s book, knowing that should they disobey, they would not be published. My brother Danny always wrote what he was told to write. He complained down the telephone to me and finally, just before he died, he said bitterly ‘I have no contracts and no film deals in sight.’ He rewrote the four hundred page synopsis for his book four times to suit his agent and his publishers.
Throughout all the fighting I kept preaching that family life was and always will be the foundation of any civilization. Destroy the family and you destroy the country. I warned that of the violent women with their children coming to me, virtually none used contraception. My mothers had an average of 5.1 children, meanwhile non-violent families had a 2.5 average. I wrote reports, I drafted memos, all to no avail. Nobody wanted to hear what I had to say. In the back of ‘Scream Quietly’ I listed all the agencies that had failed my families. I wrote that I was not seeing social workers, I was seeing political activists with social work degrees. The same went for teachers, and probation officers, editors of books and magazines. Like a giant cancer this movement dug its crabs legs into anywhere they could wield their power.
Many women, assisted by weak men, sought to destroy me and my work and I knew that finally having fought court cases that involved disobeying judge’s orders to save children’s lives, I knew I would be ousted from my own refuge. A few men bravely tried to make their voices heard, realizing the dangers. They too were excoriated by both men and women. Businessmen in the media, managing directors of publishing houses, never understood that their editors were lying to them. Playing the numbers game. ‘Who do you think you are?’ screamed one feminist editor. ‘I must be somebody,’ I replied. ‘After all I’m in Debrett’s and Who’s Who. You’re nobody in publishing.’ Another said…’Why can’t you write the sort of books you know I like, Erin…… books about women loving women?’ ‘I can’t,’ I replied. ‘I’m a heterosexual writer and all my books celebrate family life.’
Because men looked upon the refuge movement as a ‘woman’s issue’, newspapers sent women journalists to attack me. I addressed a conference of radical feminists and asked them why, when I respected their right to practice their politics and define their own sexuality they denied me my rights to my heterosexuality, my right to live and work to preserve family life and to enjoy being at home with my family. That I think being a mother and a grandmother has given me more joy than any other achievement. I was screamed down and met with utter hostility.
When I published ‘Prone to Violence’, a book about my work with violent women and the children in the refuge, I was picketed by hundreds of banner-waving women. ‘All men are bastards!’ read some of the banners. ‘All men are rapists!’ shrieked another. ‘If those banners said Jews or black people, you would have arrested those women,’ I told the policeman who had come to say that I had to have a police escort all around England for the book tour.
In due course, I lost the refuge but a carefully orchestrated campaigning the press never allowed the people of England to know that I was pushed into exile. The newspapers made much of my defection and I was helpless. My crime was to fight for family life and values. A few months ago The Sunday Times sent a reporter to find out why I was waitressing in a bar in exchange for food. ‘There seems to have been a conspiracy,’ the reporter wrote. I knew that remainder notices would soon be forthcoming and now my back list is remaindered. Thank goodness my books are selling all over the world including sales to Russia. I own nothing but my four dogs and my cat and I work internationally for peace in the family.
By Erin Pizzey