October 11
People who have gone through sorrow are more sympathetic than others, not so much because of what they know about sorrow, but because they know more about happiness. They appreciate its value and its fragility, and welcome it wherever it may be. The Puritan attitude which grudges happiness belongs only to those who have never entered very deeply into life. ----- Freya Stark, Beyond Euphrates


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JANUARY 2, 2010 10:22PM

What the hell is misogyny, anyway? Updated

Rate: 39 Flag

This is a question I would have asked many years ago between the violent outbursts of my rage-filled ex-husbands.

Well, here we are and I guess I won't sleep tonight until I get this off my chest.

The first time a man hit me I was about 19 and he had been drinking (you got that right, Dr. Blevins) and we were arguing about whether to leave for a 6 hour drive to my parents' house late at night or start early.  HE wanted to leave that night, naturally.  So in order to help me see things his way, he pulled me across his lap and spanked me.  Humiliated me and hurt me.  What did I do?  I got in the car and we drove all night.

The second time was when I was about 23.  A different man and I had been shopping at the mall and he was trying to speed things along by picking out clothes for me -- being very insecure about my body, I consistently shook my head, no.  This enraged him -- my public rejection of his attempts to make me happy.  He didn't let on while we were in the store, but as we walked through the parking lot he just out of the blue (as far as I could tell) punched me in the face with his fist, knocking me down.  What did I do?  I got in the car and we went home.  (My 3-yr old daughter was with a babysitter at our home and was terrified he'd leave me there and go home and kill her.  I still have an empty space where he knocked a molar out of my mouth.)

The night before I was to marry him I broke it off.  The next morning I caved (my mother was worried about how it would look -- we had all these people coming from out of town).  Except in my case, this man was my mother's dream son-in-law.  In fact, one time when he'd beaten me up for about the 4th time -- I told her I didn't think I could stay in this marriage.  Her response was "but he makes a good living."

I'd like to say that my separation from him was the end of the abuse, but oh no -- I maintained my lower than whale shit self-image and continued to attract and be attracted to the dregs of male society.

Nowadays, I sometimes wonder if I should try harder to find out what a balanced, happy romantic relationship might be like.  And believe me, if Mr. Wonderful appeared at my front door right now, I'd be intrigued.  But I'd have to report every fucking thing he said or did in a blog here on OS so that you all could point out all the warning signs to which I am oblivious. 

My daughters -- have never and would never put up with a violent, abusive man.  Not for 5 minutes. 

I was just as guilty of misogyny as any man who ever treated me like shit.  I believe, like all of the women I knew at that time, that men were the ones carrying all the stress of working to make a living (conveniently forgetting that I was working, my mother worked and even my grandmother was a single working mom).  I believed back then that I must be doing something wrong and that the men who hit me had been pushed too far -- by me.  I believed back then that women were servants, whores and baby machines.  That it was supposed to be our nature to love to clean and cook and nurse babies.  I didn't really believe that -- but I would rail against myself for not being more like that.

Drama was the only real way to feel.  The adrenaline rush of the yelling and pushing and hitting and indignation and apologies, was just a part of life. 

This caused me to go insane. 

Then one day, I found help. 

I quit those beliefs. 

I walked away from the drama. 

I came to see that my hard-headedness was really a need to be treated fairly and with respect -- it had been consistently pointed out to me that I was being stubborn and that was not very ladylike. 

I got sane. 

I invented a new childhood for myself -- one in which my little girl was safe, loved and told how beautiful and wonderful and smart and gifted she was.  I decided to become who I really was and kill off that critical, hate-filled woman/girl I had been.

I wrote this in the hope that I might share my story with ONE WOMAN who might get a glimpse of the other side of that dark place she's in.

I don't need sympathy, although I love each and every one of you who expressed your sorrow over this part of my history. 

I need for fathers everywhere to tell their daughters every fucking day of their little girls' life that she is wonderful and that she is valuable.

If you don't have a daughter, go find a kid and make it your mission to be a positive male influence in her life.


And Be Careful with those girls.



The lyrics to Be Careful by Patty Griffin.
All the girls in the Paris night
All the girls in the pale moonlight
All the girls with the shopping bags
All the girls with the washing rags

All the girls on the telephone
All the girls standing all alone
All the girls sitting on the wire
One by one fly into the fire

Be careful how you bend me
Be careful where you send me
Careful how you end me
Be careful with me

All the girls standing by your beds
All the girls standing on their heads
All the girls with the broken arms
All the girls with the deadly charms

All the girls in the restaurant
Pretending to be nonchalant
Funny girls on the TV shows
Close your eyes and they turn to snow

Be careful how you bend me
Be careful where you send me
Careful how you end me
Be careful with me

All the girls working overtime
Telling you everything is fine
All the girls in the beauty shops
Girls' tongues catching the raindrops

All the girls that you'll never see
Forever a mystery
All the girls with their secret ways
All the girls who have gone astray

Be careful how you bend me
Be careful where you send me
Careful how you end me
Be careful with me

Be careful how you bend me
Be careful with me

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Oh honey. I'm so glad you have Skeleton woman to help keep you safe. Good for you, in getting away from that abuse.
Girl If I go for a third I will be right here as I was thinking the same thing! I can't see what a good man is maybe, maybe I don't attract good men hell I don't know but I am right there with you. I wonder who will guide us? I am sorry you had to go through all that. NO woman should ever be hit period!
voicegal -- you nailed it -- Skeleton Woman guides me these days and maybe that's why I haven't gotten my feet wet again. She's patiently waiting for me to get the last of my picker-problem resolved.

ll2: Letting someone do the hitting is just as sick as being hit -- it's a kind of insanity that's so easy to fall into. But you're right, hitting women is just plain wrong.
I don't see the one being hit as sick, are they? Aren't they just trapped and as the abuse continues their self worth gets broken as it would with someone hitting you and telling you, you are nothing. No I don't blame the one being hit I can see clearly how easy a trap being abused can be. I blame the one who hits and the one who taught them to hit.
LL2: maybe not the first time, but sticking around for it to happen again and again -- you're no longer a victim (except of your own inability to protect yourself from abuse). For years women who were beaten would rarely file charges and the police were helpless -- they couldn't do anything except try to calm everybody down. Nowadays they police can put an abuser in jail no matter what the other person says.
True story: One night my cousin's husband slapped her face, in the kitchen. She grabbed an empty Coke bottle, broke it on the sink and put it in his face, took him to the hospital and stayed with him. He never hit her again. They both lived happily ever after.

And you have answered your post's headline in your post. More reasons why the liberation of women from the chains of misogyny must happen. What kind of society is it that tolerates and in fact encourages men to think that they have the right to dominate women, including through violence? What kind of society is it that rests upon the systematic oppression of women and tells males that this is the way things are "supposed to be?" A society that needs to be overthrown.
Thoth: I could not have lived happily ever after -- after that, but I'm glad your cousin didn't just roll over.
Dennis: Hallelujah. Educating all people - men and women - is the only way.
No one deserves that treatment. There are plenty of guys out there that don't beat their women. If you don't get along you have to find a way out. Often you have no idea until it's too late. I've been there too and I ain't going back, so I understand the fear of not wanting to ever go through that again. I won't do it, but then I also won't let my guard down or is it just a wall that I surround myself with for protection? All I know is that I will not go through that grief and pain again. Ever.
In my lifetime I have known quite a few women with stories such as yours. On this site I have read more such stories and it never fails to leave me shaking my head.

Hitting a woman is just foreign to me. I even discovered a wife in bed with another man and I still didn't strike her. This is not saying that I didn't want to, it is just that my father drummed into our heads from the time we were children: "You never strike a woman". There were no exceptions to that ironclad rule.
Yet over and over I hear of men who do and I just can not understand how they can lower themselves to do something so base. Maybe this is why that this is the first comment I have left of all the blogs on this subject I have seen today. I just have no frame of reference to even begin to understand why a man would hit a woman. Maybe all I'm doing is showing my ignorance; I am sure I am showing a set of outmoded and old fashion ideas. So be it.

Btw...never stop looking for a good man...they really are out there.
Torman: While your father may have had sexist reasons for telling you that, it is truth -- he probably also told you not to hit a man when he's down, or a kid with glasses. Just rules of a responsible person with strength -- don't abuse others who aren't as strong as you. And don't express your opinion with your fists.
Bonnie: One thing I learned during my rehabilitation (on many other personality defects as well) was that there are very few true victims in this world.
Michael: sorry I missed your comment! Yes, I completely understand. It takes what it takes, and I ain't ready -- not yet. are right on all counts. He taught me all of those things and I live by them to this day. Sexist? Yes, I am sure by todays standards he was a sexist, but he loved his wife and treated her like a queen. He tipped his hat to every woman and never cursed in their presence and I try to be just like him.
Despite all the physical and emotional abuse I suffered in the first twenty five years of my life, none of it compares to what you have endured. I am so sorry that you had to know such pain in your life. If there were magic words to help you find the happiness you have unfairly been deprived, I would shout them from the roof tops for you to hear. Unfortunately, all I can tell you is that my life changed when I realized that the only one responsible for my happiness was me. I thought long and hard about what I wanted out of life. I made lists until I had enough sheets to paper my walls. I read lots of books about women I admired, and I emulated the parts of their character that I felt represented me. Eventually, I realized that if you pretend to be someone long enough, you do become that person. I pretended to be strong and independent and learned I was just that. Please believe in yourself. It took strength to write your post so I already know you are strong. I also know you are smart, or you would still be married and miserable. Strong and smart -- those are great qualities. Y0u have obviously passed those qualities on to your daughters, so you are also a good teacher and fine example for them. You will know Mr.Right when you meet him and he will be smart enough to see the wonderful woman you are.
It's a man's man's world. No matter how we slice and dice it. It's like the law of gravity or diminishing returns...nothing to be done but what you make of it: male and female.

I am with Torman's dad in that how you treat a woman (regardless of her character or status) says everything about you as a man.

To whom much has been given, much is expected.

Sounds like you did a great job raising your girls...
Torman: You got good genes. And you had a wonderful father as a role model. So many men I've known had horrible role models and consequently turned out to be assholes. But it doesn't have to be that way -- we each make our choices every day.

Donna: you remind me of a slogan in AA -- Fake It Till You Make It. I did that, too. I am no longer victim-material. Even when I've been screwed over by some rotten guy over the past few years -- I never hung around long enough to suffer any abuse. Neglect maybe, but not abuse.

Walkawayhappy: I sometimes wonder why it was so hard for my dad to show me that I was a valuable person. Since he couldn't/didn't/wouldn't I learned it for myself anyway.
pls read my post. People who genuinely like and respect themselves do not hit or abuse or harass others...and do not stand for it when it happens to them.
thanks for the honesty.
JK: I was a wuss. I ran around feeling sorry for myself all over the place and when I was feeling strong, I was preyed upon by men who wanted to be felt sorry for. It was all very twisted. It all swirled around in my head until I finally had a breakdown and gave up -- then it started to hit me -- I was the only one preventing me from being happy. And I've worked on being happy instead of working on getting a man, or looking real sexy, or being the life of the party. And it's worked. I'm happy.

Sweet peony: Well you're right about it being a man's world. But then again, ya'll aren't doing such a great job of it are you? (JK) Thank you for your comment -- oddly the men who need to think about this will not be reading OS.
Lisa: I will. I started to earlier, but I was just too pissed off from thinking about this. Believe nobody hits me any more -- hell I can't imagine being in the same room with someone who hits anybody.
Skel, I apologize for all men everywhere for the abuse you had to suffer. I read about these people and I wonder how they could beat a woman. Or a child. I just hope that you don't think every man, and I mean man, because a man doesn't do what he did, is like those bastards. I wish and hope you find Mr. Wonderful this year. Hell, tomorrow. You deserve the best!
Scanner -- I don't even believe it was 100% those guys' fault that I took so much abuse. It was a two-way street. If I hadn't been such a doormat and if they hadn't been so hell-bent on being the boss -- who knows.

If I'd had any self-respect at all, I would have screamed at the top of my lungs and run like the wind.

I'm just grateful I survived and have overcome being that stupid girl.
Oh my. This is tragic. And the tragedy is compounded my your mother's words: "But he makes a good living." I'm glad you left the abusers. And thank goodness you're okay now. It sounds like your daughters are confident and self-assured. Thanks for sharing your story. I know it was painful to do so.
Steve: Earlier today a friend directed me to a blog by a man whose wife is drinking herself into oblivion. Then all I see are posts by women I respect talking about "misogyny." So I just went with the flow -- sharing the stories is what keeps me from going there again. Thanks.
It sounds like you have matured in a very positive way. I'm glad for you and for your girls. Don't ever let anyone hit you or hurt you again, girl.
McKenzie -- unless some knucklehead ambushes me outside my front door, nobody's gonna lay a finger on me again. No worries.
OMG, what a horror story. I want to give you a comforting hug. And your mother, complicit for "security" and "appearances" instead of heeding your clear cries for help. If you're willing to say, did your father abuse your mother? Or her father your grandmother? Seems a pattern. But bravo that you broke it with your daughters.

And oh, btw, I'd like you to meet Michael Rogers...
Sally: Neither of my parents ever suffered physical abuse. Neither of my parents was secure in who they were, either. My father ignored me. My mother cried a lot because I wasn't a "good" girl. I lived up to my father's expectation of me (I was a slut) and could never have lived up to my mother's expectation (I should be June Cleaver of the 70's). I no longer BLAME anybody -- they were doing the best they could with what they had to work with.

I made the choices, I made the changes, and I'm here today to say that ANYBODY can overcome emotional or physical abuse -- just get your ass out of the fire.
You tell a powerful story, and show how easy it is to fall into a trap of accepting what others say is your lot in life. I'm glad you got out.
A well written personal story. Sounds as if you've come a long way. Thanks for sharing your truth.
Excellent storytelling for a horrible story.
I love that you have taken control of your life, self reflected and made a change. That always feels empowering. Good men exsist and I will one to you.
I am at a loss for words!!!
"I was just as guilty of misogyny as any man who ever treated me like shit." Oh good of you to say....we must learn to love ourselves, our whole human self, or we are misogynistic and are apt to pass it along to other women. My gratitude and joy at knowing my wife knows no bounds. Well...I could go on and on about what that woman did for me....great post...I almost missed it! xox
Your journey resonates with me and I am so very, very glad that you no longer think you deserve that kind of behavior. Letting go of the drama is HUGE progress.
All of you -- grif, catnmus, Buffy, Robin and Emma , Tammie & JD -- thank you for respecting my story. I must say, this evening has been very different from what I imagined -- Saturday night on OS with nothing else to do but read and comment. Wasn't expecting a gut wrenching night -- but you're all so loving and kind (thank god tomreedton didn't show up).
JD said it all for me too!
Thanks so much for writing this. And I loved the Patti Griffin song.
"I need for fathers everywhere to tell their daughters every fucking day of their little girls' life that she is wonderful and that she is valuable."


I'm glad you decided to stick up for yourself! And good for you for teaching your daughters they don't have to put up with that treatment. I'm sorry it took two beatings, first.

The importance of financial security and control over our affairs can hardly be overestimated for women. When we have that, and know we have the power to support ourselves, we need never put ourselves in the position of being dependent on those who would hurt us; no amount of money and not even the biggest house is worth it. I wonder how many millions of women talked themselves into or were talked into marriage by others with the "makes a good living" argument.
A hard story, but one that has created a remarkable woman. Your message is so important and I know that your words will reach out and touch man who need to share your strength and wisdom.

PS. That Patty Griffin song is one that I have sung to myself over and over again!
Skel, I'm so glad that you came out on the other side. And I'm even more glad that you raised your daughters so well. We never had daughters, but we raised our sons to respect everyone, and they have had models of strong, capable women to see.
Aftershock. That is the word. Amen.

Jill: I'm glad you listened to the song -- it's subtle and it's powerful.

Tink: THere it is again! Thank you. Amen.

Shiral: It took a lot more than 2, but it was hard enough to re-live those two. My girls and my mom and I are all proud of how we've broken the chain - on several issues, especially this one. Thanks.

tomreedton: I hope that one of these days you'll start blogging about how you feel. Or at least talk about how you feel with a professional who can guide you -- like I was guided -- to a bigger understanding of how our lives are determined by our personal beliefs and self-worth (or lack thereof). Life is too short to go around angry and each of us has a contribution if we can only see past all the hurt and find it. Thank you for commenting on this post.

mamoore: and that is why I felt compelled to write it -- same with alcohol and drug abuse. Re-thinking it periodically is still painful, but every time this comes around again, I feel differently -- not as much anger, more pity for the woman/child I was. But it's not even pity so much as empathy for that hollow soul she was.

Athomepilgrim: I always wanted sons so that I could raise them to respect women -- it seems raising daughters to respect themselves is just as effective. I'm happy to know you -- thank you for being present in your sons' lives.
Unbelievable post! I'm sorry for the physical and emotional pain you've suffered. I just can't imagine staying with a guy who'd hit me...I just can't relate...but I'm sorry anyway.
Glad to know you're safe and sound.
patricia k: I'm very happy that you can't relate.

iamsurly: thanks -- I could tell stories about women I've known who aren't here anymore (I reckon I will some day).

General JK Brady: Your return is much appreciated.
Great post on domestic abuse, just sorry you had to be the subject. But you are sane!!

Isn't it crazy how when men worked, we had to treat them like kings at home but once women joined the workforce it was just one more thing added to their busy schedule? Birth babies and work 40 hours a week and make dinner: domestic slavery.
Thank god you got out. And finding a good man is a wonderful thing, there are many out there, but remember that you are a complete human being on your own. You go girl!
I would go one step farther: anyone with sons needs to be telling them the same things - not to the exclusion of the daughters, but because boys need the example, and the support, to become loving partners and parents.
Ok - I just read all the comments . . . you're soooo already there. Now I wonder what's under my own skin . . . once in awhile, I have a knee-jerk reaction, and I don't know why . . .

skel - you have my undying respect as a woman, as a human, and as an OS citizen. You rock.
Be careful how you bend me
Be careful where you send me
Careful how you end me
Be careful with me

I have listened to that song a million times over the last few years. I love her.

Ohhhh, I am so glad you are ok now. I am so glad you lived. I am so glad you wrote this for anyone who is trying to find their way out.

much, much love
Your post made me cry.
inventing a new childhood for yourself - what an amazing thing you did, how intelligent and gifted you are to be able to do something like that.

"I need for fathers everywhere to tell their daughters every fucking day of their little girls' life that she is wonderful and that she is valuable."

We all need that.
Deborah: Yeah, you know housewives eat bon-bons all day, right? I mean, the work we do outside the home can't be all that valuable, since we don't make as much as men. (this is total sarcasm in case you didn't get it)

sweetfeet: "got out" - the getting out was a lot easier than the changing of my perceptions. But thank the universe I was able to shift my paradigm and not have to get out -- again.

Owl: thank you.

wakingup: the gift is sharing the experience -- whatever that experience is. Women must realize THEY are the keepers of the wisdom and it is their responsibility to pass it along to the younger women.

Lainey: if my story produced an emotional response, I'm glad. But don't cry for me, without these war stories behind me, I might have missed some spectacular details.

Sandra: re-creating a safe childhood is courtesy of my psychotherapist Rosemary, who should get a Pulitzer Prize for dragging me kicking and screaming into who I am today.
Thank you for this. I have two daughters. Thank you for the reminder of what I need to tell them. The oldest is in a great deal of trouble right now. Hard to communicate what you said when we are in the spot we are in. I'll find a way. Thanks again for the story.