My husband, who was apparently frightened half to death by Riot Grrrl dogma in the ‘90s, thinks every woman everywhere is oppressed by everything. He feels his penis is an undeniable mark of his guilt, an ill-hidden weapon that he can’t help but be armed with in this war of the sexes. He reads angry mommy blogs during his few spare moments at work, and then comes home curled into a tight ball around his male shame.
I, being who I am, must fight back by writing a mommy blog of my own. And, what better content for such a thing than delicious recipes, interspersed with harrowing tales of womanhood and housewifery? This is the first installment of that tortuous series.
Hoagie Roll (A good bread recipe will follow in a later post)
¼ package tofu
One egg, beaten black and blue for its own good
Panko bread crumbs
Korean-style pickled daikon radish or turnips (let me know if you need this recipe)
Shredded cabbage and carrots
Press tofu by placing between plates and putting a bag of beans or something on the top plate for about ½ hour. Drain, slice into strips, dip in beaten egg, then roll in panko. Fry in oil until brown. Slather roll in mayo and sriracha, then layer tofu on top with the other ingredients.
This post is going to be uncomfortable for just about everyone to read, so if you’ve gotten this far, I apologize in advance: it just gets worse.
Recently, there was a guy who shot up a bunch of UC Santa Barbara students. This started a hashtag meme, #YesAllWomen. The premise is that the shooter in this case was supposedly motivated by a desire to punish women for not wanting to have sex with him.
I hate this meme halfway to death. I think it’s the wrong point at which to start a conversation about cultural misogyny (and/or domestic violence, which has victims of both sexes). For one thing, most of this guy’s victims were men. For another, he wasn’t really a misogynist: he was a fucking lunatic. There’s a big difference. Most violence against women isn’t perpetrated in this dramatic and visible a manner by men or women with an obvious mental imbalance. Most of it happens in the context of a love relationship, often behind closed doors, or in plain view but in a way that is easily dismissed by those witnessing it as “No big deal, really,” or “Probably nothing,” or “None of my business.”
Thus, I think that putting the horrible tragedy forward as an example of misogyny or violence against women could actually end up backfiring. It doesn’t take a shooting spree to qualify as abuse. Sometimes, it doesn’t even take violence: it just takes words. If we want to actually prevent abusive behavior, we need to learn to recognize the subtleties, the examples of it in our daily lives, not just the incidents that make the national news.
On the flip side, we need to admit that the line has to be drawn somewhere: not EVERYTHING constitutes abuse or oppression of women. We don’t need to make sweet and wonderful men like my husband feel guilty for the perfectly acceptable and sometimes sexy crime of packing a loaded cock, and we as women need to recognize that we’re strong enough to take a joke or random stupid comment sometimes without crying “MISOGYNY!!!”
My journey as a woman started out sorta rough. I was born in July and I skipped a grade, so I was almost two years younger than some of my classmates, not to mention an introvert, and a nerd. This was the ‘80s, back when being called a nerd was an insult. Nowadays, this term has been watered down to the point where anyone who owns a goofy t-shirt or has watched the Harry Potter movies will proudly claim the label, but back in grade school, I was literally spat upon and had things thrown at me on more than one occasion.
When puberty hit, things got even more complicated. I was so alienated from my peers that I had no idea what constituted a normal adolescent social life. I thought that all of my classmates had already lost their virginities, so I went ahead and jumped on the bandwagon, only to find myself now labeled as a “slutty nerd”. Once again: this was meant as an insult back then, though now I think I want a t-shirt that says it.
There are some people who will take advantage of folks like me who are naturally submissive, fearful, and socially inept, like those dogs that always have their tails between their legs. I’ll leave it to people more argumentative than I to determine whether we’re born this way, are raised to it, or (as has been suggested to me on more than one occasion) choose it as some sort of convoluted mechanism to manipulate others. All I’ll say is, back when I was a kid and young woman, I seemed to have a target on my forehead, and hadn’t yet figured out how to deal with it.
In my early teens, I ended up falling in with an abusive boyfriend. At first, the relationship was consensual, although it was fucked up to say the least. But it soon got twisted and violent, and when I tried to break up with him, he beat the living fuck out of me. Same thing would happen if I didn’t want to have sex, or if I talked to another dude, or said something he didn’t like. Plus he’d tell me my tits were saggy, that no one else would ever love me, and that I wasn’t as smart as I thought I was, stuff like that. A lot of girls are strong enough to not put up with this bullshit, but at the time I wasn’t.
I remember once the guy hit me in front of our friends – I can’t remember why, but I do remember that, although people looked shocked, no one said jack shit about it. I ran off crying, and not a single person came after me, or said anything to me about it afterwards. Years later, I talked to one of those people, and they said they hadn’t done anything because the guy had been their friend; he didn’t treat them like that, so it was really none of their business.
I confided in someone else about how he’d rape me sometimes, but they said it wasn’t rape, because I’d consented to have sex with him at some point. They used the slut word, too. I guess I’d confided in the wrong person, but I didn’t know it at the time.
In a way, these people were right. It was my relationship, and it was my job to get the fuck out of it if I didn’t like it. No one was forcing me to put up with that shit. [Edited to add: some women are in situations where they ARE effectively forced to put up with this shit, and I recognize my “luck” in not being in one of these. Our culture isn’t one to lock a woman into this sort of relationship, and he may have threatened to kill me and/or himself if I left, but he never pulled a gun or anything.]
The only problem is that I thought I loved him. I thought no one else would ever love me, that I was a stupid, ugly, worthless piece of shit, and that if I left him I’d be all alone forever. I know now that this is what they call “abused woman syndrome” (a misnomer: men can suffer from it, too), but it didn’t seem like a syndrome at the time, it just seemed like reality.
“Abused woman syndrome” can be quite annoying to those witnessing it. You tell the person over and over that they deserve better, that they should ditch the asshole. And sometimes they will: they’ll leave the relationship, only to go running back to it again. It seems like they want it. It seems like they’re asking for it. Because, after you’ve been abused and humiliated, it feels really good when the abuser apologizes and tells you they didn’t mean it. You get a rush from it. It makes you feel wanted.
How can we solve this problem then? How can we fix domestic violence and the culture of misogyny if some of the people in these situations seem to not want our help, if they fight our every effort to be supportive of them?
I don’t know the answer to that question.
I do know, however, that I eventually escaped this situation. It clouded my subsequent relationships for years and years, but I eventually found someone who treated me really well, and I even learned to deal with the fact that he was treating me well – I learned to live outside of the abuse/reconciliation drama cycle.
Brownie Point Brownies
One cup (two sticks) butter
1 ½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (divided in half –see below)
1 1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 tbsp vanilla
1 cup flour
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Melt butter and ¾ cup chocolate chips in microwave or double boiler, and let cool slightly. In a medium bowl or stand mixer, mix the melted chocolate/butter with the sugar until smooth. Add vanilla, and then the eggs, one by one. Then add flour until just blended. Fold in the other ¾ cups chocolate chips.
Line a 9 x 12 baking pan with foil, then grease the foil. Pour the brownies in and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. I think this is about 15 minutes, but my oven is weird and I never time anything.