Thursday, February 26, 2009

An unpopular position

There is a phenomenon that can happen among those who have been victimized-- and while I know that I am not taking a P.C. position on this, it is an issue that should be addressed-- if, for no other reason, often those who wind up being the final victims are children.

It is not an unusual occurance-- Victim becomes abuser. Unfortunately, being a victim does not necessarily mean sensitivity for victims! Historically this has been true-- obviously it is not unusual for an abused child to grow up and abuse his or her children. It was a well known phenomenon among slaves-- the ones with more prestige were oppressive and victimized the less powerful among them. Women are hit by their husbands and when one fist hits one cheek the woman's hand goes out to slap the face of her child. It's a sad reality that cannot be excused by the initial violence. Even on a societal level it is not unusual for groups to impose rules on another that they themselves would find abhorrent. For instance, the black community voted against Prop 8 in California, banning gays from marriage. Blacks hate hispanics and hispanics hate blacks. Chinese hate Taiwanese-- japanese hate Chinese, Indians hate Pakistani (which is also a religion problem and don't underestimate the role religion plays in feeding hatred and prejudices) Hatred begets hatred. (And to further your outrage at my unpopular opinion: racism didn't begin with white Europeans.)

I have tried not to use personal experience too much on this blog but perhaps it's time...

My X was a master at this– if he felt that I was taking on too much of a role in raising his son or influencing the financial decisions that he was making, then he reminded that I was ONLY a white person. And he reinforced this with our children. “You know your mother is white– she’s not hip. She doesn’t get it.” (marginalize, marginalize, she’s a nobody, she’s a nobody) My daughter (whom he beat one dark night) was heavily influenced by this and when we divorced, she would not live with me and as I have also stated, became as abusive as he was toward me. Sadly I myself fell into the trap that his experiences with racism as a child and an abusive parent would give him a sensitivity concerning race and abuse-- I was wrong. As I well knew, he was ignored in the classroom. He was harassed by the police. He was beaten by his father (step-father, really) But does this give him cartes blanches to turn it on me? Does it give him the right to control and manipulate (and in some cases become physically aggressive) with my daughters? But it was my sympathy concerning his experience with racism that allowed him to keep disappearing me and gave him the leverage to do it to them-- and worse leave them with the feeling that this was normal and okay. (And frankly, it wasn’t just his prejudice toward white people– it was a hatred for women. He treated me just like his father treated his mother. The white part was a convenient way to try and disconnect me from my daughters.)

In another, less personal situation, a young black woman penned a new book this last year. The book was about an issue of some import– a history of the Ku Klux Klan in Denver. But it was poorly written and received a bad review for being POORLY written (I know the reviewer well and I KNOW she would not reject the book if it were well written). The author emailed, called her, pushed her, bullied her into changing the review. She didn’t do herself any favors by doing this- nor did she do her book any favors. A better written tome on this ugly time in Denver would have been so much more effective! But she got her good review and stifled free speech in the process.

Some young(hispanic)men in the building I work in stole a camera from a paraprofessional (who happens to be black- although in this case I think it's more significant that the para is a woman). The young men are under the supervision of the assistant principal (who is black and hispanic but it seems more significant that he is a man- although he clearly does feel sorry for the poor hispanic boys because he feels the are headed toward disaster because their culture does not value anything that will give them any true hope for a better future...) because they have gotten into a lot of trouble-- pre-gang behavior. But when the woman accused the boys, a strange thing happened. The assistant principal called them into his office and said, "Louis (I made up the name here) said he saw you guys with Ms. C's camera. Do you have it?" But of course they all said no. And that was where the matter ended. No locker check- no questioning of individuals-- and naming the person who pinpointed them may have resulted in his receiving a pummeling. Procedure wasn't followed because this principal is too interested in saving his young hispanic men to care if they have learned the wrong lesson in all this.

When the oppressed take the role of oppressor then the cycle continues to continue in the neverending cycle of oppression. And if we don't recognize and hold accountable those who become oppressors via their own status of victimhood, then we give a rubber stamp to yet another abuse. Just a cursory a moment of deliberation would add some sanity to this issue, but the knee jerk reaction of many liberals who believe that you can't speak on a subject unless you have experienced it, allows the abuse cycle to go unaddressed. After all, if all blacks are victims that are beyond reproach then how can you hold them accountable for abuse they may themselves issue??? And who is it that often incurs the wrath of the abuse? Their children.

We voted for issues, not values!

The systemic problems we have with patriarchy are not going to be solved by going nuts over individual incidents. Yes, we should all feel aware and empowered enough to address an offender in an appropriate manner and as an individual each time I do this, it makes me stronger. But it will not fix the failure of the system (though we often have the illusion we can fix things one person at a time)…

We have a BAD system which needs to overthrown. Not just in the U.S. but internationally. The U.S. in case after case makes the rules –and supports oppressive regimes that use sexism, racism, etc. in order to keep segments of the population down. And women and children are the easiest target although they are not, by any means, the only victims.

We need to change things. We won’t change them with a Civil rights kind of movement. There is simply no way to do that now. We really need to change the government and stop allowing them to tell us that we have to work within the system. For a example– If women had healthcare via the government and could find work that pays them what the men in the building make (and to that point– Education: Education is not valued in this country- Anti-intellectualism in this country is insidious! but in addition to that educators are paid what they are because it’s generally “woman’s work”. They don’t really need the income in too many voters opinion. And the voters vote school board members in who uphold their values– is that local and instant enough?…) but I digress, if women made better incomes then there would be one less thing to be dependent on a man for. But changing the healthcare system or education system in place won’t happen with the lobby system that currently operates in this country. Insurance companies and healthcare companies are far too powerful. They pull the strings where this issue is concerned. Any politician who is not willing to take on the insurance companies with the awareness that they are failing women in this country is not the woman’s rights advocate he claims to be. And as long as there is no way to provide the basic most fundamental needs that a woman has when she leaves-- then we can’t expect women to leave bad situations with the pie in the sky dream that they will just walk out in the world, get a job and everything is now good. They have to be able to provide for themselves, get healthcare, get food, pay electric bills, etc. The system is set up right now so that trying to get help for issues such as this is nearly impossible.

Here’s another example: Right wing agencies are now in the business of “helping”– I was a referred to one not too long ago when I needed some legal advice. Here is what happened: I was afraid I needed some representation because my X was pushing me into transporting my son back and forth to sports on his side of town (30-45 minutes away). It was creating havoc on our time together but it was also impeding my ability to work the second job I have to work to provide for us. So I called this agency that offered legal aid. Initially I was told that the "expert", the person best able to help me was not in and would call me back. She did- almost right away. All good, right? Wrong. No one said they were a christian agency but it was pretty clear, pretty quickly OR if I am wrong, then they have been influenced heavily by christian values. At any rate, I told the woman my story. She said, “Well I think you just need to take advantage of that drive time… you know, just talk and have time to be together.” “What???” says I. “But I have a second job and I wasn’t so much as ASKED about the schedule for this. I was told. And on top of that, I don’t want my son to play football.” Her condescending response?? “Well, I think you have to do what’s right for your son here. He wants to play football and you should just take advantage of that drive time.” When I expressed my outrage at her advice she said, “I’m sorry I’m not saying what you want to hear, dear.”

So this is the advice that is being offered to women who have nowhere else to turn–??? their ex is taking advantage of the situation, using the children to bully her now and the “helpful” people that the government now pays to “help” are christians who want their patriarchal sytem to be the defining system in this country.

Sorry but that is a bad system! Our government should not be giving a dime to religious institutions -for women’s sake -for humanity’s sake. For that matter they should be taxing these damnable institutions.

It is the rich and powerful in this country who benefit and encourage ongoing systems that subordinate and they are the real problem. If our government were about the business of protecting PEOPLE in the first place, rather than being of and for and by the corporations, then we might BEGIN to change the systemic problems inherent in the patriarch. If we had a government that did not walk hand in hand with big business (and I will include the church in that “big business” category because the religious institutions in this country are big business, they have tons of political power and they have a tremendous desire to be the defining influence in what the family should look like, men’s roles, etc.) then we might have a system that protects women -for that matter protects all the poor- when they need help rather than continuing their subordination.

That is where real change begins!

Any chance our "leader" will lead us on this?


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