Many, many moons ago I was married to a particular man. He was a difficult guy to live with. I figured he was my cross to bear. People say all sorts of mean things about their exes but I have really tried to avoid such talk even when that effort was not reciprocated. At some point it becomes my story too and it doesn’t have anything to do with hurting him, it has to do with me.
He would look up the plot lines of my favorite movies so I would think that he liked the same movies as me. He would look up romantic things to say so that he could borrow other people’s emotions for his own particular use. I was seriously duped. Well, so were we all I think.
I really had no idea that I was a lesbian when I married him. Lesbian was a scary thing that you got called if you were different. Gay was a slur for bad people. Lesbians couldn’t go to heaven. I definitely didn’t want that. I didn’t realize that being gay had nothing to do with morality or how good a person was, it had to do with who your people are and how I related to the world.
I knew that I really had a thing for several of my best friends in middle school and high school. I knew that I never ever got asked out by anyone. I knew that ‘normal’ girl culture really didn’t work with me. I sought the fringes. I found the outdoorsy types who didn’t care if their hair was perfect. I sought the granola crunchers who shunned makeup. I sought the funny philosophers who sarcastically commented on the world. I had no idea that who I was involved yucky stuff like gayness. Romance was supposed to just happen like it did in the movies and love songs. It never did for me. I got angry with love songs and romance movies.
I thought for a long time that it had something to do with my appearance or perhaps my personality was wrong and I needed to change something about that. I felt the need to change lots of things about me to get the attention I wanted. I never really bothered to make those changes because fundamentally I liked who I was and I didn’t really want to change.
When I met my first husband I was at a family get together on Victoria Day. A warm weekend in May, we had a BBQ at my uncle’s place. We got out the croquet mallets and hot dog buns and card tables and set up outside in the sunshine. Me and my cousin sitting in the sunshine doodling on her converse shoes.
I went for a motorcycle ride with the only guy there who wasn’t related to me. We missed the fireworks show we were gone so long and I got teased mercilessly from my brothers on the ride home. Only 2 weeks later I agreed to marry the motorcyclist who drove too fast on country roads. By the end of the summer we were married.
He had serious issues with his Mom. His parents separated when he was in his teens and his Mom lived just down the street from him after that. He has a sister, who was born a couple years before the breakup, is like 15 years younger than him and doesn’t look like him, makes me wonder…
He spent a lot of time on religious and technology forums before the days of facebook. He had numerous IM personalities and handles on all the major instant messaging tools of the day. ICQ, AIM, YAHOO and MSN Messenger. He’d have philosophical debates about just about anything that you could name so he could prove he was right. In all those debates and talk he never ever referred to women as women, he always referred to them as ‘females’. There was a surprising number of females who chatted with him and filled is inbox with forum replies and friend requests. I eventually found that he was wooing these females the same way he did me. Being naive I thought nothing of these conversations. They were all just talk right?
I recently read an article in Jezebel about the problem with using the term ‘female’ to refer to women. It dehumanizes us, it is used as a code word for inferior or weak, it reduces us to just the sum of our feminine parts. It’s a perfect misogynists tool because it’s not overtly offensive and is technically correct but often is used to indicate contempt.
“Female” as a noun erases the subject—making “female” the subject of the sentence. In the most technical sense, it’s correct, but by employing this word that is usually an adjective as a noun, you’re reducing her whole personhood to the confines of that adjective. It’s calling someone “a white” instead of a white person, “a black” instead of a black person, and so on.
– Kara Brown, Jezebel
I commented on this topic and though the article has its flaws since it’s based on a buzzfed post and has no clinical or authoritative backing, the sentiment it real. I was amazed at how calloused and dismissive the men were, in the primarily male philosophy facebook group where I saw the article posted. Completely dismissing the notion that women would like a say in how we are spoken to as “politically correct bullshit”.
That particular man I was married to had a game. He called it male or female? He’d point at some random person on the street and ask of they were a dude or a chick. He had some serious small town indoctrination drilled into him but it was a really unkind game and to my shame I played along with it. Though often I’d get irritated and say why does it matter? It finally came out that it mattered to him because he didn’t know how to act or how to treat them if he didn’t know if they were a boy or a girl. He felt all off balance and he needed to know. That was a clue.
When I eventually came out to him he asked over and over again what went through my mind when I thought about women. He asked me to relive it again and again and wanted more to come of it. At the time I was very religious and to act on such things would mean eternal damnation. He continued to push me. That was a clue.
When my brother came over and saw how I was being treated by that particular man and urged me to leave because I was deserved better than this and I thought that I was too old and used up to find anyone else at 27. That was a clue.
When I left him it he sent me notes and letters of platitudes and empty promises that had nothing to do with what I actually wanted or what I had told him were the problems. He didn’t listen at all. That was a clue.
I continue to get nasty emails about how he resents sending ME his hard earned money. That I am taking it all for myself and that I took the kids all for myself. All his problems and financial troubles are MY fault. That was a clue.
I am still dealing with the aftermath of being married to that particular man. The ingrained misogynistic views that he directed at me. His refusal to take my opinion at face value and that I required the corroboration of a man for my points to have any value outside of housework. It had an effect on my ability to have the confidence to look for good employment, to believe myself when I tried to come out after I left him, in my jumping back in and putting another guy through the wringer for a quick marriage and divorce.
I was quite battered when I left and it took me several years to regain any semblance of myself. I don’t blame him particularly, he was trying to deal with his personal frustrations as best as he could, I was a convenient tool. But I don’t have to pay any heed to his views anymore. The guy needs help and support not my ire. I hope he finds a way to forgive his Mom and all women eventually.