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Choice

December 31, 2010

I had already begun a rough draft of this post when I went over and saw Joan Kelly had written something very closely related.  I’d been thinking about the way that class privileged women are often the most willing to blame their heterosexuality/heterosexual living arrangements on lack of choice and the impossibility of just up and leaving.  And, so, I was thinking about how there is a difference between a refusal to leave the lap of luxury and a true inability to extricate oneself from less-than-ideal circumstances.  I know plenty of heterosexual women living lives of above-average comfort who complain about  a few annoyances of living with men, like whiskers in the sink or sharing toiletries or something, and who’ll say, if asked, that it’s simply impossible for them to leave.  The truth is that they don’t want to leave because leaving would mean relinquishing whatever comforts they’ve grown accustomed to (aka privileges), whether that’s material luxury, a helping hand with child-rearing, or social status associated with heterosexual married life.

What hadn’t really occurred to me until I read Joan’s post – and I don’t know why – is that it’s often the class-oppressed women, who are truly in dire circumstances, who admit that they do get something out of their heterosexuality/heterosexual living arrangements.  I’ve known personally, and encountered during a brief volunteer stint at a rape crisis center, plenty of poor, raped, beaten, prostituted, and/or strung out women who never, not once, gave as a reason for why they were still in their heterosexual relationships/living arrangements, “The housing market is just too rough.  It’s impossible to leave.”  Just about every single one I’ve known admitted that despite the rape, the prostituted rape, the often-forced addiction to drugs (which is often seen as a perk), the beatings, the cheating, the not-knowing-sometimes whether there would be food in the cabinets or whether the light bill/rent would be paid that they *loved* their men and/or they *loved* something about being/living with him.  And that’s why they were staying; not because it was impossible or even just impractical to leave, but because they wanted to be there.

I’m not saying that this choice – and the acknowledgement that it is a choice – is uninfluenced by male supremacy, or that without male supremacy women would still make these kinds of choices.  What I am saying is that I agree with Joan that despite our inability to control the context of male supremacy in which we make our choices, we do in fact still make choices.  We exercise our agency toward self-preservation, to extents limited by male supremacy, or toward self-destruction, to extremes encouraged by male supremacy – but we do exercise agency.

None of that is to say that any of us should ever forget or discount the fact that many, many women are stripped entirely of choice.  And I think too many women are too eager to do just that (often for misogynist reasons – like believing themselves morally superior to the majority of female human beings), when the truth is that our lot is tied to theirs.  None of us would have choices if not for the existence of a readily available class of women who are deprived of them.  The abuse of those women makes it easier for women like us to accept the limitations placed on the choices we do have, and make us more eager and willing to perform the same degradations that are forced on the women who have no choice.  But, still, I do think it’s interesting to see, in the places where women do have some freedom of agency, it’s the women who are most free who deny that they have any ability to change their circumstances, when the women who don’t have much choice are more willing to say that they don’t want their circumstances changed.

28 Comments
  1. joankelly6000 permalink
    January 1, 2011 2:00 am

    Thanks for the link, Margaret, and for your comment at my post.

    I feel like I don’t know what I, personally, make of the fact that there are also people who *do* have more of a real choice, and stay anyway, with abusers, not just regular a-hole husbands or whatever. I know that it gives me this reflex of anger at the woman, and I don’t know if that’s somehow tied into things in my own history (including and not-including the abusive relationship I was in) or just me having random asshole reflexes or what.

    But one thing I felt at the thread that I saw that prompted my own post, and it’s something I’ve felt before, and it ALSO could be just me being fucked up, but there is something that bothers me so much, with the women who are so insistent that we never talk openly about this type of choice (when and where it does actually exist) – I always end up feeling like they are very removed in some way from the whole thing. Like, above it all, and not in any overt way, I don’t even think they think of themselves as “above it all.” It’s just this resentment I get where I feel like, how can anyone who’s ever been around actual people in these actual situations (woman who could leave an abuser but won’t, but wants everyone to hear about and pay attention to her for it) – how could they diminish it all down to “victim blaming” when anyone says “well then stop trying to help, she told you flat out she doesn’t want it and you said yourself that she gets into relationships like this one after the other.”

    Victim blaming is she shouldn’t have said that thing that pissed him off, she shouldn’t have flirted with that guy in front of him, she shouldn’t have agreed to be his girlfriend if she didn’t want to fuck him at his whimsy. Whereas if I choose to stay with someone who’s harming me, and want to tell anyone who will listen how horrible it is but hey don’t try to tell me what to do, I love him I can’t leave!!!, etc. – where is the person listening to me (and who is tired of listening) victimizing me, or blaming me for anyone else victimizing me? Is it victimhood to get on someone’s fucking nerves with your bullshit? Is it blaming to not want to participate in someone else’s sicknesses?

    I mean considering the source, I should have just left the whole thing at “I saw some bullshit at feministe.” But the first thing I thought of when I read that post and thread, actually, was I remembered when *I* first saw you leave a comment somewhere, might have even been feministe? or IBTP?, about why can’t we talk about how some women choose to stay in abusive situations, and the effect that has on other women around them and in general?, and you getting shouted down or whatnot as a “victim blamer.” I remembered how astonished I was when I first read that comment of yours, and not knowing how I felt about it (partly because of not knowing exactly what all you were saying), but knowing for sure that whatever it was, it was not “victim blaming.” And how fucking annoyed it made me to see your words cast that way.

    Anyhoo, thanks for this post and your thoughts on this topic in general, it has been one of the more freeing areas for me, considering actual “agency” when it comes to choices to be with men or not be with men, including the taboo-to-acknowledge choice to stay with a physically abusive man.

  2. TheRadicalSpinster permalink
    January 1, 2011 4:57 pm

    That reminds me of a friend of mine, though her boyfriend (now ex) was only normally annoying and not abusive. So it does not fit the above described scenario 100%, but I think it is similar enough (if not, please delete).

    Anyway, my friend constantly complained about her boyfriend, throughout the whole realtionship, that lasted for several years. It became the job of her *female* friends to listen, comfort and support her. When a mutual friend finally told her, that her boyfriend was an a-hole and she would be better of without him, she ended the friendship with that girl. Of course, telling the truth made her the “mean one”.

    In retrospect, I suspect that this constant complaining about the boyfriend served two functions: First, it casts her in the role of the good and innocent girl and more important, it entitled her to a particular level of care and attention form her female friends. You could say, that the relationship with the “bad guy” functioned as a tool, which she could use to gain the sort of emotional support from her friendships with other women, that people normally expect from their romantic relationships.

    I wonder if it is only my impression, but it often seems to me, that problems in hetero romantic relationships are particular well-suited to gain that support. They seem to rank very high in the hierarchy of problems and frequently receive a level of interest and attention that other problems, like work- or health-related problems for example, do not receive, even when they are equally serious.

    So maybe there aren’t just the advantages that Margaret mentioned and that are associated with het relationships in general (money, status and help), but also advantages that can be derived from *bad* het relationships specifically, namley the attention etc. a woman can get from other women that way. It makes them special to carry that heavy burden of their relationship (whether it really is that heavy or not), almost like martyrs.

    • January 1, 2011 11:08 pm

      Yes, I have to agree with you here, RadicalSpinster. Now that you mention it, it does seem like the attention is one of the bonuses of being in a particularly bad relationship and/or making a relationship out to be worse than it actually is. It is very much a martyr thing.

  3. antonia permalink
    January 1, 2011 7:22 pm

    i want to say something about this, so i don’t know really, it makes me a bit cross, this line of argumentation in this post. having been in the situation of the privileged woman, i fulfill all the criteria, been to university etc and married to nigel who did not beat me up but did not sort out the looroll, well whatever. but fuck, i planned my divorce for five years, and because the housemarket was crap, among other things i couldn’t get out and did the classical thing with secretly saving money. for fuck’s sake sometimes indeed the housemarket is crap. it took me a long time to get out of the situation and all the time i was full well clear in my mind and not lying to myself that it is a shitty situation and i needed to get out and everyone was telling me shit about how it is so easy and there is help and of course: the reverse argumentation was used, i was not believed that i want to get out: you want to stay with him, for reasons a to z, for if you really wanted to you could get out, because: you got university education. but, i couldn’t find a job or at least none that paid enough to cover the rent of – i’m not talking about luxury here – some bedsit. the thing is, if he had beaten me, i could have gone to a shelter or something, so in this one respect and i know it sounds cynically, the beaten up ones have it “better”. but he did not beat me so it was just plain divorce and there was no help around, despite my grand privileges i was completely on my own, in addition, being a foreigner too. of course i talked to people too and response-scenario no.1 was: but we’re in 2009 etc, it’s not like in the middleages anymore and you can get out. and beyond all my efforts which were sort of in vain, i said: you wanna pay my rent? yes? i said. or organize me some sort of job? one of those better jobs that you can only get via whom you know? no? but now one can say of course you don’t really want to do it on your own, you want others to do it for you, you’re afraid of proper independence and all that psycho-talk. and so on and so on, every word always turned against you. whereas it was fucking reality, plain things as cash for food and livingspace missing and incredibly difficult to obtain for me in the position i was in at that time.
    so well. it’s not always so straightforward really.

    • January 1, 2011 11:25 pm

      for fuck’s sake sometimes indeed the housemarket is crap.

      Well, yes, sometimes it is. But not everyone lives in a house – and certainly not everyone lives in a house where, say, everyone gets their own bedroom. So, all i’m saying is that crap housing markets don’t keep women who haven’t become accustomed to certain standards of living from leaving bad situations. And it’s been my experience that women who would have to live on the streets if they left their boyfriends either go ahead and do just that – live on the streets – or they stay with them because they *want* to – and they don’t say they can’t leave because it’s impossible or that they’d have to live on the streets if they did. I’m just noting what seems to me like a class difference in the way heterosexual women describe their circumstances. On the one hand, women in dire circumstances seem to be more willing to admit that they’re getting something out of the arrangement, even if it’s jut the meager benefit of it being the best of a slew of shitty options, while on the other hand, more privileged women frame their circumstances in such a way that the current living arrangement/relationship is just a prison they can’t get out of and they aren’t benefiting from it in any way at all, not even in the paltry way that a situation being better than the alternatives is beneficial – since there really aren’t any other options they acknowledge.

    • joankelly6000 permalink
      January 2, 2011 5:37 am

      well Antonia I also feel like what you’re talking about is whether anyone would have understanding of why you would go about leaving the way you did, and why it would feel hard *for you*. Which is different than any of us really not seeing the point in being care-taking listeners-ad-infinitum to women who have no intention of leaving (whether they are miserable but with relative privilege or in abusive situations). And basically just want a lot of attention, as others have mentioned here.

      I don’t agree that women who are battered have it better in any way, I feel like your emotions around this caused you to say something that I hope even you didn’t mean because it doesn’t make sense. *anybody* who has no place to live could try to get space at a homeless shelter. There are shelters for people who are homeless but not battered. And shelters for battered women, with or without children, are homeless shelters – they are not posh homes where women get to have everything you had in your house, with your husband, and just minus a husband.

      So the real comparison is – battered women may be eligible to apply for space in a battered women’s shelter if they leave their spouses with nowhere to go. you may have been eligible to apply for space in a homeless shelter if you left your husband/home and had nowhere to go, because of housing, income, etc. issues. The only actual difference would be that it doesn’t sound like your husband would be hunting you down and possibly killing you and/or anyone else at the shelter if he found you.

      If what you’re talking about is, I’ll speak for myself, whether I have compassion for someone who wants to get out of a marriage without having to go live on the street, of course I fucking do. I want ANY woman who wants to have a safe and man-free home to have one. But I don’t think either my post or Margie’s was about wanting all married women like you to go fuck themselves. I think we were talking about why we are bothered by it when women who *could* leave situations with males and say they want to, don’t. And how it’s that much more aggravating when the woman in question is wanting us to listen to endless complaints while further being *dishonest* about the fact that she could, in fact, leave. Not wanting to leave is not a crime. But coupled with wanting a captive audience for all of your complaints about what it’s like to stay willingly anyway is a fucking irritation. And further, it’s a drain on other female people’s time, energy, and resources to which such dishonest complainers are not entitled.

      Personally I’m glad for you that you saved up and moved out in a way that prevented you from being on the street or in a homeless shelter, as neither are particularly safe for women (nor, by the way, are battered women’s shelters necessarily, though certainly efforts are made). I still don’t see why I owe it to any woman to be her captive cheerleading audience when she is NOT doing anything to try to change her situation and when she is OFFERED help (as was the case in the situation that prompted my own post), refused it and whined that she wanted to stay with her abuser because “when it’s good, it’s really good.” If that’s not what you did, and you merely had insensitive friends who were a-holes about the methods you were using to try and get out, what does that have to do with us, that this post would bother you?

    • January 2, 2011 6:52 am

      I’m glad you and Joan caught that one, sis. I completely glossed over the part about abusive women having it better. That’s a really awful thing to say, and I hope, like Joan, that you don’t really mean it, Antonia.

  4. Level Best permalink
    January 1, 2011 9:57 pm

    Two thoughts in response to Radical Spinster’s comment: I get angry with women who complain constantly about their men yet stay with them as if some unassailable law of gravity prevents them from separating from them because (1) some of them seem to to me to be just rubbing it in that they have a man and (2) they are keeping the focus on MEN, MEN, MEN as if males needed any more damned atttention. Talk about women and I’ll listen.

    • January 1, 2011 11:29 pm

      You know, you’re right, especially about the just rubbing it in that they have a man part, which I think it tied to what RadicalSpinster said about the attention that garners.

  5. January 2, 2011 6:05 am

    Antonia said “the thing is, if he had beaten me, i could have gone to a shelter or something, so in this one respect and i know it sounds cynically, the beaten up ones have it “better”. ”

    Um, the fuck?? Oh yeah! Cos it’s real sweet for those “beaten up ones” in those shelters.

    I read your comment, Antonia, and I didn’t know whether to puke or cry tears of rage. Get outa here with that shit and get a clue instead of coming round here trying to get sympathy.

    I apologise, Margaret. I had planned to engage with the content til I was assaulted by that load of gobshite. I’ll retreat until I calm down.

  6. la redactora permalink
    January 2, 2011 7:06 am

    I have noticed that a lot of women (myself included, and frankly most men but nevermind them) live by the ‘live free or whine mightily to anyone who will listen’ principle. It’s certainly not a pleasant realization.

    • la redactora permalink
      January 2, 2011 1:35 pm

      And it is probably why not much will ever change for the majority of women.

  7. January 2, 2011 11:10 am

    Completely agree with this post, and Joan’s. Yes, many girls and women do not have a choice, are sold into lives of rape and abuse with little or no hope of ever escaping. So I do think it’s fucked up for adult women to say ‘no choice’ when in fact they are living in relative comfort and just don’t want to go without the luxuries they’re accustomed to. When women in a position of choice genuinely want to leave, they leave. Even if leaving puts them in great danger, they will take the risk. And for women who have the choice and don’t leave, it’s because they don’t want to. I fled to the other end of the country to get away from an abusive man (I wasn’t even living with him – but he knew where I lived), slept on a friend’s floor, and ended up living in a garden shed for years. I consider myself lucky to have had those choices, and to have been able to get away. A friend of mine stays with a man who regularly cheats on her and verbally abuses her, because they have a house together and she doesn’t want to give that up. She says she ‘can’t’. But it is her choice. I don’t respect it, I’m sorry, but I just don’t, and I refuse to enable her/support her. Maybe for some women it has to get very bad before they are willing to risk their situation. Why not just be honest about it? Plenty of women have stayed in shitty relationships because the alternatives seemed even worse.

  8. antonia permalink
    January 2, 2011 11:23 am

    that this post was about women who talk too much about this shit, complaining their darling boyfriends and how “it’s oh so horrid” but have no serious concrete plans of leaving.
    and i also understand this thing about not wasting time on stories where you feel this situation that woman is in isn’t a good situation, but she pretends is good situation or is blind towards abusive behaviour or she doesn’t owns up to what she gets out of it.
    fair enough, i understand that, but the thing being i was being seen as such a woman, and i had a genuine interest of getting out all the time and was give flak for not doing things all the time too, but i felt all the time i have to justify why i am not doing enough to get out even though i was doing things and trying to sort out alternatives. much of it also was told me in this tone of “but there is really help if you only wanted it (well sod it, there isn’t always help, but what the hell), but in reality you don’t want help and you’re one of those attentionseekers.” and it was much about me having to justify why i did not act towards they suggestions they thought were appropriate for me. talk about other people telling you what is good for you.

    then i wasn’t talking about luxury, i did not live in luxury with this man, not in a house, but a flat and not a big one. of course, yes, there is of course always the question of acknowledging these possibilities, like, for example, living on the streets in order to leave him. no i did not choose that, blame me for not living on the roads, fine. i mean with all this “looking out for yourself” stuff going on, i thought i can look out better for myself when i have somewhere to sleep and something to eat, able to secretly save money (approx. 30euro a month). sure this is privilege to some extent. i don’t deny that. whether it is a very nice situation, it isn’t of course, is another matter.

    about this thing battered women having it better; when i wrote this, i said i meant it “cynically” (i have a tendency to cynicism) of course i don’t mean it really. but, when assessing the so-called resources available, the social worker person asking me, well does he beat you, i said no, she said tough shit, can do nothing for you. so, the beaten woman in this “cynical, but real” scenario, had one option more in this situation where she in other respects likely had tons of options less than me.
    just saying that for the plain “normal” women there aren’t that much of a resources, you go to these social agencies to check out the option and you don’t fulfill the beaten, prostitute etc etc criteria, it’s end of story, go home and stay married. it’s a bit like oh we don’t want to sort you out too, you’re not really a problem, there are tons of women with a lot more problems, and of course, there are.
    that there is an institutional unwillingness to help women to get out of marriages. because they are already taken care of so to speak. and the interest gets focussed on the let’s say on the “problem women” like prostitutes that “need help” because they ruin the beautiful scenerey of the city or because prostitutes and battered women conform more to the image of the “woman in need”. and whether this image of “the woman in need” is a good one is another matter of interesting discussion. the thing is i didn’t conform to that image of “the woman in need” and didn’t get any help and that was the end of it.
    and then the whole point being too, there were not much fucking resources anyway. rural.

    i got out of my marriage, yes by saving some money, but i did not manage to save enough and still only could get out because i got money from someone else. these days in this country they ditch legal aid for women except in cases of battery, forced marriage and international childabduction. for normal divorce no legal aid anymore. that’s just one example where it’s getting difficult for your random het woman and another instacnce where one cyncially can say oh how much better the battered women have it, they have access to legal aid, hooray. but if this law had been in place like 2 years ago i’d still be in the shit.

    sorry this got so long. but i wanted to clarify. it just made me so cross, “oh these married privileged het college educated women have it oh so easy they’re all just spoilt and want our attention” line of thought and that’s were all my emotions come from. i mean who has a right to judge what alternatives one looks for in a dire situation. i didn’t mean to derail the whole thing here but i wanted to say it’s a damn fine line, it needs lots of discerning when talking about these things. i know i am not always good at discerning, but i’ve had the experience of being in this situation and it takes a very long time to leave someone, for whatever reasons. and if someone needs to protect oneself and stop listening to these attention demanding women i understand that. that’s one thing. but another is to say about how they all sit in the easy chair on our costs whereas they rather sit in some different for some people incomprehensible sort of shit. i understand also that not everyone has the obligation to deal with this different sort of shit. but it’s again another thing of just saying ok i draw the line, i can’t hack it for whatever personal reasons and then, point taken and we part in mutual respect and another to just diminishing it and saying your problem isn’t really a problem and i laugh about you, stupid het woman.

    • January 2, 2011 11:43 am

      Antonia, I really don’t think anyone is laughing at you, calling you stupid, or saying your problems are/were not real problems. I agree that for most any woman, trying to extricate herself from a marriage/living with a man, it is not going to be easy. And I understand why anyone might rather stay in a shitty marriage than make themselves homeless. But it’s wrong to say that’s not a choice. It is. And the reason why it’s important to acknowledge that, is because for many women, even that shitty choice is not there. If it were, they would take it. And girls and women do make that choice, terrifying and awful though it is.

      So yes, you are privileged, because you chose to stay, even though you were unhappy. You had a choice. There were options for you, but they just weren’t the options you wanted to take at that time. That’s not the same thing as having no options.

      And I agree with those who have pointed out how gross it is to say that abused/battered women are better off than you were in that situation. That is deeply offensive. I wonder if you have really thought about what it would be like to be a woman in fear for her life, fearing that her husband was going to kill her, and why you think it is okay to say to that woman that she is better off than you?

    • January 2, 2011 10:44 pm

      okay for what it’s worth, what I’m hearing from you antonia is not “oh those fucking battered women have it better!” it’s that you are frustrated that the system you dealt with seems to almost WANT women to be beaten or otherwise harmed, because it offers nothing to any women who aren’t harmed in the ways that the system judges as legitimate enough.

      I still think you are projecting things onto this post and the comments that aren’t there. One of my closest friends is someone who’s been in non-battered het relationships where she was unhappy and felt they sucked and talked to me about it, you could even use the word “complained.” But one thing she never did was demand (which people can do via actions, not just saying “I demand you blah blah blah”) that I listen to how horrible she had it or be thought a shitty friend, nor did she frame any of it as “oh this is so terrible and I am so helpless” only to then get mad at and/or dismiss anyone who might say “well I wonder if this is an option?” instead of just agreeing with her that it’s so horrible how helpless she is (if she in fact was not helpless).

      I think that’s the main part you’re missing. It sounds like you felt helpless to leave your situation in a way that felt tolerable to you (i.e. not being homeless), but you’re not acknowledging that some women ARE willing to make that choice and it’s not because it bothers them less than it would have bothered you to be homeless, and they don’t all get help from the same system you couldn’t get help from either. And this whole thing boils down to some of us saying we are tired of hearing “I CAN’T and so you should listen and do other things for me!” instead of “I DON’T WANT TO but I still want you to listen and do other things for me.” The latter is certainly still a major irritation for me (and again, is exactly what prompted my own post), but there is at least honesty in it.

      I DO get what you’re saying about resources for battered women, honestly I do Antonia, I just think it is blindly awful to say it the way you’re saying it, because you don’t seem to realize that it still, even after you re-explained it, sounds like you’re saying “at least battered women have x, y, and z, whereas I don’t!” When really, no, battered women have exactly everything you had (if even that, materially), and then on top of it have the knowledge that being on the street could get them killed from strangers OR the husband (did you know that men put up “please help, she’s missing!” signs all over neighborhoods when their battered spouses make a run for it, to try and elicit the public’s ignorant help in locating them?), and that everything they do to try and live outside of a shelter (which my understanding is they will have to do sooner or later, depending on the policies of each shelter, but none have a “you can stay here indefinitely” policy as far as I know) will endanger, not empower, them.

      If you have a job or an apartment or a bank account or or or …you can be tracked down.

      So I’m telling you again, Antonia – I am not minimizing the choice of being homeless instead of physically comfortable, when in a marriage that is not abusive but is one you want out of nonetheless. I am the last person to minimize the undesirability of being homeless or even living in a shelter – I am fucking OCD and need my own space and I think my brain would shatter if there’s an earthquake here that leaves me without private living space or clean water that I can use to my heart’s content in private.

      But I feel like you have come in here to defend something that has nothing to do with your situation, although now some of us are telling you that actually no, you did not have less options than a battered woman, so this part does have to do with you at this point, thanks to your coming here and saying what you’ve said. Plus I haven’t read all the most recent comments yet so I apologize if I’m repeating anyone else, but all of that says nothing even about the fact that marrying a man in the first place is something that benefits a woman in ways that never marrying a man does not. You only had a non-physically-abusive marriage you wanted to get the hell out of because you got something out of marrying a man in the first place.

      Okay sorry that I’m probably rambling and saying the same thing over and over now, I just am wanting to convey that, Antonia, I feel like I know what you are saying, but it still is just very out of whack with what’s being discussed here, and why it’s being discussed, except that now you have given an unintentional re-enactment of exactly what some of us are talking about when we say that we are weary of the entitled behaviors of some straight women when it comes to complaining about relationships they have no intention of leaving. You had NO INTENTION OF LEAVING *under the specific circumstance of having the result be homelessness*. You had every intention of leaving *under the specific circumstance of doing what you could to minimize personal risks to your housing and related safety issues*. Who here is denying the latter, or your right to make that particular choice? So far I only see you denying the former, and being mad that anyone would notice that it existed for you or anyone else.

    • January 2, 2011 10:47 pm

      damn me, I should have read all the comments, because I just saw that you, soulsis, said everything I said, only more succinctly and sooner. sorry my mouth got ahead of my eyes!

  9. antonia permalink
    January 2, 2011 11:30 am

    additional information, i do have a past of being beaten, (first country, run away from that), marriage (come on, judge me, have you never done anything stupid), that was the second country. post-divorce, i live in my third country now, and no one knows where i am. so come on, judge me.

    • January 2, 2011 11:53 am

      Judge yourself. I can’t speak for anyone else, but as far as I can see, this post wasn’t about you, and I don’t see why you need to take up so much space and demand so much of everyone’s attention.

    • joankelly6000 permalink
      January 2, 2011 10:56 pm

      wait a minute, no one ever told me about the Ben & Jerry’s, I may have to recant my argument and get in line with Antonia now

  10. January 2, 2011 11:49 am

    For some women who choose to stay in abusive relationships, it’s not just themselves that they are putting in danger. They keep their daughters with them too, and their daughters are also abused and beaten, pimped out and raped. It’s one thing to make a compromise for yourself, to stay for the house or because you ‘love’ him, but when you put your daughters at risk because of your choices, I find that unforgiveable.

  11. antonia permalink
    January 2, 2011 12:19 pm

    right i am not coming back. i did try to explain and discern and i also apologized for derailing. but there isn’t any communication possible. so, end of story.

  12. joankelly6000 permalink
    January 2, 2011 11:01 pm

    god, I only wish she’d been kidding, soulsis. And I wish, again, that I had read all the comments before leaving my long one a few minutes ago. Wasted everyone’s time and this space trying to talk to her, and it appears now that all she wanted was perhaps some online documentation that OMG MEAN FEMINISTS JUDGED ME!

    Because the actual subject of this post is so disposable to women like her.

  13. January 3, 2011 7:39 am

    Okay, don’t want to beat a dead horse, because if I do, my back and muscles may start hurting and if they do it will be your fault. Here is the thing, that empathy thing that I left in a previous comment on another thread. (By the way, I haven’t had much computer time and access). The thing is Antonia compared a comfortable life, if not emotionally, physically comfortable, as in she had the basic necessities of life covered, –food, clothing, and shelter and possibly safety and security with a life without those things and not only without them, but a beating to boot. No one who actually knows what it feels like to go to a shelter would have ever joked about another woman having it better off because she has to go to the shelter. Although television specials and narratives by well-intended do-gooders will tell you how kind they are when they are volunteering at shelters, I am here to tell you there are a lot of sadistic people in the altruistic business. Nothing like saying you here to help while feeling superior and letting the person you are helping know it.

  14. antonia permalink
    January 3, 2011 11:33 am

    i just want to say i’m sorry, i really did not want to stir shit or make things worse and did not want to derail with my unsolicited ideas or past. i am sorry that this caused so much trouble.
    but. in my second comment i did Not compare the lives of a battered woman and white het woman, or me in that case. what i did was compare a singular situation (and of course the battered woman’s life is shittier) in which there was an option open to a battered or raped woman that was not open to me. saying, there were no resources open to me. i did not say i want to take over all those resources that were there for raped or battered women. of course it is important that they are there and i know full well they are shitty enough. i used my life as example that there were situations in which there were options open to others which were not open to me. i know it’s not always good to use one’s own life as example which made me more vulnerable than necessary in this conversation and i never claimed i did any heroic stuff or so, all i wanted to say it isn’t so supersimple with the choice business. i’m not saying people can’t make choices or have an excuse to hide behind powerlessness or saying i have no choices. but often choices are formed under severe constraints and often there are only shitty choices to make so that it feels like rather one does somehting and it is as good or bad as anything else and in the end it does make one feel as if one does not have a choice, because the choices one made or sees available to oneself can feel so alienated from what one actually wanted that one lost the connection to oneself; that the choices are so bad that they don’t add up to someone’s feeling of power or control in a situation,. of course one made a choice, but whether it’s a good choice or an appropriate choice that fitted a situation is another matter, or whether one has considered all alternatives. or whether one just caved in and did something stupid, made a stupid choice. i certainly did often in my life choose the wrong thing.

    • January 4, 2011 1:08 am

      Well, I can say that there is certainly room for talking about the way limited choices can feel like the absence of choice, or at least of real choice. I just don’t necessarily think this thread is the best place to have that conversation, especially not when it seems as though the main points have gone unacknowledged.

      The post is about women, particularly privileged ones, not acknowledging the choices they do have when other less privileged women are willing to make those kinds of acknowledgements and take responsibility for the choices they make – whether that’s staying with a woman-beater/rapist, or choosing to go live on the streets. And I know that there are all kinds of reasons why privileged women don’t acknowledge that they have and make choices – chief among them in my opinion the fact that women of privilege are used to the glorified-yet-infantilized status males bestow upon them – which is restrictive when they want to take the credit for something good, but is freeing in a way when they don’t want to take responsibility for things that aren’t so good. The glorified-but-infantilized woman of the feminine ideal is also granted a certain amount of public sympathy that women who don’t fall into that category of ideal femininity aren’t seen to deserve.

      I also wanted to restate something that Joan mentioned – which is that women who are not being physically abused have the option of going to homeless shelters that are not specifically oriented toward women who are homeless because of abuse. So, the idea that abused women have a resource that women who aren’t in physical danger don’t have access to is not only factually incorrect, it is offensive in all the ways everyone else has been saying.

  15. January 3, 2011 11:46 pm

    These male-identified women carry the echos of male entitlement into all of their interactions. In fact, antonia’s entitlement is so in my face she sounds just like a man. It’s so typical of privileged straight women to minimise men’s violence and abuse, and instead turn their resentment onto other, less-privileged, women. Anything to continue to worship at the alter of dick.

    This person keeps casually throwing around statements about how “of course” she knows that Those Other women have it bad…but but but…me me me still. The othering of less-privileged women is nauseating me. It’s ok for those Others because hey they’re used to be beaten up and being homeless. I would suggest some self-directed research on the issue of domestic violence. As a social worker who works for a women’s service where the client group typically have long psychosocial histories that are characterised by violence and abuse including child sexual abuse/assault and forced child prostitution, it is actually part of my code of ethics to attempt to educate folks like antonia.

    An important thing to remember here is that each year women’s services typically turn away tens of thousands of women and children who ARE experiencing violence/abuse. The women who are accepted usually can stay for twelve weeks which is nowhere near long enough to be hooked up with safe long term accommodation, let alone deal with all the multiple complex other issues that create barriers to survival for women and their kids. That’s how under-resourced women’s services are, and yes we already know this, we don’t need the antonias to be splaining it to us. We know that patriarchy is structured to enable each male person to have at least one sex/domestic servant, and we are culturally-coerced to accept this, and there is fuck all social support for women to live otherwise. But fuck, we need to be ‘managing up’ and those of us with greater access to resources and fewer barriers should be supporting and assisting those women further down the ladder than they are. They should NOT be demanding acknowledgement of all the specific ways that THEY have it tough too. They should NOT be attempting to compete with women who are less-privileged, and blaming women-run services for not enabling them. Try thinking collectively, antonia. Try thinking of how you can help other worse-off women, not whining because they won’t or more likely, can’t, help you.

  16. January 5, 2011 6:43 am

    Hey, you more than welcome, soulsis. And that apology was rubbish anyway. She’s sorry she “stirred shit” and “made things worse” whatever that means. She’s not sorry that her privilege blinded her and made her act like an arse. She’s not sorry for enabling patriarchy by constructing certain woman as somehow lesser than herself. Or for contributing to other women’s oppression. The hell with letting that go.

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