I came late to anti-feminism. I’m in my fifties. As a child abuse and multiple rape survivor I had thought, mistakenly, that the Feminist camp was my camp. The fact that two of my abusers were female, notwithstanding.
Even though I am a former teenaged runaway, I became highly successful and self-made, and I married up. Unfortunately, I had to escape the trophy husband too for benefit of my life at the cost of my money. In retrospect, I think that was his plan all along. I have therefore been forced to reevaluate my criteria for trust in another human being.
Somewhere along the way I came to realize that I have been abused as much by ideology as individuals and that individuals who have abused me were similarly abused by ideology. Top of the Progressive list of ideology harmful to character, families, and individuals has got to be Feminism.
Meanwhile, while I was married and raking it in during boom years in the Silicon Valley, my aunts, uncles, and cousins thought that I was just fine. After all, I had married a doctor. For what it is worth, most of my cousins are female–seven of them. Of the two males, only one holds my father’s surname.
This one male who carries my maiden name to the next generation–my first cousin–has worked hard all of his life for big corporations of the Fortune 100, and dutifully had two boys and two girls. For benefit of his career he has lived all over the world. He married a Kiwi. I like them all very much. His mother positively doted on him and apparently imbued into him a sense of duty in terms of carrying on the name of her in-laws.
My father, in contrast, moved us all around a tighter geographic circle for benefit of no one but the preservation of sick family secrets. For the longest time I was furious with him for being so little of “a man” that he would express his sexual sadism onto two young girls (my sister and I), while apparently depriving his long-suffering hysterical wife of either sexual satisfaction or comfort of class. I remember that I had to lie to friends (such as they were given that we moved every two to three years) to say that my father was “a businessman” rather than “chronically unemployed”. I remember that I had to curtsey before his abusive parents in order for our family to obtain yet another “loan”.
Meanwhile, my mother went off to school, established a career, and then was thereafter too busy, too tired, or too something to pay much of any attention to me, but yet had plenty to give in terms of her other career as an opera singer/church singer/volunteer/social butterfly. I understand that her audience was grateful for all of her efforts. I don’t suppose that she was actually grateful for my efforts in distracting my father’s sadism from her onto me. If she was, I suppose she might have spent a little more time with me and a little less time with her schooling, career, and fans.
While I was in my status marriage, living in my rigorously low key showpiece home in the hills of Berkeley, California, my cousin, Peter, came to visit me as a side-trip when he had the occasion to attend a conference back in the United States. We sat on the deck and admired the three bridge view. (San Francisco Golden Gate, Richmond, and Oakland Bay, with the San Mateo Bridge cut off by a wooded outcropping in the landscape).
Peter was in San Francisco to attend an industry-related conference for purposes of networking. He was trying to find a better paying job than what he could find in New Zealand. My recommendation, however, was to get a cow. After all, they lived in New Zealand. The kids could take care of her, there’d be plenty of milk, meat on occasion, and something for the kids to do which would produce these things of value and he wouldn’t have to earn as much in order to feed everyone royally. It would be a learning and character-building experience besides.
However, as he explained to me, getting these four kids into Ivy League schools was first priority. It was a burden no doubt impressed hard upon him by his mother (coincidentally, the daughter of my diva soprano mother’s voice coach) and our shared paternal grandmother–experts in shaming behavior–all of them.
So, my cousin and his family left New Zealand, traipsed about the world on his new employer’s dime, and then eventually left for an even better paying job in New England. Eventually wife Lucy took a job outside the home after raising these four beautiful, intelligent, unabashedly Christian children. She’s a real dynamo and I happen to like her more than any of my own female blood relatives even if I am not so foolish as to discuss religion with her.
Number one son is now at Stanford and number one daughter and father were recently visiting my sister in New Jersey while daughter was college shopping (Princeton and U of Penn being first choices).
Here’s how my mother recounted the visit:
Last Wednesday we went down to your sister’s to visit with Peter and Isabelle who were doing the college rounds. She will graduate from prep school next spring. You probably know that Kyle is at Stanford, having not been admitted to the U of Pennsylvania, alas. Also alas, Peter is unemployed again. Isabelle teased him about how he was supposedly doing the work around the house that Lucy is too busy supporting the family to have time for. He nearly blushed.
If my cousin Peter were to ask my opinion (unlikely), I would tell him he should forbid his daughter from watching television which reinforces the very public humiliation techniques that supposedly our “educated” family is too lofty to adopt in exchange for having her prep school and university education wholly paid for.
The insensitivity of my mother astounds me. Here I had been laboring under the misapprehension that it was she who was the victim in her marriage. However, the smugness in her tone tells me that she gets a perverse satisfaction in my father’s career of failure which has morphed in his Golden Years to indentured servitude to my mother. Could this have been what she wanted all along? Could her career of hysteria actually contributed to my father’s career paralysis? I realize it makes no sense at all for a child abuse victim to identify with her perpetrator (and I don’t) but it seems to me that my mother chose him for a reason.
I apparently chose my own monster for a reason–to finally redeem myself from “black sheep” to role model, with my hard-won career being absolutely secondary to that enterprise. All that mattered was who was my husband. That much is clear. However, I cannot dodge the emotional underpinning of my own wanting to belong to a man who loved me. No amount of careerism, independence, or “consciousness-raising” erased that. All it did was distort my own ability to act in my own best interests in choosing love over appearances.
Meanwhile, I want to warn Peter, not to leave the lovely young Isabelle alone with my father such as would naturally occur around holidays and such if Isabelle were going to school in the vicinity of my family. However, what will probably happen is that the too lovely Isabelle will marry either an emasculated wimp or a predator after first establishing a brilliant career–a marriage which will dissolve the moment she gets her first miscarriage or facial wrinkle. I find myself not caring about her and caring less about my mother’s feelings than apparently she does.
It seems to me that the character of each generation degrades a bit. I don’t regret myself not having children. Perhaps it would be best for our overly class-conscious shaming-factory to die off, eventually.
Meanwhile, I wonder how life would be if my father hadn’t been so shamed by his mother. I wonder, given her nearly perfect parents, how Isabelle turned out to have such a rude and ungrateful streak. I wonder what would have happened if I hadn’t married the evil surgeon, hadn’t concentrated on my career, but rather had married the first truck driver to offer me his jacket when he picked me up hitchhiking to California.