Chinese President Xi Jinping wrapped up his visit to Myanmar on Saturday after signing multibillion-dollar infrastructure deals, including one for a strategically important port in the Indian Ocean.This investment and what both sides hailed as “new era” in relations offered a timely boost for Myanmar, which is facing increasing isolation from the West over its treatment of the Rohingya Muslim minority.Following his arrival in the purpose-built capital of Naypyidaw on Friday afternoon, Xi met a…
The legendary investor John Templeton once described “this time is different” as the four most dangerous words in finance. The phrase, which is often uttered by overly optimistic investors near the peak of a bull market, is used to justify seemingly unsustainable gains in asset prices on the grounds that earlier tipping points in markets are a poor guide to current conditions.Over the past few months, the phrase has once again become part of the dominant narrative. Despite a plethora of…
The Barcelona head coach was eventually sacked late on Monday night after a day of waiting
Barcelona’s ex-manager took training on Monday morning, if only because he was not the ex-manager just yet. Besides, someone somewhere had to act with a little dignity. And what if it didn’t happen? He was certainly not about to make the decision for them, so Ernesto Valverde drove into San Joan Despí not long after 8am. At 11 he was out on the training pitch as normal, players gathered in a circle around him, which was one way to say: “Goodbye … probably.” By the time he drove out again he knew it was likely to be for the last time. But not because they had actually told him.
On Thursday night Valverde’s team had collapsed again. While they played better than they had so far this season, he got booed every time he appeared on the big screen. They were 2-1 up with nine minutes remaining against Atlético Madrid in the Spanish Super Cup in Jeddah – Barcelona lost 3-2. Echoes of Rome and Anfield, that recurring nightmare. Three times was too many. Two already had been but to almost everyone’s surprise the club did not act in the summer, instead keeping their coach. They did act now, just not particularly well. “A bit ugly,” was Andrés Iniesta’s verdict. “Unpleasant,” he called it.
The Oxford economist talks about his new book on the challenges of a society with no traditional employment
Daniel Susskind is an economist and fellow of Balliol College, Oxford. He has held policy roles in the Blair and Cameron governments. His new book, A World Without Work, explores how society should respond to the increasing automation of employment.
This isn’t an unexplored topic, so why did you write this book? My view is that this is one of the greatest questions of our time. And in spite of everything that has been written, I didn’t feel like we had done the question justice. I don’t think we’re taking seriously this idea that there might not be enough well-paid work for everyone to do because of technological advances that are taking place.
BURLINGTON, Iowa—Not long ago, Andrew Yang would have considered his presidential campaign a success just for having injected a discussion of job automation into the race. He was a novelty candidate, a single-issue candidate, known as much for joking around on the debate stage and for viral videos (like the one that shows him squirting whipped cream into the mouths of two kneeling volunteers) as for his signature policy position, the “freedom dividend,” a universal basic income of $1,000 a month.
But now that Yang has outlasted a number of more conventional and better-known rivals—and achieved surprisingly robust poll numbers and fundraising totals—his campaign has started to dream about what could happen if their candidate could transcend his novelty status. So when Yang’s top staff gathered at the end of December, his campaign chief, Nick Ryan, made clear that the strategy for the final weeks before voting starts would be to “present our guy as President Yang, Commander in Chief Yang.” How do you do that when Yang is the $1,000-a-month guy—not the bilateral-summit guy or the Situation Room guy? He’s the candidate who loves to crowd-surf, whose fans meme him into Obi-Wan Kenobi robes (“He is our only hope”), who wears his thick blue-and-red campaign scarf everywhere he goes. Can he convince voters he’s commander-in-chief material while continuing to indulge in the oddball routine to which he ascribes much of his success so far?
Yang’s domestic-policy ideas clearly resonate far beyond the internet caverns where his “Yang Gang” first took root. He has already done for automation what Bernie Sanders did for health care in 2016. With his devoted online-donor base, he could hang around in the primaries until only the billionaires and the front-runners are left. And if the nomination remains tightly contested, and he has accumulated significant delegates, suddenly he looks like a potential power broker or a reasonable second-choice candidate, and … well, he and his staff have started to dream.
But to fully escape his fringe status, Yang needs to make voters comfortable with the idea of him as commander in chief. So as we drove out of Des Moines early one recent seven-stop day, I told him I was going to take the idea of a President Yang seriously for a few minutes, and ask what a Yang White House would be like. He deflected a question about which Cabinet departments he’d prioritize restructuring, saying he’d pick top people to run each of them (he didn’t say who) and let them sort it out. He said he’s unhappy with the current Israeli government and would restart negotiations around a two-state solution. He said he doesn’t think Brexit was a good idea—but when I asked him what he thought about subsequent trade deals, that didn’t seem to have made it into the briefing book yet.
On Iran, Yang said he’d piece the nuclear deal back together. How would he handle Ayatollah Ali Khamenei? “I have the interest of the American people at heart,” he said. “We have spent over $6 trillion in the Middle East at a terrible cost to both our people and our national resources, and … if he wants to find a diplomatic solution, I’m someone he can work with.”
Yang told me he would repeal the AUMF powers that the past three presidents have used as a blanket justification for all military operations, and go to Congress for a war declaration if he needed one. Overall, he said, he expects that world leaders would be happy for a fresh start with a President Yang.
“I believe that foreign leaders would find me to be very balanced and restrained and judicious, and good to my commitments. Our allies would find me to be someone who actually included them in decisions before they are made, rather than after,” he said.
The Yang doctrine, as he spelled it out for me, consists of a basic three-point test for military intervention: “first, a clear, vital national interest at stake or the ability to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Second, a defined timeline for our troops to be there, so we can look them in the eye and say, ‘You will be brought home at this date.’ And No. 3 is that we have buy-in from our allies and partners.”
Yang is much more comfortable talking about domestic policy, which for him largely revolves around implementing a universal basic income. He says he’s committed to making sure Congress doesn’t gut the social safety net to pay for his freedom dividend, and he’s not worried about being out-negotiated on the Hill. How would he get it passed? Simple, Yang said. Democrats will be so overjoyed that he beat Donald Trump, they’ll all be on board. Conservatives will like it too—after all, he pointed out, deep-red Alaska, which distributes oil profits to all its citizens, is a model for the program. (Instead of oil profits, he’d be drawing on data profits—taxes on companies like Amazon and Facebook.) If anyone holds out on legislating the program, Yang said he’ll show up with a MATH cap in the district himself.
“If I was standing outside of … a resistant legislator’s [office] saying, ‘This man is standing between you and $1,000 a month for your family’—what is his argument going to be? ‘This money is going to hurt you’?” The freedom dividend “is very hard to demonize,” Yang told me. “I would love to see his phone lines and his office parking lot.”
Less than a year after he went on Joe Rogan’s podcast because no mainstream media outlet was interested in having him, Yang is now thinking about prospective running mates (he said he wants someone who has good experience dealing with Congress). His team has also been in touch with Barack Obama’s staff to schedule a get-to-know-you conversation. (Obama has already met with all the other candidates in the past two years.)
Is this new seriousness coming too late?
“Voters really like Andrew Yang; that’s clear,” says one of his newer—and most experienced—campaign consultants, Mark Longabaugh, who’s been working on his ads and rewriting his stump speeches. “Now we have to take it from ‘They like him and his economic agenda’ and close the sale with ‘He’s the candidate deserving of their precious vote.’”
The candidate himself has been resisting some of the getting-serious talk, warning his aides that he caught people’s attention in the first place because he wasn’t like “normal” presidential candidates. But he told me he’s getting the hang of it.
“It feels comfortable and natural to me. I think Americans can tell that I’m a parent and a patriot who just wants better for the country, and that I’m very serious about how we have to improve our way of life to avoid leaving a train wreck for our kids,” Yang said. “I think Americans now realize that you can be very serious in your message and vision while still also being a human … and enjoying moments on the trail.”
At every stop Yang makes, he first reviews notes from his campaign manager, Zach Graumann. He has never worked on a campaign before, but is always at Yang’s side, with duties that include managing the staff and combing gel through the candidate’s hair in the car. (Graumann is the one trying to pull Yang away in that whipped-cream video.)
In his speeches—which now include a PowerPoint presentation that he debuted in Ames, Iowa, on the morning of Tuesday’s Democratic debate—Yang hits his talking points as well as any practiced politician: automation, Amazon, the fourth industrial revolution, what’s going to happen when his “friends in Silicon Valley” finally pull off the self-driving truck. And he always comes back to some version of, “We’re all being told by the news that things are better than ever, but they don’t feel better than ever,” as he put it to 150 people one Saturday morning in heavily Republican Knoxville, Iowa. There’s so much money in the economy, yet so much stress and depression, so many drug overdoses and mental-health problems, and a life expectancy that is decreasing for the first time since the Spanish Flu.
Yang believes that his universal basic income signals how he would remedy this general malaise. “I would consider myself post-inspirational inspiration,” he told me as we arrived at his next event. “I just want to put money in people’s hands, instead of trying to say, ‘I’m so inspirational.’”
At the Statesmen Lanes bowling alley in Oskaloosa, a woman named Susan Mitchell stopped Yang as he was trying to land a spare with the 14-pound hot-pink ball his staff had lined up for him. (His first roll had been a straight gutter ball.) She pulled him close and pressed him on how he’d make sure his freedom dividend didn’t come out of Social Security or other existing programs. “He answered it very nicely,” she told me afterward, watching with a smile as he celebrated finally knocking some pins down. “I think we need a fun guy to be the president,” she said.
A few hours later, Yang’s wife had caught up with us and was introducing Yang at a packed coffee shop in Mount Pleasant. She is currently a stay-at-home mother to their two sons and hadn’t been a visible part of the campaign until November—though the Yang Gang recognizes her well enough to scream “Evelyn!” when they see her. She’d written a speech on the plane about how the same qualities that made her fall in love with Yang now make her absolutely sure he’s the right person to be president.
“It’s certainly not luck. And it’s more than the ideas,” Evelyn said to the gathered crowd. “You’re not just voting for the ideas but for Andrew as a person.” He’s like Liam Neeson in the Taken movies, she said, going on to quote Neeson’s famous monologue from the first film. He has a very “particular set of skills,” but “instead of talking to kidnappers, he’s talking to politicians.”
At Shaggy’s Gourmet Burgers, a little red-and-white shack on a dark road in Wapello, Yang put on an apron with MATH, BABY! written in the spot for his name, and alternated between taking questions and flipping burgers. He started with his philosophy of preparing meat well-done: “What’s my downside if I overcook it? Pretty mild. What’s my downside if I undercook it?” He waited for the crowd to respond. “Food poisoning!” they yelled.
“I feel like some kind of Santa Claus, but the only present I have is burgers,” Yang said, as he gave sacks of them to patrons. “On Burger Day, an Asian man comes around handing out burgers.” He answered policy questions as he worked, giving his thoughts on the Democratic National Committee’s debate rules. (He used to praise them when he was getting onstage, but now he complains about them and said, “This campaign has transcended the debates.”) A boy asked him to put his hands in the dab position, and he obliged right away. “I got him to do it!” the boy squealed. Yang looked at him wryly and said, “You shouldn’t take too much pride in that, because I’ll do almost anything.” Then he was back to talking about labor-participation rates, health and life expectancy, and John Maynard Keynes. He gave his review of the new Star Wars film (he had low expectations going in, which left him “pleasantly surprised”). Another boy who’d just gotten a toy shaving kit for Christmas asked him whether he shaved. “I do shave, but very, very seldom, and more to feel like a man than because of any facial hair,” he said.
Early on, Yang’s events were heavily populated with the odd and disaffected, political and social outcasts who connected with him so viscerally that they would show up at events screaming, “Yang Gang! Yang Gang! Yang Gang!” like British soccer hooligans or Pentecostals speaking in tongues. Even as his support has grown—more than 500 new people showed up to see him during that day in Iowa, and another 50 or so followed him between events—that core has remained, and they say what they’re doing goes beyond wearing T-shirts with his face on them, flaunting blue MATH hats (to contrast with red MAGA hats), or getting Yang tattoos. If Trump woke up the Proud Boys, Yang resonates with the Lost Boys—people like Phillip Friedman, 28, whom I met at a Yang Gang debate afterparty at 1 a.m. in an Atlanta bar in November. He was looking for a job as a waiter, and had first come across Yang in a Tucker Carlson interview. Having joined the Yang community, he said, he’s definitely going to stay political now. “This is about so much more than becoming president. This is about a movement to bring humanity back together,” he told me. I’ve spoken with a number of other interesting young people who said similar things.
“I’m thrilled that we’ve activated people who’ve been disengaged with politics before, and young people, and independents,” Yang told me when I mentioned this to him. “The problems are not going away. This movement’s not going away. I believe that people will find this to be an extraordinarily passionate, dedicated group of people that will be here until the problems are solved.”
At his final campaign stop of his long day in Iowa, he went behind the counter at a bar in Burlington to pour himself a beer, then did a brief dance mostly for his own amusement, boogying in place.
But on the way out of the bar, I asked Yang whether he really, truly thought he could win—and whether he buys the argument some of his campaign aides make, that the only way to beat Trump is with a candidate who is as unusual and outside the box as Yang.
“As this process goes on, I’m getting stronger and stronger,” Yang said, his face settling into an expression of seriousness. “I will be unbeatable. Trump knows it; that’s why he’s never mentioned me. He’s hoping the Democratic Party doesn’t realize it.”
After diamonds, heels are definitely a girl’s best friend. Every girl who has worn heels knows the pain they give. These torturous heels are always in fashion and are a staple of every female's wardrobe. They add an edge to a dress and make the whole outfit look out of this world. This doesn't mean that you have to limp around every time you wear heels or get blisters just to looking amazing. If you love wearing heels, follow these tried and tested tips to make them more comfortable:
• Leigh Griffiths scores first goal for Celtic since August • Sam Cosgrove spares Aberdeen replay with Dumbarton
Goals from Leigh Griffiths and Calllum McGregor earned Celtic a narrow 2-1 win against Partick Thistle and a safe passage into the Scottish Cup fifth round despite a late scare when Jeremie Frimpong conceded a penalty converted by Stuart Brannigan. Griffiths pounced to take advantage of a defender’s clearence to slot home the opening goal at Fir Park. McGregor added a second with a deflected shot after Kenny Miller had struck a post for the home team. Frimpong’s charge on Dario Zanatta as he raced in on Fraser Forster led to Brannigan’s penalty in injury time but it came to late to find another goal, though did provide a small reward for a diligent Thistle performance. Neil Lennon’s side picked up their 32nd consecutive victory in domestic cup competitions and take their place in tomorrow’s last-16 draw.
Kilmarnock launched their Scottish Cup campaign with Chris Burke creating all the goals in a 6-0 mauling of Queen’s Park. Alex Bruce was first to benefit from the former Rangers winger’s pinpoint crossing with a header. The returning Stuart Findlay then added the second and third goals. With the home side 3-0 up at half time, Greg Kiltie, recent signing Nicke Kabamba and Connor Johnson settled the game as a contest.
By Heart is a series in which authors share and discuss their all-time favorite passages in literature. See entries from Jonathan Franzen, Amy Tan, Khaled Hosseini, and more.
The novelist Garth Greenwell was still an undergraduate when he took the poetry class that changed his life. Though he had been studying opera, the course affected him so profoundly that he decided, instead, to pursue a career in the literary arts. Since then, poetry—and, more broadly, the sound and rhythm and syntax of language—has been his obsession. “I’m a very unreligious person,” he told me. “But when I look at the weird shape my life has taken, it seems like the life of someone with a devotional temperament looking for an object of devotion.”
One writer in particular, the American poet Frank Bidart, made an impression on the young Greenwell, and has remained an especially potent source of inspiration. In a conversation for this series, Greenwell explained how a line from Bidart’s prose poem “Borges and I” illuminates the complex relationship between artists and the traditions that shape them. For Greenwell, being influenced by another writer is never a shameful sign of unoriginality. Instead, it’s a decision to take part in a charged, almost erotic conversation across the ages—and can be a source of a radical, transmuting power.
In Greenwell’s latest novel, Cleanness, an American teacher—apparently the same unnamed narrator featured in his celebrated debut, What Belongs to You—looks for connection in a grim Bulgarian city. Across nine chapters that resemble linked short stories, his doomed relationship with a young man is juxtaposed against a series of encounters with strangers. Explicit and yet brimming with psychological insight, by turns menacing and tender, the novel explores a poignant human irony—that sex can be self-destructive even as it is self-affirming.
Garth Greenwell teaches fiction at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. His work appears in venues such as The New Yorker, A Public Space, and The Paris Review, where he’s published an extensive interview with Frank Bidart. He spoke with me by phone.
Garth Greenwell: I first discovered Frank Bidart when I was studying vocal performance at the Eastman School of Music. In the first semester of my junior year, I took a course with the poet and critic James Longenbach at the University of Rochester, who very kindly let me into his poetry workshop, even though I had never taken a writing class before. One of the books he had us read was Frank Bidart’s Desire, and the experience of encountering Bidart’s work was absolutely overwhelming. It convinced me that poetry was the most noble thing one could devote one’s life to.
I’m drawn to the seriousness and relentlessness of Bidart’s work—the sense that he is using the best tools he has, and inventing new tools, to ask the most important and difficult questions he can of life and of himself. To read him is to experience someone writing utterly without defense, with a kind of lacerating honesty. There is one line in particular, from Bidart’s prose poem “Borges and I,” that for years has been a kind of motto for me: “We fill preexisting forms and when we fill them, we change them and are changed.” It’s a refrain that’s helped me develop my sense of what artistic innovation is, and what it means to innovate in a meaningful and exciting way.
It has always been my prejudice—I wouldn’t want to present this as any sort of objective principle—that one is incredibly unlikely to make something great in a particular medium if one doesn’t know the great things that have been made in that medium before. When one, say, writes a sonnet, when one fills up that form, of course the form conditions how one can think within it. But one wrestles with the form too—one tries to stretch it, to make it accommodate new thinking, new feeling, and the form is changed by that. The sonnet is not the same form after Shakespeare, not the same form after Milton, not the same form after Hopkins. At the same time, you, the artist, are also transformed. This sense of reciprocity with the past—that the past and the self are not monoliths but dynamic things that change through their encounter with one another—is the idea of tradition that strikes me as most beautiful and most true.
I think that’s why Harold Bloom’s concept of the anxiety of influence has never quite rung true for me. This violent idea that for a writer to make something original, they have to find faults with previous writers and disfigure them somehow, has just never been my sense of what this conversation across time is like. Harold Bloom was a great genius, and there’s no question that this is a model that is true for some artists. But I wonder if it’s not so much a model that queer writers adopt. I don’t want to speak for anyone other than myself, but my feeling about the queer writers of the past is a feeling of such gratitude and homage and collaboration—a sense that they made my life and any art that I can make possible. The last thing I would want to do is sever myself from that, or somehow demolish it to clear a field for my own work.
Instead, I’m drawn to the image that Bidart provides: that the past provides a structure that accommodates—that makes possible—one’s own work. To me, that’s a beautifully different idea of what tradition might feel like. It’s not an anxiety. If anything, it’s more like Eros. It’s about emptying oneself out to be filled up by the transforming substance of the gods, and then somehow becoming a substance oneself, one that pours into this broader container that is divinity. That kind of beautiful confusion is straight out of mystical discourse, whether it’s Plotinus or Marguerite Porete. This way of thinking about how people and works of art interact and affect each other is not about aggression or violence but is, instead, a kind of erotic intermingling.
Real art is always made at the very edge of your capacity. When I’m writing a sentence, my feeling is not that I am making this well-wrought thing, or that there’s some ideal shape that I’m working towards as I write. What I feel, instead, is that I’m in a kind of difficult negotiation: at once willing a sentence into being while also trying to be as receptive as possible to an energy or organic force that is independent of my will. I’m writing a sentence the way one rides a horse, trying both to steer and to follow the sentence where it wants to go. Art making for me is this weird attempt to strike a perfect balance between willfulness and passivity.
When I find myself surprised by what I’m writing, what actually is that? What is the external force I’m trying to be receptive to? It’s not a kind of mystical thing, although the way I describe it might seem that way. I don’t feel, like Milton did, that the Holy Ghost is whispering in my ear. But I do think that language has a history, and that schooling oneself in the history of various traditions also means incorporating wills other than one’s own. If you’ve memorized, as I know Frank Bidart has, countless poems from the tradition of Western poetry, that creates magnetic nodes in you—a sense of how language moves, certain syntactical patterns that are attracted to each other. Much of the act of making art is about acceding to or resisting that pull.
James Longenbach, my first poetry teacher, gave me the only really helpful technical creative-writing advice I’ve ever received at the end of that semester when he had been so generous to me. He said, “So, okay. You might have some talent, but who cares? Talent is meaningless.” He said, “If you’re serious about this poetry thing, you will spend two years only writing in blank verse—unrhymed iambic pentameter—and you will also scan every line of Milton’s Paradise Lost.” That’s such an extreme thing to say to a student, but I was the kind of student to go and do it. I spent two years only writing iambic pentameter lines. I’m not sure that I scanned every line of Paradise Lost, but I scanned hundreds and hundreds of lines, and thought really hard about how their rhythms were working.
Those rhythms are so deeply ingrained in me now. I remember something that happened when I first started doing public readings from What Belongs to You. Reading aloud is part of my composition practice, and very much part of my revision practice, but it was only when I was reading in front of audiences that I realized that there are lines of pentameter in my prose. That doesn’t happen because I say to myself, ”Oh, this clause needs to be iambic pentameter.” I’m saying to myself, “This needs to feel right,” and I’ll tinker with something endlessly until it does. And I think those iambs are in my prose because those rhythms are deeply associated, for me, with a certain feeling of authority that I wanted particular moments in the novel to have.
That’s a great example of how this works: Iambic pentameter is not something that my agency has invented and is intending to impose. It’s something in the language itself, in my sense of the language, that exerts a kind of pressure when I’m writing. Syntax does that too. Before you write the first word of a sentence, you have almost infinite possibility—but with each word, the possibility decreases. A sentence exerts an increasing pressure of inevitability as you’re writing. Sometimes what gives pleasure in writing is giving in to that inevitability—and sometimes, instead, it’s slipping free from that pressure by trying to open a door in a sentence, and allowing it to escape from where it seemed it would inevitably go.
This dialogue with the past doesn’t feel antagonistic. It feels collaborative. I think of Jessye Norman, one of the earliest singers I fell in love with, someone whose voice is part of the equipment of my inner life. She took forms that were hundreds of years old, and filled them with the glorious substance of her voice—and Strauss will never be the same, Wagner will never be the same, because we’ve heard the way she transformed them. And we have been transformed in turn by listening to her.
That’s why working with preexisting forms is not a sign of unoriginality. We need preexisting forms so we can fill them and change them and be changed. We look to the past for sources of greater richness, greater depth—something I think queer people, in particular, do. Queer aesthetics are often invested in mining the past for resources that allow us to imagine a future. That, to me, is what the conversation of art is about.
Bruce Davidson’s photograph of a child pushing a pram in a mining village captures a moment of peace amid the noise and grime
When he was serving in the US Signal Corps in 1956, the celebrated photographer Bruce Davidson was posted to Paris. He served there under a sergeant who was Welsh. Davidson was due three days’ leave and he asked the sergeant where on earth he would send his own worst enemy. The sergeant replied without hesitation “Cwmcarn”, a mining village in the Ebbw Valley. On that first visit, Davidson underestimated how long it would take to get to Cwmcarn and had to leave before he could take any pictures, to avoid being awol. But in a couple of hours, he was able to take in a sense of “the coal dust and the flesh, of the sweat and the danger” of the miners’ lives. “There was something beautiful about a life that was so horrible,” he has said.
It was another nine years before Davidson returned to Cwmcarn, by which time he had become famous for his revolutionary images of American subcultures and gangs, and for his indelible up-close images from the frontlines of the civil rights movement. He hadn’t forgotten Cwmcarn, however, and finding himself in Wales on a magazine assignment to photograph Caernarfon Castle, he made his way back there.
Traditional knowledge has already reduced bushfires and emissions in the top end, so why isn’t it used more widely?
Indigenous fire practitioners have warned that Australia’s bush will regenerate as a “time bomb” prone to catastrophic blazes, and issued a plea to put to use traditional knowledge which is already working across the top end to reduce bushfires and greenhouse gas emissions.
“This is a time bomb ticking now because all that canopy has been wiped out,” says Oliver Costello of the national Indigenous Firesticks Alliance.
Rose McGowan’s reputation precedes her, which is why escaping it, temporarily, was such a relief. For the past year she lived in London, until visa issues brought her back to New York, where we met inlate December. “I’m perceived very differently here,” the activist and former actor told me over tea in the bar of the Algonquin Hotel, while Christmas music played in the background. “Imagine, every time you meet someone new they look at you like you’re maybe insane. It’s exhausting.”
In person, McGowan looked elfin, with her cropped blond hair, and was surprisingly gentle in manner—not at all like her pugnacious and unpredictable presence online. She made jokes about Dorothy Parker. She explained her love of London, where the artistic community welcomed her without attaching any of the asterisks that have dogged her for decades as an actor in Hollywood. And she described the discomfort of being back in New York, the city that was long synonymous with Harvey Weinstein, who McGowan says raped her at the Sundance Film Festival in 1997, and whose criminal trial on charges of sexual assault against other women began this week. (Weinstein has denied all allegations against him; in 1997, he paid McGowan a $100,000 settlement precluding her from legal action.) “One of the reasons I got out of America,” she said, “was to reclaim my life.” So what now?
It’s hard to imagine any of what happened post-Weinstein transpiring without McGowan, whose 2016 tweets about being raped by a studio head she couldn’t name were the media equivalent of putting a lit match to a fuse. She Said, Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey’s book about how they broke the story of Weinstein’s alleged abuses in Hollywood, describes how their reporting process began with McGowan’s tweets. Her accusations sparked an investigation in which a substantial number of women finally agreed to go on the record with accusations against Weinstein; in the months that followed, subsequent stories revealed hundreds more men who had reportedly abused their power. Kantor and Twohey’s work for The New York Times, along with that of The New Yorker’s Ronan Farrow, won a Pulitzer Prize in 2018. But McGowan, during the same period, was struggling.
Weinstein hadn’t just assaulted her 20 years ago, McGowan said. He’d also blacklisted her and other women, smearing their reputations and enlisting magazine editors, lawyers, and private security forces to help. He’d had McGowan tailed by former Mossad agents in an effort to uncover what she might reveal about him in her then-unpublished memoir, Brave. One of the revelations in She Said was a memo written to Weinstein by the attorney Lisa Bloom in December 2016 in which Bloom suggested discrediting any allegations McGowan might make against Weinstein by planting negative stories in the media “re her becoming increasingly unglued.” It’s difficult to fully conceive of the toll this kind of mental and emotional campaign against someone could take.
When the first Times story came out, in October 2017, McGowan was already jittery from what she describes as Weinstein’s gaslighting. Suddenly, she was at the center of the biggest news story in the world, her public comments and postings subject to greater scrutiny than ever. By January 2018, as McGowan embarked on the publicity tour for Brave, she was in the throes of an emotional breakdown. “When the articles came out, and then when my book came out, I became kind of like a receptacle for people’s pain,” she said. “The information I was getting was horrific stuff, horrific, and there was nowhere to put it. I was very often the first person those people had ever told.”
What McGowan has experienced over the past few years illustrates an uncomfortable reality: People who speak out publicly about instances of assault and abuse do so at a substantial cost. The cultural microscope they’re put under exposes every personal foible, every biographical blip, every vulnerability. If they appear erratic, or act in ways that don’t seem to conform to long-standing ideas about victimhood, the response is often to doubt their overall credibility rather than to consider how their behavior might be affected by trauma and stress.
In McGowan’s case, her impulsive and outspoken use of social media has often been fuel for those who seek to dismiss her. Last week—the week before Weinstein’s trial began—she tweeted about the U.S.’s killing of the Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani and her own voting preferences, bewildering critics on both the left and the right. On Instagram a few hours earlier, McGowan had alluded to the toll the news cycle was taking on her mental health, but as her name briefly trended on Twitter, few commentators seemed to consider her frame of mind.
McGowan has been dogged by similar kinds of controversy since the first Weinstein story broke. In October 2017, she was lambasted on social media for a tweet that invoked “the N-word” to talk about female oppression. (McGowan apologized for a “stupidity lapse.”) The following month, she turned herself in for charges dating to January 2017, when cocaine had been found in a wallet she’d left on a plane at Dulles airport. At the time, she emphatically denied that the cocaine was hers, although she later pleaded no-contest to reduced misdemeanor charges in court, and she has spoken openly about using recreational substances on Twitter. In January 2018, while on a book tour, McGowan was interrupted during a Barnes & Noble reading by a protester who confronted her for saying on a podcast that trans women didn’t have the same life experiences as cisgender women. McGowan later said that she was “profoundly sorry” for her language, but insists to this day that the protester was hired by Weinstein to intimidate her, even as the situation got stranger still: The woman in the bookstore was then accused by multiple women of harassing and assaulting underage girls.
The day of the Barnes & Noble event, McGowan also taped an interview with Stephen Colbert that was widely covered in the press as “unconventional,” “exceedingly uncomfortable,” and even “jaw-droppingly weird.” She resisted Colbert’s questions, preferring to follow tangential thoughts of her own. Commentators questioned whether she was pretentious, self-aggrandizing, under the influence of drugs, or all three. It’s hard to square the oddness of the segment with McGowan’s composure in our interview, and the force of her statements about assault. (“I’ve always known that it wasn’t my shame,” she said. “If someone stole my purse, nobody would ask me what my purse was wearing.”) But it’s possible that what people saw in 2018—and continue to see now—was yet another woman struggling in the public eye, due to the self-imposed responsibility of replaying the most traumatic event of her life in order to speak up for others. “I was trying to survive, and also push something through, see it through,” McGowan said of her motivations during that time. “If those articles [exposing Weinstein] had come out and there weren’t boots on the ground every day to fight for [those women] I don’t think they would have gotten that momentum ... But I was exhausted.”
After abruptly canceling her book tour, McGowan said she sought refuge at a senior-living center in Florida for a while. She started smoking for the first time, after her aunt suggested cigarettes for stress relief. The press coverage of her affected her relationship with family members, who, she said, “had no idea what to make of it, and didn’t know which was the real Rose anymore.”
As McGowan later tried to piece together a new life in London as an artist—working on an album, Planet 9; an associated stage show at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival; and a movie she hopes to direct as a follow-up to her acclaimed 2014 short, Dawn—news continued to emerge about how insidiously Weinstein’s camp had apparently targeted her. Lisa Bloom’s memo, published in She Said, described McGowan as “a disturbed pathological liar.” Bloom wrote that she felt “equipped to help [Weinstein] against the Roses of the world, because I have represented so many of them … Clearly she must be stopped in her ridiculous, defamatory attacks on you … You are right to be concerned.” Bloom suggested, among other things, that she herself might initiate a friendly relationship with McGowan in order to manipulate her.
The memo served as a harshreminder of what McGowan was up against. “For so many years this has happened to me,” she said. “It’s just a hijacked life.” By 1997, the year she says Weinstein attacked her, she already had enough of a public profile to make any other kind of profession challenging. “I was sexually assaulted after I was already famous,” she said. “And then I got blacklisted right away. So what do you do then? You’re really in a pickle. You take subpar work; you take scraps. You take what you can get.” In 2001 she managed to score a starring role on television, in the Aaron Spelling–produced supernatural drama Charmed. It was reliable work, but McGowan struggled with how the three female protagonists were portrayed by male directors. She still declines to watch herself on-screen: “There are so many layers of meta going on there that it kind of blows your mind in a way that’s not right. I don’t like seeing myself through male lenses.”
When McGowan firstbegan making public statements against sexism in Hollywood, in 2015, she found a new calling, and a new kind of presence in the media. “Rose McGowan Is Starting a Revolution,” a BuzzFeed headline read that year; the article noted the ways the actor had skewered the entertainment industry on Twitter. But activism wasn’t the same as a livelihood. Meanwhile, the closer she seemed to get to exposing what Weinstein had done to her, the more aggressive his campaigns against her reportedly became. In 2017, McGowan was befriended by a mysterious woman claiming to work in finance, who turned out to be a former Mossad agent employed by Weinstein to infiltrate her personal life. McGowan remembered one of her former lawyers telling her that she’d never heard of an individual “being so messed with that wasn’t being messed with by a government.”
The arc of McGowan’s life, from her childhood in a cult to her career in Hollywood, can seem outlandish enough that you might have difficulty putting yourself in her shoes. Sometimes she appears to cope by using humor—when I asked her how her lawsuit against Weinstein, Bloom, and the lawyer David Boies was going, she affected a Valley-girl voice and said, “It’s sooo fun; how’s yours?” She gets angry, especially at the idea that people can’t see why she might deserve financial compensation for her derailed career. Above all, she still seems profoundly traumatized by the events of 1997.
“That whole thing about me trying to get a job ... I already had a job,” she said, referring to Weinstein’s defense that women willingly traded sex with him for movie roles. “And I would never have slept with that person. Not in a million, trillion years. Not if he was the last person on Earth. And I have to live with the fact that that person touched me. That person touched my body without my will. And it’s horrible. He is the thing of nightmares.” The last time she saw Weinstein, she said, she threw up in a trash can. To be in New York is to be hyperaware of the fact that she might see him again at any moment.
“What Tarana Burke created with the hashtag [#MeToo] was a way for victims to communicate,” McGowan told me. “‘Did this happen to you? Me too.’” But for every woman who came forward, she said, the experiencewas “big and scary and terrifying and filled with public scorn and retribution.” While it seems unlikely that either Weinstein’s New York trial or his recent indictments in Los Angeles will bring her closure, they could mark the end of this period of stasis. She hopes over the next year to secure funding for her movie, to reapply for an artist’s visa in the U.K., and to keep finding comfort in creativity. On Instagram last week, McGowan posted a selfie. “I am very stressed so I decided to put on red lipstick,” she wrote. “The trial is in four days. We will see if justice will be served. Queen Karma please come through. This has been an incredibly long road to get here and I have made mistakes on this journey, but still here doing my best to fight.”
The nominations for the 92nd Academy Awards have been revealed. "The Irishman," "1917" and "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood" were also among the top contenders. Any women represented on the list of best films?
The photograph above shows Andrew Lisdahl and his fiancée, Theresa, at their home, along with Andrew's daughter with his ex-wife (left) and one of Theresa's daughters (right).
Andrew Lisdahl was mad. His wife, Gretchen, had smoked a cigarette, a habit he detested. They fought, and Gretchen spent the night at a friend’s house. The next day, Andrew drank a bottle of tequila and hitched a ride to the stained-glass studio where Gretchen, an artist, gave lessons. When Andrew found her, he grabbed her left hand and tried to remove her wedding ring, but Gretchen fought him off. As Andrew stumbled away, he took Gretchen’s car keys and phone.
After work, Gretchen’s father drove her back home to retrieve her things. Inside, Andrew had been passed out on the couch, but he woke up and yelled at Gretchen, “Get the fuck out!” When she didn’t, he grabbed her by the hair, dragged her into the living room, threw her on the carpet, kicked her in the chest, and pinned her to the ground. As Gretchen’s father approached the house, Andrew let her go and she was able to escape.
Gretchen went to a police station near their home in Superior, Wisconsin, and showed an officer on duty the red marks coloring her sternum. When police arrived at the house and knocked, Andrew announced from inside that he was aiming a shotgun at the officers’ faces. A SWAT team was summoned. Soon after, Andrew emerged, hands in the air, wearing only a pair of pajama bottoms, and surrendered. Police said they recovered a loaded shotgun next to the door. (Andrew denies that it was loaded.) He was arrested and charged with misdemeanor domestic battery, to which he pleaded guilty. (Many details of the encounter are contained in a police report. This abuse incident, and others described in this article, have been corroborated with both Andrew and Gretchen.)
After two years of court proceedings, Andrew found himself sitting in an austere conference room in Duluth, Minnesota, with a dozen other men, most convicted of similar crimes. In the United States, domestic abusers are rarely sent to prison. More often, as in Andrew’s case, they are sent to a special class designed to teach them to refrain from physical violence. The methods employed by these groups, known formally as “batterer intervention programs,” or BIPs, vary—there are 2,500 in the United States alone, according to one study—but most base their instruction on ideas from second-wave feminism, striving to educate men about the ways in which the harm they visit on their romantic partners mimics the larger, repressive structure of patriarchy.
For Andrew, then 34 years old, being court-ordered to attend a class for wife-beaters was a shameful low point. It signaled to everyone that he had violated an immutable taboo, impressed upon him since childhood: Men do not hit women. He had been arrested for battering Gretchen five years before, in 2010, but she had requested that he be let off, and the charges had been reduced to disorderly conduct. Since his latest arrest, Andrew hadn’t wanted to speak to anyone about the classes, afraid of where the conversation might go. As he waited for class to start, he stared at the dusty umber carpeting, inwardly vowing to avoid speech or eye contact.
Andrew was horrified when, a few minutes in, the facilitator leading the group asked him to introduce himself to his classmates. Explain, the man said, smiling, why you’re here.
Andrew stood up. “I’m Andrew,” he said, eyes still fixed on the floor. “I’m here because I hit my wife, Gretchen.”
Sinking back into his seat, Andrew was suddenly overcome by an unexpected sense of relief. He still didn’t want to be in the room, at all, but speaking his stigma aloud—admitting, in semipublic, the hideous thing he’d done—felt, to his surprise, kind of good. Over the next six months, he continued to unburden himself to the men, and they to him. Soon, Andrew would come to believe—as would Gretchen—that the class was the only thing capable of exorcising the evil pieces of his spirit and making him a decent man.
Considered in aggregate, physically abusive men constitute a catastrophic public-health hazard. While research suggests that men and women employ violence in relationships at roughly equal rates, the damage inflicted on women is far more severe. Nearly half of all homicides of women in the U.S. are committed by a victim’s romantic partner. Globally, the leading cause of nonfatal injuries to women—ahead of car crashes, falls, and accidental poisonings—is domestic violence.
For most of American history, authorities treated domestic violence with benign neglect. Legally, the act of assaulting one’s spouse was only widely criminalized within the last century or so. Even then, cops saw fisticuffs between lovers as a private sport they had no business refereeing. (A 1975 training bulletin issued by the police department in Oakland, California, advised that, instead of making an arrest, officers should “encourage the parties to reason with each other.”) District attorneys, meanwhile, resisted prosecuting abusers, often because victims—many in danger of further attacks—were reluctant to pursue charges. In general, all but the most egregious cases went unpunished.
An organized effort to take such violence seriously began in the early 1970s, when activists set about publicizing the social problem then known as “wife battering.” A flurry of research—epitomized by Erin Pizzey’s collection of case studies, Scream Quietly or the Neighbors Will Hear—gave rise to a network of support groups and women’s shelters. In 1980, a small band of activists gathered in Duluth with the goal of addressing the justice system’s failings. The creators of the Domestic Abuse Intervention Project (DAIP), as it became known, devised a revolutionary plan to help communities respond aggressively to the phenomenon. To prevent cases from being ignored, relevant municipal agencies, including police, courts, and social workers, would carefully coordinate their actions. Women would be assigned advocates to help them understand their legal options and seek orders of protection from their partners. To make sure cops did their jobs, arrests for certain offenses would become mandatory, and prosecutors would try cases even without cooperation from victims. After a pilot run of the program in Duluth appeared to reduce assaults, the “Duluth model” of responding to domestic violence was adopted by cities across the country.
But there was one aspect of domestic violence for which the Duluth model didn’t have a solution: what to do with the abusers. While activists agreed that the threat of arrest and incarceration was an important deterrent to domestic violence, it wasn’t a cure. Batterers couldn’t be locked up forever, and the prison environment was hardly conducive to reducing aggression. Ellen Pence, a cofounder of a Minneapolis women’s shelter, was one of DAIP’s organizers. In her experience working with victims, Pence had observed that many men who hit their partners did so repeatedly, over many years. Such habitual batterers, in her opinion, required not just punishment, but some form of reeducation.
At the time, little was known about the causes of domestic violence. Many psychologists viewed abuse as the side effect of some other difficulty—alcoholism, an inability to handle stress or anger, poor communication skills. Not infrequently, blame was placed on a woman’s failure as a wife or girlfriend. One study, published in the Archives of General Psychiatry in 1964, asserted that spouses of abusive men tended to be “aggressive, efficient, masculine and sexually frigid.”
Like many contemporary feminists, Pence saw the phenomenon differently. Abuse, in her view, wasn’t an individual problem, but a social one. For millennia, men had been taught that it was their right to control women, by force if necessary. Domestic violence was the means by which a man exercised this power on an interpersonal level. Far from a dysfunction, it was a rational tactic—a tool for patriarchy. Yet men had grown so used to this system, into which they’d been socialized since birth, that they never thought to question its correctness.
If men were conditioned to become oppressors, the only way to change them, Pence reasoned, was to denaturalize this arrangement. Inspired by the work of the Brazilian philosopher Paulo Freire—who, in his classic Pedagogy of the Oppressed, described educating peasants by posing questions that foster dialogue—Pence wondered whether she might be able to challenge, through conversation, the ideas motivating domestic violence. Along with a Duluth City Council member named Michael Paymar, she drew up a curriculum for a series of support groups meant to help men come to terms with their destructive behavior, take ownership of their actions, and, with luck, stop injuring women.
Launched in the mid-1980s, Pence and Paymar’s program was not the first men’s group for batterers—several other programs, using different techniques, had already sprung up in other cities—but it proved the most influential. The Duluth curriculum’s innovation, of attacking the societal roots of abuse, met with approval from activists and victims’ advocates. Lawmakers found in the groups a convenient means of dealing with the new wave of domestic-violence arrests. Over the next three decades, the curriculum spread rapidly, until programs advancing the theory that domestic violence was underpinned by sexism had been established in every state in the country. Over time, the “Duluth model” would come to refer to those specific gatherings, and their pedagogical focus on dismantling patriarchal norms, rather than to its original plan for coordinated community action.
But as their popularity grew, Duluth’s men’s groups faced a backlash. As researchers began conducting more studies, they found that the early psychologists who had ascribed domestic violence to individuals’ underlying problems, such as addiction and trauma, were, to an extent, correct. Studies showed that the Duluth approach, with its broad social message, had little effect on whether men actually re-offended. It was also criticized as ill-suited for addressing assaults committed by women and within same-sex partnerships. Yet today, Duluth’s backers continue to argue that its gender-based approach is the only one capable of getting at the roots of male battering. Men's groups remain the most common method of attempting to reform the domestically violent, and in these groups, the Duluth curriculum is the most frequently used approach.
The offices of DAIP occupy the third floor of an inconspicuous brick building, distinguished, mainly, by a faded white sign above the front door reading Home of the Duluth Model. The organization hosts men’s groups in a room fronted by a big picture window overlooking Lake Superior, which, when I visited in mid-March, was still frozen over and skinned with snow.
On a Thursday morning, I watched twelve men in heavy winter coats shuffle inside and take seats in a semicircle of office chairs. In exchange for receiving probation instead of incarceration, men agree to attend 27 classes at DAIP, each lasting 90 minutes. The group seemed, by all appearances, a thoroughly average sampling of midwestern manhood. Most of the men were deep into middle age, but a few were younger, and they sat hunched over, hiding in their phones. (DAIP allowed me to sit in on its groups with the condition that I not include the participants’ real names or any identifying details. The names of the participants’ victims have also been changed.)
At the front of the room stood the class’s facilitators, Jen Rouse, one of DAIP’s newest staffers, and Scott Miller, one of its codirectors. According to DAIP’s lengthy instructor manual—the core of the Duluth curriculum—the goal of a facilitator is threefold: to challenge men’s patriarchal views, to help them take responsibility for their past violence, and to inculcate a new, more egalitarian set of beliefs. Each class has two facilitators, one man and one woman, to habituate abusers to seeing men and women on an even footing. Many of the men, Rouse told me, publicize their disdain for the female facilitators with theatrical displays of anger, silence, or hostile body language. “Some of the men, when they first come in, they can’t even look at me,” said Rouse, a small, cheerful woman in her 30s. “But over time they engage.”
Critics have caricatured the Duluth approach as one in which men are shamed and bullied into taking on feminist-approved ideas. In truth, the meetings are free of jargon such as “patriarchy” and “misogyny,” and DAIP’s facilitators seldom lecture or admonish. Rather, they try, in the words of the facilitation manual, to “create a process of change.” This usually takes the form of peppering the men with questions. The goal is to encourage the men to confront their assumptions about power, gender, and privilege. The best situation a facilitator can find himself in, Miller told me, is to ask a man a question for which he has no answer. That’s when the growth happens.
The class began with a short video illustrating the week’s topic: emotional abuse. It depicted “Steve,” a jittery man with a chinstrap beard, accosting his estranged wife, “Cherie,” outside her home, as she’s taking out the trash. By visiting the house, Steve, we learn, is violating an order of protection, but he pleads with Cherie to let him move back in. “I just feel like I’m starting to change, okay?” he huffs. Unmoved, Cherie threatens to call the police.
“You’re not going to know what to do without me!” yells Steve.
Cherie starts marching inside. “You’ve got 10 seconds and I’m calling the cops.”
“10-9-8-7-fuck you!” Steve screams, kicking the trash can.
The class hooted with laughter.
Afterward, Miller—tall and lanky, with a salt-and-pepper goatee and a springy energy that is echt Minnesota—asked the class to describe how, exactly, Steve had been emotionally abusive. Rouse, armed with a dry-erase marker, compiled their responses.
“He started being nice at first,” offered a flannel-shirted man—one of many—whom I’ll call Liam. “But he was just trying to manipulate her.”
The men, Miller explained to me later, arrive in the class with different levels of resistance to its teachings. At first, many deny having done anything wrong, claiming that it was self-defense, or that it was an accident, or—the most common justification of all—that their partner drove them to do what they did. The first step in helping the men, therefore, is to make them fully aware of their abusive behaviors, of which physical violence is only one component. In the 1980s, DAIP developed a now-famous diagram, the “Power and Control Wheel,” to illustrate the variety of tactics abusers use to dominate their partners. These include more subtle forms of tyranny, including emotional abuse (“putting her down”; “making her feel bad about herself”) and exercising male privilege (“making all the big decisions”; “acting like ‘the master of the castle’ ”). One-third of the Duluth classes were allotted to educating the men about this spectrum of abuse, the rest to teaching them different, more equitable forms of conduct.
An important step in creating change was to help the men become aware of the misogynist judgments that served as justification for their violence. Once their unconscious thoughts about gender relations (“She needs to listen”; “I’m right”) were exposed, they could be amended.
Some men, however, required special encouragement to reflect on their actions. Miller pointed to one of the class’s youngest attendees, Jimmy, who had been to three classes but had yet to speak.
“Jimmy,” Miller said, “what’s something that you’ve done that’s emotionally abusive to your partner?”
“I can’t think of anything,” Jimmy mumbled, arms folded, chin to his chest. “That video? … I’m in the woman’s spot.”
Miller paused. It was a common strategy for abusive men to identify as victims. Whenever an offender sought to minimize or deny his behavior in this way, it was the facilitators’ job to challenge him. When facilitators failed to hold a man accountable for patriarchal behavior in class—self-pity, chauvinist jokes, disparaging their partners, and so on—they were, in Ellen Pence's phrase, said to be “colluding” with the abuser and giving him license to be violent.
“But what’s the thing that you’ve done that’s emotionally abusive?” Miller countered.
Wayne raised his hand. “The world I was living in was narcotics and partying,” he said. “I cared about my kids. I loved Diane”—in class, men are required to use their partner’s given names instead of saying “my wife” or “my girlfriend,” as a means of reminding them that women are human beings, with individual identities—“but I loved my party life better.”
Most of the men in the room, it became clear, had issues with substances, generally alcohol or opioids. Facilitators generally like to give the men free rein on what topics they explore—Miller told me exit interviews showed that participants learn most from hearing each other’s experiences—but are quick to question men who cite addiction as a reason for their violence. For a facilitator, allowing the men to avoid accountability by placing the blame on substances would be a form of collusion.
Trying to shift topics, Rouse asked the class to consider how their abuse had affected their families. A critical means of compelling change is to get men to see the negative ramifications of their violence on themselves and others. In truth, Miller told me later, patriarchy is not pleasant for men either. In class, abusers are constantly telling him that, given the chance, they’d prefer to be in loving, equitable relationships with women—they just don’t know how. But convincing the class to focus on their physical abuse instead of their substance abuse, the facilitators agreed, remained a challenge.
“If they have PTSD or an anxiety disorder and that’s getting in the way of their becoming someone new, yeah, fix that,” Miller said. “But if you think someone is going to sober up and stop being abusive, they’re not. They’ll just be sober batterers.”
In March 2003, during the earliest days of the Iraq War, the 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, received orders to capture and hold a pair of bridges in the city of Nasiriyah. Andrew, a 20-year-old mortarman on his first deployment, found himself trapped at the center of a hellish, week-long urban firefight, lobbing explosives at dangerously close targets in every direction. Several years later, after his third tour in Iraq, Andrew returned home to Superior. The VA diagnosed him with PTSD and prescribed him medication. A few years later, he married Gretchen and they had their daughter.
Gretchen told me that, during their marriage, she could almost set her watch by when her husband would start hurting her. After a blowup, there’d be a honeymoon period lasting a week or two, during which Andrew would be the nicest man she’d ever met. But then tension would rise, and another version of the man—she called him “Bad Andy”—would return. Finally some small frustration—a late meal, a dirty shirt on the floor—would set him off, and he’d explode. (Andrew denied that he regularly hurt Gretchen beyond the two occasions, in 2010 and 2015, when he was arrested for domestic abuse. He said, however, that there were instances in which Gretchen attacked him, as well as fights that led to violence on both sides. Gretchen said she used violence only defensively.)
By the time Andrew was sent to Duluth—a short drive across the Wisconsin-Minnesota border from his home in Superior—he was frightened by his own capacity for violence. He wasn’t aggressive just with Gretchen; he was aggressive with everyone. He’d lost count of the number of bar fights he’d started. He didn’t have much confidence, though, in the men’s group’s ability to help him change. His experience with the VA, which had once assigned him to what he described as a “cookie-cutter” anger-management class, had soured him on the efficacy of “programs.” Yet, DAIP felt like his last chance. After his second arrest, Gretchen had finally left him. He loved, more than anything, being a father to his 9-year-old daughter, and, while he and Gretchen were sharing custody, he worried that he would lose her.
For the first month of class, Andrew slumped in his seat, arms crossed, glaring at the whiteboard. He deeply resented having to be there, and he instinctively hated every other man in the class because they’d done what he’d done. While Andrew understood, in theory, that he was responsible for his actions, some small, pernicious inner voice kept telling him that he’d had no choice—that it really wasn’t his fault, and he didn’t deserve to be there. In an odd coincidence, Gretchen had started working part-time in a blown-glass gallery that shared a building with DAIP. She would see Andrew stomp downstairs after class, looking pissed off. She worried that he was getting worse.
Soon, however, Andrew began recognizing himself in some of his classmates. When one guy told a story about demolishing his girlfriend’s modem with a shotgun, Andrew found himself nodding along. He had punched out a girlfriend’s TV once. When he saw the Power and Control Wheel, he recognized, with a lurch in his stomach, most of the behaviors as stuff he’d done. After a few weeks, Andrew worked up the courage to talk. He shared an anecdote about his day, then glanced up and caught a few guys making eye contact with him. That was the biggest reassurance: someone being willing to look at you.
Gradually, Andrew felt the stirrings of camaraderie. Some of his classmates clearly weren’t ever going to change—an old guy who wouldn’t shut up about his wife’s spending habits, a young guy who was just biding his time until the final class—but a lot of the men seemed okay. He’d always been most comfortable in all-male environments, where he felt like he could be himself. The relationships with coworkers and his buddies in the Marines had each created a particular type of intimacy, but a limited one—nothing too personal. In the men’s group, though, you could say almost anything and know no one would judge you for it.
After a couple months of classes, Gretchen noticed that Andrew was acting different. The two of them would meet up every few days to hand off their daughter. The encounters had been tense at first, but Andrew had begun to soften. He stopped making backhanded compliments and showed an unprecedented willingness to compromise, offering to cover for her when she needed a babysitter. She didn’t know quite where the shift had come from, but she hoped it would last.
In her writings, Ellen Pence, who died in 2012, was insistent about seeing domestic violence within its proper context. “When a man slaps a woman,” she would often tell staffers, “it doesn’t happen in a vacuum: It’s a historical act.” With regards to Duluth, Pence would also often acknowledge that the city’s men, many of them working class, were uncommonly burdened by personal problems—poverty, stress, addiction, trauma—some stemming from childhood, others from the collapse of the region’s ore-mining industry. But, while Pence allowed that these factors might exacerbate abusive behavior, she denied that anything other than male entitlement, born of patriarchy, could cause a man to hit his partner. Though the facilitator’s manual, which Pence coauthored, counsels sympathy for troubled men—“We can’t discount their pain and scars”—it warns against allowing “individual experiences” to serve as “an explanation” and “an excuse” for them to continue their oppression. Letting the men think of themselves as victims ran the risk of letting them escape blame for their actions.
“A lot of times, the men are victims,” one facilitator told me. “Just not in that room.”
Pence also dismissed the idea that eons of male domination could be solved with psychotherapy. While counseling might help an abuser work through certain individual issues, it did nothing, in Pence’s opinion, to address the larger social and political realities inspiring his violence. Moreover, she felt that by “psychologizing” the problem of domestic violence, therapists were vulnerable to collusion. They might allow their clients to see their abuse simply as a by-product of their past trauma or other difficulties. But as she saw it, each abuser, regardless of background, was motivated by a common sense of male entitlement.
“It really comes down to a very simple thing,” Michael Paymar, Pence’s colleague, said. “Men who batter want what they want when they want it.”
Duluth’s renunciation of individual psychology in favor of what critics have called a “gender political model” of abuse has drawn scorn from mental-health professionals. In the view of most psychologists, domestic violence can be caused by many things. While culture—particularly the degree to which domestic violence is tolerated or encouraged by a society—plays a role in producing batterers, scholars argue that it is impossible to isolate a single element, like male entitlement, from what is often a grisly gnarl of psychological and biological influences.
Most studies, including two published by the federal National Institute of Justice (NIJ) in 2003, have shown that men’s groups modeled on Duluth’s have, at best, a minimal effect on whether participants continue to abuse their partners. At the same time, other types of group-based interventions, including various forms of cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT—an apolitical method of helping abusers change the thought patterns that lead to violence—have proven little more effective. Perhaps because better alternatives haven’t presented themselves, many state-mandated programs are required to adopt Duluth’s philosophical framework.
This has led some domestic-violence researchers to worry that Duluth’s dominance has made it difficult to try new approaches. Carla Stover, a professor at Yale University’s School of Medicine who studies domestic-violence interventions and, as a clinical psychologist, has counseled abusive men, told me that, while the Duluth curriculum might work for some offenders, many would likely find the lessons inappropriate to their situation.
“If your problem is, say, emotional dysregulation”—an inability to appropriately handle overwhelming feelings—“how is focusing on societal norms about gender roles going to help you?” Stover said.
In published rebuttals to its detractors, DAIP has claimed that its men’s groups work, but only if correctly implemented. Virtually all studies, including the NIJ one, were conducted on groups outside of the city of Duluth, many of which, Paymar contends, failed to follow the program’s guidelines. (Paymar and others have questioned the methodology of the NIJ research.) Though DAIP offers trainings, it has no system of licensing or accreditation, which means that a men’s group can claim to abide by its teachings but resemble it in name only. DAIP also emphasizes that the groups were never intended as a cure-all solution to domestic violence, but only one element of its original Duluth model, requiring a coordinated community response. Many cities, however, use just the groups.
“The Duluth curriculum was one of the early batterer-intervention programs that centralized victim safety, held offenders accountable, and offered men who batter concrete ways to change,” said Paymar. “Since BIPs emerged, programs are trying new techniques which are good.”
Perhaps one reason for DAIP’s limited effectiveness is that, by its own pessimistic assertion, many men are, unfortunately, unlikely to reform. While group facilitators, per the DAIP manual, “must have an unshakeable belief that within each of us is the capacity to change,” they should also “have no illusions that the majority of offenders will stop their use of violence.” Domestic violence, Miller told me, will likely stick around until society can figure out how to rid itself of male entitlement.
“We can have an impact, but it’s still a generational process,” he said. “This problem is so long-standing, so entrenched, so historical—to think one agency has the power to end that violence is ludicrous.”
Recently, frustration with Duluth, as well as CBT-based methods, has led some states to begin experimenting with alternative approaches to their men’s groups. Several years ago, after an internal review by the Iowa Department of Corrections found that its intervention program—a hybrid of Duluth and CBT—was so ineffective that it constituted “a waste of taxpayer dollars,” the agency adopted a new method, one that took a radically different view of abuse.
Developed by Amie Zarling, a professor and clinical psychologist at Iowa State University, “Achieving Change Through Values-Based Behavior,” or ACTV, rejects the idea that there is any single root cause of domestic violence. According to Zarling, sometimes violence is deployed to preserve male dominance, but often it’s simply a coping mechanism for extreme distress. For many men, Zarling said, being violent is a way of fending off unpleasant emotions, such as vulnerability, shame, jealousy, or anxiety.
“In the moment, violence can actually be extremely effective at helping someone avoid feeling bad,” Zarling told me. “Abusers learn that when they punch someone, they get some kind of relief from pain. And their brain remembers that. It’s a very under-the-skin, insidious process.”
One solution, Zarling posited, was to give abusers a way of making their distress manageable. Whereas Duluth is predicated on preventing violence by challenging men’s beliefs, and CBT by changing their thought processes, ACTV (pronounced “active”) takes a different approach. Instead of trying to alter what men believe or think—“It’s really, really hard to change someone’s thinking,” Zarling said—ACTV strives to help abusers accept their thoughts but respond differently to them. Ideally, an abuser will learn to become aware of unpleasant feelings but to not let them control him. In addition to teaching abusers about patriarchy, ACTV is also teaching them mindfulness.
Like Duluth, ACTV imparts its lesson in small seminars. When I visited one of its classes, in Des Moines, last July, I watched a program coordinator, Lucas Sampson, and the men discuss the difference between “away moves”—things people do to avoid uncomfortable feelings that take them away from their values—and “towards moves”—things people do to deal productively with those feelings and take themselves toward their values. The trick, Sampson explained, was for men to be able to notice and identify difficult emotions before they led them to act out in ways they would later regret.
“You know the ‘Check Engine’ light in your car?” Sampson asked. “When that comes on, what do we do?”
“Put a picture over it,” one man replied. Everyone laughed.
“Right,” Sampson said. “And that’s okay for a little bit. But if I ignore it, eventually … ?”
“Your engine gets fucked.”
“Exactly. Anxiety, stress, anger—those are your ‘Check Engine’ lights. If you don’t deal with them, bad things happen. You’re putting yourself and your family at risk.”
ACTV seemed less of a strain on the facilitators. Their primary task is to help the participants act in accordance with their own values and goals, which they are asked to define early in the program—“Stay out of jail”; “Raise my kids.”
At the same time, facilitators lacked the comfort of thinking that they were much different than the abusers. “We’re on the same level as the guys,” Sampson told me. “I use these mindfulness techniques—I think, ‘Is what I’m doing right now an away move or a towards move?’—in my own life, with my wife, my kids.”
Results for ACTV are preliminary but promising, especially given the dearth of effective domestic-violence interventions. In a pilot study, published in 2017, men who successfully completed an ACTV program were nearly 50 percent less likely to be rearrested for domestic violence as participants in Iowa’s old program. The Iowa Department of Corrections believed in ACTV enough to implement it in prisons statewide as part of prerelease programming. While the program is still relatively new, ACTV-based men’s groups have already been introduced in Tennessee, Vermont, and Minnesota.
As far as what, at bottom, causes domestic violence—why some men deploy violence to avoid unpleasant emotions instead of other forms of evasion—ACTV is agnostic. While participants are encouraged to seek out their own motives, ACTV classes are also designed to help them control their behavior in the moment.
In any case, while it might be satisfying to hear an abuser express regret for the harm he's caused, there’s no empirical evidence that taking responsibility does anything to make him less violent. Theoretically, a man could go through ACTV never admitting a single fault—could, in fact, believe that he is the victim in the relationship—and yet come through it a less dangerous man.
“I’ve had facilitators in trainings say, ‘Well, how can we even do this if he’s saying he’s a victim?’ And I’m like, ‘Who cares if he says he’s a victim?’ ” Zarling said. “He’s still going to learn these skills … Let him believe that.”
In the two weeks I sat in on the classes at Duluth, I often witnessed men venturing into uncomfortable emotional territory and glimpsing, possibly for the first time, some of the damage they’d wrought. There were tears, expressions of regret, pledges to improve. There seemed something undeniably valuable about giving men a forum to discuss subjects for which they had almost no language. Carol Thompson, who had been facilitating classes at DAIP for more than three decades, told me that many of the men in her classes had never talked about relationships before, in any context. At DAIP, they were forced to spend hours mulling over not just power and violence—the program’s purported focus—but what it means to be intimate with someone, to grapple with the implications of sharing another person’s life.
Still, even Ellen Pence found it difficult, at times, to square Duluth’s single-minded fixation on patriarchy with the infinitely messier reality of men’s emotional lives. While never disavowing its methods, in 1999, reflecting on DAIP’s origins, Pence seemed to cautiously backtrack on her original formulation of violence, in favor of a more expansive understanding of the phenomenon.
“Many of the men I interviewed did not seem to articulate a desire for power over their partner,” she wrote. “Although I relentlessly took every opportunity to point out to men in the groups that they were so motivated and merely in denial, the fact that few men ever articulated such a desire went unnoticed by me and many of my coworkers. Eventually, we realized that we were finding what we had already predetermined to find.”
By the final weeks of his court-mandated program, Andrew had begun looking forward to class. One day in 2017, a few weeks before the end, he stood up and spoke about his greatest fear. He was scared, he said, that he'd ruined his daughter’s life. He didn’t think she had ever seen him be physically violent, but she’d observed his anger and his drinking. He worried that she would grow apart from him. He imagined that, one day, she'd start dating someone like the man she had grown up with, and that boyfriend would hurt her. His announcement, which brought him to tears, was met simply, with a round of nods and a little eye contact—but that was enough.
After leaving the program, Andrew finally felt like he had some control over his violence. The upside of taking responsibility for his mistakes, he found, was understanding that it was in his power to fix them. Gretchen, however, told me that only a few weeks after Andrew finished the program, his blowups returned. They were less frequent, only once every three months or so, and they didn’t culminate in physical violence. Instead, he’d send a threatening text or leave a nasty voicemail message.
While insisting that he’d refrained from any physical violence, Andrew admitted that he had, on occasion, returned to other bad habits. In the summer of 2018, after a bad breakup with someone he had been dating, he’d gotten drunk and received a DUI. In February 2019, Andrew checked himself back into DAIP, this time voluntarily. He’d heard all the lessons before, but the act of going—having to remember who he was and what he’d done—kept him on track, and he had no plans to stop anytime soon. “I’m just in a better place when I’m going to group,” he told me. “I’m still hoping that, one day, my abuse might be totally eradicated.”
From Gretchen’s perspective, as soon as her ex-husband was back in DAIP, he was, once again, respectful, patient, and sometimes even complimentary. He remained—as he’d always been, even during the worst years—a wonderful father. After almost a year attending classes, Andrew became engaged to a woman named Theresa. He is currently seeking to become her 3-year-old daughter’s adoptive father.
That said, there were limits to Andrew’s rehabilitation. Gretchen said he had never apologized to her for his violence, and that when Andrew reached out to her asking if she’d be willing to be interviewed for this article—about “my abuse,” he wrote—it was the first time she’d seen him use those words. (Andrew said he has apologized multiple times.)
“I don’t think he’s fundamentally changed,” Gretchen said. “But I do think he’s getting tools to learn how to cope.” Sometimes Andrew used those tools, and then sometimes—even after all those hours of class—he did not.
In October, Gretchen posted a message on Facebook in honor of Domestic Violence Awareness Month. An hour later, Andrew left a comment below it: “You love so much to be seen as the victim.”
Executive Andrew Bosworth’s handwringing about the company’s stance should not blind us to the fact that doing nothing is extremely lucrative for it
On 20 December last, Andrew Bosworth, a long-time Facebook executive and buddy of the company’s supreme leader, Mark Zuckerberg, published a longish memo on the company’s internal network. The New York Times somehow obtained a copy and reported it on 7 January, which led Mr Bosworth then to publish it to the world on a Facebook page. In one of those strange coincidences that mark a columnist’s life, I happened to be reading his memo at the same time that I was delving into the vast trove of internal emails released by the Boeing Company in connection with congressional and other inquiries into the 737 Max disaster. Both sources turn out to have one interesting thing in common – the insight they provide into the internal culture of two gigantic, dysfunctional companies.
Trump got elected because he ran the single best digital ad campaign I’ve ever seen from any advertiser. Period
It was perhaps the passionate post-match observation from dynamic wing-back Daryl Branagan that best encapsulated just what winning the Ulster Club football title for the first time last month really meant to the people of Kilcoo.
If this goes down as the day Manchester City all but mathematically surrendered their title, frustration will surely be the searing emotion. They dominated Crystal Palace and looked to have overturned Cenk Tosun’s first-half strike via Sergio Agüero goals on 82 and 87 minutes.
However Wilfried Zaha raced upfield with the clock in added time and the winger hit a cross at Fernandinho, which the Brazilian turned beyond his own goalkeeper, Ederson.
Houston native Lera Lynn has been based in Nashville for some time now, where she’s done a wonderful job establishing herself as a notable singer-songwriter, whose songs extend well beyond, well, singer-songwriter fare. Her albums span country, folk, torch and atmospheric roots music. Her “Plays Well With Others” touched on all those sounds in a collaborative sense, as she cast the tunes with duets. More recently she offered a new single, “Dark Horse,” that suggests a new set of songs may be on the way.
When: 7 p.m. Friday
Where: McGonigel’s Mucky Duck, 2425 Norfolk
Details: $25-$28; 713-528-5999, mcgonigels.com
2. Chuck Prophet
Roots rock historian/singer-songwriter/producer/guitarist Chuck Prophet cut his teeth with the psych roots band Green on Red in the ‘80s, before going it alone. For 30 years he’s made his name with smart, wry songs, and he’s been on a particular tear in the 21st century, his most recent great record being “Bobby Fuller Died for Your Sins” from 2017. He’s joined on this bill by singer-songwriter Josh Rouse, who shows great comfort and aptitude for bright lyrics and the sort of gentle melodies that whisper back at you hours after you hear them.
Some cuttlefish absolutely refuse to wear 3-D glasses.
These relatives of squid and octopuses have blimplike bodies that end in a ring of eight arms topped by two prominent eyes. It’s not hard to mount a pair of specs in front of those eyes, but a cuttlefish’s arms are so dexterous that, if it’s displeased with its new accoutrements, it can just yank them off. “And indeed, that happened a lot,” says Trevor Wardill from the University of Minnesota, who spent the better part of a recent summer trying to accessorize the animals. “But about 20 to 30 percent didn’t seem to be bothered. Everyone was very surprised.”
Together with his colleagues Paloma Gonzalez-Bellido and Rachael Feord, Wardill used the glasses to show different images to each of a cuttlefish’s eyes. By doing that, they proved that these animals have stereopsis—that is, their brains can work out how far away objects are by comparing the slightly divergent images perceived by each of their eyes. It is an ability that humans and a few other animals share. But, as is the norm with cuttlefish, they manage the task in an odd and surprising way.
Stereopsis comes so naturally to us that we take it for granted. It’s actually a difficult computation that doesn’t happen automatically for every creature with a pair of forward-facing eyes. “It’s thought that animals need a fancy brain to do that calculation,” says Wardill. Indeed, after scientists rigorously confirmed that humans have stereopsis in 1838, it took another 132 years to do the same for another animal. Macaque monkeys came first, followed by cats, horses, sheep, owls, falcons, and toads.
Wardill suspected that cuttlefish also belong to this exclusive club. Their large eyes have the same resolution as a cat’s, and their brains are sophisticated. They also hunt by shooting out two long tentacles to grab their prey—a technique that demands accurate depth perception. They surely have stereopsis. Wardill and his colleagues just needed some way to test it.
As luck would have it, Jenny Read and Vivek Nityananda from Newcastle University had devised the perfect method. A few years ago, the duo glued 3-D glasses onto praying mantises, and watched as they struck at patterns of moving dots that resembled prey insects. 3-D glasses work by forcing each eye to see a different image, slightly dislocated from the other, which creates a perception of depth—for animals with brains that can perform that particular type of calculation. By manipulating the dots, the researchers were able to control how far or near the insects should appear, if mantises had that ability. Their experiment confirmed that mantises do also have stereopsis, despite having small brains with 100,000-fold fewer neurons than ours.
With Nityananda’s help, Wardill’s team did the same experiment with cuttlefish. They glued a little Velcro patch on the animals’ head, and used that to secure the glasses. (The patch and glue naturally fell off after a few days.) They then trained the animals to strike at screens showing 3-D images of shrimp. By adjusting the overlap between those images, the team could make it look like a shrimp was closer to the cuttlefish than it actually was. The very first time they tried this, “the cuttlefish moved away from the screen and missed it entirely,” says Wardill. “I was jumping up and down.”
The team situated the illusory shrimp at different distances, and every time, the cuttlefish positioned themselves accordingly. If the animals only saw the shrimp through one of their eyes, they took longer to strike and did so from closer range, as if they were less confident about their assessments of distance. They clearly have stereopsis. But their version differs from ours—and from mantises’.
Humans use brightness as a cue to align and compare the two images that our eyes are seeing. If one of those images is a negative of the other—white dots on black, say, instead of black dots on white—our stereopsis completely falls apart. But the small-brained mantises have no problem with such reversals, because they have a unique form of stereopsis that’s based on movement instead of brightness. They can even gauge distance correctly when the images hitting their eyes are not only negatives of each other, but also shifted in space. (“Having an insect outperform our undergraduates on it was quite fun,” Read told me two years ago.)
Cuttlefish are somewhere in between. Unlike humans, they can deal with the negative images. But unlike mantises, they can’t cope if those images are also spatially shifted. This situation fits with their lifestyle. Cuttlefish often hunt transparent shrimp in turbid water and cluttered environments, so it makes sense that their aptitude for depth perception surpasses ours. But if they miss their prey, they can often give chase and try again. Mantises, however, have to snag insects out of mid-air with their grasping arms. If they miss, they don’t get a second chance, so they’ve evolved an even more advanced version of stereopsis. “This fits a pattern of multiple independent evolutionary routes to stereopsis,” says Nityananda. “It’s a complicated picture, one which we’re only beginning to piece together.”
The study “is no small achievement, as cuttlefish are not the most cooperative animals to work with,” says Tessa Montague of Columbia University, who also studies these creatures. “Not only did the [team] provide compelling evidence that cuttlefish employ stereopsis, but they demonstrated that cuttlefish can be trained to wear equipment and respond to virtual stimuli.” This should open up a path to other clever experiments that will explore how they and other cephalopods make sense of the world.
The cuttlefish have certainly given Wardill’s team more mysteries to solve. The animals can move each of their eyes independently, and don’t seem to align them even when striking at prey. During accurate attacks, the angles of their eyes can differ by up to 10 degrees. “For us, that would be catastrophic,” Wardill says. Our eyes move together, and are almost always focused on the same objects. An angular difference of just half a degree would throw off our stereopsis. With a 10-degree difference, “we wouldn’t be able to judge depth at all.”
How do the cuttlefish cope? “We don’t know,” Wardill says. “That’s the next thing we want to work on.”
As Daniel Craig’s time at the helm of the venerable James Bond franchise nears an end, producer Barbara Broccoli has said that his replacement will remain a man. Fans were relieved, but critics are still out for blood. Read Full Article at RT.com