A friendly blog where feminists and their male allies can come together and discuss methods, tactics, and strategies for use in toppling White Supremacist Capitalist Patriarchy.

4.18.2006

The Requisite Tirade

Every day, in big ways and in little ways, we deal with The Man's shit.

We listen to him bitch. We listen to him moan. We pick up his underwear, his socks. We pick up OUR shit and put it back in it's proper place after he's moved it and not bothered to put it back. We put up with the farting, the nose-picking, and when his music is too loud, we deal with it. And if he's musical, or artistic in ANY way, or politically active, or just generally some kind of genius then we're his #1 Fan. We're his muse, his cause, and his audience at home.

We don't mind so much when he never, ever listens; when he looks at us and smiles and nods his head, and nothing sinks in. We shouldn't even tell him that we generally know when he's doing this, or that it hurts. We won't begrudge him his porn, or his need to have sex with other women and leer at young girls. We argue in circles with him, sometimes, about Big Ideas; we give the conversation over when he's proved to himself that he's right, or when he's raised his voice sufficiently to wake the neighbors.

Because we DO listen to him, we hear him crystal-clear; especially when he's critical about how we look or how we fuck, or how prudish or garish we are. When we're too fat we know, because he tells us. He shoots from the hip, and it smarts sometimes; we understand why, when our guts fall out of our mouths or we lose our tempers, he sometimes will wince or scream. We GET it, we get it and we understand when sometimes he just punches us in the fucking face.

When he hits us, when he rapes us, many times we forgive him. We have a lot of reasons for doing that, most of which have something to do with basic survival, and not philisophical or political morality. He could be ours and/or our children's economic support system, or the greater part of it. He could be the only reason we have a roof over our heads. He could be fucking psychotic, and threaten to kill and/or hurt us if we leave. He could say that if we leave, he'll kill himself. He could just even imply as much with his behavior, and we'll stick around, just in case.
Sometimes, it's not so bad, and he's just the thing that validates us socially. When that happens, and everything's fine and dandy and the kids are clean and well-fed, and when we have nice things and pretty clothes and make-up, then we REALLY try to overlook the little things, even BIG things, because we're really lucky that we found someone like that to take care of us, to love us, to treat us like the princesses we'll never be and we've never, ever been. Even if it's only on his good days, even if a bad day means bruises or broken bones or torn tissue or him fucking the babysitter. We have to look at the big picture, and we have to face the world, no matter what we do.
We are held accountable for what happens, when we leave. We either "left too soon" or didn't leave "soon enough." What were we thinking? Didn't we know he was crazy? We should have. We should have known he would go nuts and run off with the kids. Or that he had a gambling problem, and spent all our money. We shouldn't have married him if we didn't like shaving our pubic hair and bleaching the skidmarks out of his whities.

We should have left the first time he hit us, or raped us. We should have done something. Anything. If only we'd have been better mothers, better sisters, better wives, better daughters, better nieces; if we could have just kept our shit together and plowed through, then we would have all been better off.

God forbid WE go nuts. When we lose it, the whole fucking world finds out. If we hit him back, and we survive, he or his uncle or his brother or his father will stick up for him. He will hit us harder or just kill us. If we kill him, he will put us in jail. He will have us killed by the system. He will make sure that somebody, somewhere is there to give us what he's decided we deserve.

And we DO love him. We know when he is trying, we understand that the world made him this way. We really do love his music or his art. We want him to be happy, as happy as anyone can be in a world like this. We want to be a source of relief to him. We don't want to have to hurt him. We don't want him to be left-out.

Thing is, what we want doesn't ever seem to materialize.

Oh, sometimes we acquire a lot of nice things. Sometimes we are well off financially. But when we pull away from him, we pay, one way or another. He's never fully satisfied, no matter where we go, or who we are, or what we do.

We have to talk to somebody about it. We talk to each other. We rely on each other, whether or not we like or love one another. We have to keep ourselves in check. We can't talk to him about our period clots, or our diahrea; we can't talk to him about our hopes or our deepest emotions or our most irrational superstitions. We can't bother him with our needs, we have to take care of that ourselves. We really shouldn't expect him to have time to listen when the kids have homework, or when we're having an existential crisis. We have to be our own harshest critics, we have to hold each other fully accountable, because we only really, truly exist to and among one another.

We feel like we can't live without him, sometimes, like we never could.

We have to remember that he can't live without us, either. We've got to remind ourselves that he's not really some mythic monster that self-replicates with every drop of blood that hits the ground when we wound it in defense of ourselves. He very well COULD listen, or do the dishes, or throw-out the porn. Sometimes he DOES care, sometimes he really means it when he says that we're beautiful, and we don't have to look like Selma Hayek or fuck like Jenna Jameson, or cook like Martha Stewart, or keep a house like her, for that matter.
Sometimes, and you can see it hit like a switch in the pools of his eyes when this happens, it's amazing-- sometimes he does see us as fully human as he is. He has his moments. He has potential.

We have to realize, he is in our hands. He is critically wounded at this juncture in our shared history; HE's got to realize that without us, he'll never walk again. He won't even be able to stand back up. When we're finally gone, if that's what he really, really wants- when we're gone he will certainly die.

I don't just want to let him finish killing us so that he'll "learn the hard way." I don't want him to see how he likes it when we're finally gone for good. I don't want to have to fight him any more for that recognition. I don't want to have to kill myself to glean it from him.

I really can decide for myself whether or not I'm human. I can read for myself and think for myself; I think I could even make laws for myself and decide how I want to look or whether or not I want to have children. I think I'll be OK if I call the shots on how fat I am or am not; I'll live if I'm not what he wants me to be. I have never been what he wants me to be. I won't, ever, and he's not gonna like that. Not at all. But I've tried to make him happy. I have. He's broken my heart, he's left, he's died. I've survived. He's hurt me, and he hurts me less when he's not around so much. I'm tired of fighting him. I would rather fight him out there, with help. I am so tired of having to fight.

I certainly don't want to fight with myself anymore, or with the rest of us. It looks like I'll have to fight with him, if I'm tired of answering to him. He might not want to love me, he might not think I'm anything very special. He might even kill me. I don't want to kill him, so I hope he won't over-react.

I know that there are others of us who do not want him to hurt us any more. I'm going to go to them. We can fight him together, when we have to- and we will have to a lot. It wouldn't be so hard if everyone could help. We know that we can not all do this.

We want to be able to help ourselves. We want to show each other that we want this, and we want to help one another to do this. We want us all to be strong enough to fight.

I am afraid that we will all have to fight him, together, one day. I hope he will stop thinking that one of us has to lose. I hope he can see, somehow, that we can't live without each other. I hope he doesn't think that if he's defeated, he'll be worthless. I want him to know that we never stopped caring. I want him to know that if we turn him out, it really is tough love speaking. I want him to help us fight him when he needs to do that. It's gonna be hard for him, I know, but it's been hard for us for so damn long. We have to think about what's fair, in OUR minds, and stop second-guessing ourselves and rethinking our tactics to make sure that it doesn't interfere with what's good for him.

We have to know that whatever we do, it's gonna be harder for us. If we sink back into material comfort, we have to know that we are hurting others of us who have nothing. We have to know that. We have to know that when we are silent about our own lives, we are silent about the lives of those of us who suffer more acutely.

We have to decide, together, what we're going to do with this world that we clean, that we nourish, that we care for. We can't let him continue to decide for us. He's got a record, a long one, of ignoring us and fucking shit up as a result.

He'll have to step aside, even if we have to push him, hard.

If we don't, we push ourselves into oblivion. I can't live with that. So I'll plant my feet next to those who are already pushing, and dig in.

2 comments:

Amy's Brain Today said...

Wow.

Val said...

Awesome post -- absolutely fuckin' AWESOME!
Just surfed over here from BB but I'll be back -- heh heh...
Best wishes,