Have you got the labia to challenge your friends’ choices?
She was so damned cute, reddish-brown hair and big brown eyes. And she had no idea. Why would she tolerate the emotional abuse from her ex? She could get a way better guy. Without even trying.
He’d dumped her for reasons I no longer remember, but kept calling her, stringing her along, making her hope he’d come back to her. He tortured her with stories of his new women, and she listened.
She listened. She accepted his phone calls. And cried.
She gave him permission to abuse her emotionally.
That’s called ‘blaming the victim’ in modern feminist parlance, but my mother called it ‘being a doormat.’
“Why the hell are you even talking to him?” I said. “He has no respect for you. And he’s cruel, bragging to you about his other alleged women, knowing how you feel about him. Why don’t you find yourself a real man, one who knows how to treat you properly? Never take a phone call from this asshole again!”
You know why she allowed it. It’s the Achilles heel of female psychology.
“It’s because I luuuuuuuuuuvvvvv him.”
I don’t know if that girl, who I met only once at a party, took anything from that exchange, but I knew a lot of women back in my twenties who tolerated all kinds of abuse from men.
There are women who are willing to take it, and women who aren’t. I’m the latter. I have never been physically abused by a man and I never will be.
I would never allow it.
Girlfriends don’t let girlfriends make excuses
Feminists are too nice when it comes to stopping male partner abuse.
They’re willing to politically challenge abusive men but are much less willing to challenge the choices women make that lead them, however unwittingly, down the path to partner abuse.
The first choice a woman makes is in deciding who to allow into her life.
The next choice is how she will allow him to treat her. And for how long.
If she grew up in a family or culture or religion where women have less power, where misogyny is institutionalized and she’s indoctrinated to believe it’s her place to be submissive to men, she may have low self-esteem, not that that’s a unique problem for anyone, including her abusive partners. Welcome to the entire human race.
The reasons why women permit abuse are multifaceted and complicated, so my interest is in how we can identify and challenge our friends’ choices earlier rather than waiting until she’s in the shelter and you’re thinking, I know he owns guns.
Here’s something else to think about: Now your life may be in danger too. He might come after her friends.
You knew he was bad news. You didn’t like him the first time you met him. You didn’t like how he looked at her, how he treated her, how he casually dismissed anything she said, how he subtly put her down and told her what to do. And she did it.
You were appalled, but you said nothing.
Later, she complained he was controlling and threatening. Why do you put up with this? you asked and she gave some bullshit excuse. Then she changed the subject and you let it drop.
Why didn’t you challenge her?
Maybe you were afraid of hurting her feelings. Or of pushing her closer to him. Or you thought it was none of your business.
It’s time for us to challenge ourselves, to challenge our friends more, when they make choices you know are going to lead to a bad end.
We can’t just let her walk down that path to abuse. And we have to find our own inner strength to do it. Have you got the labia?
It’s hard. You don’t want to lose a friend. But you might not. What if she listened to you? It might take awhile, but what if she knew you didn’t approve of her partner and you made it very clear whenever she complained about him that you would never allow a man to treat you like that, and that she was far too good for him, that he didn’t deserve her. And to point out that the longer she waits, the harder it will be to leave him. To get out now while it’s still relatively safe. You’ll help her. So will your friends. You’ve got her back!
How many of us have the labia to do that?
Photo by rawpixel.com from Pexels
How can we nip abusive partnerships in the bud?
In what passes for much of today’s ‘feminism’, the woman is never wrong. She’s never to blame, never a contributing party to any dispute that ends poorly for her.
In a noble desire to correct legal and justice abuses of the past in blaming the victim, whether it was rape or domestic abuse, feminists have jumped the shark. Yes, in the past attention focused on the woman—What was she wearing? What did she say to make him so mad? — rather than the man with anger issues and zero impulse control and who actually broke the law. Regardless of what she said or did, it’s no excuse to beat her up. If she’s violent with him first, he needs to get to safety and call the police, not smash a decorative geode against her skull.
Feminism today has sacralized ‘don’t blame the victim’ and turned women into eternally weak, helpless girl-children. By the time feminists turn out to help an abuse victim she’s endured far more trauma than was necessary.
How can we nip abusive partnerships early before they escalate into far less manageable and dangerous problems?
We need to stop tolerating abuse. Not just in our own lives but with those friends and loved ones who do tolerate it, who make bad choices, and even more critically, don’t learn from their mistakes. We especially need to gently but firmly challenge women who keep cycling back to abusive partnerships.
Something in them is broken, some synapse fails to fire, and they need help bridging the judgement gap.
Not yelling, not remonstrating, not asking judgmentally Why don’t you just leave him, but to ask more helpful questions like, Why do you let him treat you this way? Why do you let him control you? How far are you going to let this go? You weren’t like this in high school, what changed? Questions that emphasize her own personal power. She has it, she just doesn’t know it.
She needs to be reminded, especially if she’s fallen prey to the popular cult of feminist victimhood addiction which infantilizes women far more effectively than any ‘patriarchy’.
The feminist word for the day: Prevention.
Like it or not, abusive partnerships start and proceed with the choices women make and continue to make. As we all know, the longer one stays in an abusive partnership with a man, the harder and more dangerous it becomes to leave.
We all know the statistics on the heightened risk for a woman when she leaves an abusive partnership. This is why it’s absolutely critical that we address how to help each other avoid these partnerships before they begin.
In many feminists’ perfect world, men stop abusing women when all of them finally get the message. In my perfect world, and I think more realistic fantasy, abusive men can’t laid because no woman will put up with their shit.
Change, or die incel.
It’s easier to fall into an abusive partnership when a woman is young, less experienced and so desperate for boys or young men to fancy her. Especially in junior/high school when there’s so much pressure to have a boyfriend. When it’s wired into women’s brains to please others, augmented by socialization that reinforces it, and addled by raging hormones that reduce their ability to think straight when they’re around Captain Superhot, young women will do just about anything for his attention, including overlooking his misogynist comments or inappropriate remarks about her body parts he finds most pleasing (or doesn’t).
I remember what it was like. I used to put up with that shit too.
Plenty of young women can challenge their friends when they recognize what their hormonal friend can’t see: That Captain Superhot is really kind of a dick. We have to have the labia to stand up to abuse not just when men perpetuate it but when women tolerate and make excuses for it.
We aren’t living in the Third World. We have agency, power over our lives, good jobs, and we’re educated. Even if we haven’t gone to college, we can still self-educate. We don’t have the excuses that our less-empowered sisters elsewhere have.
We can make choices. And we do, every single day.
The challenge: Show some labia! (Figuratively…)
Sometimes those choices are poor, or downright awful. We need to kindly but firmly make it clear that abusive men, whether their abuse is physical or not, should never be tolerated. We need to help her figure out why she settles for low-quality men when there are so many great ones out there who aren’t abusive dicks, who know how to treat a woman, and who are getting overlooked because they’re not ‘bad boys’ or hypermasculine (both of which are big red flying Bad News freak flags).
After all, you as the friend have skin in the game too. Her bad choices might lead to you being stalked, harassed and threatened too. She has no right to put your life in danger like that. She has a responsibility to her friends and family when she makes partner choices.
REAL friends don’t want her to get hurt, or die.
And a quick note for men
Ditto. Don’t tolerate abusive, toxic women. You’re too good for her. Don’t let her physically abuse you. The moment she starts hitting, get out of her vicinity, call the police, and later, you can tell her she either gets therapy for her anger management and impulse control issues or you’re out of there.
That’s what REAL equality looks like.
You don’t have to put up with her shit, either.
This first appeared on Medium in September 2019.