There are a number of issues which I am extremely hard on and will not budge. They are deal breakers in the relationship department…. from casual acquaintances through to romantic partners. I base my opinions on education and life experience. This list is probably not exhaustive nor is it in any particular order. Am I judgmental and harsh with a dose of hard-core bitch mixed in? You bet I am! There are paths one walks which change them forever.
Racism and Black Lives Matter
Hot topic at the moment, so I’m choosing it first. There are a zillion reasons I am 100% pro-black lives matter. People are people regardless of color. I have a few very specific reasons that drive my commitment.
As I’ve written about before, I was married to an African man. Not African American, but African. He was a proud black man who had never faced prejudice for his skin color until coming to the United States. Over the several years we were married, I watched first hand as American racism changed him as a person… broke him down in ways I never could have expected. For the first time in his life he felt his blackness. I don’t know how better to state that. Being married to a black man in America impacted me directly. I’d always lived a middle class, privileged life. There’s something which happens when you marry a black man as a white woman. You suddenly become less than. Assumptions made. You lose friends. Doors are closed to you which weren’t before. I was a white woman who lost a fair amount of privilege simply for loving a black man. It hurt both of us. The minute I divorced him, I resumed my place as a respectable white woman. Funny how that happened, eh?
Near the end of my marriage to him I got pregnant. I was going to be a white mom to a black child. Bi-racial? Technically. In the eyes of the world at large, that baby would have been black. The pregnancy was ectopic (in the tube) and I had to end the pregnancy. It was heartbreaking and the absolute hardest thing I’ve ever done. I’ve thought often how difficult it would have been to be a single mother with a black child. The baby would be a little over 7 years old now. The fact that it even crosses my mind that raising a child is more difficult based on race is why I’m so against racism. Explaining to my beloved child why people are cruel and how to be extra safe due to the color of their skin.
The last reason I’ll state here about why I’m so against racism is that I have empathy. I can’t walk in a black persons shoes, but I can listen to them and recognize their feelings and see the injustice.
I can’t begin to imagine that there’s a person alive who actually believes domestic violence is acceptable. Not even the perpetrators. This is one those issues which has affected me in many ways. It destroys families and lives in ways you cannot imagine without being on the inside or truly educating yourself on the subject.
There are several generations of DV towards women in my family. My grandmother, my mom and I followed suit. I was born into a home where my father was beating my mom. He abused her while she was pregnant with me. She ran for our lives more than once. The story I remember her telling most when I was an infant was jumping off a 2nd floor balcony, sliding me down her leg and dropping me to get us both out before he killed us. She sat up all night in a coffee shop in San Francisco to have a safe place. I didn’t witness the majority of the violence, but I knew it was there. Violence and trauma are palpable. This was my family life for the first 6 years of my life. My mother was a shell of a human being for a couple years after leaving my dad. She never fully recovered.
Fast forward 30+ years and I married a man who was abusive. Yelling, screaming, threats, humiliation on all levels, sexual assault, financial abuse. He didn’t physically harm me til the very end. That was the last day I lived with him. The last time I saw him he ran my foot over with his car and parking the car on it while I screamed in excruciating pain.
Leaving a violent relationship isn’t as easy as one would think. It took me 3 times to leave for good. The emotional and physical affects of abuse are deeper than I could have imagined. I lost myself. Every part of me had been torn to shreds, humiliated, harmed. Isolated, poor, emotionally damaged…. it’s hard to get yourself together to get out. It doesn’t happen overnight… the violence is insidious.
Victim blaming happens all too often. I have zero tolerance for it. The laws aren’t strict enough and there isn’t sufficient help available to those who need support getting out. A free shelter for a few days isn’t enough!! Domestic violence counseling and support services are few and far between. They’re mostly volunteer run by non-profits. Long waiting lists to get services.
Living through DV as a child and then as a wife, I can tell you that the effects are monumental. Judgment of a victim is WRONG! Start judging the perpetrators. It wasn’t until I sat in a room with 5 other women in various stages of recovery from abuse that I saw what the patterns are, just how common it is and how similar all of our stories are.
Misogyny is what brings about rape culture. When there is an attitude that it’s ok to speak of women as being less than in any way, it opens the door for violence against us. I don’t know a single woman that hasn’t been raped, molested, sexually harassed, stalked, or any of the other endless versions of sexual violence against women. I’m aware that sexual violence happens in all genders. Violence against women and children are the most prevalent.
I recently ended a friendship with a trans male (FtM) for posting material which normalizes rape culture while humiliating women for not being OK with it. No, it’s not funny. There is nothing funny about sexual assault in any way. Finding humor in rape culture as a man is the clearest example of misogyny I can think of.
Like so many other women, I’ve been raped, sexually harassed and victim shamed. Attempted rape at 18. Raped at 21. Raped again at 25. Raped numerous times by the abusive ex-husband.
Sadly, there is a severe lack of knowledge and understanding of what rape is. It’s more than the violent rape portrayed in media. Most rapes are committed by someone we know. If you’re coerced or consent out of fear… it’s rape. If you’re too drunk or mentally altered in some way to consent… it’s rape. There are other forms of rape.
The day after being raped I told my therapist that I’d consented out of fear for my life. The man was getting violent. It was either consent and have it be awful or be forcefully raped and potentially be left on the side of the road, killed or whatever else. I didn’t have the words for rape at that time. I knew it was wrong and I felt dirty and violated. I was victim shamed for having a mental illness and making poor choices. That was the end of that. WHY would I tell anyone else? It was decades later before I told anyone else.
I see so many women judging another woman based on how she dresses. The pictures she chooses to post. Modest, immodest. How sexually active she is and how many partners she has. Women place the responsibility for being raped on each other! Let’s place the responsibility where it belongs… ON MEN!!! No woman ever raped herself. No woman has ever asked to be raped. No woman deserves to be raped. If we cannot stand with each other and support one another, how in the Hell do we expect men to respect us and do the right thing? Ladies, we raise men!
I’ve had a man tell me that he’s never met a woman who’s been raped, certainly not more than once. He finished off his insane rant with saying it must be something about me, my actions. The sheer fact that men like this exist is a HUGE problem.
When I see people of whatever gender victim shaming and slut shaming and judging how scantily clad a woman is I am the first to stand up for women’s rights. I will educate. I do judge these attitudes and behaviors really harshly. I will not tolerate them.
I’ve done advocacy work for mental health rights and better treatment. I’ve been discriminated against… often… for having a mental health diagnosis. I went to work in the field so I could help others get better treatment and support than I had in my diagnostic period. I’ve taken clients to see their psychiatrist and case manager to hear those who are there to help them make negative assumptions about them based on diagnosis rather than viewing the person. I saw my co-workers doing the same thing. I am under estimated by family based on a diagnosis they don’t understand or take the time to educate themselves on. Having a mental health diagnosis carries a stigma which no other medical condition does. The individual is viewed as a problem and less than. As people, we are judged based on chemical imbalances in the brain which can be treated and helped. Many of us live very normal lives. I face challenges which most people don’t and I work harder to keep my life steady.
I’m going to wrap this up with one final thought. I know, this post has been a novel. Thank you to those who stuck with me to the end. When it come to issues of rape, gender, violence, stigma and bigotry in all it’s forms… each and every one of us is human and deserve respect. I don’t tolerate victims well. I have been victimized numerous times, yet I am not a victim. There is so much that each and every one of us can do to give our lives meaning and use our bad experiences to help others. A sure fire way to piss me off is to stay in victim mode.