1/29/07

Why doesn’t she just leave?

Why doesn’t she, really?

This is probably the single most infuriating question I’ve been faced with, time and time again in my not too pleasant, tumultuous life. Every time I hear this question my right temple starts throbbing ceaselessly and I have to direct all my energy into quelling my sudden spurt of mindless rage.

People who ask this particularly irksome question are either dangerously clueless or horrifically callous or prone to making shallow generalizations; either way it is downright unacceptable. Verbal or emotional* or god forbid - physical abuse in a marriage or a relationship is not something to be pooh-poohed away with banal, ignorant statements pertaining to the woman being abused. These statements or questions can range from being exasperatingly foolish to blatantly offensive like the proverbial 'why doesn’t she just leave' to cleverly reworking the question as 'but why don’t you just kick him in the groin, god knows that’s what I would have done.' to passive aggressive schlop like 'Oh honey you deserve so much better. Why do you still go back to him? ' and it goes on and on, this misguided faux ‘care’ which these people seem to relentlessly drown their target in.

I personally believe that torchbearers of such rubbishy faux ‘care’ are insensate louts. They’re snarky and pathetically passive aggressive and their belittling statements do not stem from care or pity or even sympathy; it’s just their way of passing their unequivocal judgments on the woman because they are convinced that she must be either deranged or moronic or both. Ultimately they think that she is to be blamed for the abuse; because hidden within their ‘well meaning’ statements is a strong undercurrent of their belief that abuse in itself is an uncomplicated problem which can be easily and miraculously solved if the woman simply decides to walk away. In their minds the whole situation is romanticized, their thinking is almost unbelievably utopian; she walks away from her hulking, maniacal brute of a husband or a partner, and everything rights itself. Everything somehow becomes A-ok just as soon as she walks out that door.

Earth to faux ‘care’ givers. Really. Because I don’t know if your thoughts stem from incomprehension or resolute denial, but it’s about time that you wrapped your mind around the idea that maybe, just maybe in an abusive relationship the abusers are the one to blame. Now repeat after me: abusers cause abuse. Abusers are not hulking, aberrant sociopaths ready to fly off their handle at the slightest provocation. They are as normal as you or I; friendly, affable and more often than not, quite popular at work or with friends and such like. You cannot fit the abuser’s persona into a comfortable mould. He may be rich, poor, short, fat, tall, slim, soft spoken, whatever. But one thing remains certain. Abusers are exceedingly charming and amiable. They are scammers, because their charmingly affable behavior is only a persona and nothing else. So if you entertain nonsensical notions about how women are attracted to men who treat them like shit or worse, if you believe masochistic filth like ‘oh she went back to him because she likes being abused’ then realize that its because of apathetic people like you that abused women are not vociferous enough. Heck they don’t speak out at all, in most cases.

Nobody likes assholes. A woman does not walk into a relationship wanting to be with an asshole. In all probability, she was conned into having a relationship with the abuser by his charm, his demeanor and his undivided attention. She is but a fly in the web he spins around her; she is beleaguered by his unswerving devotion. She cannot believe that anyone could possibly love her so much and slowly she becomes enmeshed in his web of deceit. Always remember that the abuser is not a dim witted clod, he is clever in singling out his targets; like a seasoned hunter he preys on women who are shy, their self esteem is either low or non existent, they may also be vulnerable or insecure or all of the above. His conniving side slowly begins to appear and he starts interspersing praise for his partner along with ‘constructive’ criticism, sarcastic jabs, name-calling, passive aggressive behavior and acerbic comments directed at her ideas or appearance or both, making sure that he slowly (or abruptly) chips away at her self worth. He then starts to manipulate her other relationships, be it friends or family and he steadily begins isolating her from people who are supportive towards her (in his own abstruse mind he views such people as competition; to him they undermine his control. This can be linked to the obvious fact that abusers are usually intensely jealous and possessive, fueled by a fervent desire to control their partners), or she may look to them for emotional strength. Finally she is left alone and powerless. No family or friends to back her up, she is at his mercy; to manipulate, to control and to brainwash.

His behavior starts to worsen uncontrollably. He is prone to outbursts, often erratic and unforeseeable and it is this unpredictability which throws her off and makes her feel like a deer caught in the headlights. Time and again, the most minor occurrences will be enough to trigger off his violent temper. He would have by now fruitfully reworked her thinking and behavior so completely, that she will automatically hold herself responsible for all his outbursts. Her non-existent confidence plummets even further as he continues to berate her for every single one of his shortcomings. The abuser possesses a terrific aptitude for self - deception, he is convinced that he is NOT to blame for any of his actions and he will inexorably project all his faults onto his partner.

But the situation becomes a tad convoluted when the abuser does an absolute volte-face and becomes all snivel-ly, self chastising and very remorseful. This usually follows an especially brutal episode of violent, abusive behavior. And this is why the woman usually sinks into the mire of an abusive relationship and is confused or scammed into staying. Even if she does decide to finally break his stranglehold on her, he gauges her intentions and changes into his repentant, apologetic persona and usually makes lofty oaths that he will never hurt her again. And she wants to believe him. She wants him to be the man she first met; she does not recognize this person who petrifies her and his brainwashing is so efficient that she falls back into her usual cycle of self depreciation. After being effectively duped by his dramatics, she stays.

Finally, something switches inside her. She comprehends the fact that she must leave or else she’s putting her life (or at the very least, her sanity) in jeopardy. Abusers are so attuned to their victims’ behavior and emotional mood swings that they will sense this change instantly. And that’s when the intimidation will take a nasty turn. Often times this is when emotional abuse spins out of control and turns into dreadful psychological abuse. He will start threatening to kill her, her family and sometimes even her pets. He will impose his feudal (and rigid) outlook on women and marriage in general on her to often frightening proportions; so much so, that god forbid she dares to even look at another man. Even if she accidentally happens to glance at another man (whatever the situation may be) it will trigger off a vicious outburst which will usually culminate in filthy name calling or worse on his part. He will threaten to kidnap her and harass her (physically or sexually) if she has the temerity to even hint at leaving him. She becomes despondent, the gravity of her situation makes her sink into a quagmire of fear and depression and this is when she turns suicidal. To her, suicide takes on a silver lining; she looks upon it almost reverently. To her it spells freedom.

If you still think that the situation is fairly simple and that all she has to do is simply ‘walk away’ then you’re a fuckwit. Think before you casually throw around the question 'Well, why doesn’t she just leave?'

Understand that her actions do not require justification, his actions do.

She is but a glorified pawn in his hands, a victim. And nothing else.

* I have spoken specifically about verbal, emotional and psychological abuse. I did not include physical abuse in this post only because physical abuse warrants a post in itself, and that's why I've put it on the back burner for now.

Addendum: I would also like to shine a spotlight on desi 'friends' of the victim (desi, of course) in particular, who convince the victim that her partner’s neurotic and borderline psychopathic behavior is proof of his 'love' and she should thank her lucky stars for being in a relationship with him. If you are one of those people, then I hope you hang yourself.

Thanks muchly.

Addendum II: Go here pronto and donate your old mobile phone (or phones) if you feel strongly about domestic violence. Go. Now.

[thanks nevermind]

1/14/07

Love

A question.

Have you ever wondered about how we as women, are hardwired to be self depreciating about our own selves? That with every fraction of appreciation we give ourselves, we can’t help but take ten steps back and hastily cover it up with oh-but-I-cant-wear-this-for-squat or I-may-be-good-at-this-but-I-will-probably-suck-ass-at-what-so-and-so
-are-doing and comfortably sink into our usual cycle of self-belittlement?

Have you?

So, when I chanced upon this interesting mission professed by feministe, I wanted to partake in it too.

And I want all of you to join in as well. Yes. All of you. Women and men.

What is this mission, you ask?

(paramparamparampara!)

List five things you love about your body and yourself. It can be more, but five is a good number to begin with (I second feministe on this).

Here’s mine.

1. I love the fact that I’m tall. I was teased constantly for being way taller than my classmates through preschool and middle school and I hated growing up faster than almost anyone else in my class, but as I grew older…I realized that towering over other people actually felt pretty good. Heh.

2. I am a fantastic cook and a closet foodie (several people will vouch for this). I can cook almost anything, from Italian to South Indian (Andhra cooking being a particular favorite) to North Indian to Mediterranean (Greek, Aegean to be precise) to Indian Chinese to Thai. And nobody taught me. I taught myself cooking when I was in my freshman year at my university. I never used cookbooks either. My unflagging adoration for all-things-related-to-the-kitchen was a result of being completely taken in by my cook’s adeptness and her utter grace as she went about preparing our daily meal while I was growing up in India. I would just sit there in the corner of our kitchen, taking in every effortless action of hers as she bustled about, and it dawned on me that watching her cook all those years made me extremely knowledgeable and utterly at ease in the kitchen when *I* was faced with the task of cooking my first meal. I still remember the first time I cooked. It was as if I was on autopilot, I knew exactly what I had to do.

3. I have great hair. It’s very straight and long, with almost no frizz and I really don’t have to depend on a ton of product to make it look good. It just does.

4. I can out-argue almost anyone I know. Not by raising my voice but by actually out-facting the other person. I read a ton and I’ve seen and been through (and still do see) way more shit than most of you can ever imagine so you better think twice before taking an ignorant or a pretentious stance on issues, at least in front of me.

5. I like my temperament. Yes. You heard me, my temperament. I have mellowed down a lot over the years, partly due to above mentioned-'tons of shit' and partly due to a much heightened sense of detecting bull crap a mile away before it hits me. And that’s why the various trolls, gnomes, wannabe/fake psycho analyzers who frequent my blog never (almost) upset me. They amuse me and make me laugh, but that’s pretty much it. And thanks to this temperament, I give people a long rope. I may laugh at you, act all incredulous or use a ton of sarcasm, but you will never see me blithering, angry, incoherent, or foaming at the mouth.


So take your best shot.

Five points or more about how you love your body or yourself or both without being self-deprecatory.

The comments box is yours.

1/8/07

A different clown suit

I once had a friend* who considered himself a good catch. He called himself ‘a nice guy’, a guy who basically did not get the girls (in his words), a guy who constantly indulged in whine fests bemoaning the sorry plight of his lot, and a guy who considered himself grossly misunderstood by the female of the species only because he had the temerity to be nice to them and those unappreciative egotistical bitches turned him down because they wanted to be treated like horse shit.

My ex-friend was a classical example of the ersatz nice guy, a guy who constantly slips under the asshole radar because of his tacit ‘decency’, his ‘respect’ for women and his unparalleled capacity to squeeze every last globule of pity out of you.

The ‘I’m a decent guy, woe is me’ affliction is insanely rampant and if you aren’t observant enough you will probably set yourself up for one of their illustrious women bashing pity-a-thons. For that’s what an ersatz nice guy specializes in; blaming women for his inadequacies and stolidly refusing to face reality and embrace the harsh truth that something might actually be wrong with him.

So who IS the ‘nice guy’? Is he really nice? Does he really put the female of the species on a pedestal and worship them, only to be stomped on by mean, heartless women?

Do you want to know what you’re doing wrong as a bona fide fake ‘nice guy’?

1. You’re not a nice guy if you pathetically stick that label onto yourself.

2. Calling yourself a nice guy like it is some honorary insignia of martyrdom is ridiculously arduous and it does NOT confer some sort of dipshit entitlement.

3. You’re not a nice guy if you think that your ‘decent behavior’ can be traded in for sex or other favors from women.

4. You’re not a nice guy if you stubbornly hang on to your bullshit resolve that there’s some sort of global conspiracy spearheaded by women against oh-so-misunderstood ‘nice guys’ like you.

5. You’re not a nice guy if you are convinced that women just love being treated like crap by the king of clich├ęs i.e. ‘the bad boy’. Women do not crave reckless relationships nor do they possess a laughable ‘maternal’ instinct to fix their partners problems. That is one of the most phony, noxious and fuckwit reasons you can ever come up with to further feed your contemptible state of denial.

6. And finally, you’re not a nice guy just because you’re NOT mean or vicious or abusive to your partner. Niceness is not measured by what you DON’T do.

If you really want to be a nice guy then you have to be able to walk the walk. Don’t just sit there and whine about your plight, do something. Understand that what you’re preaching is not really nice-ness, it’s your share of the male-entitlement pie and that’s what you ultimately want. There are tons of genuine nice guys out there who actually respect women for who they are, who don’t sit on their asses expecting to be waited upon just because they don’t beat or abuse their wives/girlfriends, and they don’t subject their partners to the whiny passive-aggressive crap you seem to actively indulge in. And these men seem to be in happy relationships. Oh my word, that’s practically impossible according to your definition of nice-ness isn’t it? It’s high time you realized that women don’t want to be put up on pedestals. It’s narrow, uncomfortable and you know what? It’s easy to fall off a pedestal. So for fucks sake, treat us like the humans that we are. And one last thing. Spare me the pseudo-Freudian hyperbole about how ‘all women are insecure so when they actually meet a guy who’s not an asshole, they call such nice guys, insecure.’ Newsflash: face your insufferable insecurities (without pushing it off on women) and deal with it, please.

When I think about it, I have arrived at the conclusion that I’d rather date a so called ‘bad boy’ who’s blunt and upfront. Oh and I am not including those manipulative assholes who have behemothic expectations when it comes to women just because they were honest. You know, the guys who say things like "hey I’ve slept with 30 women and I’ll be honest about it but I expect my woman to be a virgin". No, I’m not talking about those fucktards (future post alert). I would most definitely give my time of the day to the guy who puts up no pretenses when it comes to what he wants, even if it is just sex he’s after. At the very least, he’s honest and he doesn’t dump his asinine expectations on me.

And for the last time, if anyone says anything along the lines of ‘nice guys finish last’, I swear to god I’ll fucking scream my lungs out.

* Ex- friend, to be precise.

Post script: Dim-witted comments along the lines of "will you sleep with me if I ask directly" or "fuck me, I’m being honest bitch" or "so, you don’t like nice, decent people" will be deleted promptly.