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Thursday, September 6, 2007

Burning With Love

“I’m dangerously in love with you”--Beyonce


There are many physiological and psychological indicators that a person is in love. For some it is uneasiness around the object of their desires, for some it is an increased heartbeat, sweaty palms and butterflies combined with feelings of intense attraction, lightheadedness, and euphoria. Still for some, love means scorched skin, singed hair, the smell of seared flesh, charred eyelids, smoke, and flames. Yes folks, some people quite literally burn with desire. I am speaking of Patricia Scales of Southeast D.C. You see, she knows how it feels to be all ablaze with passion, her boyfriend Terrance A. James literally set her on fire!*

Perhaps, even more shocking than the malevolent act itself, is Scales' reaction to it. According to the Washington Post,

“Patricia Scales still cares for the man who tried to kill her, dousing her with gasoline as she sorted laundry in her bedroom and throwing a lighted cigarette lighter her way. She still takes Terrance James's calls from the D.C. Jail, listening without saying a word as he cries and tells her that he's sorry. She keeps dozens of his jailhouse letters to her and their 6-year-old son, Terrance Jr., known as Tank, in two dresser drawers in her bedroom in Bowie. She can't read them all. It tires her fire-damaged cornea. And yesterday she asked the court to have mercy on this man who disfigured her for life.”

She justifies James’s malicious act by saying “He was a good man, He just lost it.” Perhaps, one might argue, Scales was not injured so badly as to harbor resentment towards her estranged love. But the way the Washington post describes her injuries implies otherwise.

“Scales suffered second- and third-degree burns over 40 percent of her body. She has had 20 surgeries and is expecting to undergo at least two more. She spent a total of 5 1/2 months in the hospital. Today, pink and brown scar tissue lines Scales's face, chest and arms. The marks trail down her back and legs. Her neck is covered with open sores from her scratching to ease the feeling of bugs crawling over her body, a result of skin grafts. She has limited use of her left arm. Such simple chores as making her bed are a struggle with only one hand. She can't stand long in front of the stove to make Tank waffles. And she's awaiting a surgery that will widen her mouth to allow her to eat more comfortably. Scales ingests 12 antibiotics and vitamins a day...She steps into a cold shower 10 times a day and slathers on medicated lotion to cool her skin.”

That sounds like an ordeal that might miff even the most forgiving and easygoing among us, yet Scales defends James to the end, stating that the man who doused her with gasoline and stood over her yelling “Who’s in control now”, did not want to hurt her. In fact, she pleaded for Judge Herbert Dixon to show leniency. To describe such behavior as preposterous would seem like a ridiculous understatement!

However gory and ludicrous this story is, it is not a first. In August 2005 a Georgia man decided to show his fiancé the flames of desire by, you guessed it, dousing her with gasoline and lighting her on fire.** In 2003 another man attempted to ignite his love with the sparks of passion.***This Romeo held his love captive in a fiery embrace that left the two of them unconscious. A year later, another gentleman incinerated his pregnant girlfriend. It seems fire has become a very popular execution method, after all standard homicides are becoming a bit passé. When doing my research for this blog entry the words “Man sets girlfriend on fire” garnered 2,390,000 hits on Google. I encourage you to try it yourself and you too will find hundreds of gruesome tales of men who douse their beloveds in gas and then lit them up. However, to be fair, most of these women did not continue to have relationships with their assailants.

All this leads me to wonder whatever happened to good old fashion domestic abuse? What became of the good ole days when men would just beat the stuffing out of their women behind closed doors? It seems the innocent years of violence against women are gone. I personally long for the gilded days of yesteryear where women only had to worry about being raped, sodomized, groped, sexually harassed, beaten, emotionally battered, cheated on, diseased and perhaps shot to death by the opposite gender. The men who exploited and debased women in times of old, must be spinning in their graves when these modern day misogynist treat women so appallingly. Even Juanita Bynam’s husband, man of God that he is, felt that real men use their fist and feet to relate to women, NOT a LIGHTER AND GASOLINE!

It seems that while some men show their unwavering devotion by promising the sun, moon and heavens, some demonstrate their endless adoration by giving their betrothed an exclusive preview of hell. Whatever happened to roses and candy? Sure it’s not as original or as adventurous as say, LIGHTING SOMEONE ON FIRE, but it’s probably a bit more appropriate (and humane).

Why am I writing about flames today? Have I morphed into a pyromaniac? No. In a nutshell, I just don’t understand why women allow themselves to be treated so poorly. In Scales' case she is a recovering cocaine addict, but woman abuse happens to all types, classes and races of women. It happens to prominent people like Juanita Bynum and common everyday Janes. Yet violence against women is not a modern day invention. This has gone on since the inception of time and women today practically stand in line and beg for ill-treatment. Woman abuse is the proverbial elephant in the room: we all know it’s there, yet we do not want to talk about until it starts charging at us.

According to the Center for Disease Control domestic violence is a serious, preventable public health problem affecting more than 32 million Americans, or more than 10% of the U.S. population.

I read on wikipedia today that “in the United States, 20 percent of all violent crime experienced by women are cases of intimate partner violence, compared to 3 percent of violent crime experienced by men. In the United States, women are six times as likely as men to experience intimate partner violence. Percent[ages] of women surveyed (national surveys) who were ever physically assaulted by an intimate partner: Barbados (30%), Canada (29%), Egypt (34%), New Zealand (35%), Switzerland (21%), United States (22%). Some surveys in specific places report figures as high as 50-70% of women surveyed who were ever physically assaulted by an intimate partner.”

I could take this time to castigate the male species, and do so justifiably, but their unpardonable behavior does not concern me as much as the behavior of women, who seemingly condone the maltreatment. This defies any and all logic to me. Are women so desperate for love that they would sacrifices their self-respect, wellbeing, and even life itself to possess just an inking of it?

In my humble opinion, arson and love are not the same! Battery does not signify love! Cheating, verbal disparagement, and all other forms of torture are not synonymous with love! But what do I know. I’m just a blogger.

*See http://www.washingtonpost.com/wpdyn/content/article/2007/08/28/AR2007082800889.html and http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/08/28/AR2007082801755.html
**See http://www.cnn.com/2005/LAW/08/11/girlfriend.fire/index.html
***http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?sec=health&res=9D0CEED7113CF93AA25754C0A9659C8B63

1 comment:

Diamomd said...

I completely agree. I just lost my cousin on Friday. Her Husband burned her and their house down friday night after a argument that they had...
Media doesnt help the situation either. The mainstream press seems to have only recently recognized this horrible reality, the signs of people's tolerance towards domestic violence have long had a prominent profile in popular culture. You see it reflected in novels, movies and the most common occurrence of depictions of violence against women comes in popular music. The woman killing genre has also been embraced on MTV. The perseverance of this genre, however certainly reflects a disturbingly casual level of acceptance in society when it comes to so called 'crimes of passion'