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thinking about women

This morning a friend told me about his step-daughter, who is controlled by and abused by her husband. She doesn't realize it yet. My friend was asking if I knew how to reach the local women's shelter, which I didn't, exactly, although I had suggestions, and I did know where it is and what it is like (actually quite nice). As he told me how he had seen her with bruises on both arms once, how her husband makes her leave food on the table until it is completely cold before putting it away (meaning she has to stay up later and meaning if she forgets she gets blamed), how he controls her coming and going, I started to feel angry.

Tonight, after rehearsal, I talked with another friend, fellow chorale member, who told me about a friend of hers, 67 years old, who, for the past five years, has cloistered herself away from the world. A woman with a doctorate in psychology, who never got over her divorce, never got over "not having a man",who has withdrawn from the world. And I got angrier as I heard this.

As I pushed my cart through the aisle at the supermarket after rehearsal, late, avoiding the stockpeople - men - why always men? - on the sound system came the voice of Karen Carpenter, singing about how wonderful life was, and I couldn't help but remember that her life was over, over because she starved herself and vomited her life away, trying to exert some kind of control. And it all seemed like too much to me. I started to feel, I think, something like Naomi Wolf might have felt as she was writing The Beauty Myth. There is a link among these three women, desperate attempts to be what they set out to be, what they somehow couldn't be.

I am not a man-hater, and I don't have a conspiracy theory about this, but it's clear that the playing field isn't nearly equal and won't be until women are no longer subjected to different rules and absurd expectations. The woman who can do it all who looks like she spent the day at the spa...

Comments

( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
vimsig
Sep. 9th, 2003 02:15 am (UTC)
Now hold on a cotton picking minute
So you are feeling low because you have heard three desperately sad tales about unfortunate women and this is understandable but I will ask you to project your thoughts onto a wider platform. You have probably heard about a male that is abused by a wife, I know that I have met several men in this position and the papers are full of similar stories. I personally know of men who have never recovered from a wife leaving them and they have turned to the bottle of rigorous excercise rather than socialise anymore.Your last example of Karen Carpenter was really wallowing and I will draw your attention to Michael Hutchence who committed suicide over his wife's behaviour.

No matter what tackle you have in your pants the world is what you make it (at least in the free West) and really, your woeful tale is more about weak people than the gender issue.
judith
Sep. 9th, 2003 02:42 pm (UTC)
Re: Now hold on a cotton picking minute
One of the things I can do IN MY OWN JOURNAL is wallow as much as I like. I think your comments are inappropriate here, in the tone you take. It would be another thing if I had posted these to a community.

It is because I feel this way about my journal that I can let my feelings flow, however misguided they sometimes are. In this case, I do not agree with you, and you do not understand me or what I am saying. My comments are partly to blame for that, because I didn't post a full explanation and put this in context. That, too, is my right, here, in my journal.

I would not submit this post as an article to any magazine, because it needs a lot of explanation and backup, which I have not provided here. These are simply my thoughts at the time.

All that said, I am not a believer in victim feminism. I believe we do have the power to change our lives. I also believe that for many reasons this is much harder for some than for others, and that women have a particularly difficult time trying to be everything they are "supposed" to be.

You must know that the examples of wives beating husbands are far fewer than the other way around, that 90% of anorexics are women. There are reasons for this and they have nothign to do with these women not being "free" - except in a much broader sense, which I suspect you would not understand.

Probably it would have been better for me not to reply at all but now that I've done it I'll leave it.
(Anonymous)
Sep. 10th, 2003 12:54 am (UTC)
Re: Now hold on a cotton picking minute
The one thing that does happen with a livejournal is that everyone can view it, that is the point of it and fully what you intended, and where there is a "reply" button then that is obviously an invitation to comment as Vimsig did and I, a non-journal member but avid journal reader, chooses to do so too. Where you label your page thought-provoking, hard-hitting journalism you imply that you are a proffessional and as such, criticism of the 'all sweeping generalisations' about females in your summing up is bound to occur by rational readers who look at both sides of every argument.

Mick, Eire
attelage
Sep. 10th, 2003 03:48 pm (UTC)
Re: Now hold on a cotton picking minute
>>The one thing that does happen with a livejournal is that everyone can view it, that is the point of it and fully what you intended, and where there is a "reply" button then that is obviously an invitation to comment as Vimsig did and I, a non-journal member but avid journal reader, chooses to do so too. Where you label your page thought-provoking, hard-hitting journalism you imply that you are a proffessional and as such, criticism of the 'all sweeping generalisations' about females in your summing up is bound to occur by rational readers who look at both sides of every argument.

Mick, Eire<<

Huh?
That was good for a laugh.
judith
Sep. 10th, 2003 04:59 pm (UTC)
Re: Now hold on a cotton picking minute
Good lord. It didn't occur to you that the title of my journal is a JOKE??

Further, I wrote several paragraphs on this subject at the very start of my journal, to let people know that this isn't where you come for an argument.

I am serious about this, not because I am so afraid of conflict but simply because I do not want to censor myself every time I jot something down in here.

This is not a newspaper, not a community, does not represent itself as the opinion of some kind of expert. It is MY journal. NOT yours or anyone else's. I let others read it because I hope that, sometimes, others will find something in it that they can relate to, will discover my vulnerability and even relate to that.

AS for the post itself. Again, it was a quick rush of feeling that I posted here, it was not in any sense a representation of everything I believe or know, which is a hell of a lot more than I could possibly describe in one entry (in fact, I discovered that livejournal does have a word limit for individual entries because I ran up against it once). I like to write and need to write. Putting my thoughts down here helps me sort them out. If I felt I had to edit and edit until every entry was completely transparent to everyone who happens by, and especially to those, like you, who have no idea of who I am, who have not been reading what I have been writing here, then I would not post at all.

Your choice, may I remind you, is to move on if you don't like what you read. Simple as that. If you do feel the urge to question my thoughts, how about doing just that - asking a question? "Did you mean X?" If you had been reading my journal for a while you would know my take on the world and on women and men is not so simplistic as you represent.
attelage
Sep. 9th, 2003 03:56 pm (UTC)
Re: Now hold on a cotton picking minute
The papers are not full of similar stories of men being abused by women as you claim. Embellishing other circumstances to make a case is not respectable.

I believe the issues of Judith's post are pointedly clear. It's a post about women, not men.
It is hardly "wallowing."

judith
Sep. 10th, 2003 05:02 pm (UTC)
Re: Now hold on a cotton picking minute
Thank you!

You are right, I was hardly wallowing. The full range of my feelings is complex and could not be summed up easily in here. It was important to me to get down just the immediate part, to return later to the bigger picture.
falconcat
Sep. 9th, 2003 04:38 am (UTC)
I don't understand anyone who stays in an abusive relationship. My first husband was a hitter. Our marriage lasted 16 months and that time included the separation. I've known people who stayed in those types of relationships for years.

I know all the psycho babble about why they stay - but I still don't understand it.

No, the playing field isn't equal. I'm not sure if it ever will be.
judith
Sep. 9th, 2003 02:51 pm (UTC)
I would not stand for it now but I did once, for about seven years.

I think I understand how this happens, particularly with women who do not have the education or skills or the self-confidence to move out and take care of themselves. I don't think they are powerless, but *they* do. And in some cases they are very nearly right.

I often get incredibly "righteous" in here about our power to change ourselves. At the same time, I can see that sometimes there are powers far greater than our own that can be difficult or impossible to confront. Sometimes those powers lie within ourselves, although we did not ask for them. Pressure to succeed, to be beautiful, to always be at the top, frequently leads to anorexia as a way to cope, to control.

I will be taking this discussion to a forum I created instead of here, mostly. I threw these thoughts out to get them out of my mind so I could look at them later and put them where they belong, make more of a whole of it all. I know I am not sounding particularly coherent right now, writing off the top of my head. I feel that's what my journal gives me, that chance to sort it out.

( 9 comments — Leave a comment )

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