At the end of the panel presentations the floor was opened for questions and a lady raised her hand. She had a question for Joy. Of all the presenters, Joy Lovette was the one with the least experience. Joy was surprised to have a question directed to her and even more surprised by the question.
“How do you think we can stop men from abusing women?” Mary Beth asked.
Joy replied, “There is a gentleman on the panel who works with the men. He can answer that question better than me.” Joy was looking at him, and he was about to answer but the lady interrupted.
“No, I want to know what you think.” she replied.
Joy said, “No, you don’t want to know what I think about that issue. It’s not my topic.”
The gentleman was about to burst, but the lady’s raised hand, palm turned toward him, was looking at Joy not him. So Joy continued, “What I think is just a personal opinion, not a professional one.” Joy was trying to wiggle out of her answer as she wasn’t going to lie. She knew the truth can be upsetting to some.
“Yes, I know”, Mary Beth replied. “That’s one reason I want to know what you think. You said the children would be better served if there was a program for abused women.” She wasn’t giving up and she wasn’t going to listen to the gentleman who worked with abusive men. His program was started and run by formerly abusive men for men who wanted help and came in voluntarily.
“Yes.” Joy replied. “I do think there should be a program to help abused women.” Joy hoped that would satisfy Mary Beth. She was not satisfied. “Again, how do you think we can stop men from abusing women?”
So Joy gave her the unvarnished answer: “I think we can solve the problem by lining up three abusive men on national television and executing them. Abuse happens because we don’t do anything to stop it. Men abuse women because they can, because they know they won’t go to jail for wife beating.” Joy was going to say more but she was interrupted by the gentleman and yielded the floor. Mary Beth wasn’t listening. She was still looking at Joy. After the program she came up to Joy and introduced herself. Then she asked if Joy was willing to talk with a group of her friends. “About what?” Joy asked.
“About men abusing women,” she replied.
Joy thought about that for a minute, not knowing what she would say to a couple of ladies. Curiosity got the best of her and she agreed to be there. When Joy arrived that Sunday there were not the one or two women she expected. There were 19 of them crowded in Mary Beth’s living room. Joy wondered what she had stepped into.